2 Nights in the Remarkable Ha Long Bay – Honest Review

2 Nights in the Remarkable Ha Long Bay - Honest Review 2

Ha Long Bay, roughly translates to “decending dragon bay”. It is made up of around 2000 islets and islands.And was recently crowned ‘One of the New 7 Wonders of Nature’ from 2007-2011. Not to mention that it is a UNESCO World Herritage Site too.

Halong bay is an immensely popular area and one of the main attractions that is drawing people to Vietnam year after year. When I took my trip we were told that UNESCO was at risk of taking away its badge, and the country limiting the amount of boats if the region couldn’t reduce its pollution. So with this in mind, if you are considering going, the sooner the better (once safe to do so with viruses of course) before it takes a similar break like Maya Bay in Thailand.

But with hundreds of tours and cruises to choose from in Ha long Bay, it can be difficult to choose. They seriously all sound the same! So here I want to tell you about my experiences, in a review, right after this short interlude.

The Legend of Ha Long Bay

Legend has it that in the times of the Jade Emporer the country had to defend itself from enemys attacking from the sea at Ha Long Bay. The emperor called upon the Gods to send a dragon to help defend their country and their people and defeat their attackers.

Story tells that the Dragon came, a monther with her children too, and was ferocious. The dragons managed to destroy the enemies with their fire and Vietnam was safe once more.

The dragons stayed in the mortal realm and it is said that the islands and islets that form the bay today are the forms of the dragons themselves, protecting the country from further attacks from the North.

Lan Ha Legend Honest review. Ha Long Bay Cruise honest review. www.thiswitchtravels.co.uk

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on my blog are affiliate links. And at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experienced all of the companies that I link to, and recommend them because they are the websites that I myself choose to use, and trust. Please do not spend any money on these sites unless they meet your needs and specifications.  

Which Tour I Chose and Why

After lots of research in to Ha Long Bay cruises, I opted to book Lan Ha Legend. What, you may ask, drew me to booking this particular cruise?

It is one of the more affordable cruises in Ha Long Bay. Plus, at the time of booking, it was not only highly rated on booking.com, but on trip advisor too. In fact, today it stars at 5/5 stars on trip advisor, with almost 400 reviews.

I also knew that I wanted a boat that went further out, not just in to Ha Long Bay, but in to Lan Ha bay. There are hundreds of boats that go out daily in to Ha Long bay, this can be day trips or overnight stays.

However, to go to Lan Ha Bay and moor up overnight, the boat needs a special permit to do so. There is also a curfew on noise in this area, so no oud party boats keeping you up all night. So the amount of boats surrounding you when you chill on an evening and wake up on a morning will be minimal, and it will feel like a more exclusive escape!

It also sounded like they did a good range of activities and catered to individual needs, and were a small group compared to some other gigantia boats available.

The Boat

I was pretty happy with the boat on first impressions, it is an old junk boat and has tons of character. The room I had was surprisingly spacious, for a boat. The rooms were well decorated and it had a nice view, obviously! My room was on the mid-deck so I can’t comment for those in other rooms but I was happy!

The upper deck had deckchairs to chill on after a day out and that’s also where you eat dinner. Some of the group also jumped off this deck into the emerald green waters below to swim, until a jellyfish showed up ruining all the fun!

The boat has around 10 or so rooms, so you can be sure that you’re not going to be forgotten or ignored even on the excursions. All in all, it isn’t the newest, or most well maintained boat in existence. But it is comfortable, personal and has a ton of character.

9.5/10

Lan Ha Legend Honest review. Ha Long Bay Cruise honest review. www.thiswitchtravels.co.uk

The Staff

For a two night stay you in Ha Long Bay get two guides, we had Vu on the first day and another guy who I can’t remember his name the second, maybe Hung? But judging from reviews it seems they change around quite a bit anyway.

Both guides and all staff that I came in contact with were so friendly, and will go out of their way to tell you fantastic things about their country, I have never learnt so much in such a short period of time before.

I honestly cannot rate the staff highly enough, they dealt with everything in their stride so professionally. Even some, ahem, difficult guests, were treated with far more respect than they were due. Always ensuring everyone was happy, educated and ok before moving onward.

