Not many clearly know that there is another place having almost the same features and located next to Halong Bay - Bai Tu Long Bay, not Halong Bay with another name.
An exceptional tranquil excursion in Bai Tu Long Bay with Renea Cruise
“Imagine the entire bay is a very big cake having 4 equal parts, parts 1 and 2 are Halong Bay which is the main part. Part 3 is Lan Ha Bay located to the South in Hai Phong Province and the last one is Bai Tu Long located to the Northeast of the Bay. Bai Tu Long Bay together with Lan Ha Bay is two other parts of Halong Bay which are less touristic ”. That was exactly our guide - our true travel partner - Ms. Luna had shared with us. At first glance, not only we but other guests in the very comfy Limousine shuttle bus of Renea Cruise had no idea about this. For me, it seems like something we’ve never get noticed before - totally impressive and informative!
After having free city-tour to pick up
guests in hotels from 8:00 around the Old
Quarter on Renea Cruise Limousine Shuttle bus in the early Saturday
morning, we headed out of the city about
8:45. While crossing expressways and
provincial ways with flat paddy fields along, Luna told us many interesting
things about Vietnam Culture, Vietnamese grammar and pronunciation, must-try
items to eat and even some kinds of exotic food and beverage in Vietnam. She
also didn’t forget repeating the entire itinerary with
highlight activities, brief
introduction about Bai Tu Long Bay
and Renea Cruise as well as collecting our passports and ID cards
and carefully checking our information: guests names, itinerary bookings, kind
of rooms, special diet, explanations of beds for each kind of rooms, etc.
It took us about 4 hours to get to Hon Gai Pier (including 30 minutes of break time at a rest stop on halfway for relaxing). Upon arrival at the pier around 12:15, many other travelers were also waiting in lounges and cafes. A bit crowded at first made us. However, thanks to Luna, everything went smoothly and we knew what to do afterward. Waiting in a café for a few minutes, we had been told to check our luggage before packing them to a cart which is pulled by their staff from the lounge to the tender (a small motorboat with roof) of Renea Cruise. At the same time, Luna gave us entrance tickets and we stood in the queue, waiting for our turn to check-in and get on the tender. She also reminded us to gather whenever she says: “Luna team! Luna team!”
After hopping on tender, wearing a life jacket, we were transferred to the main boat - Renea Cruise - further out Hon Gai Pier for almost 3 minutes moving on water. From a distance, we could see two guys of crew waving hands and warmly smiling with us at the entrance. They also helped us get on a cruise while keep saying: “Watch your head! Watch your head!” due to the low ceiling of tender compared to the entrance of the cruise. Maybe it’s just a little thing, but brought us very great joy, we felt like we were treated with the truly caring kindness.
At the indoor restaurant on the main deck, all of us were served cold towel and welcome drink - Lipton lemon tea. On behalf of the crew, Luna sent to us the warmest welcome and reminded us about the itinerary on the first day afternoon. After that, we had 15-20 minutes to do check-in our cabin, then had a delicious Vietnamese style lunch at 13:15 while the cruise sailed much further to the coast. That was so great and amazing to admire thousands of limestone mountains and islands from the sundeck with spectacular views. We had time to relax before going with the spotlight - kayaking and swimming at 15:15 - in Cap La Area, where Renea Cruise also would anchor overnight.
Renea Cruise’s Tender transferred us from the main boat to the kayak site for 15 minutes. We had a great chance to relish the calmness of the bay with a variety of dense amount, shape and feature of rocky mountains above the water. We also had time to truly dip inside tranquil atmosphere of the bay, kayaking among islands, on peaceful emerald water and enjoy with pretty small white sandy beaches on the private islands surrounding.
The weather on Saturday is a bit cloudy due to the cold monsoon, but there was sunlight occasionally that made the view even more glamorous. Sometimes we let our kayak free-flow along with water, kept staying still and let our mind drown in each of our imagination about breathtaking picturesque sights around us. We even played a happy acoustic song while we were taking a kayak, the harmony of nature and music was the thing that I’ll never forget in my lifetime. Luna directed us to one of the small beaches around the kayaking area for swimming. There is a small shallow cave next to it but can let kayak go inside. And of course, we didn’t miss a chance to challenge ourselves, it also has a tiny sandy beach so we can get on the land! Imagine you are standing inside a dark cave, widen your eye view to the outside together with rocky entrance of the cave, everything was absolutely stunning! Don’t forget to keep your trip more meaningful with photos with other partners on the cruise while enjoying the beautifully clean and calm water, white sand and green of plant on the rocky island!
After approx 2 hours having a wonderful experience in the kayaking area, we were back to the main boat at 17:30 to enjoy a twilight snack with tropical fruits, shrimp crackers, and banana smoothies 30 minutes after that. Luna shared with us so many things about Vietnam not only culture but also modern life nowadays. Other foreign friends also shared with each other about their country’s culture, which helped to broaden our minds so much. At 19:00, a BBQ dinner was set on the top deck and we had a truly great time to enjoy dinner with bright moonlight, calm water, gentle breeze combined with Italian music. Afterward, a small board game - a popular one in Hanoi in 2010 - was held by host Luna and who was the winner would have a free beer from her. Overall this game made us happy although our team couldn’t be a winner at last.
Enjoying the next early morning with marvelous breaking dawn with the Sun gently rising from the East as well as Tai-chi class at 6 a.m and breakfast at 7 a.m, we were about to reach Thien Canh Son Cave - the only cave in Bai Tu Long Bay allowing guests to visit. There is the only way to get in and get out of the cave, the rock step is quite small to the width. Sometimes we had to wait due to loaded people queues from other Halong Bay Cruises visiting inside the cave but not too long. The panoramic view of Bai Tu Long and Halong Bay from both the entrance and the last stop of the cave is really superb. Also, the island has a man-made white sandy beach but doesn’t permit to swim. The weather was full of relaxing with a cool breeze and soothing dry sunlight which enhanced the whole splendid nature picture even more astonishing. For me, I can barely see crystal and clean water somewhere Halong Bay like this.
Being back to the main boat, after having check-out our cabin at half-past nine, we were joining a cooking demonstration lesson with Luna and the Chef of Renea Cruise - a young guy with a bright smile. They showed us how to cut some kinds of fruit and vegetable to make a decoration for dishes. Plus, we learned how to make and enjoyed our hand-made fresh spring roll with mixed fish sauce. Young ladies also tried themselves cutting flowers for the very first time, and the result couldn’t be better, for such a clumsy girl like me.
We reached Hon Gai Pier nearly at noon after having lunch on the way back to coastland. One more time, one behalf of Crew’s last farewell, Luna sent a very big thanks and hoped very best wishes to everyone. Leaving Hon Gai at half-past twelve, we were back in Hanoi after around 5 hours on the shuttle bus with a bit congested traffic at the entrance to the urban area. Ending up our short excursion in Bai Tu Long Bay and left it behind to be back to work, back to bustling life in Hanoi but every single moment in this trip will be saved in our life ever since.
For many people, autumn is one of the best times to enjoy themselves with travel plans. And we had the right decision to have a truly hide-away weekend in Bai Tu Long Bay in the late of October with Renea Cruise. Everything was so awesome and memorable to us: relaxing, peaceful, beautiful scenes, not too dependable on social networks, nice people, perfect Luna and great out-door activities. What a must-have experience in a lifetime!