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Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

Salt Lake City, Utah
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Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

Just got back from Vietnam with a 3 day, 2 night trip to Halong Bay on a junk. Prior to going, it was impossible to find good information on the companies, the junks and the logistics. Here was what we did and saw and our perspective:

1. Junks Considered

Ginger / Jasmine Junk

Indochina / Valentine Junk

Ginger and Jasmine Junks are both run by the company: www.cruisehalong.com

Indochina/Valentine junks are run by www.indochinasails.com

We booked on the Ginger, but were moved to the Jasmine on the day of because the Ginger had a leak they said. The Jasmine was beautiful, like a floating hotel.

Two major complaints are: 1. The food was bad, we were on Halong Bay surrounded by incredible seafood being fed steaks and mashed potatoes. 2. The drink prices are insane. The free water is never served when you asked for water, and each drink is about $7 - $10 USD apiece.

Would recommend the Jasmine for anyone looking for a luxury cruise. The Indochina 1/2/3 boats were identical and looked equally nice. The Valentine (from the water) looked run down and I'm glad we didn't choose that one.

Friends recommended staying 2 nights/3 days and they were right. Absolutely right on that advice. We were taken off the boat to a small 'day junk' that was pretty run down, but we had a crew of 5 for the two of us. They took us to a very quiet part of the Bay where we sat on a beach and went kayaking.

All junks do a circuit and no matter the company, they all simply do the rounds, first hitting an overlook, then a fishing village, then a few other things. We were happy to get off the circuit on the second day and escape the tons of boats and constant pressure to spend money on stuff we didn't want from the touts on the boats. They were selling Oreo Cookies and Ritz Crackers - an odd combination I must admin.

Overall, if you are looking for a very lovely experience, choose cruisehalong.com or indochinasails.com either Indochina 1/2/3 or the Ginger or Jasmine.

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Newport Beach
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1. Re: Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

Jabo,

Did you meant the touts from another small boat trying to sell or you meant the touts in the junk?

Wow, that must be annoying if you are constantly being harassed on the junk, you can't escape.

$ 7 to $ 10 is this for a bottle of wine or just plain bottle fo water?

2. Re: Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

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Removed on: 10 September 2011, 10:48
3. Re: Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

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Removed on: 28 September 2010, 08:35
Salt Lake City, Utah
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4. Re: Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

In answer to the questions:

1. Did you meant the touts from another small boat trying to sell or you meant the touts in the junk?

>>From small little row boats.

Wow, that must be annoying if you are constantly being harassed on the junk, you can't escape.

>>They were not bad, but 2 or three would come up to the boat in the morning trying to sell stuff. I think something you would run into on any junk and it was pretty much a non issue, you just ignored them.

$ 7 to $ 10 is this for a bottle of wine or just plain bottle fo water?

>>Jasmine - $2 per bottle of water and $6 - $10 for a glass of wine, $12 for a martini, $30 - $$$ for bottles of wine

Salt Lake City, Utah
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5. Re: Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

This is the core problem with all of the other postings on Halong Bay, tons of cross noise about the other boats or what is happening out there which caused me a ton of initial confusion, that's why I posted as 'from an American perspective' and not a Vietnamese or Thai or questionable perspective.

My advice is to ignore these posts and simply take my experience for what that it is.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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6. Re: Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

One other thing, Bhaya junk - never heard of it or saw it on the Bay.

Saw the Emeraude - which was a paddle ship type of boat (Almost like something you would see on the Mississippi River), and it looked ridiculous out there, but no more ridiculous than the Chinese Junks which are all powered by a motor. The sails on the Jasmine never came up.

Hermosa Beach...
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7. Re: Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

jabo99 -

I found your post interesting...

I was on the Red Dragon a couple of weeks ago. Very weird reading about no seafood on your junk...we had so much seafood - almost at every course..crab, prawns, mussels, calamari, etc. In fact, I really didn't eat much seafood the rest of the trip b/c I had so much.

Also, we never saw any of these "touts" at all, but, I think that's b/c the Red Dragon does a different route that is separate from the other junks...we barely saw any other.

For me, 2d/1n was more then enough..I think I would've gotten bored and the weather was pretty overcast which didn't help.

I did enjoy the trip, though and would recommend the Red Dragon if you are trying to choose.

Maui
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8. Re: Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

JanetC,

Can you tell me if the price of drinks where as expensive on the Red Dragon?

Hermosa Beach...
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9. Re: Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

I didn't order any drinks, but, my parents did order some Cokes (which I believe were $1-$1.50) and a bottle of wine (which I think may have been around $25, though, I'm not sure). This is expensive for VN prices but similar to American prices. We had 2 bottles of water in my room which I brought with me some of the time and they didn't seem to care.

Seoul, South Korea
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10. Re: Halong Bay Junks - From an American Perspective

I will throw my 2 cents in here, as well, for what its worth...

I just returned from Halong Bay and also went with Red Dragon (#2, the newest in their fleet. Their other boats looked great, too). There were a total of eight guests on the boat, so there was plenty of room to spread out.

The food was well prepared and plentiful. As the previous poster noted, each meal was full of seafood (though they went out of their way to make some additional dishes for my non-seafood-eating wife). I thought drink prices were very reasonable: $1.50 for beer, $5 for a glass of wine

The activities were great and agree that the unique route allows them to avoid the touts. It was a beautiful ship and we had a wonderful time. I can recommend the Red Dragon without hesitation.