We previously visited Halong Bay 10 years ago and thought it would be a wonderful experience to repeat again with Dom’s mom.
During our first trip here, we booked with Indochina Junk and sailed on a 10-cabin boat called the Dragon Pearl Junk. Even though we really enjoyed the small and personal feel of the Dragon Pearl boat, we decided to try out the 3-day/2-night trip on their newest 24-cabin boat, called the Dragon Legend. It has bigger cabins and a bigger sun deck, as well as a spa, a tiny pool, and a tiny gym 🤷♂️.
We again visited Bai Tu Long Bay instead of Halong Bay because it is significantly less busy. Our guide told us that on a busy day, Halong Bay will have up to 400 tourist boats whereas Bai Tu Long Day would only have up to 100. Of the 100 boats that visit this area, only around 35 of them will anchor overnight and sail further out into the bay.
In our case, because post-covid tourism had not fully recovered yet, we spotted a max of 10 boats anchored overnight and saw even fewer boats while sailing during the day, so it really felt like we had the whole bay to ourselves!
Our Dragon Legend boat would typically have about 50 passengers when full, but again, due to low season and post-covid, we only had 19 passengers the first night.
It turned out that 12 of the passengers had only booked a 1 night trip, which we didn't even know was possible. After breakfast on the 2nd day, they all took a ferry back, leaving only 7 of us on the giant boat for the second and third day.. we actually had more crew than passengers on our boat!
Besides the amazing views, we really enjoyed all of the activities offered by the cruise.
Floating Village Boat Ride
We really enjoyed the 2 kayaking trips that allowed us to peacefully paddle through the local landscape and explore the karsts from close-up.
Lunch on the beach
On our second day, the ship's crew brought us to a secluded beach where they set up tables and chairs and served us a lovely BBQ seafood lunch.
At around 9PM, you could go to the back of the boat and try to fish for squid. Dom decided to give it a try on the second night. He heard that the group only caught one squid on the first night, so he didn't have high hopes.
While demonstrating the fishing technique, the guide actually caught a squid right away. Then Dom put his fishing line into the water, mimicked the same up and down motion, and caught another one within a couple of minutes. He was satisfied with catching something, so he called it a night. He learned that the squid are attracted to the boat's light, so all you need to do is get a special hook, shine some light in the water and move your fishing rod up and down… that’s it! 😂
Between activities and food, we spent time lounging on the sun deck to enjoy the sunny weather and amazing views. Since there were so few passengers on the boat, we had the entire sun deck to ourselves!
Water puppet show
Lastly, on our drive back to Hanoi, we stopped at a small village to see a traditional water puppet show.