The Ha Long Honeymoon // Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

The Ha Long Honeymoon // Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-2

For all intents and purposes, we were frugal during our journey across Southeast Asia. Traveling for two months requires that, and considering the region is already reasonably priced it, wasn’t difficult. Ha Long Bay though, that was a different story. We (read: I) wanted the best.

A quick back story – after getting married on a sunny Saturday in June 2014 Dan and I parted ways the following Monday for 2 months while he completed a masters program in Boston and I headed back to work in Germany. Sure we took plenty of amazing trips around Europe in the months after his return but never had a conventional luxurious, honeymoon. I get it though, you don’t have empathy for me… and it’s warranted! 🙂

While researching the various cruises in Ha Long Bay I read review after review, wanting to ensure that our time there was well-organized, comfortable AND not caught up in the herds of other tourists. At the top of the TripAdvisor reviews I spotted Indochina Junk and after reading their site was immediately convinced they were the perfect fit. Unlike the other 1,000s of cruises in the bay, Indochina pays the Vietnam government extra fees in order to have exclusive access to otherwise off limits areas of the bay. Not only that, they’re surprisingly environmentally conscious in their activities.

With the promise of luxury accommodations, dinner in a CAVE and kayaking, we splurged and went for the 3 day 2 night Dragon’s Pearl Cruise and dubbed it our belated honeymoon!

When the Indochina team confirmed our reservations I told them about our honeymoon plans and didn’t think about it much further. Once aboard we quickly settled in on the sundeck while our belongings were placed in the room. It’s funny how quickly things can change – just the night before we were staying in at $15/night guesthouse struggling to figure out how to turn on the shower, then the next day we’re living the good life aboard a beautiful boat sipping cocktails. Dan settled in with an outdated Economist and I chuckled quietly to myself, over hearing the hysterical conversations of a few British couples also aboard the cruise. (Read: the British wit is the BEST.)

Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-3Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-4 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-5After a few hours of scenic motoring through the karst peaks of the bay, we arrived at Bai Tu Long Bay to begin our kayaking excursion. We followed our guide through the peaks into a tiny cave. Dan and I lifted our paddles and just bobbed for a few minutes, enjoying the exotic place we’d brought ourselves. Later we de-boarded on a secluded beach and dug our feet into the soft white sand.

Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-18Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-6 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-7 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-8 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-9 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-10 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-11 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-12
Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-14 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-15 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-16 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-17
Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-20 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-21 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-22 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-23 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-24As the afternoon passed we returned to the boat and quietly chugged on to an even more remote area of the bay. At this point the passing peaks were somewhat disorienting and I could’ve sworn we were going in circles. After a hot shower (definitely not your standard sea-smelling stalls here!) all twenty passengers were transferred to a private island on a narrow tender. Again we followed our guide into a discrete cave, this time on foot. Inside, the ship’s crew had setup a beautiful long white table with candles and flowers. It was breathtaking and the pictures don’t do it justice. To our surprise, at the end of the evening the chef brought Dan and I special cake to celebrate our nuptials! (Later Dan joked about how red my face was during the whole presentation.)

Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-25 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-26 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-27 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-28 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-29
Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-31 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-32 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-33 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-34 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-35 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-36 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-37 Indochina Junk - Ha Long Bay Vietnam - The Overseas Escape-38

All and all – for us the Indochina Junk cruise was worth it. Their amenities are TOP notch, the food was great and we loved going off the beaten path and exploring the more rural areas of the bay. There are a zillion different junk cruises but from everything I read, Indochina is doing something special and I’m so glad that we got to take part!

>> This post is NOT sponsored, just sharing our experience and response to some emails I’ve received relating to touring Ha Long Bay. 🙂

  • that’s adorable! glad you had a great time. i love how your POV comes across so strongly in all your posts by the way. just think you have a great writing “voice” 🙂

    Sher
    http://www.shershegoes.com

  • I’d absolutley love to visit Vietnam – especially Ha Long Bay! I’ve never really looked properly into the cruises there, but I’ll be sure to check these out if we ever get to go as they sound amazing!
    It sounds like you guys had such an amazing experience with them and such a great time!
    xo April | April Everyday

  • MissLilly

    Oh I wish!!!! It’s one of my top places in the bucket list and almost booked myself to go in April, but hope to go at some stage in a near future. Beautiful pictures

  • We did the same your only the one night instead of two. We loved it too! I’m so glad we went with Indochina junk after reading other blog posts about different tour companies. The hotel they put us in the night before in Hanoi was so nice too!!

