3 days sailing through Halong Bay, Vietnam – A Detailed Review of Indochina Junk’s Dragon Legend 1
When it comes time to planning your trip to Vietnam, you will see many things pop up in your search engine, one of which will be Halong Bay and when you google Halong Bay, you realise why this is a must visit part of Vietnam. Trying to decide on a company to book with can be daunting, there are so many to choose from so we of course went to Trip Advisor to get advice from fellow travellers! The reviews speak for themselves, Indochina Junk, particularly the Dragon Legend Cruise needs to be at the top of your list.
A bit about Halong Bay
Halong Bay is around 165km from Hanoi and is an impressive 43,400 ha which includes an equally impressive 1600 islands and islets. The amazing thing about that is that most of these island and islets are uninhabited by humans which just adds to their beauty.
Halong Bay, in ancient Vietnamese, translates to descending dragon and originated from a legend of this ancient land and Bai Tu Long Bay translates to The dragon parts the offspring. Interesting isn’t it?
When to visit Halong Bay
We visited in April and the weather was warm and we didn’t get a great deal of rain. After speaking with the crew on the ship, they said that September is probably the best month to visit Halong Bay. Either way, you have to be lucky to see that magical sunset as most tourists only see the hazy, foggy Halong Bay!
Getting to Halong Bay
Most people will start their Halong Bay experience from the beautiful Hanoi, in the North of Vietnam. You can arrange a hotel transfer service through Indochina Junk which I would highly recommend. The journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay takes around 3.5 – 4 hours with a bathroom stop along the way at a tourist souvenir shop.
The transfer van was extremely luxurious and complimentary water was provided.
Arriving at Halong Bay
When we arrived at the wharf, you have the chance to use the bathroom, buy a cold drink and pay your outstanding fees.
We were then taken by a cart to where the tender boats depart from, just a few minutes down the road.
Our luggage was taken separately and delivered to our room – it is a simple process! When we got on the tender boat, it was only another few minutes before we arrived at the gorgeous Dragon Legend 1.
Arriving on the boat and getting upstairs to the dining room, it was exciting!
The boat was amazing (we’ll get to that in a second). There was a safety and information session where our cruise manager Tony gave us an overview of what we will be doing over the next three days.
How long to spend on Halong Bay
One piece of advice we received before booking was to make sure we spend 2 nights on Halong Bay. I completely agree! Not only is it absolutely breathtaking on Halong Bay, but it wouldn’t be very relaxing doing the 3.5 hour drive two days in a row – where’s the relaxing there?
Spending 2 nights and 3 days also means that you are likely to be further away from the other tourist boats which makes it a much more relaxing experience.
Your last day on the boat usually consists of breakfast, and relaxing on the sundeck before an early buffet lunch and back on the mainland by midday. Therefore, if you visited only for 1 night you would probably spend less than 24 hours on the boat and for us, that simply wasn’t worth such a long journey for such a short time!
Which boat to choose?
We chose the Dragon Legend 1 from Indochina Junk. There are two of these ships (Dragon Legend 1 and Dragon Legend 2), one of which does the 1 night and the other the 2 night cruise. They also happen to be the newest ships of the fleet and the most luxurious as well.
Chances are you’ve travelled quite a distance to get to this point… if there is one thing you do on the trip, it is splurge a little bit on the Dragon Legend 1. You will not only get your money’s worth but it will be an overall relaxing, wonderful experience.
About the Dragon Legend
The luxurious Dragon Legend consists of 24 luxury cabins, 4 decks, 2 dining rooms (one inside and one outside), a spa / massage space & sundeck area. The Dragon Legend cruise offers guests the chance to sail through Bai Tu Long Bay which is the far less touristy area of Halong Bay.
The Dragon Legend’s Accommodation
When we opened the door to our air conditioned cabin, we were amazed firstly at the size of the cabin, and secondly the view you have out of your window!
The bedroom included a large super comfortable bed and also a lounge room area which had a large window overlooking the Bay. It is so nice waking up to such a beautiful view each morning.
Then you get to the bathroom and our first reaction was WOW! We were not expecting such a luxurious bathroom, fitted with a large bath (which unfortunately we didn’t have time to use!).
The other thing to mention is that there were plenty of power points, which as fellow travellers I am sure you will appreciate! There is room to charge all of your devices at the same time 🙂
A mini bar, safe, TV and luggage space are just a few other things to mention that are included within the cabin.
