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I decided to do Halong Bay as part of a tour. Firstly, as I had been there before, I had done the nice boat trip with my family already and secondly, as I’m a solo backpacker I wanted the opportunity to make a few friends. Castaway is absolutely mad. Think Geordie Shore, on an island with around 60+ 20-30 year old partiers! It is the ultimate booze cruise.
NOTE: If you are interested in a more adventurous and less of a drinking type tour of Halong Bay, I would highly suggest the ‘Hideaway’ tour that Central Backpackers Hostel runs. I have had many recommendations for that, and for the money, it seems like you get to experience and adventure much more. However I was keen for a party, so Castaway it is!
The only legitimate ‘Castaway’ tour can be booked through the Vietnam Backpackers Hostel, either online or at one of there hostels, either downtown or original in Hanoi. There are plenty of cheaper and dodgier companies running an imitation but from what I have heard, you get what you pay for. The trip is 180USD which is quite expensive for 3 days, 2 nights – but I’d say it is worth it for the experience! They offer different packages which include a choice of activities between tubing, wakeboarding and rock climbing depending on what you’re interested in doing.
The location of Castaway Island, its draw card, is truly spectacular. You are literally sleeping in rooms about 20 metres from the bay. The view is really something from a postcard!
Note: Castaway island runs on a generator, so there is no charging of your phone/fans etc during the day and there is no A/C in the dorms, so that can make for an uncomfortable sleep.
We begun our first day early in the morning, I stayed in Vietnam Backpackers Hostel – Original in order to be right in the action straight away and not having to travel over early in the morning. Wise decision I reckon. The trip there felt like a mission, you take a bus, a boat, another bus and another boat to get to Castaway Island. Already people had begun drinking (from 7am onwards!!!) and once we arrived to the final boat, we saw some very hungover faces leaving the island!
We get to the island, eat and begin drinking. People who booked tubing get a go behind the boat, however personally I think it isn’t worth paying for the tubing as it was really short. The way Castaway works is there is a new bunch of people arriving daily beginning there 3 day, 2 night or 2 day, 1 night tour, so there is a constant circulation of drunk/hungover people. When we got there, we were made aware that in a few hours, the other group would be arriving from their day on what I would call, the official booze cruise. So in playing catch up, it was a super interesting time by the time they got there.
Note: At night, if you go for a swim the plankton will light up and it is really amazing. Definitely suggest a night swim.
The next morning, hungover and hot we board the boat for the infamous all day cruise. Drinks flow the moment you board the boat, enough to make a hungover belly backflip! There is plenty of drinking games, pumping music and sun on the top deck of the boat.
TIP: PACK AND WEAR LOADS OF SUNSCREEN ON THE BOAT, YOU ARE ON THE TOP LEVEL DIRECTLY UNDER THE SUN. I learnt the hard way and left the boat a beautiful shade of tomato.
After cruising through the floating villages and beautiful Halong Bay, a few jumps overboard and a bit of swimming you do an hour long kayaking tour through ancient caves and a network of lagoons around Halong Bay. You then reboard the boat and have a super yummy Vietnamese lunch. You finish the cruise with a few swimming stops and then back to Castaway Island for a full night of partying. Then back to Hanoi the next day!
You pretty much spent 3 days, 2 nights in swimwear as you are constantly in and out of the water and with a drink in hand.
Travellers! Tell me your Halong Bay highlights! 🙂
I hope you’ll stick around and follow me on my adventure,
The Virgin Backpacker xx
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