Discounted rate includes roundtrip transfer via minibus to/from Hanoi, lunch, dinner and breakfast onboard, kayaking, English-speaking guide, entrance fees, 5% service charge and 10% VAT.
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Modest but comfortable, this small vessel caters to active types who want to get out and explore the bay by sea kayak. Like most boats plying the bay, it is a replica of a traditional Chinese junk. (The red sails are just for show as there is rarely enough wind to sail in the bay anyway!) Pricier than most of the mass tourist boats catering to the backpacker set, you're more likely to find yourself rubbing elbows with couples in their 30s and 40s and 50s, some with kids. (We recently cruised with a couple in their 50s and their kids in their 30s!)
Five small, but well-appointed cabins boast twin beds, AC and ensuite bathrooms with hot water. The larger Jewel of the Bay II has 2 large cabins with a double bed and a single bed that are perfect for families.
Jewel of the Bay is owned and operated by adventure tour operator Buffalo Tours who pioneered sea kayaking in Halong Bay. In the true spirit of adventure travel, your guide keeps you busy! After getting to know your fellow passengers over lunch, your guide wrangles all hands for a shore excursion. Then it's time for kayaking, winding up on yet another island where you can climb some 400 stone steps to the top for a spectacular 360 degree view.
Returning to the boat there's time for swimming or a drink before dinner. The bar is an informal affair, but well-stocked with bottled water, soft drinks, cold beer and spirits. The Jewel of the Bay even boasts a modest cellar of inexpensive, but decent red and white wines to accompany your 10-course evening meal (think Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot, Montes Malbec). After breakfast you'll explore a secluded lagoon, accessible only by kayak or small boat, before the return journey.
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