Hands down this was possibly the best 24 hours of our lives. If you Google image Vietnam – all you pretty much get is thousands of images from the stunning Ha Long Bay so it was a no brainer that we too had to see for ourselves what the fuss was all about and needless to say … well it truly blew our expectations out of the water and we think the best way to describe this spectacular part of the world is like the Marlborough Sounds on steroids.
From Ha Noi we drove approx. 3 hours west towards the coast where the beautiful Ha Long Bay lies. We were tossing up for so long was to what tour to choose – there is so many to chose from and everyone we spoke to recommended something different. We relied heavily on trip advisor and naturally went straight to the listed number one tour being Dragon Legend by Indochina. We saw the price ($900NZD for the both of us), tried to justify it (multiple times) and came to the conclusion that we just cannot spend that much on ONE night. We decided to email the tour company and ask if they have any alternative 2 day 1 night cruises they would recommend in a slightly lower price range. They came back and offered us the same cruise for pretty much half price with a condition that we promote them one way or another through the likes of Trip Advisor, Facebook, Instagram etc. which we would have done anyway. Obviously, it was a big YES from us and it was totally worth spending a little more as this was an ultimate luxury experience in such a beautiful part of Vietnam.
The Dragon Legend was such a spectacular boat, with all the bells and whistles, fabulous staff, amazing food, great size rooms with effective AC and not too many people (25 cabins). We did the 2 day 1 night tour which explores Bai Tu Long Bay and is slightly less touristy (we didn’t see another boat until we anchored up that night) which made a big difference.
The tour includes everything except drinks once on board the boat. Our 24 hours went along the lines of the following. The Luxury van (with Wi-Fi and massive seats so flasher than our flight over) picked us up from our Hotel in Ha Noi at approx. 8am. We arrived at around 12pm where we checked in and waited to board our boat. Once on board and settled in and were welcomed upstairs and had the most amazing five-course set menu lunch on the outside deck. The scenery just kept getting better and better – we couldn’t believe it and just kept pinching ourselves to make sure this was real life.
After lunch we jumped into some kayaks and explored the Vung Dang area – i didn’t do much paddling (to be expected) but Luke took one for the team and got us to Cong Dam Beach where we had a refreshing drink and a much needed swim. The sand was so white, the sun was shining and it was beautifully warm – we still couldn’t believe where we were and how lucky we were to experience this beautiful part of the world.
We were then picked up by our boat crew so luckily Luke didn’t paddle have to paddle us back and we welcomed back on board with a delicious iced tea. On the way back we had already made a plan of attack for what we were going to do once we got back (to make sure that we maximise the golden hour on the boat). The sun was starting to set so we both raced through the shower, got changed and went out to take some photos (little did I know that Luke had bigger and better plans that I was totally oblivious too – as per).
We were taking photos, enjoying the unbelievable scenery and Luke kept changing his mind as to where he wanted to take them. Obviously i was like oh bloody hell, it’s a million degrees, i’m sweating up a storm here is fine she’s not going to get better than this. Turns out he was actually trying to find a place on the boat where there was no one so he could drop a knee, however proved difficult as it was sunset so EVERYONE was out on all levels of the deck taking photos and I clearly wasn’t exactly being very co-operative. I think we climbed like 100 stairs after eventually finding the very front of the boat where no one was when finally it was made apparent that Luke had something serious he needed to ask me. It wasn’t until that very moment that I realised what was going on and that Luke was in-fact asking me to be his life partner in crime FOREVER. I was so extremely surprised, over the moon and in absolute shock however I eventually said YES YES YES and we had the most delicious five-course dinner with of course a bottle of celebratory champagne on the outside deck of the boat. (Apologies, there are no photos (apart from the blurry black and white one below) or videos as Luke panicked and accidentally turned the video off when he was supposed to turn it on LOL)
The next day we slowly made our way back towards land and started making contact with our friends and family to tell them the exciting news. We had no service or internet while on the boat which was actually really nice – it meant we were able to just enjoy the moment which was very special. We un-boarded (hoped off, don’t know how you say that in boat terms) the boat and made our way back to Ha Noi to catch our flight down to Hoi An later that night.
This 24 hours really put into perspective how bloody lucky we are! Luke, i will be forever grateful – I feel so lucky to have found you and you’ve certainly taken one for the team. Ha Long Bay, you will hold a special place in our hearts for a very long time. We are unbelievably grateful for two incredible days in such a beautiful part of the world and we cannot wait to go back!
THE RING – Luke, you nailed it!
Just when we thought it could get any better up next is … HOI AN!
L & A