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Is Halong Bay too touristy or still worth the visit?

Is Halong Bay too touristy or still worth the visit?

Old Nov 20th, 2016, 11:26 PM
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Is Halong Bay too touristy or still worth the visit?

My wife and I will be in Hanoi in January and are considering what trips to take outside Hanoi. I've read that the junk cruises on Halong Bay are so crowded that most of the charm is lost. Any thoughts on the best way to see Halong Bay and whether it is worth it? Thanks.
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Old Nov 21st, 2016, 05:56 AM
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When I was recently looking into a trip to Hanoi and Halong Bay, it was highly recommended to go to Tu Long Bay as that is way less touristy. It is past Halong Bay and I believe the information I was given is that you need to do at least an overnight trip. Look into the boat Dragon Pearl.

I went to Halong Bay 20 years ago and would never recommend missing that area, but I would take the advice of people who have been there recently which is to do what I wrote above.
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Old Nov 21st, 2016, 07:35 AM
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I agree that if you want to go then Bai Tu Long bay is nicer than Halong itself. Do make sure that your tour operator intends to take you actually INTO the bay. Some say they will but ours just sailed past the entrance.

January can see a lot of mist/haze in the area and is not the warmest month so swimming and canoeing may well be out.

We went last year and I did find it to be very touristy and, quite frankly the 5 hour journey each way wasn't justified by the experience - and least for me.

Consider Ninh Binh instead some photos from last year on our blog @

https://accidentalnomads.com/2015/02...d-kingfishers/

We used Ethnic Travel four our trip and the did a good job.
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Old Nov 21st, 2016, 12:28 PM
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Yes, as kwren said, if you want to go, book with Indochina Junk Company for one of their boats (Dragon Legend, Dragon Pearl. etc) which go into Bai Tu Long Bay, bay adjoining Ha LongBay.Both are near the edge of South China Sea You will board a tender to your boat at the main Ha Long Bay pier, tand sail via Ha Long Bay, but once in Bai Tu Long Bay the only boat we saw during the entire trip, besides the one we were on (Dragon Legend), was a solitary fishing boat.
One night on board was perfect.
The ride out from Hanoi to the pier was four hours, but despite the boring highway scenery, it went quickly because there is wifi in the Indochina Junk van which picks you up at your hotel (catch up with emails!) and you make a stop at a large tourist-oriented shop /snack bar.toilets. You can find some really nice/interesting items here. On the return trip to Hanoi--which i did not take,as i went straight to Ninh Binh from Ha Long--you stop at a village where there is a water puppet show. Friends said it was ok, not great, but a nice way to break the return journey.
I highly recommend that you read this report's first four days or so, from a just-returned Fodorite, as it includes comments about your other question concerning the Sofitel Metropole, and review of the Indochina Junk trip to Bai Tu Long Bay.

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...d-thailand.cfm
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Old Jan 22nd, 2017, 03:27 AM
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Thanks for all the responses. As it turned out, we spent two nights at the Metropole, then went with Indochina Junk and its Dragon Pearl 2 boat to Ba Ton Bay (spelling?) for a one-night cruise, then by private driver arranged by Indochina Junk (in lieu of return to Hanoi) to Ninh Bihn where we stayed at Tam Coc Garden Resort for two nights, and then on to Mai Chau Ecolodge, etc. Highly recommended.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2017, 07:56 PM
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Thanks bob1010 for coming back with your impressions. Sounds like a great "circle" trip.
I did much your route, including Metropole (for part of Hanoi) Ninh Binh, and Mai Chau at the MC Ecolodge. Sure wish I'd stayed where you did in NB, vs where I chose. Oh well, next time.
Curiouseople sometimes ask which to do--Mai Chau or Ninh Binh, if time for only one? What would you say? For me, I'd choose MC over NB, and am always interested in others' opinions
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