Halong Bay, Vietnam questions
I'll be in Hanoi, Vietnam during the first part of December. Can anyone recommend a tour to Halong Bay? I would like to stay 1 ir 2 nights on a junk. How's the weather in December?
Does anyone have any suggestions on a place to stay in Hanoi? I'm a backpacker and I love to PARTY!
Lastly, Should I exchange U.S Dollars for VND in Bangkok or Hanoi? Best rate/safety?
Our hostel organised a Halong Bay tour for us - very special pirce for two adults and eight kids. When the minibus picked us up there were four available seats, and we still had to pick up another couple. We should have realised at that stage something was amiss!
We never realised just how many boats there were - it was Central Station on water. Not a necessarilly bad experience, but it made you realise you were one of thounsands having the experience that day. Surprisingly, once out on the water, it was quite "lonely". Not sure where all the other boats disappeared to!
We were herded through the famous cave, and we realised THIS was exactly why we like independent travel and not tour groups. Even so, we went at a pace more appropriate to us so that we could stop and LOOK.
Back on the boat, we were shown to our cabins. Two cabins with a total of four beds for the ten of us. The crew were most apologetic, but there was nothing they could do. At mealtimes, we shared the offering for four people - delicious, and more than adequate had it been shared amongst only four!
Once off the boat we were denied entry to three busses that came along because "we need them for our passengers"...as if we were not paying passengers!
We arrived at the restaurant as the rest of our group was finishing their meal. It would seem someone said something to someone, coz there was ample food for our hungry tummies!
Back at the hostel my husband had it out (politely) with the tour organiser who accused us (not politely - in fact, screaming and then storming off to watch tv) of lying and all sorts of other crazy things. We contemplated not paying for our final few nights' accommodation which would have been about the cost of the six beds/meals we never received at Halong Bay. But we paid, after yet one more attempt at securing some justice. Unsuccessful of course.
All that said, we loved our night on the boat, loved the food we did get, loved sailing around the bay, had the most awesome sunset. Might even do it again!
Just be warned.
If you want to be somewhere that's got a lot going on and plenty to do in Hanoi, you simply must stay somewhere in the Old Quarter!
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