When we’d been organizing our trip to Ha Long Bay I was full of doubts. Many resources referred to the place as a location with thousands of tourist and hundreds of boats which cruise the bay all day long. After reading different resources and reviews we’d decided to do an overnight cruise in less known Bai Tu Long. It was a good choice!
Our trip was organized via Mrs Mai. Early in the morning, a guide picked us up at our accommodation in Hanoi and we headed to Ha Long city. It took a few hours, so we arrived at Hon Gai wharf about midday. Within 15 minutes we were already boarding on a small boat which was going to take us to our wooden cruise boat. No delays.
Beside us, there was only one Australian couple and a crew. It was almost like having a private trip. No crowds, no people stepping on each other’s heads.
Cabins looked amazing. Wooden interior, a double bed, a nice bathroom and a big window for a proper view. We were chilling out only for a couple of minutes when somebody knocked on the door and announced the lunch time.
After lunch we went out on deck to admire the beautiful scenery. Rugged islands of different sizes and shapes were jutting all around and water sparkle in the afternoon sunshine. We could not have had the better weather.
We anchored near Thien Canh Son cave. A small boat took us to the shore and with our guide, we climbed stairs up to the cave entrance. It was the only time that day when we had to interact with a bunch of other tourists. The cave itself was nice but nothing amazing. But it had an interesting history. Before listed in UNESCO, the cave served as a party venue. Due to that fact, some formations inside the cave suffered from vandalism.
When we returned back to the boat it was time to do some exercise! We got on kayaks and paddled around one of the small islands. I was quite surprised how clean the water was. We only saw a couple of floating plastic bottles and packages. It was a big difference compared to rest of the countryside overloaded which garbage. It didn’t take long and we were jumping from the boat deck into the deep water.
After the sunset, we joined some of our crew members for squid fishing. While they were attracting the squids with a torch, we were trying to catch them with a simple bamboo stick and a hook made of a wire. It seemed hopeless but eventually, Jakub caught one! Next day it was served for lunch.
The night on the boat was great. While anchored in a sheltered area, the boat hardly swayed and the next day we realized that we were moving only because of a roaring engine.
In the morning, we headed to Vung Vieng floating village. We got on a small rowing boat and paddled through small settlement. The houses were tiny, usually one bedroom with hammocks on front deck. Some households even had a dog but we felt a bit sorry for them as their movement was restricted to floating boardwalks.
The whole place was really quiet and peaceful which was in high contrast with busy La Ha Long. The journey to the village ended with dipping through the cave carved through one of the rocky pillars.
When we returned back to our boat, it was time to check out from our rooms. From floating village, we were heading back to the wharf. We had one more delicious lunch (including Jakub’s squid) and after that, we just hung around on the deck and enjoyed the view.
Our driver picked us up at the harbor and we drove back to Hanoi. In the evening we were going to catch a plane to Ho Chi Minh where we would stay until the end of the trip.