Boats and caves with Skippy

Is it Ha Long Bay or Halong Bay?

Either way, what a beautiful place. We only had a couple of days in Hanoi, Vietnam and there’s so many appealing ways to spend your time there so it was hard choosing. We spent one of our valuable days on a day trip to Ha Long Bay and I’m so glad we did. When we first arrived in the country at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi there were several stalls where you could purchase day trip tickets, accommodation and onward travel. Very convenient- maybe a little too convenient so we thought surely everything must be overpriced. Because we were extremely short on time and wanted to do the day trip to the Bay the next day we decided to take a chance and book through the agents there and hope we weren’t getting ripped off!

I think our spontaneity paid off as we got a super day out. The total cost per person was £35 which compared to other prices that we had seen (£100+) for the same kind of itinery, it was a bargain. We were picked up from our hostel at around 8 in the morning as it took 3ish hours to get there with a short stop halfway. What was brilliant about the trip was our tour guide, Skippy. He was so enthusiastic, even early in the morning, and tried his best to get us asking questions and introducing ourselves to the rest of the group.

We arrived at the port and boarded the boat which would take us to the Bay, where we could take pictures and have a wander round the deck. The weather was very misty and drizzly that day and although it would have been amazing to have sat in the sun and admired the view, it still looked stunning.

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Skippy and the locals that worked on the boat served up a massive lunch for us all and it was lovely. A mixture of seafood, meat and local dishes which were all tasty. I even tried some food that I hadn’t eaten before which I was quite happy and proud of. Nobody could quite believe how much food we were given. We shared a table with an older couple from Manchester, UK who were very nice and interesting and they had traveled a lot.

The next part of our day involved exploring some of the caves by either a boat rowed by the locals or a kyack if you weren’t bothered about getting wet or lost (or if you’re a bit more adventurous than us). We went for the first option! It was so relaxing meandering through the ocean and admiring the natural beauty of the Bay.

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When we were back on our boat I thought we would just head back to the port but there was one more activity for us. It was such a packed day for the price we paid. Skippy took us to the biggest cave in Halong Bay called Paradise Cave and we went inside which was our first time going inside a cave of this size. It was massive. And Skippy knew so much about how it was discovered and lots of other facts about it that I actually learnt a lot.

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I’m not usually one that enjoys a tour guide kind of situation but he was so knowledgable and just such a nice guy that it made the day even  better. What we both would have loved to do if we had longer in Vietnam is go on a tour that lasts a couple of days. You get to camp out on the beaches at the Bay or stay on a boat and if you have the blessing of the sun I’ve heard it’s an incredible experience.

In a nutshell, if you’re ever in Hanoi, make sure you go and see Halong Bay.

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