Our exploration in Sapa ended with our overnight train back to Hanoi. Our train actually arrived in Hanoi at 430 am. Oh no… what are we going to do? To our surprised, we were met at the station by the friendly associate of Hanoi Boutique Hotel and added to the surprised, we arrived at the hotel only to be welcomed with 2 rooms prepared for us to rest for few hours before we head out to our next destination. A truly commendable service provided by them (we had all our travel for this trip arranged by them).
After our breakfast in Hanoi Boutique Hotel, we were then picked up for our next adventure of the day, Halong Bay by the Swan Cruise crew.
We took a 4 hours journey on the road to finally arrived at the Pier, close to 12 noon. Our guide from the shuttle handed us over to the captain of the our cruise ship while awaiting for the arrival of our Guide for the trip, Elis. What impressed us during the journey to the Pier from Hanoi, Kian, the guide on the shuttle bus were entertaining and fun. He also got all our dietary needs confirmed and information were sent over to the office for their co-ordination. Truly impressive.
We boarded the cruise, a 9-cabin Swan Cruise from the pier using another smaller boat that brought us over.
Upon boarding onto the Cruise ship, we all gathered at the dining deck to enjoy our Welcome drink. After that, the briefing of what our activities for the next 24 hours would be. Then we were given the opportunity to head into our respective cabin for official check-in before gathering back in the dining deck for our lunch on-board.
Lunch was a luxurious Vietnamese cuisine while leisurely cruising to the core of Bai Tu Long Bay.
Bai Tu Long Bay is located in the east of Halong Bay. It has similar geological characters with Halong Bay while it is still considered as off the beaten tourist track. Bai Tu Long Bay is filled with many deserted and pristine beaches and impressive mountains.
Rich in biodiversity with two ecosystem, Bai Tu Long Bay is scarcely seen any tourist development.
We were very fortunate as our Swan Cruise chooses this less touristy route, giving us the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful nature of the area without the influx of people and cruise ships. Although the weather was a little gloomy on our day 1, we still managed to enjoy the beautiful sight of Bai Tu Long Bay.
We continue our cruise along Bai Tu Long Bay and finally arrived in Cap La Island, one of the small fishing village (lying between Bai Tu Long & Halong Bay). There are 80 family holders with more than 200 people living in this village. They live by fishing. Children go to school until they are 12 years old, then they stop for working as fisherman.
Our afternoon activities started with us giving the options of kayaking or enjoying the small boat bringing us along the area for more photo takings of the breathtaking view of the area. I started off kayaking but with our first time experience, we lost our team (as we were too slow), so we decided to turn back. To our horror, our boat were missing only to discover them coming back for us a few minutes later. Impressive as the boat crew (our guide, Elis went kayaking with the remaining of the other guests from our cruise ship) discover us separated from the kayaking group, hence set out to look for us to ensure that we are safe. We were then brought to one of the private island where the remaining of our group where there to enjoy the warm seawater despite the cold winter air.
Ending our afternoon adventure around Cap La Island, we head back to the main ship to shower and relax before our ‘Sunset’ Party before dinner. To our disappointment, the weather were not promising, so our ‘Sunset’ Party only happen in the dining indoor deck and not the top outdoor deck.
Dinner was a fantastic seafood dinner while our cruise anchored for the night.
After dinner, we were entertained with puzzle games indoor or those whom love the outdoor are able to opt for squid fishing. A truly amazing experience before we head back to our respective cabin for the night.
Our Day 2 on-board Swan Cruise started with an optional Tai Chi activities on the upper deck at 630 am with our guide. I had chosen to sleep in instead…. hahahaha and started my day with a simple Western cum Vietnamese breakfast served by the friendly crew.
Our Day 2 excursion that morning is to Thien Canh Son Cave, known locally as Dong Co is a beautiful cave that is located on Bai Tu Long Bay in the centre of the Cong Do Island. A beautiful natural place, Thien Canh Son Cave is known for it pristine limestone stalactites and beautiful landscape surrounding it.
Taking the 100 steps up into the cave, one will have the opportunity to enjoy the mysterious beauty of the rosin’s system hanging inside the cave. Covered with thousands of stalactites, dome wavy images, stone statues and stone dragons, it is a truly amazing experience.
Out of the cave, one will enjoy the beautiful scenery of Bai Tu Long Bay and Halong Bay. There is also a beautiful beach with soft white sand and blue water at the foot of the cave. A truly amazing sight within the centre of the UNESCO Heritage Site.
As they say, time truly flies by quickly when one is having such a great time. We were lucky that the weather was favourable to us that morning where we were able to take in the beautiful breathtaking scenery of the nature. Soon it is time for us to prepare to return. So we boarded the small boat that brought us back to the Cruise ship where we packed and check out from our respective cabin.
After checking out, we head back to the dining deck where we enjoyed Vietnamese Cooking Demonstration (more like fruits and vegetable carving by the talented Chef) while our guide, Elis demonstrated to us how to roll Vietnamese roll. We had an early lunch on-board of the Cruise while our friendly captain slowly cruise us back to the Pier, ending our memorable and enjoyable 2 days 1 night Cruise along the UNESCO Heritage Site of Halong Bay.