Ha Long Bay was absolutely incredible! I took a two day one night cruise. It was my splurge of the trip, and it was so worth it. After a drive through the countryside from Hanoi, they took us out to the cruise on smaller boats and the adventure began.
One of the things I’ve noticed about Vietnam’s tourism industry is that they have a very hands-on idea of how to give good customer service. As we transferred to the ship, the employees sprinkled rose petals on our head. We were immediately treated to a meal with so many courses I lost count, and when I went to bed, there was a handwritten note and a rose on my bed! I found that the employees had this same instinct at my hotel in Hanoi. It’s nice but also a bit overwhelming sometimes.
The highlight for me of the whole experience was kayaking in the bay! I was the second person out on the water, which meant that for a while, it felt as though I had the whole place to myself. It was so peaceful and beautiful.
We also did a tour to Dark Cave and Bright Cave, where someone rowed us through the cave and into a new section of the bay. Unfortunately, this area had some trash in the water, which is always a bummer. It was still cool, but I thought the kayaking was better. We did see monkeys in the trees above the caves, which our guide said was a rare treat!
The two days one night cruise was amazing, but if I was going to do it again, I might have gone for the three day and two night version. I didn’t want to leave the boat when it was time to take us back to Hanoi!
Anyway. Highly recommend Ha Long Bay. The company I went with, Elite of the Seas, did an incredible job showing us around this UNESCO site, and I would absolutely go on a cruise with them again. It was my favorite part of Vietnam that I’ve seen so far!