Hanoi to Ha Long Bay

Hanoi Backpackers ran a “Castaway” trip to Ha Long Bay for 2 nights and 3 days all inclusive for $199 but we found that to be pretty steep. (I should explain they use VND and US dollars here simultaneously, it gets rather confusing. Especially when you’re trying to figure it out in pounds too!). We decided to go with a much cheaper trip including a “seafood buffet”, visiting a cave and kayaking for 1 night, sleeping on the boat in the bay. We soon learnt that you get what you pay for; it was terrible! The tour guide was rude and unhelpful and the food was awful. There was a major incident at the kayaking whereby an Australian on our boat got whacked with a paddle by a Vietnamese guy… But there were also positives!

We saw some awesome lit caves:

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At least we weren’t in a really rickety boat:

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We saw lots of karsts, which are rock formations:

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Kayaking was really fun, it was my first time and I wasn’t too bad at it! We had a kayak race and paddled through a cave.

The sunset was beautiful over the islands:

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Before dinner we got the chance to go in the water off the boat for an evening swim. It was all going swimmingly (ha) until I managed to dislocate my shoulder in the sea. Luckily there were people around to keep me afloat and calm me down enough that I could put it back in. I was a bit hysterical, laughing and crying at the same time!

In the morning, 7 of us got off the boat at Cat Ba Island whilst Sam, Yolly and Alisha went back to the mainland to get back to Hanoi before going South towards Ho Chi Minh City to get a flight to the Thai islands for the full moon party. It was strange saying goodbye!

When we got to the South of Cat Ba we found The Bungalows to stay in; right on the beach (Cat Co 2). They were very basic but we fell asleep to the sound of the sea and I woke up for an early morning walk along the beach!

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This panoramic will only fit sideways, I’m not good with technology!

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To get to the bungalows you had to go through a gap in the cliff!

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I tried to snorkel but there was poor visibility and I was atrocious at Frisbee so settled for reading instead – perfect! As I read, eagles were flying overhead so close to us, it was really special.

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