Since Ha Long Bay in the winter is shrouded by a perpetual mist, this is a great substitute. I booked my tour through my hotel, and they organized it well. We arrived in Tam Coc just before lunch and while some went cycling, the rest of us walked through the Hoa Lu Temple for a bit over a half hour. We then went to have a splending buffet lunch at The Long Hotel Restaurant. This was the best lunch I had in all my tours in Vietnam. The food was absolutely delicious. I personally have never liked goat, but the way they prepare it at this village even lured me to try it. I had two helpings of each type of goat dish afterward! Other options were amazing as well.
The cruise on the river was absolutely lovely. I enjoyed the scenery, the ducks and wild goats, the people fishing. Many reviewers say they were hustled by the boat peddlers. I’ve learned a trick while travelling in Asia – just ignore them, and if they get too aggressive, keep saying no in a very neutral, characterless voice. They will eventually understand that you will buy nothing. Our tour guide was helpful in saying that we should not buy our boat rowers Western snacks that the peddlers sell because they will not consume them but sell them back to the peddlers to then sell again to other tourists. Our rower did ask for a tip, but I gave enough for a street snack.
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