Saturday, November 23, 2013

Halong Bay 2D1N Cruise 15 Nov; 4D3N Hanoi Retreat 14-17 Nov Day 2

2D1N Cruise with Indochina-Junk - Dragon's Pearl I at Halong Bay / Bai Tu Long Bay
Website: (Ranked #2 in Trip Advisor)

Our 2D1N itinerary provided by Indochina-Junk:
Day 1: Hon Gai Harbour – Bai Tu Long Bay – Thien Canh Son Cave
07.45 Pick up at your hotel in Hanoi by shuttle bus.
12.00 Embark at Hon Gai International harbour.
13.00 Check-in, enjoy a welcoming drink and cruise briefing.
13.30 Have lunch while cruising in the magnificent Bai Tu Long Bay, admiring the fascinating rock formations in the bay.
15.00 Enjoy swimming in the crystal clear water.
15.40 Explore the secluded Thien Canh Son Cave.
16.45 Short cruise to Hon Co Island where you can relax on a white sandy beach, swim or kayak.
18.00 Back to the junk for relaxation.
19.00 Have dinner and stay overnight on board.

Day 2: Vung Vieng Fishing Village – Hon Gai Harbour
07.30 Enjoy the bay’s morning landscape with a cup of tea or coffee. Have breakfast in the open air.
08.30 Visit Vung Vieng fishing village in a rustic rowing-boat, meet the local people and pass through the floating school and fish farms.
09.30 Back to the boat for relaxing and prepare for check out.
10.00 Cruise back to the harbour while an a la carte lunch is served
11.45 – 12.00 Disembark. Drive to Yen Duc village in Dong Trieu province.
14.00 – 14.30 Enjoy water puppet show performed by local artist.
17.00 – 17.30 Arrive in Hanoi. Trip ends.

I booked with Indochina-Junk 1.5 month before the trip. The quote for the cruise was USD 160 per pax. However, you have to pay an approx. 30% deposit by credit card (USD 50 in my case) and the transaction will charge you an additional 3.5%. Thus the total price for the 2D1N cruise was USD 161.75 (about SGD 204). The remaining amount of USD 110 per person has to be paid in cash (or credit card which will incur a 3% charge) either at their Hanoi Old Quarter office or their office in Halong.

Hanoi Day 2 
15 Nov 2013

Our day started early as the shuttle bus provided by Indochina-junk to fetch us from our hotel to Halong arrived at 0745. Vietnamese are very on time, a very good virtue. We had to scramble to finish our breakfast, check out of Rising Dragon Grand Hotel and got onto the bus. 

Breakfast Buffet Spread by Rising Dragon Grand Hotel
The journey from Hanoi Old Quarter to Halong took 3-4 hours, with a stopover at a place selling vases/jewelleries/souvenirs for you to buy some snacks and use the toilet. Do pop a pill of motion-sickness pill if you cannot stand long bumpy ride, complemented with car horns. You can also avoid sitting at the back of the bus as it's more jerky at the back. 

Indochina Junk Shuttle Bus
Stopover Souvenir Shop
Indochina Junk Office at Halong

We were ushered to the holding area to wait for our turn to board. In the mean time, I went up to the 2nd floor to make the remaining payment of USD 660 in cash (6 of us). Our tour guide then briefed us about our cruise at the holding area and walked us to the harbour where we had to take a mini boat in order to reach our cruise. 

Credits to Gibson - A picture he took at the holding area while I was making payment at the 2nd Floor

Our Tour Guide Alex helping our tourists to take photo

The 6 of us and the boat driver

Our cruise Dragon's Pearl I - The crews on board were waving to all of us enthusiastically

Excited to board to cruise!

Everyone has to settle down at the dining area for a short briefing and introduction to the cruise by our Tour Guide Alex. The weather was great and sunny! We were then given our keys to our room to check in and then be back at the same dining area after we've placed our luggage. 

