In Vietnam we found ourselves fairly exhausted after nearly two weeks of train and bus travel from Ho Chi Minh north to Hanoi. My step-son Dakota had joined us in Vietnam for his spring break and we were in need of a little vacation from our vacation...as silly as that sounds! (Full disclosure: “traveller’s tummy” and Malaria pills added to our general malaise.) So we sought a bit of R & R to round out our fast-paced trip. With the immense popularity of cruising Ha Long Bay, we searched extensively for the best nearby experience without the crowds. We were beyond happy with our special find, a newer company: Cat Ba Express!
We had Cat Ba Express pick us up from our Hanoi guesthouse with their clean new bus, driving us to our ferry to Cat Ba Island. In Cat Ba town we enjoyed a leisurely evening walking the waterfront and having pizzas. Upon arrival, I had hustled myself over to Asia Outdoors to join their small-group Sunset Beach Yoga, but sadly just missed it. If you find yourself on Cat Ba, I would recommend Asia Outdoors for kayaking, rock climbing and trekking in the National Park. You could even try your hand at deep water solo climbing over the ocean: push your limits and get personal with the limestone!
Our day cruise with Cat Ba Express included bus pick up at our hotel the next morning, lunch, kayaking and all the lovely sights from our beautiful boat. With just about ten people on the boat we were totally blissed out. During this full day tour we saw the outskirts of Ha Long Bay before ducking into Lan Ha Bay and discovering the same pristine karst beauty without the common crowds. We kayaked through limestone islands and under stalactite roofed caves into little hidden grottos...so cool!
This tour met our needs perfectly with a long cruise time, no crowds, a great lunch and a unique route. It served as a spot-on “mini-getaway” to round out our Vietnam family time, with adventure and relaxation blended seamlessly.