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Monday, 11 August 2014

Beautiful Halong Bay. Our 13-days Travel Itinerary in Vietnam (Part 3)

Hello all! Over the past two years, friends and colleagues have asked questions related to my travels to Vietnam back in 2012, as in what to see and what to do in Vietnam, which I wanted to share here. 

And yes, we both (myself and Kah Boon) travelled to Vietnam and it's a country full of cultural expression. Our trip to Vietnam was quite an adventure. Entering this country was relatively hassle-free! Our journey started in Ho Chi Minh City in the southern part to the northern part of Vietnam, and lasted for nearly two weeks. There are so many things to shop, to eat, to snap and of course also to experience the epic massive traffic in Vietnam.

Our trip lasted for 13 days, 12 nights in Vietnam and here’s what we did for our entire journey (from 10 September 2012 – 22 September 2012), focusing on the best places to see in Vietnam based on our tight budget:  <Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) – Hanoi – Sapa – Halong Bay - Hanoi> 

Day 1: 10 September 2012 
Depart from Penang – Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) – Ho Chi Minh Son Nhut (Terminal 2)

Day 2: 11 September 2012
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Free & Easy

Day 3: 12 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Free & Easy

Day 4: 13 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee (Ho Chi Minh City
Hall) - Ben Thanh Market – Saigon Square - War Remnants Museums – Saigon Opera

Day 5: 14 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Chu Chi Tunnel - Reunification Palace - Notre Dame
Cathedral – Old Saigon Post Office - Free & Easy 

Day 6: 15 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON)/ HANOI - Took 0810 hr flight via Jetstar Pacific from Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport to Noi Bai Airport (Domestic Terminal) – Free & Easy – Took night train to Sapa approx. 9-10 hrs (4-person cabin with bed)

Day 7: 16 September 2012   
SAPA - Y Linh Ho – Lao Cai – Ta Van 
Arrived Lao Cai at 6.00 a.m. and proceeded to Sapa by bus - Trekking (approx. 6km of
walking down to the South East of Sapa along the side of Muong Hoa valley to Y Linh Ho
Village of the Black H’mong – Trekking (approx. 2km to Lao Chai Village), through terraced
rice fields to Ta Van village of the Dzay minority people – Sapa Market / Town

Day 8: 17 September 2012 
SAPA - Cat Cat - Sin Chai – Lao Cai-Hekou (Vietnam-China Border) 
A walk down to the South-West of Sapa (approx. 4 km) to visit Cat Cat village of the Black H’mong – Followed by a visit to waterfall and hydroelectric power station constructed by the French - Sin Chai (approx. 6 km) to a village located at the foot of Fansipan Mountain, “the Roof of Vietnam and Indo China” -  Lao Cai – Hekou (Vietnam-China Border) – Took 8.00p.m. train back to Hanoi  

Day 9: 18 September 2012 
HANOI / HALONG BAY (via Superior Dragon Cruise
Hotel pick-up at 5.00a.m. –  Halong Bay (4 hrs journey to Halong Harbor) – Board  Superior Dragon Cruise around 12.00p.m. and enjoy the breathtaking view around the bay – Visit to: Sung Sot Cave - Titop Mountain / Area and  Luon Cave Area - Kayak / Swim in
the bay’s emerald waters - Vietnamese dinner plus night entertainment on the boat –
Overnight on Superior Dragon Cruise (Halong Bay)

Day 10: 19 September 2012 
Leisure time on Superior Dragon Cruise (Halong Bay) – Sail along the bay – Stop by Gia
Luan Pier on Cat Ba Island - Halong Harbor – Hanoi (4 hrs journey to Hanoi Old Quarter) –
Hanoi Guest House – Free & Easy

Day 11: 20 September 2012 
Old Quarter - Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) - Hang Gai Street (Street of
Hemp) - Temple of Literature - Perfumed Pagoda

Day 12: 21 September 2012 
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - Ho Chi Minh Museum - Hanoi Royal Citadel - One Pillar Pagoda - Tam Coc - Thang Long Water Puppet Show

