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Danang - Miami of the East

  Having explored the north of Vietnam , it was time to move down South from Hanoi towards the more tropical climates. Danang, which is right in the center of the country was the next logical stop for us with its diverse geography containing vast expansive beaches to amazing hills.  Why Danang? Danang is one of the newest cities in  Vietnam with a large expansive waterfront skyline. It is fast catching up as a major tourist destination and has been coined as the Miami of the East. Along with amazing sunsets at the My Khe beach, one can also visit the nearby Bana hills to get a feel of the mountains. The city has some amazing bridges, water cruises, and in a way, it feels different from the whole of Vietnam due to its well-designed architecture.  How to Reach & Where to Stay? Danang is very well connected from all major countries through its International airport. The airport being right in the center of the city makes the commute times even less. One can easily book a grab under

Halong Bay - My Maiden Cruise

Halong Bay

Only a couple of hours drive from Hanoi, lies an incredible collection of more than 2000 limestone islands. This region known as the Halong Bay (or Há Long bay) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular places to visit while in Vietnam. The islands used to be below the sea level but rose above water due to tectonic activity; it is also known as 1 of the “7 new natural wonders of the world” for its incredible landscape.

This place is truly magical and the best way to explore it is on a cruise. Being in Vietnam, Halong bay cruises are available across all different budgets ranging from budget day trips to 3D/2N packages on 5 Star Liners. Selecting the best one for you can be a daunting task considering the sheer number of options but one can find really good deals on It's ideal to book your cruise well in advance especially in peak season to get the best deals. We went ahead with Doris Cruise which was a luxury liner and one can expect to shell out around 5,722,200 VND (~250 USD) for a 2D/1N stay for two persons including all meals on board along with a host of other activities. 
If one is looking for a complete boat party experience along with camping on a remote island with some crazy parties, Castaway Tours by VBH is your best bet. These 3D/2N packages are a bomb for someone who is looking to party all the way. Here is a small Teaser

Best Time to Visit?

Halong Bay is operational 365 days a year. But the best time to visit is when the skies are clear and dry so your best bet would be September-November and March-May but then the prices might be higher than what I quoted earlier. 

How to Reach?

There are multiple ways to reach Halong from Hanoi. One can take trains, buses or taxis but trains and buses tend to take a longer time. A lot of these cruises have their own line of limousine buses which can be availed at an extra cost. We paid close to 30 USD per person for both side transfers
The taxis were there to pick us up from our hotel in the Old Quarter at around 8:30 am and it took us around 2.5 hours to reach the port with one halt in between. 

By 12 pm, we were on our speed boats for a 20-minute ride onto the main cruise ship waiting for us in deep waters.

Halong Bay Cruise

Cruise Experience

As soon as we boarded the cruise, we were greeted with an amazing courteous staff who handed us our welcome drinks along with a warm towel and directed us towards the restaurant for a briefing session. The overall ambience was amazing with some beautifully lit corridors.

Doris Cruise

We were served a preset 7-course meal which had an amazing selection of meats and veggies in typical Vietnamese style. We were then handed the complete itinerary which involved Kayaking, Sunset Jacuzzi party along with Squid Fishing at night for day one followed by some more activities for the next day. With an exhilarating sense of mind, we moved to our rooms to take a brief rest. The quality of rooms on this cruise even left behind some of the best 5-star hotel rooms with an amazing view of the bay from the private balcony. I could stay months on this ship without complaining. 

Doris Cruise Room

Doris Cruise Washroom

After a brief rest, we got ready for Kayaking and were soon down in the waters rowing all around the clean waters. It was an amazing experience, to say the least with small stops on small deserted islands. We sailed till our arms started aching and that is when we went back for the Sunset Jacuzzi party.

Kayaking in Halong Bay

Halong Bay Sunset Party

We met some amazing fellow travellers, tried our hands-on making Vietnamese spring roll and relaxed for a couple of hours with some amazing cocktails (way to go Happy Hours :p). By this time, clouds had covered the skies completely and we couldn't see the majestic sunset. Towards the night, we had an amazing buffet dinner followed by some squid fishing in which I couldn't catch a single fish (story of my life :p)

Vietnamese food

The ships anchor for the night around the Catba island area and we could see numerous cruises all anchored around us for the night. The next morning sunrise along with Taichi session (Some sort of meditation session) was obviously not in our plans as we slept all along until being woken up by the staff for the breakfast. 
Post breakfast, we got on a small speed boat on to our journey to witness local floating villages where we boarded small hand rowed boats to witness the famous spots where the movie King Kong was shot recently. 

Fishing village in Halong Bay

After a while, we got back to the cruise and had lunch on the deck and soon it was time to pack up. The cruise was coming to an end and it literally felt as if the time flew away. 

Cruise Restaurant

We were handed over some goodies by the courteous staff while checking out and we hit the port around 1pm and were even back to Hanoi by 3:30 pm. 

From boarding the cruise till the end, the kind of amazing service that was there, while being forever complemented by the amazing waters of the bay, I was left longing for more. Rather than getting lost in finding the best Halong bay cruise, I would highly suggest you all go for anyone with good reviews and focus more on experiencing the whole thing. 

My 1st cruise experience will be cherished forever. I will come back in due course....

Halong Bay Island


  1. Very informative. Great going!

  2. Seems to me a lot of fun.. will definitely try this out.. thanks for the information

  3. Very well written. Keep it up.

  4. Love Vietnam! I've followed your blog, check me out if you like at


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