First off, I did not stay in the hostel, but used them for the Ha Long Bay 3 night / 2 day trip. I was travelling solo and, as I was staying at a nearby hotel, wanted to meet people and thought going on the hostel trip was a good idea. I read some horror stories of Ha Long Bay tours and this one was recommended by the Rough Guide - so I thought it would be worth a shot.
Ha Long Bay itself is incredibly beautiful and a must if you go to Hanoi. However, my thoughts of the trip organised by the Hostel are less positive!
- If you want to meet lots of young people, party and booze 24/7 then this is the place for you
- By and large the guides who run the event are decent. Kayaking and wake boarding are great.
- Price. It is extremely expensive for what it is (USD200). I reckon it cannot cost more than USD30 TOPS! The hostel cuts corners at absolutely every single opportunity (accommodation, transport there, food etc) - read other cons. this is a BIG money spinner for the hostel - they send 40+ people there everyday.
- Accommodation. you stay in one of several huts where there are about 13 mattresses side by side/head to toe. The beds have mosquito nets with BIG holes all over - i.e. they are useless as mosquito nets. do not expect to get much sleep. there will be loud music throughout the night, people will walk over/on you while you are sleeping, sand will get everywhere on your mattress as people walk on them during the day, no privacy, toilets/showers do not have locks
- non-stop drinking. if this is what you want, then do it. but if you want more out of your trip to Ha Long Bay - after all, you can drink and party anywhere, but this place is incredible - choose another Ha Long Bay tour.
- food is pretty poor.
basically, if you don't mind being ripped off to the tune of about USD170 just for the opportunity to drink heavily on a beach all night long with other 20 somethings who are looking for sex, then do it. oh, they will throw in a wakeboarding, kayaking and rock climbing, but that really isn't worth that much. Otherwise, suggest you choose another Ha Long Bay tour.