We chose Indochina Junk Sail- Dragon Pearl.. We wanted a luxury cruise and this offers a dinner in a cave so we went for it. Its more expensive than others but I became obsessed with the dinner in the cave notion- so we booked it. If you read my first post on Halong Bay you will know this dinner was cancelled- and I’m still quite bitter about it!
If you want to book this- book well in advance as it is probably the most popular cruise in Halong Bay. I actually changed my beloved schedule as my preferred dates were fully booked up.
The boat was beautiful but small- capacity of 20 guests. We were 17 in total on our boat, and that was perfect for the dining room. Anything more would’ve felt cramped indoors.
We were en route to Halong Bay we stopped for lunch at the Yen Duc village. Where we watched a water puppet show and then had a huge meal!
The water puppet show was a bit meh… I felt neither here nor there about it. It doesn’t go on too long which was good! It’s interesting to learn about the culture and also be so far from civilisation! (Albeit not for long)
Once we were on our boat and we settled into our rooms and chilled out a bit- we went for a vietnamese cooking class on board.
I have to say our guide Hoang was a total legend- I loved him! He was funny, informative and a good time! The kind and humble chef didn’t speak English so Hoang expertly translated and soon we were making our own plates of Vietnamese spring rolls.
The weather wasn’t on our side so I didn’t choose to kayak- but a couple of people did. Instead I played ‘Horse Chess’ which is basically Ludo with a few people onboard, we had a few drinks and got to know each other!
Dinner was extravagant. Expect 7-8 or even 9 course meals for every meal onboard the Dragon Pearl! There was a lot of meat for the carnivores but I really really appreciated the effort they went to for us Vegetarians. The carnivores were often envious of our dishes which is quite a rare treat for us. The good news is that we were served SO MUCH food we managed to share it around the group!
This isn’t really a party boat, and the vibe was very much chilled and quiet. So we had an early night.
An early morning breakfast with omelette etc.. And we were here and ready for day 2!
We went kayaking for a good couple of hours which was fun. This was my first time kayaking and Hoang was great at managing a group of people with different levels of ability. The water was so warm- although i didn’t capsize I wouldn’t have minded! Dry bags were provided for our cameras!
We had a delicious lunch and then were given the sad news about the dinner. So instead the boat took us to show us the cave we were supposed to have dinner in.
The cave was beautiful and great to see- its pretty steep getting up there though so be careful!
Back on our boat we had some time to enjoy the views from the upper deck.. I really enjoyed the laid back itinerary.
It was dinner time- and I was hoping for a decent substitute since the cave was cancelled. But sadly not.. It was just dinner as normal. However, they had made some vegetable and fruit carving that truly were the best I have ever seen… Check them out below:
Early breakfast once again… And then we were off to Vung Veng fishing village. This was pretty cool, we went on a bamboo boat for about 40 minutes and we saw the floating villages and their way of life. This was really peaceful and enjoyable- I loved feeling so tiny next to these huge carsts and not having to worry about capsizing my kayak! Destination: pearl farm!
We watched the way in which the oysters were farmed and then had some time in the shop to purchase jewellery. It was extremely expensive, so any hope of some new pearl earrings were quickly dashed away!
From here we went back on the boat and were given time to pack our bags, settle our bills (oops- someone had a lot of wine!) and check out of our rooms!
Lunch time… In true Indochina Junk fashion we were treated to a huge lunch before disembarking!
After this we then got back in our vans (hello wifi!) and drove back towards Hanoi. We had a stop off and comfort break at a marble shop (this is usual for any tour you do in Vietnam!) We needed to get to the airport so we were dropped to a taxi for the last bit of our journey. The organisation here was great!
The ratio of relaxation time and activity time was great! I wish that the dinners were a bit more ‘uptempo’- maybe some guitar playing, or a sing song.. something to get folks in the mood! Also, as I suggested to Indochina cruises- some outdoor heating would be appreciated!
I know Ive whinged about the dinner in the cave and outdoor heating quite a bit- bur other than that this was a great boat to take and I hope this blog helps you make your decision for your cruise in Halong Bay!
If you do take this boat- give a big hello to Hoang for me! He was great!
Id love to hear from you… if you have any questions or comments please message below!