To celebrate New Years 2015/2016 we chose to do a cruise on Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. The bay is a World Heritage Site with thousands of limestone karsts and small islands. Its endless beauty is the perfect place to ring in the new year.
We signed up a 3 day-2 night cruise for 105USD per person. We got the tickets through one of the many travel companies in Hanoi. It is important to check out multiple travel places, as the prices for the same cruise can range by $20.
We were picked up in the morning from our hotel in Hanoi. We arrived at Ha Long Bay around noon, and began the cruise on a luncheon boat.
Dong Thien Cung Cave
After lunch the boat first took us to Dong Thien Cung Cave, a vast cave with fascinating natural formations. The formations are highlighted with many colorful lights. Outside the cave you get a beautiful view of the bay frontal.
Cruising on Ha Long Bay
For the next few hours the cruise passed through the bay. We passed several floating villages, many small islands, and amazing rock formations, including Trong Mai Islet aka Fighting Cock Rocks.
New Years Eve
When we finally anchored for the night, we had the opportunity to get to know all the people on the cruise better. As night fell, some of us jumped off to the boat into the bay for a quick swam. We had dinner and beer. After dinner began a dance party on the boat to ring in the new years, with a champagne toast at midnight.
Canoeing and Floating Village
The next morning we woke up and had the option to go canoeing around the bay. You can row over to the nearby floating village and pick oysters with locals. Those who only had a 1 night-2 day tour headed home, while we got transferred to a different boat and dropped off at Cat Ba Island.
Cát Bà National Park
We took a bus to Cát Bà National Park. Within the park we hiked for around 2 hours, up and down several peaks, ending at the top of Ngu Lan Peak. The view from the top is gorgeous, with endless forest bound hills across the island. We then took a bus to our hotel.
After checking in, we had lunch at the hotel. After lunch we had the opportunity to go by boat to Monkey Island. Yes, there are monkeys at the beach laying around and enjoying the sand, but be careful the monkeys do not steal your stuff.
On the beach we swam and relaxed for a couple of hours. We tried snorkeling on Monkey Island, but there was nothing to see but sand. We got back to the hotel and grab dinner.
At night, we walked around the small boardwalk and got to see a little bit more of the city.
The next day was the end of the cruise. We took the boat and bus back to Hanoi. On the boat ride, we learned how to make traditional Vietnamese Spring Rolls, which we immediately enjoyed for lunch.