Sometimes when you travel, you make an effort to save on your precious resources such as time and money in order to treat yourself to an experience of a lifetime. This was our philosophy when booking the most incredible cruise we’ve ever been on so far…touring Halong Bay with Signature Halong Cruise.
Designated a World Heritage site in 1994, the emerald waters dotted with thousands of limestone islands was a truly breathtaking site to see. We were fortunate enough to spend our time in Halong Bay with Signature Halong Cruise, a cruise company who treated us with impeccable service and made our experience a memorable one.
Providing a shuttle van from our hotel, Signature picked us up in Hanoi and we drove approximately four hours to the Bay. After sorting out a few administrative necessities and meeting our excellent guide for the trip, Vinh, we boarded our transport boat that would be bringing us to our cruise ship! Since these boats need to navigate the thousands of islands among the bay, it wasn’t as big as the Caribbean cruise ships you see on travel ads. Our quaint ship had 3 floors and a rooftop deck. Upon boarding we were greeted by the welcoming staff with warm towels and a hot cup of tea. #poshlife
The first order of business was going over the itinerary for our two day venture and checking into our cabin (which was nicer than most of the hotels we’ve stayed at…we had two pillows each AND a Jacuzzi tub, nbd), followed by a 5 course lunch! Tasty food with beautiful presentation is definitely what you expect from a five star cruise like this one.
After everyone ate, it was time to board the transport boat again in order to tour the local fishing villages and visit a pearl farm. We learned that in recent years, the government has intervened in the preservation of the bay and also in the lives of the floating villagers. Vietnam has done a fantastic job of keeping the water and the area clean and accessible for tourists and locals alike, but they have also taken measures to get the people living in these floating fishing villages educated with some even moving to the mainland. There were a few different sentiments among the guests depending on their points of view.
Our group made its way through the islands and stopped at a local pearl farm. Here, they demonstrated the techniques and types of pearls they were farming as their source of income. We learned a lot of neat things that we otherwise never would have known. We even got to see an oyster with a pearl inside be opened!
Next on the itinerary was leisure time and a visit to the beach for those brave enough to swim in January waters! Most of our group chose to head back to the cruise ship, but we wanted to check out the beach and Jordon was set on taking a dip in the bay. The beach area was nice, many other boats bring their guests as well so there were quite a few people but they had kayaks and beach volleyball set up to enjoy. We think it would have been even more enjoyable during the warmer months.
Our evening was occupied by a Vietnamese cooking class where we tried our hand at making and rolling spring rolls, followed by another five course meal for dinner. We spent the remainder of the evening enjoying the views and the fresh air from the top deck while snapping as many pictures as we could.
Our schedule didn’t allow for any sleeping in because at sunrise, there was a tai chi class instructed by Vinh once again (this man does everything!!!). One of Jordon’s most memorable moments on the cruise was practicing this ancient art surrounded by the beauty and calmness of the bay.
A breakfast buffet was served shortly after and didn’t last too long because we were headed to check out some caves among the islands! Unfortunately many of the other tour boats also follow the same schedule so the cave was quite busy, but nonetheless, still a site to see while your guide explains the history and creation of the islands and caves of Halong Bay.
And just like that, before we knew it, our cruise was coming to an end. Short and sweet, but we enjoyed every minute of our time in the bay. We were quite satisfied with only spending the one night in case you are worried about how long you’re thinking of staying. Although the schedule can be quite tight at times with a booked cruise, Signature Halong Cruise ensured everything was extremely enjoyable. If there is one thing we could remind you though is to make sure to take advantage of your free time and snap as many pictures as possible since every island and angle has its own beauty.
Have you been to Halong Bay?
What did you think of your experience?
We’d like to thank Signature Halong Cruise for generously sponsoring our experience in exchange for this review. As with all articles, you can be assured you are getting our honest opinions.
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