Halong Bay– The Cheaper Way

I’ve had my fair share of wild nights in my time (a bottle of wine, cheese, and Netflix can lead to some extremely late nights) and as long as I have the right company and dolla bills handy the night could end in chasing my cat around the house so it will love me. I also enjoy the ocean, and popping open a beer or two while chilling in the middle of it is the best way to enjoy it. Therefore when I heard about the Castaway Tour, my interest was spiked. Halong Bay is one of the main attractions when visiting Vietnam and The Vietnam Backpacker’s Hostel hosts The Castaway Island Tour, a 3 day, 2 night stay on an island  with no wifi, a booze cruise and drinking massive amounts of alcohol every night. I thought, “Sure, I can handle a bit of alcohol” but then I was told the price (189 USD) and I was like “Ha, you’re funny.”

As a backpacker with little money, I knew I wanted to drink alcohol in the water like the rest of the Castaway attendees, but I didn’t want to spend that much money. As it turns out, there are plenty of other options like couple cruises, and private boat rentals if you can get enough people.

But here’s what I did:

First, I booked a bus to Cat Ba Island (25 USD there and back) with some other travelers that I had met along the way. Cat Ba is an island just southwest of Halong Bay and great for scenery and trekking.

Halong Bay doesn't have to be expensive. Check out how you can visit Halong Bay cheaper
View from Cat Ba Island

Then, I stayed at Le Pont Bungalow Hostel (5 USD/night) as it was closer to the beaches and had an amazing view of the ocean. When we were thoroughly hungover we escaped to the beaches as a relaxing cure.

Once settled into Cat Ba, my fellow travelers and I asked around for tour prices to take us to Halong Bay. The average prices were from 11-15 USD but if you ask politely and go with more people it is possible to bargain and get it for cheaper (just a hint). This included the shuttle to the dock, cruising through a fisherman’s village, a trip to Monkey Island (a difficult climb to the top due to sharp rocks but worth the view), kayaking in Halong Bay, lunch, snorkeling and swimming to a small beach. They sold beer on the boat but we had asked the travel agent if we could bring our own alcohol and he was very supportive of the idea, so we did.

Halong Bay doesn't have to be expensive. Check out how you can visit Halong Bay cheaper
One view from the top of Monkey Island

We met in front of the tour office at 8:00 am and were back by 5:00 pm so we had time to grab some dinner and more drinks, chill and still wake up the next morning to enjoy the beach. While on the tour we explored around the bay, took in the scenery, drank beer in our kayaks, drank whiskey on the boat, jumped from the top of the boat (I’m scared of heights and the entire boat was watching. I was congratulated by everyone when I finally did it), swam, and relaxed in the sun. 

Halong Bay doesn't have to be expensive. Check out how you can visit Halong Bay cheaper
Only some of the beauty of Halong Bay

In all, I had gone with other travelers whose company I thoroughly enjoyed and together we drank as much as we wanted, listened to some music, talked to other travelers, and had a grand ol’ time enjoying the sights that Halong Bay had to offer– all for under 100 USD.

Halong Bay doesn't have to be expensive. Check out how you can visit Halong Bay cheaper
Me, realizing why I’m single.

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