For our second day in Hanoi, we booked a Halong Bay day tour in the Halong Phoenix Cruiser via Blue Dragon Tours. The voucher we purchased online cost us around USD $52.00 per person. Hotel pick-up and drop-off is included in the package.
We were picked-up at around 8:30 am in a mini bus that will head straight to Halong City. Of course, the tour would not be complete without your usual tourist trap stopover.
It was almost 2 pm when we arrived at the docks. Since we did some careful research on the junk we will be boarding, the Phoenix Cruiser did not disappoint and we got exactly what we booked for.
We were lucky to be able to book a boat that is not fully occupied as I would have imagined a less enjoyable experience. Our guide, Hai, told us that the big group booked on our tour decided to take the overnight boat instead. We were only 7 in the group that day.
As we cruised along the bay, you can already see the limestone formations a few minutes after departing the dock. The formations are similar to the ones I have seen in Coron, Palawan. In Halong Bay, you experience foggy cold weather as you cruise along the bay versus the summer island vibe in Coron. If you had to ask me which one is better, I would have to tell you to experience both.
Our first stop was a floating village called Ba Hang. We moved to a smaller boat that was maneuvered by a female local. Though there were lots of tourists from other junk operators, Halong Bay still felt calm and quiet.
The last stop of the tour was Thien Cung Cave. Comparing this cave to the one I visited in Sagada (Philippines), which was dark, damp and had bat guano everywhere, this cave is lighted and well-kept.
The cave looks nice, especially in photos, but it looks too touristy for me at times. Then again, maybe the whole Halong Bay tour is. I still enjoyed it though!
It was time to go back to Hanoi. One of our tourmates joined us after the trip. We decided to head to Bia Hoi Corner. You can locate this area along Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Street.
The street is all lined-up with locals and tourists all seated beside each other in small stools. We decided to grab some cold bia hoi in one of the shops near the front. Apparently, not all shops sell this local beer.
As the night passed, our group grew in to six people. That being two locals who recently attended a language school in Hanoi and were practicing their English as well as the peer of our tourmate who we were just talking about. Four different countries represented at our table.
Time to rest after the shop ran out of bia hoi. Cheers!
– The Tourist Pao