Beautiful Cruise on Bai Tu Long Bay

Nov 20th, 2019, 03:45 PM
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Beautiful Cruise on Bai Tu Long Bay

We just returned from a wonderful three-week trip to Seoul, Hanoi, Chiang Mai and Bangkok. This was our first trip to this part of the world, and as usual, Fodorites were so helpful in answering my questions and giving us good advice. I always plan every part of all our trips and in this case, I was stuck on which cruise company to choose for Ha Long Bay so I posted on Fodors. You came through and we had a wonderful cruise through this beautiful part of the world!

Ms_go and others had good advice which I took to heart and ended up reserving a two-day/one-night cruise on Bai Tu Long Bay with Indochina Junk. We couldn't have been happier! They picked us up in a modern, comfortable van from our hotel in Hanoi. It takes about three hours do drive from Hanoi to the port which included a 30-minute stop at a craft center about halfway to the port.

We boarded our boat, the Dragon Legend, at about 11:30 and we headed out through Ha Long Bay to Bai Tu Long Bay. We were fortunate to have perfect weather and the scenery was magical! The Dragon Legend has 24 staterooms with a capacity of 46 passengers. There were only 20 passengers on our cruise, so it felt like we had the boat to ourselves! Lunch was served on deck so that we could enjoy the beautiful scenery as we ate.

We chose the one-night cruise due to limited time. Our cruise had two optional activities; kayaking the first afternoon and a cave tour the next morning. The cruise director told me that the two-night cruise also included a barbeque and a visit to a floating fishing village. We stayed on the boat the first afternoon, but I did do the cave tour the next day. It was interesting, but a bit strenuous for me despite the fact that I'm in pretty good shape.

The limestone outcroppings are gorgeous and the advantage of going the "extra mile" to Bai Tu Long Bay is that only a small number of companies have access to that part of the bay, so we felt that we almost had it to ourselves. It was so pristine and we appreciated being the only boat in the area (that we could see, at least) for a good part of our cruise. Both the sunset and the next morning's sunrise were stunning!

The cost for the one-night cruise was $428. This is more than others we could have chosen, but as far as we were concerned, it was well worth it. The Dragon Legend is great - our stateroom was spacious as was the bathroom. The staff on the boat, as we found all over Asia, was so friendly and accommodating and the food, both Asian and western options, was great. I can't think of anything we would have changed.

On the way back to Hanoi, we stopped at a water puppet theater. I was ready to get back to the hotel, but the water puppet show was actually very interesting and it was included in the price of the cruise.

As an aside, tourists are discovering Ha Long Bay and pollution is beginning to be a problem. I appreciated Indochina Junk's dedication to the ecology of the area. They gave us glass water bottles in the van and they asked us not to bring aboard any one-time plastic such as water bottles. Good for them!

I've blogged about the cruise and have posted photos of our 24 hours. You can read more about it at https://www.twoboomersabroad.com/pos...ng-bay-vietnam

Thanks again, Fodorites, for your great advice!
ellen75005 is offline  
Nov 20th, 2019, 06:48 PM
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Thanks for that report and the link to the photos. They are beautiful. My husband and I will be in Vietnam in August and also plan on a one night cruise. Was the cost you cited for one person or both of you? I did look at Indochina Junk and noticed it does not have prices on their website. The others I have looked at were about $200 per person so if that price is for two, itís reasonable.
laurieco is online now  
Nov 20th, 2019, 10:53 PM
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Yes thank you for try TR and the pics are very nice.
Larry
'
jacketwatch is online now  
Nov 20th, 2019, 11:34 PM
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Thanks for reporting on your trip. Great blog and photos.looks like you had good weather.
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Nov 21st, 2019, 04:21 AM
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laurieco,

The cost was for both of us and included the activities and meals (and the puppet theater on the way back). Of course, it also included transportation to and from Hanoi. I see now there's a typo in my report; it was $458, not $428. Even so, we felt it was reasonable. I also saw the others in the $200 range and now that I've been there, my guess is that you get what you pay for. I would absolutely choose Bai Tu Long Bay and as I said, we loved everything about the Dragon Legend. Indochina Junk's communication prior to the trip was also excellent. I don't think you could go wrong with them. Good luck; you'll love it!

