Reasons why I love Halong Bay

Halong Bay is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It really does live up to its reputation. The karst limestone islands that are the main feature here, jut out of the water with a constant regularity. There are about 1960 of them and as your cruise boat cuts effortlessly through the water, you get a different vista at every turn. There is much to see and do here, but I got just as much satisfaction, sitting on deck, soaking up the incredible scenery. Mother Nature has worked wonders here.

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I spent three days onboard the Glory Legend Cruise boat and can thoroughly recommend it. The boats on all these cruises are incredibly well equipped, staffed by great people and offer a much higher level of comfort than I had expected. The cabins are well appointed and the beds are really comfortable. Waking up and looking out of your window is a truly gratifying experience. The food onboard was excellent; well cooked and beautifully presented.

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I think the three day cruises are a great way of seeing everything that there is to see. That being said, I could happily poodle about the bay for a week doing nothing but enjoying drinks on the sundeck and taking in the amazing scenery. The excursions that they provide are both interesting and informative. It was jaw droppingly good to visit the Sung Sot Cave, it’s the biggest and best that I have been in. The pearl farm was interesting as well. Learning how they culture the pearls and seeing the minuscule success rates makes you understand the high prices. The floating villages are an eye opener. It really is amazing to think that people have retained this way of life for as long as they have.

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I would recommend Royal Wings – a boat cruise in Halong Bay to anyone. They are very well organised and executed. You get picked up from your Hanoi hotel and driven by private mini coach to the quayside. The journey out is interesting in its own right. Passing the rice paddies you’ll see men and women bent double in the back breaking chore of growing the rice; this is seriously hard work. Children smile and wave as you go, the scenery is quite lovely. Arriving at the quay you are provided with life jackets and taken by small boats out to meet your cruise vessel. When boarding your chosen cruise boat, you will be welcomed on board and after a quick safety briefing you’ll sit down to a superb buffet lunch as the boat, weighs anchor and sets sail for one of the “Seven Wonders of Nature”.

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I particularly enjoyed the evenings on board. Sitting on the top deck enjoying a cocktail as the sun goes down was especially pleasing. The sheltered huddle together in settled coves for the night, there being safety in numbers, in case of any emergency. As darkness falls the lights on the other boats twinkle and conversations can be heard carrying across the water. Halong Bay is such a magical place; don’t miss out.

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