Halong Bay – 2 nights cruise

3 days and 2 nights in Dragon Pearl Junk

Itinerary (activities) and location of cruising differentiates one cruise from other… and I am glad we chose well! There are very few companies which cruise to Bai Tu Long section of Ha Long Bay – which effectively meant less crowd, cleaner water and better experience…

Day 1 – Kayaking, Swimming

  • We were picked up at around 7: 30 am (as confirmed on email beforehand) from our Hanoi hotel in a luxury van (seats six). The van is swanky and very comfortable. There are charging points and wi-fi on board. Relaxing 4 hour drive to the pier…
  • En route we stopped at a souvenir store where you can see the craftsmen hard at work. Price was reasonable so you consider picking up some quality souvenirs…

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  • We were first dropped off at a holding area (a small restaurant) where we joined others taking the same cruise. Soon, 18 of us were taken to the pier in an electric shuttle. We took a small boat to get to the cruise which was anchored a short distance away. We met the guide and headed to our room…
  • We set off towards Bai Tu Long Bay and the number of boats around us reduced… Few minutes into cruising and you are already spellbound by the number of green islands… Pictures don’t do any justice to the scenic beauty …

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  • We soon anchored close to some large islands and set off kayaking…the limestone rocks seem more majestic from sea level ! We followed the guide initially… went through some caves and then explored the area on our own. The kayaks had a backrest which made it very comfortable to enjoy kayaking for 1-1.5 hour without any trouble…

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  • On getting back, we just jumped into the water and swam around the junk… Temperature was perfect for a relaxing dip…

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  • After freshening up, we enjoyed a sumptuous dinner on the deck under the night sky… We later lay down on the sun loungers, gazing up to the stars and enjoying the peace of this beautiful bay… SS Tip: One of my favorite memories of the trip!

Day 2 – Kayaking, Beach, Cave Visit and Swimming

  • We made our way between larger islands as we headed towards Cong Dam area.

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  • We set off kayaking and exploring the majestic islands (can’t get enough of this)! We then headed to a small beach – it was just 10 of us on this lil island. We were free to swim or laze on the beach…

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  • While we freshened up, we cruised over to yet another beach where we were scheduled to have barbecue lunch … unfortunately due to heavy rains we ended up having lunch inside the cruise…
  • Luckily, the rain gods relented and we then headed over to the Thien Canh Son cave on the island. This limestone cave is dry and maintained by the cruise company…

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  • As it is situated at a height, we had the opportunity to gaze at panoramic views of the bay…

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  • Once we anchored for the evening, we went for a final swim in the bay (stayed close to the cruise as the current seemed lil strong)… We then lazed on the deck watching the sunset…

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  • Dinner was followed by some musical performances from the crew… after dinner, you can go squid fishing with the crew on moonless nights or alternatively just relax on the deck …

Day 3 – Fishing Village and Puppet Show

  • We set off early to Vung Vieng fishing village… we switched to bamboo boats (can sit 6) with a native rowing for us. The village is actually a large lagoon with few floating houses where the fishermen live. Apart from learning how these fishermen survive so far away from civilization, the beautiful scenery is what makes this excursion worthwhile… We stopped at a natural pearls workshop at the end before returning to the cruise…

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  • After another lovely brunch, it was time to bid adieu… We headed back to Hanoi in the similar luxury vans… On the way back, we stopped at Yen Duc village for traditional water puppet show… The 20 min show was a good break and gave us a chance to say good-bye to our fellow cruise passengers !

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Small things which make a difference…

  • Junk: The junk had 10 cabins and decks at 2 level. It had an old world charm… Room was lil small (as expected on cruise) but had a spacious bathroom! While it had all the modern conveniences, there was no TV and after a point no mobile network. Enjoy being disconnected from the world for 2 days… SS Tip: This was an ideal size junk to enjoy the bay – there are smaller private and larger cruise options across companies!

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  • Food: All meals were terrific – minimum 6 courses of fresh food consisting of salads, soups, sea food, vegetables, etc. You need to let them know dietary requirements in advance and they do an excellent job taking care of it. We were vegetarians and lil apprehensive – but I probably had one of my best meals onboard the cruise ! Even simple fries tasted good…

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  • Passengers: We had a mix of people from Australia, France, Netherlands, Sweden and USA. As there were just 18 people on the junk, it never felt crowded…
  • Crew: Our english speaking guide was a fun native who kept us entertained during the entire trip… We had a crew of 11 people taking care of meals, house keeping and activities… We were never hurried during any activity (Don’t remember checking time on the cruise) and they let us enjoy things at our pace!

Would love to go back again to this absolutely scenic bay!

 

 

 

 

 


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