When I went to Vietnam, I didn’t have a huge itinerary, but I knew for sure that I wanted to go to HaLong Bay, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. With its stunning, clear, turquoise water and the breathtaking landscape of islands and karst mountains, it is definitely a must see. With so many cruise options, it is difficult to know which to pick. Here I will review my experience with Golden Bay Cruises.
Before leaving for Hanoi, my friend and I did some research on possible cruises because we figured it was best to book early. However, not feeling like spending upwards of $200-$300, we decided to just wait until we arrived in the city to start looking at trips, since they would be much cheaper. We also figured, if worse came to worst, we could always take a ferry to one of the islands, set up a base there, and then take day cruises from the island.
On any normal weekend, this would have been simple. However, since we came right in the midst of Tet, an important 3 day holiday in Vietnam where the city essentially shuts down, our search for a cruise became much more difficult. Either tours stopped running altogether, or the ones that continued to run were twice as expensive as usual. We were also told that regular busses and ferry boats going to Cat Ba Island would not run on the two days we were hoping to go.
Our first day in Hanoi was basically spent going from tour company to tour company, trying to find the best deal and getting out all that we wanted from our trip. We wanted to do a two night tour with one night on Cat Ba. After a few hours of searching, we ended up going back to the first tour company we found and paying $150 for a tour that normally cost $90. We didn’t mind paying more, as we were quite impressed by the level of service and the attentiveness of the staff when we were booking. So, we paid the money and were told to meet back at the hotel at 8 in the morning for pickup.
When we arrived at the hotel at 7:50, the staff again treated us with great respect and attentiveness. They even insisted on giving us their phone number, in case something happened and we needed to get a hold of someone. After a 15 minute wait, we were then met by our harried- looking tour guide, Ryan.
“Quickly,” he said as he led us to a red tour bus, “we are on a tight schedule.” After we loaded onto the bus, we continued on through the streets of the Old Quarter, stopping every few minutes to pick up new passengers. One hour later, our bus was on its way to Ha Long City, where we would soon embark on our 3 day adventure.