Halong Bay is a must see, bucket list item, allegedly.
The bus picked us up at 8.00am for the 2.5hour transfer to our ***star 3day 2night Halong Bay experience. It was shear pandemonium at the port as boat after boat disgorged last nights passengers and swallowed up the next nights all of whom were trying to find luggage, bus transfers, friends etc. Our boat the Seasun (one of them anyway) was perfectly adequate, as was our birth, as was the lunch that was served shortly after departure (Halong was never going to be about the food, or beer).
The next morning started early as we had plenty more experiences to experience. 8.00am (after breakfast, ditto food note) it was off to the Pearl Farm to see how they use oysters to transform a small round ball into an object of desire. We were thoughtfully also given ample time to purchase one of these objects should we wish. Experience 4 was followed quickly by experience 5- kayaking, around aforementioned pearl farm, crazy I know.
Day three - transfer back to the cruise boat, via dingy, Cat Ba Island, day boat, etc and while Belinda undertook the last of our Halong experiences, how to roll fresh spring rolls, I chose to skip it for the views.
We arrived back in Hanoi at about 5.30 where a corner selling bia hoi and delicious beef noodles and pork ribs was waiting.
In fact Halong bay is incredibly stunning and I feel really worth visiting but just experience the bay and the local life within it not the ‘experiences’. If we had our time again we would try to avoid the cruises and try and do it on your own, not even sure that this is possible but on the way back we noticed a home stay at an actual local fish farm, with guests so they got there somehow.