Halong bay ❤
This is the only place that was in my things-not-to-miss in Vietnam list before coming here and I managed to go here for 3 days and 2 nights.
When you are in Hanoi, all the information centres or hostels are flooded with tours for Halong. They range from single day to 3D/2N tours.
One thing that I’ve seen amongst travellers is how much they loathe organised tours! I fall in this category. So instead of spending 90$ for 2 days or 135$ for a 3D/2N trip, I decided to go on my own. It ended up being much cheaper.
Hoang Long bus company has an all transfers inclusive bus to Cat Ba islands which is the biggest island in Halong. This costs roughly 9$. This takes away the hassle of bus+motor bike+boat+bus being booked separately and at the same time is pretty much the same cost.
On the islands I stayed at Cat Ba central hostel which was an epic fucking hostel for 5$. The free breakfast was easily worth 2-3$. And look at the view from the dorm:
I rented a scooter for a day and drove around all of the island. It was 6$ with petrol and the best way to see some amazing views. Behold:
On the third day when coming back I chose the option to come back via Halong City instead of Hai Phong. There is a 4 hour tour of Halong on a ferry that is run for which the price is fixed by the govt. Usually people take cruises. I didn’t end up taking it though, because I got up late and didn’t see the point to the tour since I got good views on the boat back. My independent bus+boat+bus journey back was 11$. And I got some of these classic Halong views: