I want to go go to Halong Bay and stay overnight at Cat Ba island, but need some advice on the best way to do this.
Ideally my husband and I would prefer to organise the trip ourselves from Haiphong, I've heard it is a bit nicer than Halong City. However I'm not sure if we will be able to stay overnight on a boat from Haiphong if we decide not to do a tour, staying overnight on the boat sounds like fun.
On the flipside I've heard from some people who did do a tour, that they didn't see much of what they were supposed to see i.e. the caves etc. So in that respect I like the sound of not doing a tour and not being herded about and being able to do things in our own time. But am also concerned that finding a boat to tour the bay might end up costing more than a package tour. The thought of having to bargain every step of the way when going it alone could also be a pain.
One last thing. Once we have been to Halong Bay, do we need to go back to Hanoi if we want to travel to the south i.e. Hue?, or can we avoid backtracking?
Thanks very much!
Last thing first. I am sure you can go from Haiphong to Hue w/o going back to HaNoi. But, you will be on local transport. The VN people don't generally use the open tour system that is in place for visitors. Buses go between all cities and there are also vans running between most cities. I took a van from HCMC to DaLat years ago. Never again. They pack 30 people into a van with seats for 14. Not fun for hours at a time. You should inquire in Haiphong or HaLong City about transport south to Hue.
Now your tour. The tour I was on started in HaNoi. But, on our boat were a couple that were staying in HaLong City. We dropped them off and went back to HaNoi. You will be able to arrange a tour from Haiphong. They will just add you to another group. Doing it on your own might be a challenge. With only 2, it is bound to be more expensive than with a group. I would fight this battle once at your hotel in Haiphong. Your hotel manager or any travel shop should be able to answer your tour or onward transport questions. Good luck to you.
You can take fly from Hai Phong to Hue. And overnight on boat, if you want to make the trip by yourself, you can rent a car go to Halong, you can book direct some cruise firms in Halong bay for trip 2days/1night on tel or online before for sure.
Thanks guys for your help.
We ended up booking a Halong Bay tour through our hotel. We figured it might be too much hassle trying to do it independently, doing the tour from Hanoi also solved our problem of travelling on to Hue once the tour was over.
We really enjoyed the tour and met a great bunch of people!
Glad it worked out. I hope you post some HaLong Bay photos once you get back home.