We had an early morning start the next day as we were sailing off to Halong Bay. After a four hour bus ride, we were finally sailing off into the hazy horizon of Halong Bay. A group of 17 Aussies who called themselves the “Pho Bros” who had done a motorbike road trip from the South of Vietnam to the North, and were ending their trip in Hanoi. Without them on the tour, I think it would have been a pretty quiet 3 days. Because there were so many of us, our group was separated onto two different boats. Two Brit chicks and myself got to share the nicest room on the boat on the top floor with a balcony, while others were shoved into the bilge.
Our days were spent kayaking through the bay and caves, and jumping off the top of the boat. While the weather on the first day was overcast and rainy, it was all the more majestical. We played drinking games into the night including a massive game of kings cup and stayed the evening on the boat. The only rule on the boat was called Buffalo; you had to drink with your left hand only, and if caught in the rebellious act of drinking with your right hand, you must finish your drink. I find myself drinking even my water out of my left hand now out of habit. On a side note, I also ended up half naked all night when I was forced to trade clothing with a guy who decided to wear genie pants and no shirt during a massive game of Kings Cup. Damn you, “trade clothing with a member of the opposite sex” rule card.
We spent the entire next day on the hostels private island called “Castaway”. Accommodations were minimalistic; open air dorm room bungalows with a mosquito net and no pillow or blanket. That’s the luxurious island life for you. We spent the day tubing, rock climbing, playing volleyball and drinking.
Tour companies offer one, two and three night stays in Halong Bay. Whoever you decide to book with, the scenery is equally as beautiful. The reason I booked with Hanoi Backpackers was for the atmosphere; young-spirited individuals who were equally as interested in the landscape as they were in having a great time. While I wouldn't say the Halong Bay tour was the most cultural experience I've ever had, it was nonetheless a memorable experience and amazing time. If you're travelling to meet people and experience new things, then this tour is for you. If not, then what are you doing here?