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This was a great tour. We enjoyed the boat, the food, and Monkey Island.
Transport to and from Cat Ba Island is handled by the company Good Morning Cat Ba - they were on time and seemed well organised. Our local guide Tu had very limited English and was really only able to communicate the bare minimum about what we were going to do. The hike through the Cat Ba Island National Park takes the entire afternoon. While the first half of the hike to Frog Lake does require going up and downhill it should not pose a problem for most people. However, the hike from Frog Lake through to Viet Hai Village was very difficult and required climbing up and down over large boulders most of the way - this is not suitable for everyone and those who do wish to do it I would recommend a very good pair of hiking boots also remember that you are carrying all your luggage with you on this hike too. The bungalow in Viet Hai Village is nice and the dinner that night was very tasty however there is a fair bit of downtime so I recommend having a book or something handy. As it rained overnight we did not hike up Marine Hill as our guide thought it would be too slippery. The bike ride down to the Harbour has some amazing views and is mostly downhill however the bikes themselves are very basic and the brakes can be hit and miss. The boat is a private wooden sailboat complete with a private cabin and basic bathroom. Lunch was an amazing array of seafood but after lunch the boat crew and our local guide decided to nap for a few hours so we were again left with a lot of unexpected downtime. Once we got going we cruised through Lan Ha Bay to collect some kayaks to further explore the area. Dinner on board that night was delicious and the accommodation comfortable enough. The final morning after breakfast we visited Monkey Island. The monkeys themselves we only saw around the cafe area and the climb to the peak is again up and down over large sharp boulders. We tried to ask our local guide several times about visiting the village of Cai Beo and were simply told that we were not going there. Overall this tour is a great way to get away from the crowds to experience the incredible scenery of Cat Ba Island and Lan Ha Bay however we were very disappointed that our guide's English skills were such that we did not really receive any information about either area.
The trip was wonderful however, we spent most of our time traveling. The food on the boat needs a lot of improvement. The hiking to the Monkey Island wasn't bad however, I was expecting to see more monkey in the jungle. The drive back from Ha Long Bay to Ha Noi was horrible. The air conditioner didn't really work so everyone on the bus was sweating like crazy. In addition, to tour guide didn't do a lot to inform us of what is going on when there was a traffic accident ahead so everyone didn't know why the driver stopped the car.
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