Day 13: 22 September 2012 
Depart from Hanoi , Noi Bai Airport (International Terminal) via MH 753 – Kuala Lumpur
– Penang
Every country has its one marquee attraction, that one destination spot that visitors cannot miss – Cambodia has Angkor Wat, Burma has its own Bagan and Vietnam has Halong Bay.
Halong Bay is home to some of the most fascinating topography in the world and of course it's the most beautiful must-visit tourist spot in North Vietnam. 
Stunning Halong Bay
Cruising along the bay
Amazing just like in postcards and magazines!
Each and every cruise was parked at a place
Halong Bay features thousands of limestone karsts and islands of various sizes and shapes
After our breakfast, the tour bus picked us up from our Hanoi old quarter guesthouse.  It was almost a 4-hour drive from Hanoi to Halong City with a brief stop-over at a souvenir shop along the way where we admired the stone sculptures and embroidery work. The Superior Dragon Cruise which we booked is a traditional Vietnamese junk that could accommodate up to 18 guests. We cruised out into Bai Tu Long Bay and were given a briefing on the history of the bay and our 2-day itinerary.

We spent 2 days, 1 night exploring the limestone karsts of Halong Bay. To me, a one-day tour is definitely not enough time to soak in this magical landscape, so I highly recommend travelers to take at least the 2days, 1night cruise tour. We booked our Halong Bay cruise tour via Hanoi Guest House at 73USD/pax inclusive of meals over 2 days and activities/tour guide fees. 

Our lovely cabin
The sun deck
Junk boats in Halong Bay

We did go on a couple of excursions. We spent the afternoon kayaking, caving and visiting floating village. At night, we enjoyed our sumptuous dinner with finely decorated dishes. We slept early that night. The next morning, we spurned the opportunity of a 6am on-deck to enjoy the misty morning while cruising the bay and watch the amazing scenery goes by.
The classic view of Halong Bay
On top of Titop island
On top of Titop island
Sunset over the bay
Rise and Shine at Halong Bay
Rise and Shine at Halong Bay

 Halong Bay luxury cruise
Kayaking on Halong Bay as the sun goes down
Cave exploration
Myself relaxing on the cruise boat in Halong Bay
Inspiring spires

We went there for the scenery, we kayaked around some other nearby islands, we spent some time on the beach, we climbed the steps up to a viewing platform, Titop island and we joined the Vietnamese cooking lessons. 

We really enjoyed our short stay at Halong Bay. It was a great "escape" from the hustling stressful Hanoi . The setting is absolutely unique and  this place definitely merits its UNESCO World Heritage status!

Air Itinerary Details: 
(i)Malaysia Airlines: Penang - Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) – Ho Chi Minh Son Nhut (Terminal 2)/ Hanoi Noibai - Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) - Penang
(ii) Jetstar Pacific: Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport (Domestic Terminal) - Ha Noi - Noi Bai Airport (Domestic Terminal)
(i)    Lan Lan Hotel (Ho Chi Minh City)
73 -75 Thu Khoa Huan st, Ward Ben Thanh, District 1
Telephone: +84.838236789
Fax: +84.838273838

Website: http://www.lanlanhotel.com.vn/ 

(ii)    Hanoi Guest House (Hanoi) <**highly recommended> 
85 Ma May Street - Hoan Kiem - Hanoi - Vietnam 
Tel/Fax : + 844 3 9352571 - 3  9352572 
Email    : booking@hanoiguesthouse.com (Ms Huyen) 
(**We booked our accommodations via e-mails before we departed on our journey and
booked our trips to Sapa and Halong Bay from the Guesthouse in Hanoi)

(iii)   Fansipan View Hotel (Sapa) 
Victoria hotel alley, Xuan Vien Street, Sapa town, Lao Cai, Vietnam
Tel:   (+84-203) 873 579 . Fax: (+84-203) 873 466 
Hotline:   (+84) 913 524 535

