I arrived on Cat Ba Island with plans of spending just a few days – enough to have a short break from the cycle here and get myself out on an overnight cruise. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be able to tear myself away from the place, and so I ended up staying almost two weeks!!
After realising on my journey onto the island that I needed a little bit of certainty in what I was getting, and deciding I absolutely had to try rock climbing the impressive limestone karsts, I opted for a tour with Asia Outdoors*.
Essentially, I got an afternoon of rock climbing, a “camp-style” sleep on their boat out in the bay, and a full day of kayaking around the karsts, along with all the various delicious meals (2 lunches, a dinner and a breakkie). For that, I forked over the hefty sum of 2,800,000 VND (that’s right – nearly an entire week’s budget!), but it was so worth it!
The rock climbing was why I chose Asia Outdoors – I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity! And quite frankly, I wanted to end the tour in one piece so I needed a company with good standards.
This was the first part of the entire cruise for me (you can do it as a solo activity without the overnight stay if you’d prefer). I met the rest of the group at the Asia Outdoors shop, and we piled into a bus to head out to the port. From there, a small boat took us out to the larger main boat where we were almost immediately provided with a delicious lunch (seriously: the food was so good – eat the spring rolls).
Within an hour of arriving, we were led back onto our small boat and ferried out to a nice little beach (in the shade) where our guides went to work setting up some top-rope climbs.
Overall, six climbs were set up. These ranged in difficulty based on height, holds and overhangs.
Ultimately, I realised outdoor climbing is a little too terrifying for my liking (I have an awful fear of heights), and so while I attempted the climbs, I never made it to the top. Still, it was amazing just to try. And for those who did make it – I definitely heard about the view from up there – stunning.
Day two was set aside in entirety for some kayaking around the limestone karsts.
Asia Outdoors provides double kayaks, so if you’re travelling solo, expect to be paired up with someone.
A guide takes you around the bay, into all the little caves, nooks and cranny’s you (probably) wouldn’t be able to see if you went solo. There’s an excellent mix of moving about and relaxing for a swim as you go around, so don’t stress about getting exhausted given the length of the kayaking session.
Initially, I hadn’t expected much from this part of the trip, but it was well worth it in the end! I loved going around in those little kayaks.
Now here’s where the cost went up – I did the overnight stay with the company because I wanted to see the sunset and sunrise from the prime spot of the bay. I was not disappointed – both were beautiful.
The accommodation with Asia Outdoors is pretty basic – a sort of “camping” on the top of the boat. Essentially, the guide (just one stays with you overnight) sets up some mats on the floor and everyone gets a pillow with blankets shared between two. It’s a cosy little setup, but it does ensure you make the most of being out on the bay!
Naturally, the night is what the group makes it, and so it was a nice relaxed one for me with most of the group jumping into the water to see the bioluminescence (not really in sight from the boat sadly), before having an early one.
Overall, the overnight sleep probably wasn’t worth the extra cost and I wouldn’t do it again. Unless you’re set on seeing the sunrise out there, just book the day trips you’re after – that’s where the real fun happens!
Read More at: Vietnam Travel
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* This is not a sponsored post. I just enjoyed my cruise so much I wanted you to be able to share the company with you! I received nothing from Asia Outdoors to write this – heck, they don’t even know I am!!