Where is Halong Bay?
For many people, what first comes to mind when they think about Halong Bay is either stunning views of limestone formations along with beautiful lakes or a hotspot for partying. When I first went to Halong Bay, which is located 188 km/117 mi East of Hanoi, I wasn’t sure what to expect and I went through the party cruise through my hostel. I cannot deny that I had fun on my cruise, but I feel like there was a bit too much focus on the drinking aspect, which was unfortunate seeing as you have to buy the drinks on the boat and can’t bring your own alcohol. This can add up for some people and it is just important that any backpacker on a budget is aware of this before going on a cruise. Besides drinks, all of the food and transportation was paid for and for my three-day/two-night trip on Halong Bay, it cost me 2,960,000 VND/132 USD. If you feel like a party cruise is what you want, or maybe you’re looking to meet people, then I think the price is worth it. Just make sure you go when it will be warm in Halong Bay and not cold! I thought the weather was great in October, but in January it was way too cold and the water was freezing!
If you feel like a party cruise is what you want, or maybe you’re looking to meet people, then I think the price is worth it.
If you want to see Halong Bay on your own, it is more than possible and it is oh so easy. All you need to do is book a bus ticket from Hanoi to Halong Bay and it should cost you about 335,000 VND/15 USD. The bus will take you to Cát Bá Island and from there you can plan your own unique experience, which I think is better.
Is it safe?
Unlike Hanoi, your life isn’t being threatened by fast moving vehicles or motorbikes but instead it is now nature working against you. When in Halong Bay or on Cát Bá Island, it is important to be wary of the wildlife and surroundings so that you don’t get hurt. This should also be stressed when drinking… as in please do not get wasted and try to go cliff jumping. You don’t want to be that backpacker that ends up on the news.
When in Halong Bay or on Cát Bá Island, it is important to be wary of the wildlife and surroundings so that you don’t get hurt.
Regardless of drinking or not, anyone participating in outdoor sports needs to be alert and not fool around. So make sure you don’t hurt yourself while trying to take that perfect ‘selfie’.
What is there to do?
Oh lord Jesus, SO MUCH. Kayaking, snorkeling, rock climbing, water solo climbing, trekking… the list goes on. Just remember that these activities are weather-permitting, so plan your trip accordingly. I went rock climbing through Asia Outdoors and you can see about my experience here. Otherwise, good ol’ Tripadvisor is always there for some great suggestions.
Where can I stay?
If you book a cruise tour, you will stay on the boat or an island that is already designated for your tour. If you choose to go to Cát Bá Island on your own, I would recommend the Full Moon Party Hotel since it is so cheap and the service and rooms are great.