I don’t feel like spoiling the memories from Halong by complaining about how poorly our trip was organized, I described the matter shortly at the end of this post. We arrived at the Halong City harbour after a 3-4 hours long journey from Hanoi. In the bus we met several Poles, with whom we had a very nice chat, which made the transfer seem much shorter. We didn’t plan to take a cruise around the bay, we decided on a direct transfer to the Cat Ba island. If you want to do the same it’s best to go to Hai Phong from Hanoi and take a speed boat from there, the cost is around 15 USD. If you are buying some kind of combined transfer ticket make sure that you have the tickets to enter the harbour and the island included in price.
The weather was sunny, though a bit windy. We were very lucky, because it is not uncommon to spend the whole day at Halong in a heavy downpour. The bay is as beautiful as they say, there is no disappointment about it. It is now said to be forbidden to jump from the boats and swim in the bay, but well, our crew didn’t mind. It is also cool to go canoing through the numerous caves below small islands and rocks, unfortunately we didn’t manage to do it. Halong is something you have to see, there is not much that can be described, even the photos will not reflect its wonderful landscape. We spent the whole day on the boat and arrived late in the evening at the Cat Ba harbour. We had an excellent time with the group of travelers from Spain, Germany, UK, Holland and Poland we met on the boat, fortunately the crew didn’t run out of beer.
On Cat Ba we stayed at the Full Moon Party hotel, it was incredibly cheap (6 USD for a double room) the standard was OK and the staff was very nice. I think it is a far better option than sleeping on the boat, you can book several trips at the hotel which, among others, include snorkling and canoeing around the bay. Unfortunately we didn’t try them out because of the heavy rain. Around midday we took a speed boat to Hai Phong and a bus back to Hanoi, as the downpour was unlikely to cease.