I took a 3-day tour of Halong Bay for $179, booking everything through the Viet Anh Hotel in the old quarter of Hanoi. It was worth the money. I also stayed at the hotel one night and the staff were friendly and helpful, the rooms were clean and the breakfast was fantastic. It didn't tear a hole in my pocketbook, either. If you can afford it, go for the more expensive tour of Halong Bay, as I took, because a friend of mine went on a cheaper tour with a different travel agency and the captain smelled like booze, the fish smelled rotten and her room smelled like mold. Here are some shots of the limestone cliffs of Halong Bay, the national treasure of Vietnam.
Here's the dining room on the boat, my bunkers and then the boat itself.
I could have stayed there forever reading on deck, eating fish, swimming,
drinking wine and ogling the sweet young things that ran the boat.
After driving east about an hour from Hanoi, we reached the boat landing, which was very crowded with people trying to get on board one of the boats. It's much easier to make all the reservations in Hanoi with a tour agency or a hotel. We had a superb lunch on board then set out to the spectacular Dau Go Caves (Wooden Head Island). After swimming at a beach along the way, we then returned to the boat for dinner - freshly caught fish and vegetables and wine, then to the upper deck to have more wine and marvel at the stars.
Here's the entrance to the cave and another photo looking at the harbor from the cave entrance.
As we kept going we came upon the floating village, which includes a school.
On the second day we went kayaking into this lagoon. How lucky am I!
Moi with the crew; Huang our guide who never stopped giggling; and the captain of the boat.
Sailing off into the sunset. You'll never regret your trip to Halong Bay.