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28th Dec 2019

The Alternative Way To See Halong Bay In Vietnam

Alan Fisher

If you’ve come here expecting me to talk about a cultural experience, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

Halong Bay in Vietnam is an amazing place to visit, of course, and I couldn’t recommend going enough. But the way I explored the area, and the way I think you should too, is far from cultured.

In fact, it completely goes against the peaceful voyage most of the tours around Halong Bay set out on.

In short, it’s a bit of a piss up – but what a bloody piss up it is.

The tour is called Castaways and you can book it through Vietnam Backpackers Hostel in downtown Hanoi.

I recommend you stay in the hostel as well as it’s good craic and you can leave your main luggage there while you travel out to Halong Bay.

The Castaways trip costs $229 (around €205) which includes your transport, accommodation and food (which is lovely) for the three days. Before you jet off, you have to buy tokens which you use to pay for your drinks. Buy plenty as you can cash in whatever you don’t use when you get back, but you can’t buy more tokens out there.

The day you leave you jump on a bus with the fifty other Castaways and then a boat, where you can start drinking, all the while travelling through some of the unbelievable sights Halong Bay has to offer before you land at the magical Castaways Island.

From the first photo, you can see that the huts on the left facing us are the accommodation and the bigger hut on the right is the dining area/bar/disco. Yup, that’s what you’re getting yourself into.

When you arrive, the island seems pretty chilled; you get a bed and throw your few bits down before returning for some lunch.

The hosts are great and really get things going with games to help people mingle. As these games (and the drinks) are going down you hear a big cheering noise coming from the sea.

You turn to see a booze cruise with about another fifty people coming your way. These guys had stayed the previous night and were on their second day.

They land back on the beach and all hell breaks loose with the energy of both parties coming together as the sun goes down.

Dinner is served, which is a bit of a hindrance but also highly necessarily, before the dining area turns into a club and doesn’t stop until you feel you’ve had enough.

8am comes and you are rudely woken by a dong to announce that breakfast is served. That dong will ring until everyone is up, so head downstairs and eat some much needed brekkie along with a not-so-needed can of beer.

The day starts early as you begin to play volleyball and beersbie (a game I was shown on this island), go rock climbing, banana boating and whatever else is going. It’s hard not to get involved with everything.

Midday comes around quick and it’s time to say goodbye to the rowdy booze cruise group from the previous day as they leave Castaways and it’s your turn to take on the rowdiness.

The booze cruise is unbelievable as you get to check out the amazing views this bay has to offer, along with meeting some lifelong friends.

You play games on the boat while diving off into the aqua blue water.

You then vacate the boat to buddy up and jump in a canoe for a private tour in and out of caves and into private parts of Halong Bay, which is breathtaking.

Then it’s time to head back and enter onto the Castaways island like McGregor as you get to pick an entrance song to impress the new group of people who landed while you were out gallivanting.

Then, you do it all again. Dinner, games, disco, bed all before the 8am dong.

Although, this time around it’s home time and you’re in a world of pain from a two-day hangover with a boat and bus journey on your hands.

This was one of the most fun things I did while travelling Asia and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Everyone is on the same buzz, willing to mingle and make new mates.

I put my phone in my bag when we got there and didn’t take it back out until we returned to the hostel. There is no wifi or phone signal, which adds to the entire experience.

Check out Vietnam Backpackers Hostel to learn more and of course, after this you can culture up and visit all the temples you want.