Cost: 2,950,000 VND/ 132 USD
Is it worth it? 6.6/10
Whenever I talk to people about the Halong Bay boat tours, I always get mixed reviews. Some people think it is necessary when coming to Vietnam, whereas others may think that it’s a bit overrated. Personally, I think that it is somewhere right in the middle of those two descriptions. When I first came to Vietnam in October as a solo female traveler, I was a bit nervous about making friends since I hadn’t traveled alone in a while and felt like I wouldn’t know how to talk to strangers! If you feel the same way about traveling alone, then I think that organized tours are great for you because you meet so many different people. The good thing about this is that you can meet people who you can see yourself being friends with or continuing your travels with. However, the downside is that if you meet people on the tour you don’t like, then you’re stuck with them. Overall, if you are worried about being lonely, just go ahead and book an organized tour for any place you want to see or activity you want to do.
If you feel the nervous about traveling alone, then I think that organized tours are great for you because you meet so many different people.
Day 1: The day started early with our bus departing at 8 A.M. and driving a couple hours to get to the pier where we would board our boat to get to Halong Bay. Once we were onboard, we were served a “family-style” lunch and people with similar diets were seated with each other. Some people on the trip were vegetarian or vegan, and the crew did their best to accommodate to those needs, but it looked like they were mostly given bread as a substitute. After lunch, we all went on the deck to soak up some rays and chat with each other. Soon after, we arrived to our first destination, which was Surprise Cave and took a small tour. It was so incredibly hot walking up and around the cave so when we went back to the boat to go swimming and kayaking, we were all thrilled. The evening was filled with jumping off the boat, playing in the water and just having a grand ol’ time. Afterwards, we all had dinner and then people went on the deck to party. Note: If you plan on going on this trip, just know that alcohol isn’t allowed. But, many people hide bottles that they had with them and one person got caught and almost fined. If you plan to bring your own alcohol, just don’t let them see.
Worth it? 6/10
Day 2: This day was the best day of the trip since it mostly consisted of staying on Freedom Island. Once we woke up from the night before, we had to pack up and head out to board a smaller boat. This boat took us to Freedom Island and along the way, we were able to do cliff jumping and snorkeling. After getting to Freedom Island, we had lunch and then played volleyball, swam to this abandoned prison and some people were playing drinking games on the beach. It was a great day spent on a beautiful island with some really fun people. At night, the partying commenced and people even went swimming again and saw the glowing plankton, which was remarkable.
Worth it? 10/10
Day 3: This day was mostly traveling back to Hanoi, which was just a long day spent on boats and in buses. It was a grueling journey for many people who partied hard the night before, so just be aware that no one is going to pity you when you have a headache and the music on the bus is too loud.
Worth it? 4/10
Overall, I think if I was traveling with friends then I would have organized my own tour of Halong Bay to have more time doing the things that I enjoyed doing. I would say that staying on an island is a must when in Halong Bay and that I could have gone without staying on the boat. Additionally, if you don’t like to drink or party, then I don’t think this tour would be as enjoyable for you. Just read about Halong Bay and what attractions there are and if you feel the Party Boat Tour covers it all, then go for it. If not, then you might want to consider other options. In conclusion, these are the positive and negative aspects when going on the Halong Bay Party Boat Tour:
- Meet new people
- Have transportation taken care for you
- Having meals prepared and served to you
- Freedom Island
- Costs more money
- There is a set meal plan
- Have to follow structured schedule