Monday, May 13, 2019

Vietnam Diary - Cat Ba Island and Halong Bay

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope you all had a good start of the week. What have you been up to this weekend? I've pretty much stayed at home because we're currently doing some renovation on our terrace that needed to be prepared. Furthermore, my dad is here in Mallorca so I'm spending some time with my family. Enough said, here's a new post about our trip to Vietnam.

What to do on Cat Ba Island

Today's post is about Cat Ba Island, our last stop before Hanoi where we would end our trip. We chose to stay on Cat Ba Island because we wanted to see the famous Ha Long Bay and the island seemed to be a good option to spend a few days in the area without having to book an expensive bay cruise. Although the weather wasn't too good we were very happy with our choice. Cat Ba Island is quite small but there are lots of things to do. You can choose between various boat cruises, go hiking, visit a natural reserve and try yummy food at loooads of different restaurants. As many other places in Vietnam we had visited before, Cat Ba Island was 'under construction'. Many hotels and restaurants are currently being built there so we were lucky to catch the island in a 'still bit more virgin' state. 

On our first day we just walked around a bit to check out the area, had some heavenly dinner and booked a boat cruise for the next day. One place you should definitely check out for breakfast is Casa Bonita which you can see in the first two pics. It's a lovely multilevel café that serves delicious bowls, all kinds of avocado toast and other healthy breakfast options. We also tried their tea because it sounded so good on the menu and we were surely not disappointed. It's made with fresh ingredients like lychee, jasmine flowers and nectarine, sooo delicious!

Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay Boat Cruise

Our second day was all about exploring Lan Ha Bay and Halong Bay by boat. We booked a tour with Cat Ba Eco Tourist the night before. A day cruise from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm cost us only about 14€ per person and we were super happy with our organizer because they held all their promises. We got picked up at our hotel around 8 am and were then brought to a ship waiting for us in a small harbour. We were lucky with our group of about 30 people, it was a nice mix of fun and relaxed tourists of all ages and from different countries. The tour mainly consisted of cruising around different areas of the two famous bays, visiting floating villages, stopping here and there for swimming and snorkelling, a surprisingly very tasty and elaborated lunch, a kayak tour and a visit to Monkey Island. I mostly enjoyed the kayak tour because we had the chance to get around by ourselves and explore. Also, the water was super calm that day so it was easy for us to paddle around the huge rocks that disappeared in the mist, a truly magical setting. 

I've read thousands of things about Halong Bay before (about rip-offs, horrible cruise experiences, tourist masses etc.) and have to say, I was very happily surprised that our cruise didn't come close to what I had expected. There were only very few other tourist boats, so no annoying noises or crowds, the food on our boat was excellent, the staff was nice and the little excursions we did were fun and exciting! In addition, the whole tour was topped off with breathtaking natural surroundings, what more can you ask for? All in all the thirty of us spent a fantastic day on our cruise ship, and we even went for dinner with a French couple we met on the boat. Thank you, Vietnam, for another magical experience!

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