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“Terrible 3 days”
Review of Castaway Island

Castaway Island
Ranked #10 of 55 things to do in Halong Bay
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 12 March 2014

My two girlfriends and I booked this tour while staying at Hanoi Backpackers hostel. We were assured by the guy working at the front desk that it was an activity based tour as we were looking primarily for that. Don't get me wrong we are three 26 year old girls and enjoy having a few drinks but this tour was based SOLELY on drinking. When we got on the bus they didn't even have enough seats for us so for three hours I was sitting on the bus floor. As soon as we got on the boat our obnoxious and inappropriate tour guide began organizing sexually oriented drinking games, he also knew nothing about the area when asked about the history and geography. They didn't even have enough kayaks for everyone and about ten people were stuck waiting while the others kayaked. People went through our bags one night and the tour guide did nothing about it. On day 2 we were screamed at by our guide to get out of bed at 7am (after people were up until 5 with music blaring) and rushed to the top of the boat to sit there in the rain while they cleaned our room for hours. Overall the tour was very misleading and if all you want is to drink for three days then this is the tour for you.

13  Thank Lana H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 12 March 2014

For me, this trip was a joke!! So much that i didn't finish it evan though i paid for it! Travelling asia you are always on gard for getting ripped of. I was stupied enough not to check tripadvisor before because the people selling it was also backpackers, and i thought i could trust them, but i have learned my lesson. They will say anything just to sell, do not trust them anymore than you trust a vietnamese person selling on the street. I read on the reviews here that the people selling will give you a warning that this is a partytrip! That is not true. I am more sad than i am angry because they ruined Halong Bay for me. I spent 220$ to be frustrated over a tour guide that new litle to nothing about the history of Halong Bay, and freezing on a boat they refused to turn the heat on before 8pm. They did not turn it on then either because the tour guide was to busy drinking to remember to turn it on.
Money i can always make back, but Halong bay was one of the highlights of my 6 months long travel. Will i ever be back?? Don't think so since there is so many other places i want to see.

So my recommendation to you: if you don't really care about history or Halong Bay. You love a full night of drinking games. You think that if you wake up not remembering anything from the day before, then you had the best night ever. You think drinking games making you take of your clothes and kiss everybody else in the room is the best! Well then you will absolutely love this tour!!

If any of the above comments is not for you... Well i would definitly think twice!

Like i wrote on top, i didn't stay for both nights, but i saw the pictures from the people coming of the island, and i talked to some of the people in my tour later on. They confirmed the samething as my comments over.
And last but not least: of course they have owerpriced the beer the push you to drink.

Message to the company: know you customers!!! Who to sell it to and who not to... And even though i doubt you will care, say it as it is!

17  Thank Gunni81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 February 2014

I booked this tour staying at Hanoi Backpackers as the guys on the desk seemed pretty genuine and said they'd really enjoyed it - the activities and that the island was really nice. After reading through the reviews of some other tours I thought it was safest to go with one that supposedly had a good reputation. Yes, I did know that it would be a bit of a party tour which I don't mind but this was one of the rankest, most disgusting experiences of my life.
It was winter so I went knowing that the weather wouldn't be that good - but on the boat the first night none of us were given any blankets. I was given a single sheet so it was freezing! The "free" water as advertised wasn't free - apparently that's only the second night on Cat Ba Island.

Our group was huge - about 50 or so and they were super rowdy. Our tour guide had very little local knowledge and was more interested in doing shots out of other people's bums, trying to get girls to take their tops off and getting people to lick salt off other people's private parts....it was spring break on crack and was absolutely rank.

The next morning at about 9 am when we crossed over with the previous tour - that tour guide who was Jack was so smashed he decided to abandon his tour and join ours. He then preceded to tell us how he'd blacked out the other night, three guys from his tour had ended up in hospital because he'd pushed one of them and he had possibly broken his back. Jack didn't care and seemed to think it was a pretty cool story to tell.

I was pretty over it by this point and decided not to participate in any of the drinking games as they were just in such poor taste. Don't get me wrong, I like a drink and to give it a good nudge but this was just disgusting, immature and really irresponsible behaviour. Trying to read my book the tour guide Ryan from California kept slamming it shut in my face and didn't care about his job and was more interested in hitting on every single chick on the tour and getting as smashed as he possibly could.

The only saving grace of the tour was that if you're in to rock climbing the instructor seemed pretty knowledgeable and the food was actually pretty decent and Adam who was on the island at the time actually seemed to be a pretty decent guy.

On the bus back there was nearly a pretty serious fight on the bus between a bunch of bogans and the tour guide....I did not feel safe one little bit.

For $250 there are FAR better options out there. Take the ferry across to Cat Ba Island and stay in a bungalow or check out one of the other tours that aren't nearly as overpriced and aren't a total free for all.

I spoke to the hostel manager on my return and he was quite apologetic - however I haven't heard a peep since even though I was told James the Castaways tour manager would be in touch. So - nice one Hanoi Backpackers. I won't be back, and I'll be telling everyone I know from home to avoid this tour at ALL costs.

20  Thank Louisa B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 January 2014

There seems to be a few negative reviews on here about this tour, but if you're on the fence then keep reading.

