Halong bay, the non-touristy way. 

important source Halong bay ❤

http://1conn.com/?binarforexar=Ш§ШґШЄШ±Ш§Щѓ-ШЁЩЉШ№-Щ€ШґШ±Ш§ШЎ-Ш§Щ„Ш§ШіЩ‡Щ…-Ш§Щ„Щ…ШЁШ§ШґШ± 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. 

http://theiu.org/?alisa=%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A-%D8%AD%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AA-%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A8%D9%8A&2f5=60 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. 

try this website 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. 

http://www.dramauk.co.uk/?arapyza=%D9%81%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A-%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%84&1f8=f3 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. 

http://asect.org.uk/?ilyminaciya=%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%84-%D8%AA%D8%AD%D9%85%D9%8A%D9%84&0bb=fa 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:

http://gl5.org/?prikolno=%D8%A3%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D9%83%D8%B3%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B9&6b3=c9
2 nights at the hostel cost me 10$. 

reference 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:

http://theiu.org/?alisa=%D8%BA%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%85%D9%84%D9%83%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%87&714=73
Some of these places had entry tickets which were 5$ in total. 

you could try here 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:

http://theiu.org/?alisa=%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A-%D9%85%D8%B9-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84&3ee=d4
41$ in total, along with having immense independence to explore and see things I liked.