A good point to note here too that you can pay extra to be picked up in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, a return bus/coach trip to Ha Long Bay, I think it worked out about $25 per person, but it guarantees you’ll be there on time if travelling from Hanoi too. It is 100% worth it just for the information that you get told by the guide on the journey.

A solid 10/10

The Activities

You’ll see on every cruise you look at the same list of activities, so trying to judge it from this is pretty impossible. However, a thing to note, I highly doubt that on any of these cruises you will do everything that they say.

We did some cycling around Cat Ba Island, 2 lots of kayaking (one involved swimming on a tiny secluded beach that you can only get to via boat, visited the pearl factory, learnt a traditional way to fish, and made our own spring rolls!

It was a jam packed 3 days, but as I said, there were some activities such as squid fishing and yoga, and seeing some of the other places that we didn’t do. However, after mentioning it it them when asking for feedback they said that they do the things that will be less crowded, and that you can do in season too. So squid fishing, for example, was off the cards because it wasn’t the right time of year.

I do think that it is fair enough, and had they mentioned it in the description that I would have been more prepared. However, I don’t think I could have done more in a day than we did, and it was a nice balance. You also have to give it to them for trying to avoid the crowds!

8.5/10

Lan Ha Legend Honest review. Ha Long Bay Cruise honest review. www.thiswitchtravels.co.uk

The Food

The food on the first night on the boat. Wow.

If you eat anything you are in for a treat. They had everything from soup, to spring rolls, to shellfish. I also know that they cater for veggies and vegans but everything was DELICIOUS. I have never enjoyed Oysters but the way they prepared them, I’d eat any day.

The food the second day was equally as tasty. However, they cater to impress on the first night, and the second is a lot more toned down. We were all awaiting this never ending stream of food.. and a starter and mains came and that was it.

Build us up to knock us down. That said, the amount of food we ate was plentiful, it was just misleading!! Breakfasts were a bit haphazard if people didn’t arrive at the set time as it wasn’t a buffet, but you get fed well and don’t go short.

Drinks wise, they keep you topped up with free waters, to an extent. But anything more you want you have to buy on top. They had a per day rate for all you can drink which I think was around $25, so pretty pricey but you don’t exactly have anywhere else to go. Nice knowing there’s a cap to your spending though if you are beer machine.

9.5/10 just for building us up on night 1.

Accessibility

I’m not scoring for this, because they haven’t claimed to be accessible, they are an activity cruise and so I don’t think it would be fair.

I did this before the proverbial hit the fan with my health. I was still bad but not half as I am these days. I think I would still manage if I kept my painkillers topped up.

The guides will always help you if they see you are struggling. And I’m sure if you wanted to skip the activities they would allow you to stay on the day boat and admire the surroundings.

However, getting on to the boat, it isn’t an accessible feat. We had to walk down some huge meter high steps to the speedboat that was being held in place bobbing up and down.

Then on the boat you’re up a narrow set of stairs to the mid deck and another set on to the roof. So you need a fair amount of mobility just to get on and off the boat itself, never mind the activities. Something to consider for sure.

However, I never spoke to them about it, so the mother company may have another boat or adjustments for those with accessibility issues. If you’re not sure, ask to see if they can cater to your needs!

Lan Ha Legend Honest review. Ha Long Bay Cruise honest review. www.thiswitchtravels.co.uk

My Final Verdict

Would I book this Ha Long Bay cruise again? Yes, in a heartbeat. Undoubtedly. I have no regrets choosing this boat.

Although more of a budget boat, in terms of decor and newness, I felt that the size of the group and how personal it felt really made up for this. I came away with friends from that stay, and I am the biggest introvert going, but the staff made everything so easy and broke the ice!

Don’t book this if you want to be in sheer luxury, or you want to have a party cruise, where they have so many guests they couldn’t tell if you’re on the right boat or not.

This is a boat for all walks of life, to chill, explore, adventure, learn and feel like a person.

Click here to book this cruise, (once your government recommends international travel again and Vietnam opens its borders!) And if youre not sure when to go, why not check out my Vietnam weather guide?

The final score for Lan Ha Legend Cruise, 2 night stay comes out at 9.3/10!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on my blog are affiliate links. And at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experienced all of the companies that I link to, and recommend them because they are the websites that I myself choose to use, and trust. Please do not spend any money on these sites unless they meet your needs and specifications.  

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