Vietnam almost broke us. Disastrous overnight journeys, lost possessions and bouts of serious illnesses robbed us of not only a lot of money, but also a lot of our optimism. So when it came to booking the last part of our journey, a cruise around Halong Bay, we were looking for a bargain and praying for the best – especially as the sunsets here are supposed to rival the best across the world.
Our hotel offered a two day, one night trip including food for $45, which seemed great and despite the saleswoman looking dubious and describing it as ‘not the worst, not the best’ cruise, we were feeling excited!
Needless to say, it rained. A lot.
But the boat was clean and modern, there was a wide range of food choices, the drinks were reasonably priced and we made some hilarious friends.
The tour guide was… Erm… ‘Not the best’! She frequently didn’t know the answers to basic questions (like what time is lunch), she was very unorganised, and she constantly insisted on making us pose for her own personal photos! She also had a tendancy to hit people who disobeyed or didn’t quite hear her orders! Disbelieving though we were, at under 5 foot and certainly under 50kg, she was more amusing than frightening.
The peak of her chaos happened when we were disembarking the boat on the second day (in the rain), when we were told the coach that was supposed to be taking us to a restaurant for lunch was not coming. We huddled under an umbrella for an hour with all our luggage whilst she hailed the infrequent taxis. It then became clear we were expected to pay for these taxis ourselves, and she couldn’t even explain where the restaurant was. Luckily we had a wander after being dropped off and found her chatting away on her phone half an hour later in the next street.
Fortunately, Halong Bay itself was beautiful. I would definitely recommend visiting on a sunnier day than we had, but it is up there with the most beautiful places in Vietnam.
Our personal highlight was the kayaking, when we got to explore the bay ourselves for a little while and is something that we’ll remember for a long time.
Amazing value for money, but you might find it’s worth the extra dong for a more organised tour! Perfect for budget backpackers,
Charlotte & Sarah x