This tour is for people who WANT TO PARTY in an idyllic location on a private island in the heart of Ha long Bay, with a group of likeminded people who you will most likely go on to continue travelling Vietnam/Asia with. If you don't want to party and just want to relax, I would recommend you book a different tour to Ha long Bay.

The tour is booked from the Hanoi Backpacker's Hostel reception. When you book the receptionist will warn you that it's not for the faint hearted. The tours run every day (and last 3-4 days), so if you go to the bar at the Hanoi Backpacker's Hostel on any given night, you will find plenty of people who have just returned from the tour. To identify them, look for anyone drinking from their left hand. If you see someone drinking from their right hand but covered in felt tip pen, then go up to them and shout "BUFFALO!" in their face and see what happens next...

If you can't find anyone in the bar then it's because they went to bed at 5pm to recover.

The tour begins by getting on a 4 hour coach ride to Ha long Bay. Surprisingly, this is not when the party starts - this is your chance to rest and prepare yourself for what's to come.

When you arrive at the port, you will get onto a small boat which will take you to the main boat. During this process you will see the latest group of Castaways returning, and you'll be told not to look at them. Look at them at your peril, for what you'll see is what is about to happen you. Not a single one of them has a smile on their face, yet when you ask them "How was it?", the response is always the same: "It was <insert expletive here> amazing!"

Once you're on the big boat (hopefully there'll be two if your group is big enough), you'll be fed lunch (very tasty, meat, fish, rice, greens, all the usual) and will be told the drinking rules. This trip as I pointed out before is a party trip, so line your stomach well and eat as much as you can.

At first, everything will seem normal, no organised drinking games (until the evening), just relax on the top deck of the boat, take in the sun's rays and enjoy the views. Do a bit of kayaking, make friends with the other people on the trip and have a laugh.

"BUFFALO!" - Oh God, someone just caught you drinking from your right hand... now down your drink!

Oh God, you just tried to down it with your right hand again...that's a DUFFALO! Now down that drink and go and buy another one and down that too...

By the time evening comes everyone is in great spirits and is acting like they've known each other for years. Things can only get better. On day 2 you will be put onto another boat (smaller boat) which will take you on a short trip to Castaway Island. Again, when you swap to the smaller boat you will see the people from the previous tour leaving - don't be surprised to see cuts, bruises, black eyes and/or limping. Don't worry, this doesn't have to be you... but it probably will be.

Once on the island the drinking rules are explained to you again, along with the "island rules". Again, have lunch then get on with relaxing/recovering, enjoy the beach, play some volleyball, do a bit of rock climbing and enjoy the island.

"BUFFALO!" - Oh no, it's happening again! Oh God, I'm drunk already and now I'm being told I need to get onto an inflatable tube and be dragged along behind the back of a speed boat with a crazy Vietnamese bloke wearing a bandana in the driving seat. I'm going to die!

I'm alive! I've never felt more alive! Someone get me a beer! Let's get this party started!

FOOD: Tasty and exactly what you need - if you have any special dietary requirements just let them know when making your booking

DRINK: Yes it's more expensive than buying a can of beer from a shop, but bars always are!

WATER: Drinking water is free and always available on the island whenever you need it

ACCOMMODATION: Amazing! It's like being in a dorm room plonked on the most beautiful deserted island you'll ever visit. All beds have mosquito nets but to be honest, even when going to bed at 3 or 4am you don't tend to get bitten

SHOWERS: Great! Actually better than when you're in the hostel back in Hanoi. Enclosed showers, but look up and you'll see the beautiful mountains above you and realise you're showering in paradise. Only downside is the hot water is only turned on from 5pm, but lasts through until morning.

TOILETS: More than you need and all good quality western toilets (complete with bum gun!)

ENTERTAINMENT: Great - besides the bar area and bar games, you have pool, volley ball, football, rock climbing, kayaking, tubing and wake boarding to name just a few

STAFF: The most awesome people you'll ever meet

RECOVERY TIME: Allow 1-2 days for the hangover to pass, then a couple of weeks for the cuts and bruises to heal over ;)

7  Thank jonespj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 January 2014 via mobile

I did the busy 2 night new year tour. We had 60 people on the island.

Rooms on the boat were terrible with missing wallpaper and rats running through the walls. The island had dorms with 13 bunks in an freezing open plan area.

The main guides were drunk to be whole time - very immature and had no local knowledge at all. The staff on the island had no personalities and were rude when asking the simplest if questions.

Drink prices were 30k on boat and 25k on Island which is pricey. The problem was all they do is promote "shotguns" and excessive drinking to get more $$ through the bar.

Food was ok and they had a decent amount but it wasn't spectacular. Breakfast was literally an omelette and bread.

Rock climbing staff were arrogant and unsafe - both were throwing sand at each other while I was climbing.

For $200+ usd, it's a rip off. I learnt nothing about Halong Bay (apart from the Asian guides 2min speech) and all there was to do is drink and lay around. Nothing of a sightseeing tour.

The people I met were great and I had a good time but wouldn't do this any other time of year.

7  Thank Brayden T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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