Ellen
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Nov 21st, 2019, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
Thanks for reporting on your trip. Great blog and photos.looks like you had good weather.
crellston,

Yes, the weather was gorgeous - we were so lucky! In fact it was beautiful the entire three weeks. It was raining when we arrived in Hanoi, but by the time we checked into our hotel it stopped and that was the only rain we saw. Hanoi was in the 80's - just perfect. Chiang Mai and Bangkok were high 80's to low 90's, but again, no rain.
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Nov 21st, 2019, 08:16 AM
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Thanks ellen. I think Indochina Junk will be the company we go with.
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Nov 21st, 2019, 07:59 PM
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I have one more question. I just got an email from Indochina Junk and we are trying to decide between the Dragon Legend and the Dragon Pearl, which has only 11 cabins. DH thinks that may be an even more authentic experience. I get seasick though so Iím wondering how smooth or choppy the water was. I may be better off on the boat you were on since itís bigger than the Pearl. Did the boat rock a lot? I can take gentle rocking but if it dips a lot or is rocky it could turn into a nightmare for me. Of course I will bring Dramamine but it wonít work if the water is rough. I realize there is a typo in my first post. We will be in Vietnam in April not August.

Last edited by laurieco; Nov 21st, 2019 at 08:02 PM.
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Nov 21st, 2019, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by laurieco View Post
I have one more question. I just got an email from Indochina Junk and we are trying to decide between the Dragon Legend and the Dragon Pearl, which has only 11 cabins. DH thinks that may be an even more authentic experience. I get seasick though so Iím wondering how smooth or choppy the water was. I may be better off on the boat you were on since itís bigger than the Pearl. Did the boat rock a lot? I can take gentle rocking but if it dips a lot or is rocky it could turn into a nightmare for me. Of course I will bring Dramamine but it wonít work if the water is rough. I realize there is a typo in my first post. We will be in Vietnam in April not August.
Get a Rx for a Scopolamine patch. Much more effective than OTC Dramamine. I get really seasick and wear a Scop patch on any sort of boat ride. Sometimes I'm puking even with the patch. But BTLB was really calm (we had a really small boat with Swan Cruises) and I was totally fine with the patch.
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Nov 22nd, 2019, 03:45 AM
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laurieco,

We felt no movement whatsoever on the boat. I get seasick, too, and I said to my husband as we arrived at the port that I had forgotten to pack the seasick wristband that has helped me before on ships. But I wouldn't even have known that we were on a boat. My husband and I even talked about it; he said that the water in the bay was probably protected by all the outcroppings. Your comment reminded me that as we were on the tender going to board the Dragon Legend, our cruise director pointed out a couple other of their smaller boats. As wonderful and excellent as our boat was with only 20 passengers (although there could have been up to 42), I agree with your husband that a smaller one may give you even more of an authentic experience. I wouldn't hesitate to book that one. The only thing I obviously don't know is if the bay does ever get choppy if the weather is bad. My guess is that April weather is as nice as early November was for us, but that's a guess. Bring whatever works for you and I think you'll be fine.

As an aside, I remember also looking at other boats when I was researching the trip that had some staterooms with balconies. In retrospect, it's much better to be on an open deck because the 360 view is spectacular and you wouldn't want your view limited by only being able to see in one direction.

This isn't directly related to your question, but I was talking to someone who swam as part of the kayak experience as several people did,. She said that the current was so strong that it started carrying her away from the boat and that as hard as she tried to get back, she wasn't making any progress. One of the crew members saw her, jumped in with a ring and brought her back. I was surprised because from the boat and as calm as the water was, it was impossible to tell that there was a strong current.

