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Bird’s Eye View of the one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World in Vietnam

August 1, 2013 Tour Operator No Comments Email Email

I remember the day when I received my cousin’s e-mail. His announcement that he would visit us in Hanoi came as a shock. People in Hawaii have a word to describe dudes like him: “local.” Glenn was born and raised in Oahu, one of eight major islands in America’s 50th state.

He had been off the island only a few times: to attend UC Berkeley California for college and law school; to visit his sister in Wisconsin; to attend a world environment conference in Brazil. Otherwise, he had never visited Europe or Asia.

When I answered his e-mail, I asked: “Hey, what happened? Did a cocoanut fall on y our head?”

“Something like that!” he quipped.

As with most visitors, he put his holiday in our hands. We faced a tough challenge because anyone from Hawaii is already spoiled by their own exquisite natural environment.

My husband and I have lived in Hanoi for five years. As with most expats who have lived here for a while, we visited Halong Bay numerous times. Is it ever possible to tire of this UNESCO World Heritage Site? I doubt it. For anyone who comes to Hanoi, we insist that they experience an overnight tour.

Over the course of our stay in Hanoi, we’ve taken all types of cruises to Halong Bay. From the low-cost junks to the top notch luxury vessels. So when I called my friends at Luxury Travel Ltd (, the first luxury tour operator in Vietnam, I asked, “What’s new? Co gi moi khong?”

The staff informed me of a new experience by helicopter and a private small chartered junk. The beauty of this tour is new experience, uniqueness, comfort, excellent food, friendly staff, a unique itinerary and activities, attention to detail, and of course safety. It fitted pefectly with our expections. We decided to experience this new exciting experience on Halong Bay.

After 45-minutes flying, the chopper arrived at Tuan Chau Island. We were welcomed by boat staff and offered a welcome drink at the private jetty. My friend could check her email while I enjoyed reading Vietnam News and many others managines such as The Guide Magazine in the beautiful lounge.

We then boarded the boat for an overnight excursion around hundreds of cliffs and caves. The cruise is equipped with kayaks to help sightseers explore the quiet bay and see floating aquaculture farms or beaches.

The architecture of this junk draws its inspiration from the traditional Halong Bay junks. Our private chartered junk had been furnished and designed to offer the utmost comfort worthy of a world-class luxury hotel and the charm of a boutique floating hotel. We enjoyed the highest standards of service, rowed ourselves around the bay, and went to Titov Beach before having lunch on the boat.

One of the pleasures of a Halong Bay cruise, of course, is eating the fresh seafood: fish, clams, shrimps, crab, etc. The quality of the meals was very good. If you like buffets, you can manage your own choices and portions. Unlike a cruise on a ship, there was just enough food to satisfy each guest’s appetite. No chance of gorging. Surprisingly the boat staff and tour guide know that my cousin is a vegetarian, but he still allowed himself to try some of the seafood, and enjoyed the Vietnamese style vegetables and salads.

The only problem I had during our meals was deciding whether to remain seated, or run to the deck for photo opportunities. The private junk Paradise PEAK Cruises seemed to offer an itinerary that was unlike those I’ve taken before.

Glenn and I were treated like royalty with a private tour for the 2 of us including private guide/driver/car/all entrance fees and meals. We had a whole 8 bedroom boat to ourselves while the other boats were crammed with tourists. We were able to set our own schedule and change it to our liking.

In particular, my cousin and I enjoyed boating, visiting caves, kayaking and visiting the floating fishing village. Here, one could see the coming and going of boat vendors selling fruit, snacks, and souvenirs. We even met a local fisherman who raised a special fish for months. One morning, a little girl paddled her way below our window to sell us a box of Lotte Choco Pies.

No trip is gratifying without the warm hospitality of its hosts. In that regard, the staff and tour guide was very attentive, friendly and flexible. So the next time you or your guests are seeking a new experience at Halong Bay, I refer this specialist tour company to all of you who are looking for fully guided and fully bespoke holidays.

My cousin hardly missed his daily routine of surfing at Waikiki. “Seeing people living close to nature, and in harmony with it, is what appealed most to me.”

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