The Ha Long Honeymoon // Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
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 Dan settled in with an outdated Economist and I chuckled quietly to myself, over hearing the hysterical conversations of a few British couples also aboard the cruise.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.)
After 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.
As 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.)
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. 🙂