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Halong = Too Long

Melbourne, Australia
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7 posts
2 reviews
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Halong = Too Long

We just did a trip to Halong bay, and in one word overrated. The boat was not what we were shown in the pictures, the food was the worst we had in our entire trip. Our guide was incompetent and a scammer. We had the chance to go for a swim when we docked about a 100 metres off Cat Ba Island. Near a floating village. No thank you. We saw where the sewerage from the village went, let alone all the waste from all the neighbouring junks every night. So we asked if we could get off at Cat Ba. We were told "only if you stay at our hotel at $20 each per night" We said that we wanted to stay at the bungalows. He first told us that they were closed down. We replied that another couple stayed there one night before. He then said the weather was no good. Finally he came back and said he could organise it at $45 US each. No way. He then told us we couldn't get off the boat because we didn't agree. Anyway to cut a long story short we got off the boat when it docked and stayed in the bungalow for $15 (for both). Unfourtantley didn't get his name but he had a big mole on the tip of his nose and was as shifty as the day is long.

However our trip overall was fantastic, the people as beautiful as the country. (Found it more friendly down south) But from our point of view, skip the north and you wont miss anything.

We were warned and still got scammed every time we tried anything. It wasn't the price. I knew that the minimum wage in Vietnam is to be $38 a month but it's the principle. Go to Hue and then head back down.

ON, Canada
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13,775 posts
45 reviews
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1. Re: Halong = Too Long

Sounds like a nightmare. Who did you book the cruise with? i.e. who showed you the fake photos?

Hanoi, Vietnam
Destination Expert
for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
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1,393 posts
18 reviews
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2. Re: Halong = Too Long

which boat you were on?

Choosing a boat trip can be very difficult since you dont know which one is good out there.

Montreal, Canada
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76 posts
2 reviews
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3. Re: Halong = Too Long

Your title is misleading. It's the tour that seems to have been really bad.

4. Re: Halong = Too Long

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Removed on: 27 October 2010, 20:41
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14,917 posts
13 reviews
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5. Re: Halong = Too Long

Oh Owee. In your words, "it helps if you understand the people".

In general the people of the north don't do hypocrisy or sycophancy, so aggression on the part of outsiders tends be met with aggression, arrogance with arrogance... Conversely friendliness will be met with friendliness, kindness with kindness...

However - as is the case everywhere in the world - there are bad apples, one of whom the OP had the undoubted misfortune to encounter. Interestingly, over the years a fair proportion of the truly objectionable people in Vienam (excluding renegade taxi/xe om/cyclo drivers) have been associated with Halong Bay/Cat Ba trips.

Sunshine Coast...
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2,874 posts
31 reviews
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6. Re: Halong = Too Long

That is so disappointing for you.

With the enormous number of fake websites and copycat names of various tour operators your experience is sadly a possibility for anyone who isn't VERY careful and even a bit lucky with their bookings.

We did all our booking through a tour operator recommended on TA but even that tour operator has competitors using the same or similar name trying to trick people into booking with them. I used the email address given to me by another poster here to get in contact with them.

It's such a shame you had a negative experience at Halong Bay - we absolutely loved our time there. On the right boat with a decent tour guide it is quite a magical place.

Edited: 14 October 2010, 22:51
San Francisco
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178 posts
27 reviews
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7. Re: Halong = Too Long

Sorry to hear about your bad experience. But I wouldn't slam the entire north because you got ripped off by one shady operator.

We got ripped off in Hoi An, and accosted on the street in HCMC by a taxi driver, but it's not a reflection on these places.

Maybe you should stick to more developed areas..

Brisbane, Australia
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21 posts
2 reviews
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8. Re: Halong = Too Long

We had booked our Halong bay trip in Hoi An and the boat we got definitely wasn't the one in the pictures. When I queried the "deluxe" standard of this junk compared to the one next to it on the dock. They quickly pulled anchor before I could jump ship. Interestingly some people on the boat had paid less than me and some much more but the rooms were subsatndard and the upper deck lacked furniture. Apparently the captain only gets paid VND40000 per person and has no idea what they have paid.

We enviously looked at the other junks moored in the harbour with buffet breakfasts, COFFEE, nice curtains and deck chairs. The debacle continued in Cat Ba, resulting in me abusing our tour guide for not providing what was on the itinery. Eventually I got my way and joined another group to Monkey Island. That evening we met other travellers who were relaying their disatrous day only to discover it was the same boat. But the captain did send me a replacement hat for one that I lost due to poor communication. Other people loved Halong bay and had great tours there, which probably comes down to the tour they were on. It really is a pretty place, just a shame about the rubbish in the water.

Singapore, Singapore
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256 posts
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9. Re: Halong = Too Long

Danny, please inform the names of the company that you were dealing with, other travelers are reading this and they would wish to know if they are making the right choice.

Happy travel!

pacific palms
Destination Expert
for Mui Ne
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9,762 posts
42 reviews
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10. Re: Halong = Too Long

This type of behaviour by rouge operators coupled with the continuing pollution complaints makes me reluctant to recommend any tours on Ha Long Bay until things change. This is hard on the good operators but I'm afraid its now up to them to insist that the Govt act.