If there is one absolute must in Vietnam, it is to visit Halong Bay. A serene, idyllic body of water made up of thousands of limestone islands. There are so many different tours to Halong Bay, but for me, it was an absolute must to do the Castaways Tour, run by Hanoi Backpackers. It is pricy compared to other tours at 130 USD for two nights on their own private island, not including the ‘cultured boat ride’, or ‘booze cruise’ as we preferred to call it, around Halong Bay, which is an extra $30. Buuuut it was so worth it! As a young, solo traveller, my main desire is to meet other likeminded travellers. I wanted to meet other young people who were adventurous and free sprited, and this tour was my solution. No, travel isn’t all about partying and I hate the notion that it is and the travellers that subscribe to that, but none the less it is still important to strike a balance and sometimes I love nothing more than a good party.We left the hostel at 7am. Actually, that’s a lie. We were meant to leave at 7 but some people failed to get out of bed due to their hangovers so we actually left at 8. Great start! It was a long journey to the Castaways Island. A 2 hour bus, followed by a boat to Cat Ba Island, followed by yet another bus for about 45 minutes, followed by a final, smaller boat. But all the travel was totally worth it, as we arrived in paradise. A stretch of white sand and beach huts, backed up by towering limestone and facing out to deep blue waters. I was in heaven.
After a buffet lunch we all boarded the booze cruise. Yay! We sailed for 4 hours around Halong Bay, taking in the gorgeous scenery, listening to music, and socialising. I met 6 amazing girls who, despite only knowing for a couple of days, I felt as though I’d known my whole life. At one point the boat stopped and me and another girl, Carly, held hands and jumped into the warm ocean waters. It felt like a dream come true.
When we arrived back at the island and ate our fill of dinner, we went back into the sea to spot the luminous plankton. As one person put it, it was like making magic, as you moved your hands and watched the plankton light up. It was so beautiful. And that night we partied long and hard, dancing on the tables and getting to know everyone.
The huts we stayed in were basic, yet nice, with 2 bunk beds and quite a bit of space. Mine even had an en suite. You could sit on the balcony of your hut with a nice cold drink and this view and simply watch the world go by.
The next day, people could go tubing, rock climbing, or kayaking, to name but a few activities. I however decided to spend my time lying idilly on the beach, reading my book and allowing time to float on by. It was the first beach I’d seen on my travels so far and having that moment was absolute bliss. And as for the second night? Much of the same. More partying, drinking games, and dancing. It was my friend Karen’s birthday and as such we all celebrated extra hard.
I couldn’t of stayed any longer than two days. The small strip of an island would drive me insane, yet one night would of been too short a time to really make the most of this trip. It’s not going to be for the person who doesn’t like to party, or who wants to stay on a boat, but if you want to have heaps of fun and meet some amazing, crazy people, it is well worth the price tag.