See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskVGBxAZ
Elle and I booked our tour of Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay and Monkey Island through AliBabas Tours for $16 USD.
From Cat Ba Island, the tours are much cheaper than going directly from Ha Long Bay. Unluckily, the weather was grey and it rained in the afternoon. Our boat started off by zig-zagging through a floating village which was very spread out and quite pretty. You could see many dogs walking along the pontoons and sectioned off areas for fish farming as well.
In the morning before it rained, we did some kayaking through Ha Long Bay which was very beautiful! We went through two caves (Light Cave and Dark Cave) and found ourselves in several picturesque lagoons. Unfortunately, the water was a bit cloudy so we could see any fish. One elderly woman yodeled like she was trying to speak whale the entire time she was in the cave which made Elle and I laugh hysterically.
After lunch, we went swimming on a remote patch of sand protruding from a beautiful limestone cliff in Lan Ha Bay. It was pretty cold, so I didn’t swim for too long. Additionally, we stopped by a large limestone cliff that our guide climbed up and then jumped off. Of course there was a sign at the bottom that prohibited climbing, but that didn’t stop him.
Lastly, we stopped at Monkey Island which is a beautiful touristic island with one hostel on it. There is a famous hike to the top for a 360 degree view of the area, however it was too rainy and dangerous to climb so we decided not to. As usual on Monkey Islands, (there is also one in Thailand that I visited) the monkeys are quite aggressive and cheeky; steeling food and belongings from dumb tourists who forget that these are wild animals that potentially have diseases.