Join is below to take a walk through our incredible room.
The Dragon Legend Facilities
Dining Rooms: As I mentioned earlier, there are two dining rooms onboard. The first in indoors if you’re unlucky enough to have some rainy weather (which is quite common on Halong Bay) and the other is outside. We had lunch on day 1 inside and sat along the windows and the view are just amazing. All of our other meals were served at the outdoor dining room and the views, well – uninterrupted views of Halong Bay, can you get much better than that?
Bar: There is also a well stocked bar on board ready to service you delicious mocktails, cocktails or anything else you would like! The prices are reasonable and service was always really great.
Gym: If you like to stay active and healthy while on holidays, why not visit the gym with an amazing view over Halong Bay!
Sundeck: There is a wonderful sundeck which a heap of sun chairs for you to sit back, relax and enjoy sailing through Halong Bay. There are umbrella’s available if you need to escape the scorching sun.
Pool: There is a small pool on board which is filled up each day.
Spa: If you like to relax and enjoy being pampered then you will love the Spa! When we first got on the ship, the staff walked around seeing if you wanted to be booked in for a massage. We booked in that first night for a couples massage. The ambiance in the room was good, the massage therapists were quiet and the massage was lovely and a perfect way to end an evening.
The quality of food that was provided to us throughout our three days was simply amazing. There is one thing for sure, you will not go hungry on this ship, particularly if you love Vietnamese cuisine, particularly seafood. It isn’t your typical three course meal – but several courses so getting through lunch and dinner can take a bit of time, but when you’re being served delicious dish one after another, what’s the rush?
The food is prepared fresh in the kitchen on board, even the edible decorations on the plates!
We were celebrating my birthday as part of this trip so the crew were kind enough to arrange a birthday cake for me and a small gift, it was very sweet. There were a few birthdays and honeymoon celebrations on the boat – each received their own cake.
The excursions and extras
Floating Village: We arrived at this floating village where we got a history lesson behind the area.
It was then time to jump into our smaller rowing boat where we were taken to the main village. It was so peaceful sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the views of the limestone karsts and islets.
There was even a school located in the village at one point. Now days, the children are able to go to the mainland for their schooling.
Pearl Farm: What is interesting about this excursion is that you get to see an actual pearl being farmed and the local guide explains the process of farming pearls and how long it takes! Jenna picked up some earrings and a necklace while we were there.
Cave: Our stop to the cave was pretty interesting. You walk up a few stairs (100 to be precise) to get to the cave entrance which also happens to have incredible views over Bai Tu Long Bay and it is pretty impressive.
Our guide explained the history behind the cave and we had time to explore inside before heading to lunch.
BBQ Lunch on a secluded beach: Imagine having an entire beach dedicated to just your boat, enjoying a fresh BBQ lunch.
Swim Spot: One of our first stops was for a swim at a beach. There were a few other boats that stopped here, but the water was lovely and it was nice to relax on the beach for a bit.
Cruising around Bai Tu Long Bay: We had a couple of trips on the smaller boats around Bai Tu Long Bay and it was absolutely amazing.
In the smaller boats, we were able to get closer to the karsts and islets and really enjoy the Bay. Although Bai Tu Long Bay isn’t an excursion as such and is part of the itinerary, it is worth a specific mention as you really feel like you’re out of the main tourist part of Halong Bay and are surrounded only by these incredible karsts and islets.
Fishing Village: We stopped at this adorable fishing village! We were off on our little tender boats and enjoyed a ride through this village.
Swimming: We had an opportunity to swim off the side of our boat. It is safe to swim in Halong Bay, so we jumped in for a quick dip to cool off.
Cooking Class: You can try your luck at making spring rolls with the chef! It is heaps of fun and then you get to eat them afterwards.
The chef even made these incredible vegetable animals, both very symbolic of the area, and Vietnam.
We had such an amazing crew for our 3 day cruise. They were always extremely polite and their knowledge of the area and wider Vietnam is impressive. It was nice to see all of the crew come out to see us, and even put on a little show for the guests.
If you can’t tell from what I’ve written above, we can highly recommend the 2 night, 3 day cruise through Halong Bay with Indochina Junk on their Dragon Legend 2. It is such a fantastic option when sailing this part of Vietnam and it is worth the money spent for the luxury ship.
For more on Vietnam, click here.
Enjoy watching this short highlights video from our Halong Bay cruise.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide