From Hanoi we took a tour where we spent 1 night in Bai Tu Long Bay, a newer route within the Halong Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site. The difference is mainly the amount of boats (or junks as the Vietnamese call them) that are allowed on this route and the ocean on Bai Tu long Bay is sparkling clean. Unfortunately on the extremely touristy Halong Bay, the water is very contaminated. From what I read, the sight between Bai Tu Long Bay and Halong bay is fairly similar
Friends, Family and blogs had told me that Halong Bay was beautiful but at the same time a huge disappointment because it is excessively touristy which has caused the ocean to be dirty and full of boats. So after a lot of research I discovered an alternative route, still within Halong Bay itself but the route is called Bai Tu Long Bay.
What did our 2 day 1 night tour entail?
We took the Viola Cruise. There are so many choices that we ended up choosing one of the boats that our hotel recommended. We were picked up from the hotel in Hanoi (this allows you to leave your bags at the hotel and bring a small bag onto the boat). About 4 hours later, we arrived at Han Gai International Harbor.
Around 1pm you are on the boat and a buffet lunch is served. Overall the food on the boat was good. Not extraordinary but it was good. By the time lunch is over, the boat has arrived at Vung Vieng where you get a ride on a bamboo boat and visit a pearl farm.
After the pearl farm we went to Ban Chan beach where you can relax or go on kayaks. While you’re on this beach the groups from other boats arrive as well. There was a lot of people on the beach and while I was there I couldn’t help by wonder how much more crowded the well-known Halong Bay tour could be.
Back on the boat, the last activity is a drink during sunset and then dinner. The group on our boat was very nice so that made the trip more entertaining.
The best part of the tour is simply soaking in the views. I have never seen anything like Halong Bay, it’s so beautiful. We had the room with a small balcony and it was so peaceful to sit there and watch how amazing nature can be. At night it’s so quiet and peaceful, so relaxing.
The next day we visited a cave (again, at the same time as all the other boats) and after that had free time on the boat or a small cooking class. The cooking class was fun, we made summer rolls (which I love!).
Overall, I recommend the experience, mainly because the views are so breathtaking and unique. Honestly, I thought 1 night was enough, but then again, I can’t compare it to anything because I haven’t been on the 2 night trip. I was happy with our decision of going to Bai Tu Long Bay because it was definitely less crowded (and even so, there was a crowd). Overall, the boat was good, the service was good, the rooms where clean but it’s all in a small space.