1. Cruise Halong Bay for the day, with lunch on the boat and return back to Hanoi that evening.
2. Cruise Halong Bay for the day, with lunch on the boat and stay in some random hotel in Halong City before returning to Hanoi the next day.
We chose the first option as we would get a much larger refund than if we decided to stay the night. After a lot of hanging around at the pier and our guide's company negotiating a new price for the shortened cruise, we finally got on the tender to take us to our boat. The boat was nice but several years ago all of the boats were painted white instead of their dark wood brown. We are not sure why they did this but they didn't look as nice as the original colours. The other people on our boat were Chinese apart from two older ladies from New Zealand, so in a way we were quite glad that we weren't having to spend a night on the boat with them (other travellers we had met had told us that the group you are with can make or break your trip). We had an amazing lunch onboard, which included fish, spring rolls, rice, prawns, morning glory (fried green leaves of some kind) and deep fried sweetcorn followed by watermelon. After lunch we were taken to one of the many caves in the bay, it was ok if you like caves.
Then we went for a short cruise past a floating fishing village and headed back to the pier at 5:30pm. We were then told that we couldn't leave straight away and would have to wait as there thad been an accident on the road into Halong City. We didn't believe this excuse and thought the company had just messed up our transport home due to lack of organisation. However when the bus did turn up, an hour and a half later and after we had got through the traffic jam, we did see that there had been an accident. All this hold up meant that we got back to Hanoi at midnight and what was meant to be a nice three day holiday around the bay, turned into a bit of a nightmare.
We got picked up from our hotel as planned, and it was beautiful sunny weather. Our guide warned us the outlook was not good for the evening and the next day and our cruise may have to be cancelled/modified. It took four hours to get to Halong Bay in which time the weather had changed from clue blue sky and sunshine to blanket cloud and rain. Half an hour before we arrived at the pier our guide informed us that we would not be able to sleep on the boat due to the weather forecast and we had two options: