Yay! Cruise Day! I was pretty excited to visit Halong Bay as it is known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam.
We had our breakfast in the Oriental Suites Hotel
before our check-out. As a gesture of goodwill, the hotel gave us two packages of Vietnamese coffee.
1. Dinh Vu Port, Haiphong
We were picked up from Hanoi Old Quarter to Dinh Vu Port, Haiphong
. A limousine was waiting for us near the hotel. One main factor we decided to choose Orchid Cruise from Blue Dragon Tours is due to the shorter journey to the harbour. Based on our research, other tours/cruise companies take a longer time (4 hours) to arrive at the harbour. We took one and a half hour to travel from Old Quarter to the harbour. Please remember that this tour only does a pick-up from the hotels in Old Quarter.
Drinks were served at Orchid Cruise’s lounge.
12.00pm: We met up with the other couples at the harbour before we left in a private boat. It wasn’t really a huge crowd. There were only ten of us. Approaching Orchid Cruise, the members of the crew were waiting for our arrival. On the way to the main boat, we saw Cai Trap canal.
12.15 pm: Welcome drinks were served and we received the cruise briefing, safety instructions and followed by check in. We checked in our cabin and enjoyed the view of Halong Bay, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
2. Check out the Cruise and Cabin
We had a short briefing followed by check-in. Seriously? The cabin of the cruise is amazing. There is even a private balcony. I will let the pictures do the talking. We booked the most basic cabin with Orchid Cruise for 3 days and 2 nights (total cost is around 684++USD including pickups and transportation fees throughout the journey (40USD)).
12.40pm: Orchid Cruise proceeded to Da Chong islet, where you can see a lighthouse built by the French over 100 years ago. Lunch was ready and we passed through the islets of Con Vit and Gia Luan. We spent some time on the deck as we could see the amazing limestone karst formations rise up out of the sea. This area is impeccable as not many cruise ships use this route to the Cat Ba Island.
3. Beautiful View of Halong Bay from the deck
3.00pm: We arrived at Ba Trai Dao Beach area of Lan Ha Bay, a separate part of Halong Bay. This is a peaceful paradise in Vietnam. With more 400 fascinating islands, the region is known for its pristine beaches and picturesque beauty.
4. Kayaking in Lan Ha Bay
4.00pm: The islands of Lan Ha Bay are forested and most are small in stature. We were ready for kayaking. Kayaking around Lan Ha Bay was fun except I didn’t bring my camera/phone to take a cool photo. It was a shame that we didn’t manage to take any photo. 🙁 We kayaked to Ba Trai Bao area to have a good swim in the cold sea water.
5. Cooking Class and Happy Hours
5.30 pm: We returned to Orchid Cruise. After taking a bath, we went to the deck and enjoyed the magnificent sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin. The chef was ready to show us the making of some Vietnam dishes. You may find it fun to make Vietnamese spring rolls with the chef. It was still pretty cool to sit on the deck with a sip of gin and tonic while enjoying the amazing sunset.
Note: There is massage service available (not included in the cruise package).
6. Dinner on the cruise
7.30pm: Deluxe dinner was served. We enjoyed the delicious local food prepared and served on the cruise. It was a delightful dinner in an intimate romantic setting.
7. Squid fishing
9.30pm: A small crowd on the cruise encouraged a good networking session. Most of the tourists were Australians. People gathered at the bar to enjoy the Happy Hours. Some were trying their luck with squid fishing. Lewis and I tried out the squid fishing at the back of the cruise. With a little bit of luck, I got a big squid within 2 minutes. lol