While in Hanoi (Vietnam) I stayed at Hanoi Backpackers Hostel in Downtown, 3 days 2 nights tours to Halong Bay. I booked it directly with the hostel, which I think it is a great idea especially because you can already start making friends at the hostel.
On the day of the tour we left around 7:30am and it took FOREVER to get there. We took a bus, a ferry, another bus and then a boat.
When we got to the private beach at Castaways Island the guides explained to us some games they play there, and if we don’t follow the rules of the games we may pay by drinking or doing push-ups. Only participate those who want to, but they are pretty fun games and they help everyone to interact so it is good to give it a try.
There are some really cool activities you can do there too, such as a party cruise around the bay, kayaking, rock climbing and wakeboarding. As I was there in December and it was pretty cold (at least for a Brazilian), I only went kayaking and to the party cruise.
Even though it was chili some people jumped into the water during the party cruise, some of them did swim naked haha. We played some drinking games and danced with the view of one of the world’s Natural Wonders.
While we were dancing I put the Live More, Travel More fox head and everyone got so excited about it!!! Oh Gosh, I wish I could go back in time and dance like crazy with these people again =)
Talking about Halong Bay itself, I was so impressed about this place, it is mystical, its story is curious, the view is not just what the pictures show, there are floating villages, fishers, caves and birds around…it is STUNNING!
We finished the tour singing along and dancing (as you can see in the video), I was actually sorry for those who did not come to the party cruise because they were probably pretty jealous while watching us having so much fun.
Later at the Castaways Island we had a big party and after that I had one of THE BEST EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE.
Late at night in this private beach the ocean is full of BIOLUMINESCENT PLANKTON. At midnight a girl and I went swimming and seriously, it was so FREAKING AMAZING! Unfortunately my goPro pictures ended up being super dark so I can’t show you, but this surreal moment of blue sparkles shining while I moved in the water and in front of me I saw those incredible mini mountain islands that you can only find in Halong Bay…oh man, this moment is in my mind and nobody will ever take it away from me…
- Overall I highly recommend this trip but here are some comments that may be relevant before you make a decision:
- Most people will be between 20-30 years old; if you can’t handle drunk young folks this is not for you.
- You may find sand on your bed while in the island, it may piss you off but on the next day you will probably leave some sand to the next guest’s bed by accident and then will understand why it happened to you.
- The restrooms will be nasty after the party.
In my point of view this not a tour for regular tourists, it is a tour for BACKPACKERS that are looking for fun and don’t mind if things aren’t perfect.
- Pack light.
- Bring a snack to eat on the way to Halong Bay.
- Put your money and documents somewhere safe. (Shampoo bottles, in the middle of some socks…be creative!).
- Take a look at the weather forecast before booking; sometimes they cancel the tour due to the rain.
- Make sure you don’t get wasted and miss the bioluminescent plankton experience.
HOTEL AND TOUR INFORMATION (Including prices):
Hostel: Hanoi Backpackers Hostel (Downtown).
Tour: Hanoi Backpackers Hostel.