  • Really similar to Phang Nga Bay in Thailand, but it looks way more amazing, especially the cave.

  • Dinner in a cave, wow that just sounds amazing! What a special way to celebrate your honeymoon 🙂

  • Life of Gibbers ✈️

    What an amazing way to spend your belated honeymoon. The romantic dinner setting in the cave looked awesome 🙂 I’ve been to Vietnam but never managed to get to Halong Bay unfortunately, but your images make it look spectacular.
    http://www.lifeofgibbers.wordpress.com

  • Lauren @BonVoyageLauren

    Wow! What a place to dine!! Congrats on finally going on a honeymoon 🙂 Beautiful post, thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

  • Great photo of the kayakers through the grotto. Sounds like a wonderful and unforgettable honeymoon. Better late than never!

  • This looks absolutely magical! Glad you finally got a proper honeymoon!

  • This is great, Margo! With any luck, I’ll be headed to Vietnam later this year or next.
    http://www.thisoffscriptlife.com

    • oh boy, I’ll definitely cross my fingers for you! it was our absolute favorite stop during our Southeast Asia tour. feel free to shoot me an email when you go – I have lots of suggestions!

  • The slow pace

    That dinner looks amazing!

    • Yes! And the craziest thing about it – although we were eating inside a cave, on an uninhabited island, in the middle of a giant national park, it was actually delicious!

  • Beautiful photos! Looks like a different world.

    • Great point – it really does look so incredibly exotic, doesn’t it? I’ve wanted to see Halong for SO long (rhyming unintentional) that after looking at thousands of pictures of it on Pinterest I almost wasn’t surprised when I saw all those karst peaks in real life. Crazy.

  • The Postcard Travelers

    What a fantastic looking time! Hoping to spend a few years in Asia for our next expat assignment and will file this away as a must-do under my “Vietnam” file 🙂

    • “expat assignment” – how perfect is that!? I’d love to hear more about what you guys are up to!

      • The Postcard Travelers

        We are blessed that my husband’s work allows us several fantastic opportunities to live and work abroad. Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, and Jakarta are possibilities!

  • this makes me so excited to hear you had a great experience with this company! my friends and I booked one of their ships for part of our girls trip this summer 🙂 glad you finally got to enjoy your honeymoon 😉

    • oh, awesome! It seems like you and your girlfriends have a lot of awesome trips coming up! how do I get over there and get in the club?! 😀

  • I’m so happy to hear your rave review of Indochina Junk – my husband and I just booked a cruise with them for our trip to Vietnam later this month! I totally agonized over all the terrible Trip Advisor reviews for Halong Bay Cruises…I was about to abandon the whole thing completely! We opted for the tour with one night on the boat and the second night in a rural village.

    That cave setting is so dreamy!

    Kate | http://www.NomadInNihon.com

    • Chloe Coco Covers

      Glad you are over there ,saw this post and booked a Halong Bay cruise _ I enjoyed the line… de-boarded on a secluded beach and dug our feet in the soft WHITE sand lol.. and that was a sweet ”Cave” honey moon dinner for Margo & Dan.
      Aloha Chloe (I usually go by Coco)

      • So sweet! Yes, they are such a great operator, aren’t they? I really appreciate how environmentally conscious they are too – I think that might make them pretty unique for the bay? Safe travels, dear!

    • YES, I totally know your pain – all the trip advisor reviews are overwhelming, I definitely wasted a solid few hours concerning myself with random stories. I’m glad you went with Indochina, they really were terrific operator for our visit! Safe travels!

  • Simi Atanda Lindgren

    Such a beautiful experience, congratulations!

    http://www.similindgren.blogspot.com

  • I did Halong Bay too and signed up for an overnight cruise, but it got rained out such a bummer but we did do the day cruise. I remember those caves, but omg the candle light dinner looks insane. Wow!!

  • Wonderful photos – you’ve brought back some lovely memories of the Bay for me! How cute they celebrated you two as well 🙂

  • Decided: I’ve got to plan this trip for 2016. It looks wonderful, and it’s only a couple hours flight from Hong Kong. Might be doable on a 4 days trip (hopefully) ! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Jess

    Beautiful photos! We did the same trip with Indochina Junk and it was our biggest splurge of the trip – definitely worth every penny! How beautiful was it just kayaking around?!

    Jess – http://www.wokejournal.com