Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page > Halong Bay in April -- boats and advance booking recommendations
Notices

Halong Bay in April -- boats and advance booking recommendations

Reply

Feb 13th, 2012, 10:54 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 144
Halong Bay in April -- boats and advance booking recommendations

My husband and I are planning a trip to Hanoi to visit a friend and would like to see Halong Bay while we're there.

I'd like to get recommendations for smaller, more intimate boats that will cost no more than $250 per night. Are there any special ones to look at?

Also wondering if we need to book in advance (as told to me by a boat company) or if we can wait till we get to Hanoi and book the day before at a tour company where we may be able to get a better deal?

Thanks for your help.
Gabi7 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 12:41 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
I'd take the above with a large grain of salt, Gabi.

Can I suggest you type in 'Halong Bay' in the little searchbox above and you'll find a million posts to answer your question. Remember, the smaller and more intimate the boat, the more likely it is to be booked out.

Above all - do NOT do the one day tour. Hideous.
dogster is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 12:57 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Well Gabi, you're learning something about tourism in Vietnam. I'd say that Viet travel advisor would be one company NOT to use. lol.
dogster is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 02:10 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
lol lol lol.

This is very inept spam. I prefer a spammer of sophistication; a classy spam-meister - not this fourth grade stuff.

Ahhh, Gabi, see what you've unleashed? There are about 70,000 companies in Vietnam all offering exactly the same thing. If you really wanted to book this rather ordinary boat, you could do it through any of them.

Of course, you can just book direct with the cruise itself [if you can locate the actual website in the midst of a forest of copy-cat sites] and skip the unnecessary middle-man entirely.
dogster is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 08:35 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
It's usually dogster's comments that are deleted by the moderators...

You can book through Tonkin Travel, a reliable agency which has been used by many on this forum.
Craig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 08:42 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,777
This post was a spam magnet!
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 09:47 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
I've spent two nights on Bhaya Cruises and enjoyed.
https://www.bhayacruises.com/Default.aspx

This post has just been current as well:
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...-valentine.cfm
dogster is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 09:47 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 11,968
We enjoyed a two-day voyage aboard the Red Dragon junk, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them. It was arranged through our hotel in Hanoi, the Elegance Ruby.

You can click on my name to find our trip report.
mr_go is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 09:58 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
I might add that I think Halong Bay is pretty damn overrated.

It's ALWAYS overcast, grey and filled with drunk Australian backpackers. The caves are garish. The three hour plus drive there and back is really dreary, not enlivened by the compulsory shopping stop where you'll buy all the cheap crap in Vietnam. So choose your boat wisely - it is the main attraction. The longer you stay the better it gets, to offset the dullness of getting there.

Still, others disagree.
dogster is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 11:54 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 11,968
Actually, most of the Red Dragon's route covers nearby Bai Tu Long Bay, which isn't quite as jam-packed as HaLong Bay.

Anyway, my main counter-point to dogster's points above goes like this:

http://onelittleworld.zenfolio.com/p117716538

To me, it's worth the (admittedly) dreary drive.
mr_go is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 04:02 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,096
Perhaps we were lucky, but Halong Bay was magical the whole time we were there last October, no crowds.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 05:31 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,351
We just did an overnight on Dragon Pearl III which we booked thru TonkinTours. There we're twenty people and it was a very nice boat. Like mr-go we went to Bai Tu Long. I think Indochine boats go there which ours was as is thr red Dragon.
We were there ona drizzly cold day and evening and a touch warmer day cloudy but no rain the second day. It was still something special and I'm glad we went despite the weather. In good weather I would think a two nightwear would be nice,
If u want a specific date or boat, booking in advance might be wise. If you're flexible then you could likely wait to book.
yestravel is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 14th, 2012, 05:31 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,351
That should be TWO NIGHTS
yestravel is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 15th, 2012, 05:29 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 282
In October I did a 2 night 3 day trip with Eco Friendly which starts from Cat Ba island. It's a private boat, meaning there are no other guests and the crew is there just for you (guide, driver, cook and possibly one other person). The boat is not luxury but it's very intimate and was exactly what I wanted. The great thing is that you tour in a completely different area of Halong Bay and there are no other boats in sight except for other Eco-Friendly sister boats. (One, on our trip). I think it was US 450 for the two of us in one cabin. One night on the boat, one in a hotel on Cat Ba island, but you can book both nights on the boat if you want that.

But since they only have a limited number of boats we did book it a few months in advance to be sure of our reservation. In Hanoi and in Cat Ba we did see a lot of tour operators offering Halong Bay tours that evidently you could just book the day before.
kuluk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 15th, 2012, 10:18 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,096
Indochina Sails' small junk "Valentine" was wonderful, 5 cabins. Sorry, I don't have the cost as it was part of a larger package.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 29th, 2012, 07:00 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 32
yestravel: Did you like the Dragon Pearl III? Would you recommend one night for those who have motion sickness?
auntlisey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 29th, 2012, 08:01 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,351
Yes, the boat was very nice -- fairly new. It was not choppy at all, but someone else will need to address motion sickness.
yestravel is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 29th, 2012, 12:30 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,467
I get motion sickness and we did one night aboard the Valentine junk. I was fine and the valentine junk was wonderful.
Smeagol is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 23rd, 2012, 09:46 PM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 144
We just returned from a wonderful two-night cruise on the Santa Maria (through Columbus Adventures). It was one of the higher-priced tours (around $450 for both of us) but very much worth the extra money. This boat went to an area of the bay which is not visited by all the other boats (other than one, which I believe is Indochine Sails)so we hardly saw another boat during our three days at sea.

The boat was really nice and the food was wonderful. The weather was overcast most of the time which was perfect as it meant we did not get fried in the heat of the day and were able to kayak and spend time on deck all the time.

I booked it online directly with Columbus Adventures before we arrived and received excellent service and ongoing communication with the company every step of the way.
Gabi7 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2012, 07:46 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,777
Thanks for coming back and telling us about it, Gabi! A real report from a real traveler is so much more helpful than all the spam we get about Halong Bay boats.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:53 PM.