Double Bedroom

Toiletries are all provided
Twin Bedroom - Credits to Gibson
Captain of our cruise - Credits to Gibson
Set sail! Credits to Gibson

Relaxing deck! Credits to Gibson

Let the 9-course lunch began!! The scenery was beautiful!! It was extremely relaxing to dine on the cruise with gorgeous surroundings and yummy good food. 
First course for our lunch - Soup; Credits to Gibson

Second course for our lunch - Salad; Credits to Gibson
Third Course - Prawn

Fourth Course: Clams

Fifth Course: Rice

Sixth Course: Ermmm I forgot what this was

Seventh Course: Fish

Eighth Course: Vegetables

Ninth Course: Fruits Platter with Watermelon and Dragonfruit
First activity on cruise after lunch - Cafe, Kayaking and swimming! A pity we never bring our cameras along cos we thought that the camera might dropped into the sea while kayaking. There's a locker at the beach before you kayak! So you better bring your cameras along if you're going! Luckily JH brought his iPhone4, we had to make do with iPhone's camera. Lol. The cave and beach photos below were taken by JH.

This is the correct orientation of the cave. My uncle asked me why I didn't rotate this picture. Lol

Happy House aka Toilet

Finding Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab

Looking through the photos taken while the sun's setting, I almost teared. It's really really magnificent. The pictures below were taken with my humble Canon S100, unless otherwise stated. We were back on the cruise after a great session at the cave, kayaking and catching hermit crab (we did put them back to the sea) at the beach.

Beverage that will charge to your room and you only have to pay on the last day after you check-out

HP and I relaxing on the deck

Prawn Cracker (Keropok) given by our tour guide for free

Gibson enjoying his 'Love Storm'

Effect of my unstable hand! Looks like heaven right?!

Dinner's getting ready!
Credits to Gibson

Gibson Me HP

YH captured me using Gibson's camera to take picture of myself. Hahaha
First Dish - Salad

Yummy Spring Roll

Spring Roll's interior

Carved by the chef on board

My personal beef - I couldn't eat prawn so the chef specially dished up this for me! Thank you!

Another carving done by the chef! *clap clap*

Crayfish - tasted like crab

Delicious chicken!! Specially prepared for me by the chef once again as I don't eat crayfish as well. Lol

The last carving by the chef! Awesome.


Very nice vege


We made a new friend with one of the crew member! He's so cute and innocent at the age of 18 (or 19). He's good at singing so he sang/whistle for us and even performed magic tricks - just for the 6 of us, everyone else were back in their bedrooms. We then went up to the deck, each lying/sitting on one deck's cushion. I can never ever forget the starry starry night on the cruise. I never imagined myself to be able to view such stunning sky with countless stars, the weather can never be better at about 18-19 degree Celsius. To top all these up, I spotted one shooting star! Of course, I made a wish and hope it will come true. =) The sky was so so clear that night. We were very lucky as the storm cleared up just a few days before our arrival. We can even see the big dipper and milky way in the sky! Fascinating galaxy! Thank you for being so marvelous my lovely universe. =') 

Our new friend - friendly crew member helping me to prepare my Chinese medicine
Picture was taken by me using Gibson's camera cos I left my cam in the room. Brightened up digitally to show the stars
An unforgettable night I would say. Right now, even when I close my eyes, I can still see the perfect starry night sky which I stared for 2-3hours at Bai Tu Long Bay on the cruise. Bai Tu Long Bay was very quiet and only Indochina Junk cruises get access to this place. We were so fortunate to witness this as my colleague didn't had the chance to see this when she went in October with another cruise company.

One thing about this cruise: the hot water is not hot when everyone's using it together! Or maybe there's a quota of hot water to each room. =( YH was so smart to shower it first in the evening before dinner. I had to shower with cold water at 12am. Brrrrrr!! Look forward to Hanoi Day 3 and 4 which I'll update in a few days time! :)


  1. Woohooo... the sunset's view is just naturally beautiful.
    The best thing is that u even had a chance for staring at the sky quietly from the cruise, seems so peaceful...

    1. Hi Calvin, yes it's really very gorgeous. Yea, the night was so stress-free and serene. You should explore Halong Bay, a good relaxing getaway! :)

  2. Hi Lynne, can I know which junk u booked?

    1. Hi Tabitha, I booked 3 cabins on Dragon's Pearl Junk (boat).

  3. Hi Lynne, May i know will it be cheaper to book the Halong Bay tour at Vietnam itself (from hotel or tour agents? Or booking online is cheaper?

    1. Hello, to be honest I have no clue about that as I booked it online based on my friend's recommendation. You can try asking around to compare and find out the best deal. :)

  4. hey, how do you choose which cruise to go along with or to book??

    1. Hi, I did not do cruise shopping and used the one recommended by my colleague who thinks that it was a great. My friends and I enjoyed ourselves too. I would recommend indochina junk. :)