At around 9am we were picked up from our hotel in Hanoi by the driver for Orchid Cruises for our 2 day 1 night cruise through the Unesco World Heritage recognised Halong Bay. We had packed our day bags to take with us as we had read that you weren’t allowed to take full suitcases, we soon found out that we were the only ones who didn’t bring all our luggage on our boat. Our transfer minibus was seriously luxurious. We were provided with water, there were charging points, wide leather seats and arctic air con which we actually had to turn down. We had a stop at a café to get signed in and get our boat and room allocations. We caught a small boat to get to our larger cruise vessel where we were welcomed by the crew with a watermelon drink and a delicious buffet lunch.
Once we had eaten our fill the time came to go to our rooms. This is where Orchid shines, the rooms are beautiful. The bed is massive (although can be pushed apart to make twin beds if required), there is a cute window nook, a nice balcony and a stunning bathroom with both a shower and a window bath. We had a bit of time to enjoy this to watch the boat start to glide past some of the hundreds of limestone islands which even in the overcast weather still looks gorgeous even if it was chilly (we did not bring suitable clothing, I had left my only jumper in my main suitcase back at the hotel and regretted it throughout the trip).
Our first stop of the day was to go kayaking between the rock formations. Apart from the fact Fraser and I bicker no end whilst paddling this was such a chilled activity. The area where the kayaking took place was quite wide and open which made it hard work and maybe it would have been nicer to be around some of the smaller, more closely spaced karsts but it was still amazing. There was also the opportunity here to go swimming which some people did but quite frankly it was far too cold for that.
Once back on the boat we had some free time which was perfect to buy a drink who came floating past on a row boat passing the goods up to us by a long handled fishing net which caused a lot of laughter and a soak in the bath to watch the sunset which even though I am not a bath lover still ended up being a highlight of the trip.
In the evening Orchid Cruises have a few options for activities. Before dinner there was happy hour at the bar and a cooking demonstration which I have to admit I only half paid attention to.
Then there was an a la carte dinner that was really nice before some people retired to their rooms, some sat in the lounge area to watch a film and a group of us made our way to the back of the boat to take part in squid fishing. There were 3 rods that we passed around between us and there was great excitement when one of the girls caught a squid fairly early on, however this was the last and only bit of success.
After we had our fill of squid fishing we finally made our way to bed for a great night’s sleep.
Have you been on a trip to Halong Bay, who did you go with/ would you recommend them? Is there an activity that is almost guaranteed to get you bickering with your other half?