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Halong Bay is made up of nearly 2,000 islands of various sizes, a thousand of which have been given names. The islands are the ancient limestone peaks of mountains and have formed into thousands of karst peaks. This formation continues all the way into Laos and in China, in places like Yangshuo. The difference between Halong Bay and rest is this is the only location where the karst peaks are in the water, which gives a stunning contrast.
This densely concentrated zone of stone islands, world famous for its spectacular scenery of grottoes and caves, forms the central zone of Halong Bay, which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And deservedly so, by far the most rewarding part of any trip to this area of Vietnam is the spectacular scenery.
Sunrise to Sunset
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Depending on the tour, the costs are between US$30 and US$100 depending on the tour operator. This does not mean that the more expensive tours are nicer or more luxurious. Be sure to double check everything with the travel agent in Hanoi before agreeing to pay to anything. This check list should include accommodation, meals, transport, entrance tickets and other activities like kayaking. If going on a nicer tour just be very careful. One traveller was on a boat were everyone paid a different price.
One can also opt for hiring a private boat trip depending on the number of people in your group. This is comparatively more expensive but is much more delightful as you can set your pace as well as have your space. A basic junk boat with 4-5 rooms would cost around US$500 for a 2 day/1 night trip and would include meals, transport from and to Hanoi and the guide.
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Tours to Ha Long Bay are essentially all the same, though expectations vary considerably. From backpackers to luxury honeymooners, people from all over the world fall victim to one of the most common scams in Vietnam - the special, small group, luxury boat Ha Long Bay Tour.
The tours are all very similar. You are collected from your abode by a guide, walked to a pick up location for your bus to take you out to Ha Long Bay. On arrival at the Ha Long Bay terminus, you are arranged into groups and bundled aboard your boat for the trip out into the bay. The people that were on your bus and van may not actually be on the same boat with you, which can be a bit confusing. You will typically make visits to Grottos and small market areas along the way. After this you are transported back to Hanoi by bus.
In theory it is possible to take a train from Hanoi but almost no one does that.
There is are public buses from Hanoi but most tours include transportation in the cost.
There is international ferry service from Halong Bay but most companies do not allow third party nationals on the boats.
Most meals are provided on the boats or at restaurants on the shore. Most tours include all meals as part of the tour. Remember that the food can vary greatly depending on the boat and the cooks on that boat. If in dire need of a snack many locals will paddle up to boats with snack food. The other option is to bring snacks from Hanoi.
Drinking is an odd this in Halong Bay. The booze on the boats is very expensive but at the same time the boat operators don't care if a traveller brings their own booze. The best thing to do is to be bring a bottle from Hanoi. If a traveller forgets to bring their own bottle from Hanoi there are countless locals, that live in the park on floating villages, that will come up to any boat selling food and spirits. Although these bottles will be more expensive then if they were bought in Hanoi these spirits are still cheaper then the ones being sold on the boat.
Accommodation is usually provided on the boat or in a local hotel. This may not be able to be changed once your choice is made.
|Asean Halong Hotel||Hau Can Road, Bay Chay Ward||Hotel||-|
|Halong Plaza||8 Ha Long Road||Hotel||-|
|Huong Hai Junks||No 01 Vuon Dao, Bai Chay, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Viet Nam Ha Long Bay||Hotel||-|
as well as Ahila (9%)
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