If you want to discover the amazing Ha Long bay, you should start in Cat Ba island (it's the biggest island of Ha Long bay), it is so much beautiful and green island with a nice national park (park covers the biggest part of island), many strange hills covered by jungle (it looks like in China), jungle is very, very noisy... The beaches are beautiful (close from Cat Ba town). You can rent motorbike (4 dollars per day), or bicycle and drive whole island (30km) and visit National Park and walk to one peak with beautiful view of many, many green hills...and you go through the jungle and listen the voices...you can visit on the west of island the crab farms and of course by ship the Ha Long bay for one day trip (I think that one day is enough!). I recommend to enjoy Cat Ba and Lan Ha bay, where you can drive the cayak... How to get to Cat Ba: from Hanoi by bus of Hoang Long company from LongYien bus station, you can drive ticket in station or in bus (about 190 000 dong per person to Cat Ba) and ticket is for bus - ship - bus (that means bus to Haiphong, ship from Haiphong to Cat Ba island, bus from port to Cat Ba town). In Cat Ba town there are many hotels with view of bay and are much cheap (8 dollars per room with view, but in April!), many restaurants... very nice place to be there 4-5 days. From Cat Ba you can by ticket to Ninh Binh by bus (200 - 250 000 dong).
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