“Halong Bay Cruising….”
We did the 2night/3-day tour just last week in HB. Most of the people did the tour in 1night/two days, but we are very glad we spent an entire additional day in the bay relaxing, kayaking, and understanding the geography of where we were. I cannot imagine driving four hours one day, spending the night, and returning the next day of four hours as well. Keep in mind… it is four-hour bus ride couple with lots of transfereing between boats on the last day so you essentially spend near 7 hours in transit the last day. Lesson for those seeking a suggestion… stay three days! Dragonbay cruise was pretty good deal for the price. They feed you a lot of food, all fresh, and most of it rather unique. The rooms are well kept and clean, and the staff quite friendly. Day trips were well organized as well.
My only concern though and this is not %100 relative to Dragonbay cruises, but to the area/UNESCO site managers- Halong Bay is dirty, and caverns and bays are filled with plastic and Styrofoam pellets as well. In addition, the beaches that are visited are littered with syringes/needles from either medical staff near the water (not likely) or drug users in the area (coastline, vessels, etc.). I counted 8 needles on one beach and picked up two on another. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Wonder of the World, and it is littered with garbage that has the ability to inflict immediate damage and long-term ecological damage as well. Dragonbay Cruises can make a bigger name for themselves in responsible tourism if they advocated for environmentally friendly tourism and clean up. Needles are unacceptable and so are floating water bottles!
This tour is, outside of the rubbish, truly amazing and wonderful. Again, it is well worth the 2 nights/3 days trip. Take your Halong Bay Cruise with Dragonbay! One of the main attractions of Vietnam was Halong Bay- I researched many different companies and liked the look of Dragonbay cruises. They are cheaper than some companies but also more expensive than many others- we were looking for something mid-range as I’d heard some horror stories about some of the budget ones!!
We booked directly with Thomas Pham in their office in Hanoi. He was very informative and knowledgable about Halong Bay and so we booked 3 days and 2 nights.
Sadly, on the way to Halong Bay we were told that a bad storm was due that night and no boats would be allowed- the company could do nothing earlier as weather reports change quickly there. So, they offered that we could do a full day tour for $50 and we would get the rest of the money back.
The day tour was great, the Dragonbay junks were beautiful and well kept.
And importantly, on return to Hanoi we went to the office and they gave us back our money in cash no problem.
I found the whole service really reliable and professional and couldn’t recommend this company enough. No one can control the weather and cancellations do happen so to know you have booked with a company who are so honest and aren’t going to try and rip you off makes all the difference.
DRAGONBAY CRUISES WAS A FANTASTIC WAY TO SEE THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE
We booked our overnight stay on “Dragonbay cruises” and we would recommend to anyone. We paid $115US each (food included) and got our own room with an ensuite. From the moment we were picked up in our air-conditioned van and made the trip to Halong Bay to our Junk boat we had an experience to remember. The guide Tai was brilliant with his knowledge and willingness to do anything for us, a warm and generous host. Once we arrived on our boat we were treated to great hospitality with nice food and plenty of drinks. Just a magnificent way to see a truly beautiful part of the world. We kayaked around a floating village and then anchored up for the night and had a very nice sunset party on the roof deck of our junk. Then we woke up to the beautiful views once again and paid a visit to the cave which had to be seen to be believed. Upon getting dropped back at the hotel we were said to say goodbye to Tai our host and knew we had experienced something very special
“DRAGONBAY OPERA – BOOK THE HONEYMOON SUITE!”
After agonising for hours over tour brochures and poring through reviews online, we finally booked the Dragonbay Opera. The Opera is a slightly more flash boat than the original Dragonbay and they have 3 room types. Because there wasn’t that much of a price difference, we booked the honeymoon suite and it was the best choice!
We were thrilled when we arrived on the boat and saw our cabin. It was large with a comfy bed, large window, nice bathroom with a porthole and a bath. The best feature though was the private deck with 2 sun loungers. There was a TV and DVD player, wine and fruit and a very special surprise; a beautifully decorated cake that said “Happy Honeymoon”. We informed them that we weren’t actually on our honeymoon but they didn’t mind at all, it was a perk of the room. We brought our cake out after dinner and shared it with all the other guests as a part of our karaoke party.
The night time activities are completely up to you and your group. On the first night, mostly everyone had a few drinks and sang karaoke. On the second night most of us went squid fishing (didn’t catch anything) and chatted over some quiet drinks.
The food was absolutely incredible and fiercely abundant! I put in a request for no seafood and no beef. They were completely happy to accommodate any food requests and as a result, our table got a larger variety of dishes than others.
We did a 2-night trip and on the middle day, the Opera goes back to Halong City to drop off and collect new people. Therefore, we transferred to a “Day boat” and met up with the 2-night people from the Dragonbay boat. The day boat is much smaller with just a lower deck (dining area) and a sun deck. We kayaked through some more caves and visited another beach as well as a pearl farm. The bravest in our group ignored the cold temperatures and went swimming, jumping off the sundeck into the bay which was lots of fun.
The obvious drawback in every trip to Halong Bay is that it is a tiresome, bumpy and cramped 4-hour ride in a minivan each way from Hanoi. There’s no denying it’s an awful way to start and finish your trip, but the destination is worth it. Based on that, I would always recommend the 3 days/ 2-night trip.
Thanks to David for not only listening to our requests and making a perfect recommendation to suit our needs and budget, but also giving us free bottles of water to take with us and doing our laundry! We had great service from them!