We took an Urban Adventures day trip to Ha Long Bay in July 2013. Ha Long Bay is not to be missed on a trip to Hanoi, but this company is to be avoided for a few reasons.
1) Our bus ride to the bay was unnecessarily prolonged in both directions three separate (long) stops at tourist-trap souvenir shops. This made an already long day even longer, and forced us to wait in un-air conditioned buildings while we were given the hard sell by the resident merchants. Wholly unpleasant.
2) Our tour guide, while friendly, spoke only marginal English and didn't really take much interest in explaining much about the cultural, geological, or other significance of what we were seeing. You could get the same level of information from (the first paragraph of) the Wikipedia page.
3) Food for lunch on the boat was OK, but the portions were small and the servers were oblivious. For example, they sat our 10 person group of all couples at two tables of five, with multiple other tables completely empty. Food was served family style with small portions (perhaps why they wanted to consolidate tables). Furthermore, while they offered drinks as if for free, we had to pay for them at the end of the trip. Though we could have known this ahead of time (and perhaps should have suspected it), it still felt deceptive.
4) While we were touring the bay, the servers sought us out to hawk their wares of overpriced pearls, carvings, etc. Once again, we came for the natural beauty, not to be sold as a captive audience for vendors looking to make a buck.
All that said, the bay and caves are beautiful and you should see them. With another tour company.
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