Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay unwrapped

The combination of travel agents who promise the earth but deliver nothing but a pile of smelly dirt and travellers with totally unrealistic expectations has long made for a very volatile Ha Long Bay cocktail. What with some 500 licensed junks and the vast majority of travellers to Vietnam experiencing Ha Long Bay via a group tour, one of the most common questions one hears is “How do I pick a good tour?”.

Competition has driven prices down to absurdly low levels and as corner cutting, cheating and bare-faced lies become par for the course so do travellers leaving with a bad taste in their mouth… but it needn’t be that way.

We’ve just added a five part series looking at how to select the right tour to suit your needs — we sent our intrepid researcher on three separate tours — a bargain basement jaunt, a flashpacker option and a more fancy schmantzy choice — and the results are in. Follow the links below to learn all you’ll ever need to know to pick the right tour for you.

Ha Long Bay introduction
Ha Long Bay for backpackers
Ha Long Bay for flashpackers
Ha Long Bay for budget-busters
Ha Long Bay conclusions and a confession

I love the smell of smog in the morning

Every now and then we get queries along the lines of:

‘If you run a website covering Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, why do you live in Indonesia?”

It’s a great question — the reason being thay one of us accepted a job here, transporting us from succulent Phnom Penh to chewy as leather Jakarta.

One reason we didn’t move to Jakarta is covered today by Tim Leffel on his handy “Cheapest Destinations” blog. Under the title The World’s Most Polluted Cities we read that:

“For the record, the only other city outside of China and India making the list, besides Cairo, was Jakarta.”

Ninh Binh added

We’ve just added coverage to the small town of Ninh Binh, but a hop, skip and a jump from Hanoi. If you’re interesting in visiting one of Vietnam’s imperial capitals and perhaps taking a boat ride through “Ha Long Bay on the land”, then you may want to check out our Ninh Binh coverage.