My 5: Halong Bay Cruise, Vietnam.

Halong bay cruise Vietnam

1. Halong Bay Cruise, April 2018. After a few gloriously peaceful hours cruising around the beautiful Lan Ha Bay, Green Trail’s day-long boat tour chugged into the much better known Halong Bay. So what’s the difference? Basically nothing! The spectacular limestone peak scenery is the same; just expect more water traffic with an increased number of speedboats, houseboats and traditional junks competing for space.

2. Halong Bay Cruise, April 2018. Despite the upsurge of boats, our guide Thang did a great job of picking out a quiet spot for a half-hour session of swimming. In fact, we were the only boat there and the water offered a cool respite to the day’s hot and humid temperatures. 

3. Halong Bay Cruise, April 2018. While we were out swimming, Thang and his team whipped up a delicious lunch of local dishes that far surpassed my expectations. Lunch is included in the price of the tour, though hot and cold drinks are put on a tab and paid at the end of the day.

4. Halong Bay Cruise, April 2018. Having been very well fed and watered, there was another hour’s cruising to a small floating village and kayaking station. The scenery really is breathtaking, so much so that several Hollywood directors have come here to film sequences for their movies. Such as American filmmaker Jordan Vogt Roberts, who set up camp here for ‘Kong: Skull Island’.

5. Halong Bay Cruise, April 2018. The kayaking was fantastic! It was the first time I’d ever done it, but with everyone getting paired up into a two seat kayak, the whole process was a piece of cake for the most part as we negotiated the various turns and tunnels of the bay. You will need to grit your teeth a bit for the hairy Death Tunnel, where you and your partner need to get the oaring just right, or face being sucked back the way you came by the current. One hapless pair from another group made a real mess of things and ended up capsizing halfway through! Amazingly, just minutes earlier, the idiots in question had flown by us shouting “You’re on the wrong tour mate!” “Err… no I’m not!”

My day tour of Lan Ha Bay, Halong Bay and Monkey Island was priced at 454.000VND (£14.90/€16.90/$20). For more on Green Trail’s fantastic tour, check out My 5s on the Lan Ha Bay segment of the cruise, as well as our stop on Monkey Island

Want to spend some time in the area? I’d highly recommended basing yourself on nearby Cat Ba Island for at least a few nights.

Like these? Why not check out my many other 5s from all across Vietnam.

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Freelance travel writer, voice over and English teacher from London. Former music and film journalist, interviewer of the stars. Passionate about travel, film, music, football, Indian food.

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