Last week, we escaped the intense heat and busyness of Hanoi for a two day, one night cruise to Halong Bay with Bhaya Cruises.
Halong Bay is considered to be one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, with over 3000 little limestone islands and rocky outcrops. It’s mystical beauty is said to be only enhanced in gloomy weather, but we were very lucky with unusually good weather for this time of year.
We were picked up in a posh car, and driven just over an hour out of the city to the port.
Our cruise manager Chris led us onto the luxury cruise and we met with the only other passengers, a lovely couple from the US.
We toasted to a wonderful couple of days as we set sail for Halong Bay.
Before being shown to our stunning cabin.
I knew from the pictures that it would be pretty special, but it exceeded expectations.
A mix of traditional furnishings and contemporary decorations.
It felt like our very own sanctuary. As peaceful and serene as a spa.
My favourite part was our little private balcony which was the perfect spot to drink in the view, along with an ice cold glass of Sauvignon.
We decompressed, before heading to the top deck for a panoramic view.
Lunch was served and course after course of incredible Vietnamese dishes appeared at our table. We got to know our fellow passengers and likened the whole trip to a very long, luxurious double date (luckily we all got on very well otherwise it could have been awkward haha).
First on our itinerary was a trip to the quieter South of the bay, bypassing the middle which gets crowded with other cruises.
We visited Cua Van, a floating fishing village and had the opportunity to kayak around and explore, or take a rowing boat. I chose the latter with little chance of getting wet.
We had a wander around the small museum and had the opportunity to learn all about life for the community here. The current community come from a long line of fishermen and women, and their children are taught to row as soon as they’re able to lift an oar. It was really fascinating, Chris showed us a video he had taken a few weeks ago of a three year old boy rowing a boat completely unassisted, to collect his grandma from work. It was mind blowing! I so wish I had asked him to share it with me. You have to see it to believe it.
Next on the agenda was a quick visit to Tien Ong cave.
Chris gave us a tour and pointed out some of the more interesting facts about stalagmites and stalactites. I wish I had made a note of them because I immediately forgot them as we sailed away.
But I did conclude that this bit looks a bit like Tiramisu.
We sailed back to our cruise in time to toast the sunset with another ice cold glass of wine, whilst the other couple took a dip in the Bay (a 30 second dip before realising they were surrounded by Jelly Fish).
We watched the stars appear one by one, and even spotted a few shooting ones.
We joined our new friends below deck for a (slightly tipsy) lesson in Vietnamese spring roll making, which turned into a blind folded spring roll making competition, which surprisingly I won.
My prize? Two shots of Coconut rice wine and a Bhaya apron. Delighted!
Dinner was served. Grilled Oysters, freshly caught squid, and course after course of delicious fish dishes, straight from the Bay. A wonderful night of wonderful food, wine and making new friends. We put the world to rights and combed over the latest Trump disasters and Brexit.
After a inebriated and unsuccessful attempt at squid fishing, we eventually called it a night. Marc fell straight to sleep and I crept out onto our balcony to watch the stars dance around the sky.
Early the next morning, we went to the top deck for Tai Chi as the sun rose.
Brunch was served as we cruised back to the port.
A short snooze later, we arrived back at base. Barely having chance to say goodbye to our new pals, we were whisked away in our fancy car again, back to Hanoi.
We were back in the craziness of the city within a couple of hours, wondering if we had dreamt it all?
We chose the Bhaya Classic Premium 2 day, 1 night cruise, and highly recommend it. Mum’s already looking at booking it for her trip next year. It was a wonderful way to see Halong Bay, and I have to say, far more tranquil and relaxing than the other much larger cruise trips you can do.
A huge thank you to Bhaya for a truly enchanting trip. We will never forget the serenity and beauty of Halong Bay.