Anyway, let us know what you decide!
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Nov 22nd, 2019, 06:13 AM
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Thanks LAX and ellen. I wore the patch quite a few years ago when cruising from Santorini to Mykonos. I spent 8 hours puking and was sick as a dog. The patch was taken off the market after that and it was no small wonder why, it did not work at all. I will assume it has been improved and will check it out

we will decide this weekend which boat to take and contact Indochina Junk. Iím guessing there may be a charge for using a credit card?
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Nov 22nd, 2019, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by laurieco View Post
Thanks LAX and ellen. I wore the patch quite a few years ago when cruising from Santorini to Mykonos. I spent 8 hours puking and was sick as a dog. The patch was taken off the market after that and it was no small wonder why, it did not work at all. I will assume it has been improved and will check it out


Your note that the Scop patch was taken off the market seemed odd to me as I've readily obtained it every time I've needed. Did a quick search and I see that it was taken off the market in the mid-1990s due to some manufacturing problems: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB879211438847475000 . I suppose it's much better now!
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Nov 22nd, 2019, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq View Post
Your note that the Scop patch was taken off the market seemed odd to me as I've readily obtained it every time I've needed. Did a quick search and I see that it was taken off the market in the mid-1990s due to some manufacturing problems: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB879211438847475000 . I suppose it's much better now!
Actually we went to a travel clinic just three days ago and the practitioner offered it to my wife as part of of plans includes a cruise. However for her dramamine woks quite well.
My ex boss uses ia scop patch when she goes on her sail boat vacations at least once per year.
However in 2006 my wife became quite seasick on the Tahitian Princess and the ships British MD said it was no longer used in Europe due to severe side effects.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Nov 22nd, 2019 at 08:46 AM.
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Nov 22nd, 2019, 11:58 AM
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LAX, it was in the mid 1990s when I used the patch. We flew back to Athens from Mykonos. I told my husband that either we fly to Athens or Iím never leaving this island. The next trip we took to Greece we flew between islands.
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Nov 23rd, 2019, 03:51 AM
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laurieco,

I paid $200 when I made the reservation and the balance of $258 was due the day we took the cruise, either in USD cash or by credit card. I think there was a 3% charge for using a credit card.

Ellen
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Nov 24th, 2019, 02:11 PM
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Thanks Ellen. I'll pay the 3% for using a credit card, especially since I get 3 miles per dollar for anything travel related.
laurieco is online now  
Nov 25th, 2019, 03:17 AM
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We did the same thing! Plus, we weren't thrilled with the idea of carrying that much cash. When you arrive at the pier, they'll take you into a huge building where you'll wait until the rep (cruise director) comes to take you on the boat. There's a table in that area by the escalator where you'll pay the balance. It wasn't marked (that I saw, at least) and there are a lot of people milling around, so we didn't see it immediately.

Have you decided where you'll stay in Hanoi yet?
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Nov 25th, 2019, 05:25 AM
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Weíre staying at the OíGallery Majestic Hotel & Spa. We booked their best suite for the two nights after the cruise and a regular room for the night before.

O?Gallery Majestic Hotel & Spa - a member of OHG
laurieco is online now  
Nov 25th, 2019, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by laurieco View Post
Thanks Ellen. I'll pay the 3% for using a credit card, especially since I get 3 miles per dollar for anything travel related.
I just looked and the Well Fargo Propel American express card gives 3 points for travel and dining out and has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Thats amazing!
Our Sapphire Reserve card gives 3 points for dining and travel and has a $450.00 annual fee though $300.00 of that is a travel credit which actually can be used for Taxis, Uber etc. and even for toll fees. Also no foreign transaction fees and the $100.00 fee for global entry was simply waived. They did not apply it to the $300.00 annual travel credit, just dismissed it.
We did get a 100k sign on bonus though now its been reduced to 60k I think.
jacketwatch is online now  
Nov 25th, 2019, 01:40 PM
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jacketwatch, I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and got the 100,000 sign up bonus. I've had the card for three years and have no plans to cancel it. The benefits are great. I dump the points into my United account and have gotten round trip business class tix to Australia and Tanzania for me and my husband and now have enough for another round trip in biz anywhere in the world, and enough left over for a one way, but the miles add up quickly. Can't do that with Wells Fargo card I don't think. I also love the Priority Pass for airport lounges.
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