In a nutshell
If you are traveling to North Vietnam, you cannot not make a trip to the famous Ha Long Bay. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay is known for its breathtaking view of 1600 scattered limestone islands and islets. These islands are still well preserved and mostly uninhabited by humans. The locals have given these islands interesting names based on their shapes like Scooby Doo, Kissing Island, and the Lonely Island.
A typical day tour would also take you for a boat or kayak ride to the Floating Village and end it at the mesmerizing Heavenly cave Thien Cung Cave.
How to get there
There are a billion tour organizers from Hanoi and Nihn Bihn. A lot of these tours are scams or provide poor service. Our hotel organized a day tour with Wati Travel who were efficient and professional. The tour was not overcrowded as many others and the guide was quite entertaining.
You can also arrange a private vehicle to Ha Long Bay and join one of the cruises. People also skip Ha Long bay to head to Cat Ba Islands from there instead.
Itinerary for the tour
Most day tours have the same itinerary
8-8.30 am: They pick you up from your hotel in Old Quarter. If you are staying elsewhere, you can find a cab to take you to the Old Quarter.
10-10.30 am: You take a break to use the washroom or pick up a snack. There is also art available that can be shipped to your country here
12-12.30 pm: You arrive at your ship. You are served a seafood lunch. Wati Travels provided a great spread of 9 courses. After this you can go and relax at the deck, enjoy the view and take photos.
1.30-2 pm: You reach the floating village, a home to fishermen that you can visit on a bamboo boat or kayak.
2.30-3 pm: You reach the famous caves, Thien Cung Cave or Heaven Cave. Discovered in 1993, The cave has strangely shaped stalactites and stalagmites.
4pm: You reach the deck and head back to your bus/car
8pm: You are at your hotel in Ha Noi
Cost for two: $106
If you do have more time, opt for the 2 day tour to enjoy the sunrise. Cost for 1 at Wati Travel is $85 for the 2 day package. You can be more adventurous and explore the area on your own. Wear something very comfortable and breazy. Lastly, carry some extra cash if you want to purchase beverages on your tour.