Local Transportation:  
 (i)Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – Hanoi via Jetstar Pacific
How to get there:  Took domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport -
Domestic Terminal via Jetstar Pacific to Hanoi - Noi Bai Airport - Domestic Terminal Duration: 2 hour 10 minutes
Departure Ho Chi Minh - Hanoi: 15 September 2012 -  6:00 a.m. -  8:10 a.m. via BL790 (Jetstar Pacific)
Fares total: 74.87USD/for 1 way/person inclusive of tax/fee/charge
Click here for e-booking: http://www.jetstar.com/vn/en/home 

(ii)Hanoi – Halong Bay via Superior Dragon Cruise 
How to get there:  Hotel pick-up at 5.00a.m. (approx. 4 hrs journey), board Superior
Dragon Cruise at 12.00p.m. 
Duration: 4 hrs journey by bus from Hanoi Old Quarter
Package / Fares: 73USD per pax for 2days/1night (all meals provided, on board entertainment, tour guide fees paid)
Room type: Double bedroom with attached bathroom

Services included:
  •  Entrance fees and Service Charge
  • English speaking guide on board
  • Double bed accommodation with air-cond and hot shower
  • Exclusive Cruise through Halong Bay
  • Round trip transfer by bus/van from Hanoi
  • Welcome drink, breakfast, lunch, dinner on board
For more details: http://halongdragoncruise.com/Main.aspx?MNU=1298&Style=1
Yummy fresh crab
Dinner is served on Superior Dragon Cruise

Read more about our travel experiences @ Vietnam: 
This is Saigon! Our 13-days Travel Itinerary in Vietnam 
Hanoi - iWalk, iEat, iTaste, iSnap and iPho. Our 13-days Travel Itinerary in Vietnam
Never forget that little Sapa, the true nature of Vietnam. Our 13-days Travel Itinerary in Vietnam

"One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more" -  Thomas Jefferson

Welcome to Small World! This blog is not a travel agency, but rather a personal site which allows me to share my past travel experiences in a straightforward and far-reaching way. I often made great use of other peoples travel blogs and sites every time I plan for my travel itinerary as they often contained most updated information and invaluable resources from their past travel experiences.  I hope that you will find every piece of information & images contained within my blog handy and useful. Thank you very much for reading my post(s) and feel free to leave a comment/testimonial or click "Like/Share" if you love reading them all. xoxoThe writer is a passionate traveler who enjoys speaking to young keen travelers about the freedom to get cultured and to taste the fullness of life. Feel free to contact the writer if you need any travel advice, guidance or tips or if you have any burning questions with regards to your upcoming trip(s)/ journey 

Be inspired but more importantly be inspiring -   


  1. Hi Chengy Wong
    Your article is very interesting and detailed. I
    We offer service private transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay only 79$ /04 seat. Read the reviews on tripadvisor.com and booking with us.
    Have a nice day (^_^)

    1. Thanks for the info. Hope it helps other travellers visiting Halong Bay.

  2. Hi! May I know how much you spend for your trip excluding the international flight? Thanks!

    1. Hi Madison, the trip to Halong Bay alone costs us approx. $73 per pax (travel date: 2012) for 2days/1night (all meals provided, on board entertainment, tour guide fees paid) and including transportation from Hanoi to the departure port. Hope this info helps and do let us know if you need further info.

  3. Nice post..thanks for sharing this post.

    Halong Bay is the best place in Hanoi City. Most attraction place in Hanoi

    Halong Bay Cruise

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks. Do "Like" our Fcaebook page and stay tuned for more updates and travel posts.

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks. Do "Like" our Fcaebook page and stay tuned for more updates and travel posts.

  6. I am bring my brothers to Vietnam this year. When's the best time to visit Vietnam?

    Valentine Lee

    1. Hi Valentine, the best travel period across Southeast Asia is always during the winter time, which lasts from Jan-March. But if you prefer the kind of summer humid weather, then April - June will be good as well :)

  7. I have seen this blog..realy nice blog..i want read see it again with new posts

    Tours to Halong Bay

    1. Thanks. Do "Like" our Fcaebook page and stay tuned for more updates and travel posts.

  8. Interesting post about Halong bay. For me Halong bay is the most beautiful thing in Vietnam and it is a must-do when visiting the country. Nice photos and story! Thank you for the post!