Vietnam – Halong Bay & Monkey Island Tour

On day two of our trip to Halong Bay in Vietnam, we were due to head to the mysteriously named ‘Monkey Island’.

Halong Bay

After a great first day, misplacing tourists, viewing the beautiful bay, kayaking and playing drinking games we said goodbye to Dat – quite possibly the most unwittingly funny tour guide ever, who was then replaced with another character called Bai, who seemed to take a bit of a shine to me and declared that he wanted me for a wife, and proceeded to tell me that he loved me on numerous occasions for the rest of the trip.

Halong Bay

I was especially looking forward to having a gorgeous beach all to ourselves (well aside from a few monkeys) and the floating bar we’d been promised.

Halong Bay Helen in Wonderlust

After breakfast on the boat, we headed for land and went for a hike around Cat Ba National Park. We climbed up and up and up hundreds of steps.

Everyone was sweating and my legs were getting bitten to death. No idea why I didn’t put on bug spray. On the way up a kind Vietnamese man seeing my pasty white legs covered in nasty red bites gave me some Tiger Balm to ease the itching.

Halong Bay Helen in Wonderlust

The views from the top were pretty spectacular and I’d even say, worth the bites!

We were even reunited with Stephen for a brief few minutes much to the delight of the group and I bumped into some friends from trekking in Thailand and we agreed to meet back in Hanoi in a couple of days.

Halong Bay Helen in Wonderlust

We then boarded a smaller boat which took us to Monkey Island. We were warned not to go near the monkeys as they bite!

We spent the afternoon relaxing on the idyllic private beach, playing volleyball and looking for monkeys, from a safe distance.

Halong Bay Monkey Island Helen in Wonderlust

We stayed in cute and comfortable beach cabanas, each with a private bathroom.

Cabana on Monkey Cat Ba Island Halong Bay Vietnam Helen in Wonderlust

Cabana on Monkey Cat Ba Island Halong Bay Vietnam Helen in Wonderlust

Halong Bay Monkey Island Helen in Wonderlust

Monkey Island Halong Bay Helen in Wonderlust

Monkey Island Halong Bay Helen in Wonderlust

As the sun was setting, Bai waded into the sea with a rubber ring under one arm and a cooler under the other, it soon dawned on me that this was the ”˜floating bar’ that we had heard so much about! I couldn’t blame them for the creative advertising and it was very fun!

Floating bar Cat Ba Island Monkey Halong Bay

That evening the staff prepared a tasty bbq, and then set up a disco. We danced all evening. The highlight? Bai doing a spectacular version of Thriller.

Party Time on Monkey Island Cat Ba island Helen in Wonderlust

Party Time on Monkey Island Cat Ba island Helen in Wonderlust

The following morning after breakfast, we re-boarded the smaller boat to head back to the dock.

Breakfast on Monkey Island Cat Ba Halong Bay

The sea was choppy and I’m not overly fond of boats at the best of times. I asked Bai where the life jackets were kept.

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Life jackets?”

I think he was joking. I think.

We made it back to land safely, no need for life jackets.

Crazy tour guides,  a beautiful beach, great company and delicious food  – booking this trip to Halong Bay was one of the best things I did in Vietnam and I would recommend it to anyone!

Vietnamese Flag in Halong Bay

Essential Info:

We booked our tour through Vietnam Amazing Tours. A three day, two night tour costs from $105. This tour can be booked online or through one of the many travel agents in Hanoi or Halong Bay.

Take sunscreen and insect repellent. The sun can be strong, even when it’s cloudy and those bugs can bite!

Have you ever been to Monkey Island?






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  1. Just back from Vietnam where I spent one night in Halong Bay – not enough time to visit this money bay unfortunately, but had a great time nonetheless (once the clouds cleared up!)


    1. Ah I love Vietnam! Some people hate it, but I thought it was amazing! Love your pics of Hoi An, those lanterns are amazing!

  2. I loved Vietnam. Some people don’t but it was one of the best months of my life! Love your pics of Hoi An! Those lanterns are amazing! 🙂

  3. We visited Monkey Island. One of the monkey’s bit a girl’s hand. We just collectively were like: “let’s just go, these monkeys are crazy.” Halong Bay is so beautiful, though. Very gorgeous water and tiny mountains. =)

  4. I had my honeymoon in Vietnam, and loved Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island. We didn’t see any monkeys, but I bought a tee-shirt of the rare Cat Ba Lemurs.

  5. Hi there,
    I’m Alex. I’m recently live in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
    I have been to Ha Long Bay several times. Ha Long Bay is great but not all my trips here awesome. 🙁
    The weather here is unstable and it affected my trips a lot.
    I once came here when it was raining so heavy and I can’t go anywhere. :'( Even the seafood is not delicious as it used to be.
    So anyone who is considering to visit Ha Long Bay should plan your trip well, notice the weather before you book the ticket. :))

  6. Hi Helen

    Even though this is an older post I just wanted to say a massive thank you for the in-depth description on your trip. I’m trying to put together a trip to Halong Bay myself at the moment and I’ll definitely use Vietnam Amazing Tours.

    Thanks for sharing!

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