With 4 full days in Hanoi, we knew we needed something else to do other than walk about the city. So, we were recommended a very reliable travel agency / tour operator called Exotissimo Travel, which I believe is a French company with offices in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.
I haven’t looked at their deals in detail, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a 10 day bike trip from Hanoi to Saigon or something like that. Sounds incredible to me!
We were feeling a little [less] adventurous, so we decided to take a 1-day trip to Halong Bay just to check it out. The Bay was also filmed in one of the James Bond installments, “Tomorrow Never Dies” if you remember – they had that weird-looking bulletproof hovercraft controlled by a Rupert Murdoch-character bent on world domination … through media. Interesting concept.
Anyway … most travellers tend to spend the night on one of the boats so that they can go deeper into the labyrinth of limestone islands / formations, so that they can see more and squeeze in some water sports (i.e. waterski, jetski, swimming, etc.) somewhere in between.
Our tour guide met us at our hotel at 7 in the morning and it took around 3.5 hours to get to Halong Bay from Hanoi. By the time we got to the Bay, it was already close to 11 and we were already on our way out to the sea almost as soon as we jumped on board the Bai Tho 52; the name of our boat, which also means “Poem”, apparently. The “52” I’m assuming is boat number 52 of a very big Bai Tho fleet 🙂 By the way, we’re a group of 5 and there were 6 staff taking care of our comfort and well-being (1 captain, 3 “boat boys”, 1 chef and 1 lady who takes care of cleaning, running errands, etc.). I thought that was pretty amazing. In Hong Kong, the captain would be the only one on board and would be cooking for us too.
It took us a little over 20 minutes to reach this limestone island where we were told we can check out this limestone cave, which was pretty nice (pictured). But I’ll skip that.
When we got back on board, we were ready to eat and here what we got …
The entire trip with Exotissimo Travel cost USD 95 per person, which isn’t bad at all considering we were provided:
- A tour guide who speak fluent English for the entire day (7AM to 7PM)
- Driver and his Mercedes van sending us to and from Hanoi and Halong Bay
- 4-5 hours boat trip with 1 captain, 3 boat boys, 1 chef and an “Ayi”
- Seafood lunch that was both more than what we expected in terms of quality and quantity
Of course, we had to tip the tour guide (USD 15-20?), the driver (USD 10-15?) and the entire crew of 6 on the boat (USD 15-20), which ended up to be something like USD 106 per head.
Halong Bay Tour by Exotissimo
26 Tran Nhat Duat Street, Hoan Kiem District
Tel: +84 4 3828 2150
Fax: +84 4 3828 2146
Website: www dot exotissimo dot com
Filed under: Asia, Vietnam | Tagged: Boat, Caves, Crabs, Day Trip, Exotissimo Travel, Fish, Formation, French Fries, Halong Bay, Island, James Bond, Limestone, Pierce Brosnan, Rupert Murdoch, Shrimp, Tomorrow Never Dies, Veggies, Vietnam, Vietnamese Cuisine, World Domination | 1 Comment »