Halong, Bai Tu Long, and Lan Ha are three brother bays in the Gulf of Tonkin. For long, Halong Bay is considered the most popular among tourists from all over the world. “However, Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay have exactly the same scenic beauty as Halong Bay.”
From dusk till dawn in Bai Tu Long Bay with Swan Cruise
We started at Hanoi Opera House with Swan shuttle bus. It was a bit hard to recognize the bus due to busy traffic around and other tourists waiting for their cars also. But all troubles were soon behind since we got into a nice and clean 29-seat bus with the warm welcome of smiling guide and driver. One thing I really love was that they accommodate no more than 20 guests in each car which provides passengers much more comfortable all way long. After picking the last passenger, we officially kicked start and headed out of the city at 8.30 am.
Our on-bus guide was Hang (which means Moon in English), a funny enough girl to keep us all felt stress-free and happy all the way with little notice of time. Traffic was so smooth that we arrived the rest stop in Hai Duong (also marked as the middle point) just 1.5 hours later. We had 30 minutes for free relaxation before rejoining the bus on the other side of the rest stop. Thanks to the car number card Hang gave each of us before getting off, we could reunite our car easily with no trouble. After making sure all the passengers settled in the bus, Hang gave us a bit general info of where we were at that time – Hai Duong province. Not to make it just the words, she carefully prepared a bag full of green bean cakes (a renowned specialty of Hai Duong) and persuaded us to have a taste. That was such an excellent way to represent a place to my amazement and a nice start for the second half.
Catching Swan waiting lounge in Hon Gai harbor at 12:30, harsh middle sunlight was the first one welcome us. Here we said goodbye to Hang and skillful driver with whom we felt at ease and safe whole the trip.
Vinh (better call Vin) was our main guide on board. He quickly went through the list, got to know everyone, attached cruise tags on our luggage, and took us through checking point with already bought sightseeing tickets while other crew staff helped us with luggage loading. We followed him to step down the ferry and entered the waiting tender then transferred to the main cruise. While we were cooling off with a welcome drink and cold towel in the cruise restaurant (2nd floor), Vin gave us a brief welcome and introduced us cruise crew, safety info, and afternoon schedules.
After room checking and lunch break, the cruise was moving away while we had some time to prepare for the very first activity, also known as the best part – Kayaking by midafternoon. Unlike regularly fixed itinerary that we should do the kayak and swim separately, Vin suggested us to try the combination of them that we should kayak to Cap La Island, have some swimming followed by another kayak back to the start. It was such a perfect arrangement that made sure everyone could be able to enjoy the full set of exciting activities. Cap La island welcomed us with romantic landscapes, a small beach with smooth white sand, emerald green water which created a great ambiance for tourists to relax and chill out.
A couple of hours later, we reunited in the starting point to return kayaks and back to the ship by tender boat. After washing and short relaxation, we joined the sunset party at 6.20 pm on the sundeck in which crew already prepared some snacks, fruits, and water in buffet style for us. Not really like a party with loud music on and dancing floor, as we had had such an active afternoon, the crew decided to give us some private time in peace under the wonderful setting sun. The weather was so nice at the time with blue sky, fluffy clouds and the gentle breeze that I felt like time stopped and heaven opened with stunning islands around. We kept enjoying the sunset until dinner time at 7.10 pm. Such an unforgettable dinner for my memory!
Without our notice, the dinner was followed by a simple game but challenging enough to keep all of us focused and close to each other in order to win. Not so fast to be the winner but we ended up having so much fun and laugh together.
The next morning sun appeared as early as 5.00 am when the previous night moon had not even faded yet. With the rising sun waking up the whole lost paradise, it was the right time for some exercise on the sundeck with a special trainer…
Vin again, yes, multiple Vin. Then instead of a follow-up breakfast, we all agreed with Vin’s recommendation to do the sightseeing to Thien Canh Son Cave first from 7.00 am and again it was another right choice. Visiting the cave at that early stage gave us the advantage to be the first visitors of the day that we could enjoy the ultimate peace and beauty of this hidden cave. Excellent view over the bay on its top and the nearby deserted beach also deserved a medal.
We got back to Swan Cruise at 8.00 am with a tummy empty enough for a buffet breakfast awaited. As that was no more sightseeing, we then had much time to relax onboard until cooking class in midmorning in which we were instructed to make some vegetable decoration for the followed up lunch at 11 o’clock.
After that farewell lunch, we said hard goodbye to the family-like crew at 12.20 and headed back to the mainland for a return bus to Hanoi.
By now, it is clear to me that for all who are seeking a spacious room with high-end facilities or big private balconies, then Swan might not quite fit. But to whom appreciating unforgettable moments of creating conviviality together, interspersed by the richness of local history and culture, whilst sailing through one of the world’s finest collection of islands, Swan Cruise is truly second to none.
You can read more information & find the best deals with Swan Cruise here.
Author: HAPPY TRAVEL Team - "We make your trip Happy"
Date: 11 July 2018