Having spent several days on Cat Ba, we had a marvellous time exploring the serene beauty of Lan Ha Bay by private boat and kayak. Departing to Ninh Binh we decided to travel through Halong Bay to see what all the fuss is about and hitched a ride on a medium sized cruise boat. Having crossed our beloved Lan Ha Bay once more we finally got into Halong Bay proper and couldn’t believe our eyes, it looked like a naval exercise of the Spanish Armada. Even in February there must have been more than a thousand vessels of all sizes and shapes out on the water and it was virtually impossible to take a picture of the amazing rocks without any boat on it. The stupendous amount of garbage floating in the oil stained waters didn’t help to improve the scene either.
If you absolutely want to take a cruise, by all means do, but avoid the cheap short trips out of Halong City which will invariably take you to this spoiled touristy part of the bay. It is definitely better to invest in a multiday cruise that includes more natural, beautiful and tranquil areas like Lan Ha or Bai Tu Long Bay.