Halong Bay is in Northern Vietnam and translates as Descending Dragon. I suppose the numerous limestone Karsts could look like a dragon’s spine, but then so does everything else in Asia.

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I’m usually a penny-pinching backpacker but when all my research suggested that when you visit Halong you should try to get a ‘Luxury’ deal. I was really impressed with the standard of food on my boat and every meal felt like a special occasion. By complete chance I picked one of the boats that was not a Karaoke boat, that would have spoilt my trip. Halong is one of the most beautiful locations on planet Earth so why do you need ‘entertainment’? I spent my evenings sitting on the roof of the boat, drinking beer and looking at the huge Karsts. You can also see the squid vessels bobbing up and down with their bright lights. One evening I did some fishing but only caught a jellyfish. I think the boat can make all the difference on this trip. I have included a link at the bottom for the company I used. I hope the standards are still the same.

Unfortunately I got some moisture into my lens on this trip so some of the pictures are overexposed. I hope they can still tell the story of an amazing place.

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The best way to see Halong is from Hanoi, it takes about 4 hours by bus. Vietnam is full of well practised rip off schemes, floods, delays, traffic jams etc. What I’m saying is, it’s not Delaware. With all the variables I recommend doing the following to avoid being hassled:

Take a hotel or hostel in Hanoi which offers the specific tour/cruise you want to do. Otherwise they will hassle you every day. Once you express your interest and book a tour they will treat you very well, as do most Vietnamese people in my experience.

Don’t do a one day tour! It’s too far to travel and you won’t see the best bits of the bay. I wouldn’t even do a one night tour. I chose two nights and had time to relax properly. In my two night tour there was time to see the caves, go kayaking, sit on a secluded beach, and visit the Floating Village. The Floating Village is the highlight of the trip.

If you don’t like seafood and shellfish make sure you take some of your own food because most of the food is freshly caught. If you like shellfish ( I love it) then the food will be like landing in paradise. Vietnamese food is exceptionally good with the vibrant flavours of Asia and the gastronomic refinement of France.

Pick your add ons before you go. Some of the add ons can cost so you should include them in your price. I recommend the Kayaking but the trip to the Pearl Farm wasn’t so amazing. The Floating Village is also special.

Be ready to jump ship. Due to the logistical complications of people staying varying lengths of time and choosing different options, you may have to use different vessels for several parts of your journey. On my second day only two of us joined another boat to go to a beach. When we returned to the big boat the guests were entirely new.

Check the weather forecast carefully. I went in June because it was cheaper, but it was also typhoon season. The roads were flooded on the way there but we made it with a small delay. I was lucky enough to have beautiful sunshine for my two night trip.

I used the following company:

http://www.orientalsails.com/

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