Why the Oasis Halong Bay Party Cruise is Worth the Killer Hangover
If you’ve ever been on a holiday with me (or read between the lines of a few blog posts), you know I love a damn good party. Pass me a G&T (with a slice of lime, of course), turn on some 90s hip-hop and the barmen will literally have to kick me out when the lights come on. Unless I persuade them to keep the bar open and dance into the wee hours with me. So when my brother suggested we book ourselves onto not just a Halong Bay Boat Cruise but Oasis Bay’s Halong Bay Party Boat Cruise (also known as a Halong Bay booze cruise), my response was a resounding YES.
Choosing a Halong Bay Boat Cruise can be quite overwhelming. I guess that’s no surprise given it’s one of the most popular tours for travellers through Southeast Asia. But unfortunately, many Halong Bay cruises are not very reputable. Travellers can get easily scammed and stuck with a sh*tty or sloppy experience.
So if you’re after what we were after - basically lots of adventure and the opportunity to meet loads of other backpackers - then save yourself the time and disappoint and book yourself onto Oasis Bay’s Party Boat Cruise. Just remember to give yourself a few days to recover from what will likely be a multi-day hangover. But hey - those memories - totally worth it.
Halong Bay Party Boat Cruise: The Basics
A three-day, two-night Oasis Bay Party Boat Cruise will set you back $400 (around £300), but this will include a transfer to and from your Hanoi hotel / hostel and one night’s stay on the boat plus another on Freedom Island. It also covers all of your meals and any cruise activities like kayaking, beer yoga, trampolining and generally dancing late into the night. Alcohol isn’t included (with the exception of a welcome drink) so you’ll be spending here at your own discretion. Just watch out because the boat cleverly provides you a wristband (that functions as a bank card) that you pay off at the end. It’s convenient but also means you can easily blow your backpacker budget once you get the party started. Oasis Bay also offers a one-night stay option and a six-day Halong Bay cruise but two nights felt like a nice middle ground for us.
Halong Day Party Boat Cruise Itinerary: What to Expect
You’ll be picked up bright and early from your Hanoi accommodation. After a few hours on the bus you’ll arrive at the docks where all the Halong Bay cruises take off. Here, you’ll board a small boat that will deliver you to your home for the night - the epic Oasis Bay cruise ship. And let me tell you, it won’t disappoint. Oasis Bay’s boats are fairly new and in tip-top condition. There are also multiple jacuzzis on board, a massive dining / dancing hall and a large upper deck where you can enjoy out-of-this-world views of Halong Bay’s renowned limestone karst formations. And the rooms are trés Titanic. (A safe, non-sinking version of course.) They’re spacious, the beds are cushy, the bathroom is luxe and you’ve got your own balcony to admire the bay in the pleasure of your own company. Though the party cruise itinerary is pretty action-packed so you’ll have to make an effort to enjoy your room when you’ve got some spare minutes.
Upon arrival, you’ll be welcomed with music, Oasis’s uber-friendly staff and a strong beverage. And when you step onto the deck, you’ll feel like a serious baller, especially if you’ve been been roughing it as a backpacker for a while. Oasis Bay runs a tight ship (like what I did there?) so your guide will immediately talk you through the boat rules, activities and festivities. Then you’ll be left to your own devices to settle into your room before lunch. Admittedly, the meals are nothing to write home about (with the exception of the fried fish on Freedom Island), but I was willing to let this slide in light of all the other cruise perks.
After a quick bite, its straight to the bay for a kayak ride right through the karsts and into a quiet lagoon with some seriously special views. Afterwards, you can take a dip in the bay (which I have to say was probably one of my top travel moments) and jump off the trampoline (or the top of the boat if you prefer) into those milky sea-green waters.
And then, the party begins. There’s a makeshift bar near the trampolines where you can order drinks to get the evening going. Then, don’t forget to pick up a few beers on your way to the top deck for beer yoga. We had an absolute laugh trying to hold our positions as our tipsiness levels rose. Afterwards, you’ll have a quick dinner and then it’s over to you to savour the night as you please. You can soak in the jacuzzis with a cocktail in hand, work those calories off on the dance floor or join your fellow Halong Bay-ers in a few rounds of beer pong or boozy card games.
Here I should mention that if you’re not up for an all-night rave but still want a Halong Bay cruise that’s really social, the Oasis Bay Party Boat is still a great choice. No matter what time you decide to call it a night, you can still get your peace and quiet. The rooms are completely removed from the main party hubs so you can enjoy an early night or a booze-free evening if that’s your preference. Quite a few of the girls booked onto our tour took it easy and had an early night.
Whatever you decide, just keep in mind that it’ll be an early wake-up call the next morning. You’ll have breakfast on the cruise ship before transferring to a smaller boat that takes you to Freedom Island. The trip is a good few hours (which can be a bit painful if you’re really hungover or you don’t have the strongest sea legs) but you’ll make some fun stops along the way. And, seriously, nothing will cure you more than diving off the boat and into that fresh salty water.
You’ll arrive at Freedom Island around lunchtime. You’ll drop your bags before having lunch near the shore. Then, expect a bit of a crash back to reality when you realise the island’s accommodation isn’t nearly as luxe as that of the boat. Night two you’ll be cuddled up with your fellow backpackers in a tight 20-bed dorm. Thankfully the beach, the bay’s views and the sunshine (if you’re lucky) will help to compensate. The cozy hammocks scattered all around the island help too.
Once settled in, you’re left to explore all afternoon. The island is small but still really good fun. You can go for a swim, bond with other backpackers, read on the sun loungers, play a bit of volleyball and just generally go full digital detox. We had a perfect easy-breezy afternoon.
Then, for the party die-hards, dinner’s followed by evening festivities that include beer, cards and, if you so desire, karaoke. I opted for an early night because I couldn’t bear another early start with a hangover. The following morning, its back to the cruise ship where you’ll learn to make spring rolls from scratch and have them alongside the rest of your lunch.
And then, with tears is your eyes (or is that just me?), it’ll by time to call it a day. You’ll bid farewell to your fellow travellers, head back to the docks and take the bus back to Hanoi. But you’ll leave with a memory bank filled to the (absolute) brim.
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