Halong Bay in Northeast Vietnam - This was without a doubt, the highlight of our trip so far!!!
We organized a 3 day/2 night tour of the bay through travel agent in Hanoi & were collected from our hotel at 8am. From here we drove 3 hours to Halong Bay where we boarded our boat and were immediately treated to a big lunch before being given our room keys (We would spend the first night on their boat & the second night on Cat Ba Island). We then set sail through the most breathtaking scenery imaginably while sitting on deck with a cold beer(s). We stopped at ‘Surprising Cave’ where we wandered through the many rock formations (Oh how i wish i had brought some beer with me), before we climbed what felt like 342 million steps to a viewpoint overlooking the bay. The view was well worth the effort though. After another 2 hours relaxing on our “junk’ boat we dropped anchor, and decided to do some swimming & jumping off the top deck of the boat (Trying to avoid the jellyfish below). This was great crack, well, for us, probably not so much for the 2 guys who got stung. Then it was kayaking for an hour or two and we watched the most amazing sunset from the middle of the bay before returning to the boat for dinner and drinking.
Day 2 began at dawn when we awoke for breakfast before transferring to a smaller boat and heading to Cat Ba island. After rowing to shore, we began our 3 and a half hour hike through the jungle. This was a much tougher trek than Thailand, but was well worth it. We seen more than our fair share of big poisonous spiders, centipedes, stick insects the size of my foot and butterflies the size of bats. We returned to the boat where we spent the afternoon swimming and relaxing. Then it was on to the inhabited side of the island where we checked into our hotel. That night was spent out with the group getting dinner & drinking until we could drink no more (Or at least until the bar closed…. whichever came first). Then the bar closed so we had to leave and go back to our hotel.
The final day started off with our complimentary buffet breakfast at 7am (which believe me, i took full advantage of). Having thrown down a full fry, a plate of spaghetti bolognaise (I know, I was surprised to see it there as a breakfast too),a bowl of fruit, juice & coffee, we were back on our boat on our way back to Halong City. We spent the morning sitting on deck, sweating out the alcohol from the night before (Or maybe I just over did it at breakfast). Either way, I wasn’t taking the chance of jumping the water again (I would have sank like a flecking’ stone). We returned to port at midday where we had a final lunch before being dropped back to Hanoi.