I'll be in Hanoi for 2 days in February and have been thinking of doing a day trip to Ha Long Bay. Can this be done as a day trip? Is it worth seeing even though I'll be going in February? I read that it's cold and foggy during this time of year in the bay.
I did a one day tour of HaLong Bay and it was enough. I went over Tet, early Feb. My photos of HB are in my photo gallery. Cool, almost cold, raining. One day is enough if you cannot swim, kayak IMO. Get at least 3 written quotes before you plunk down your money. DO NOT tell your hotel your plans until you have your quotes. Just about every hotel, GH & hostel also sell tours. Once you have your 3 + quotes, then let your hotel know you are planning on visiting HB tomorrow. They will give you their quote and now you know if it is fair. It is is within a few USD, I would book with your hotel. That will make them happy and see you as a good customer. If the quote is just too high, tell them you have a much lower quote from: Sinh Cafe, Hanh Cafe, etc. If they can match it, great. Book with them. If they will not budge, tell them you are sorry but will tour with another company. This can get ugly if you have an aggressive tour desk. Tell them 'sorry' and walk away. The VN people respect someone who knows the 'correct price and is willing to tell them 'NO!' They will not be happy, perhaps even angry, but they will respect you for not being a fool with their money.
HB can really feel like a cattle drive. Herded onto a bus in HAN, off the bus and herded through the crowd onto a boat. They will lead you to your boat and will have no clue if it is the 'right one' or not. I was by myself and joined about 10 others. It was just a madhouse at the docks. Just take camera and small money. You don't need much since all tours include lunch. One couple paid twice of what most of us did because they booked at their nice hotel. 11 people and 4 different prices for the same boat. Mine was the cheapest on up to double my price. I paid $22 for the day, but that was years ago and prices will have gone up by now. Read some of the blogs on HB and see what others have to say. Some companies have a very bad rep for overcharging customers. Do your research and you will not be overcharged for everything while in VN.
Send me a PM if you have questions. Good luck with your planning.
OOPS! I meant "a fool with your money".
Vegasmike6, thanks so much for the details! Your pictures are great considering the time of year you went to HB. I will definitely take your suggestion and a few quotes in Hanoi. I saw some quotes online that ranged from $70 to $230 USD! I'm hoping it won't cost us more than $100 USD each but will shop around for the best offer.
Glad to help. Never book tours online. They will always be much cheaper when you are standing in front of a tour desk. I hope you are staying in the Old Quarter, best place to stay IMO. Walk around your first day in HaNoi and you will see many places selling tours. Get your quote, thank them and walk away. Many will lower their price before you can get out the door. Get at least 3 and you will know a fair price when quoted.
Send me a PM if you have questions.
Of course you can visit Halong Bay in one day.
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I myself did a day trip tour with -snip-. Boat was very clean, even the toilets, much to our pleasant surprise. The lunch on the boat was simple fare but delicious. Although the food and service left a little wanting, this was a great tour and it was exactly what I wanted. We paid $49, if we'd gone for something cheaper we would have been surrounded by uni students. If we'd gone for something more expensive we would have been surrounded by older folks. Our group was mostly in their 20s and 30s with a few in their 50s. It was a good mix!
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