We felt quite bored in Hanoi and decided that we should take a trip to Halong Bay to see what all the rave was about. For the trip, I think it cost around $80 USD for two people. We found the deal online and the tour company sent someone to our hotel to pick up the money and the tour bus was there to pick us up the next day. The hotel actually cost almost double the amount I think for the same trip, not sure if there's a big difference, but I didn't see any much better ships when we got to Halong Bay.
In terms of the trip, we actually paid for the more expensive food, which cost around $5 USD more per person, and I really don't think there was a point to do that as everyone on the boat got the same food. As for Halong Bay, I didn't really find it that special. That's probably because I grew up in the southern part of China, and this was all pretty normal, the mountains, the water, etc. etc...I really think the places I have been in China was much much better than Halong Bay (maybe because the weather was so bad on the day we went). However, I do understand why the western community would think that this is really special. I mean like in North America, it's probably very hard to find something similar to this. If you get the chance to go to China though, I do recommend going to Zhang Jia Jie (where the Monkey King supposedly lives, according to the Chinese folk tale), if this is the type of traveling you like. The mountains there sorta reminds me of the Avatar movie, tall, beautiful falls and full of clouds when you go up high. It's basically mountains after mountains.
Pho on the street was really good and cheap. I would recommend trying the chicken pho as we always get served the rare beef pho here in North America, and it's actually completely different in Vietnam. Also, the pho is different in different regions. The three different regions I went to actually had different pho, it was quite amazing!
The fresh rolls is another type of food I would highly recommend! Just super delicious and ridiculously cheap, compared to the prices here.