My partner and I are traveling to Vietnam in late November, and definitely want to visit Halong Bay. We're on a budget and there seems to be a significant difference between the prices of hotels or resorts in that area vs. the cruises. Does anyone have a strong recommendation or argument for choosing one or the other? I realize that if we stay on land that we'll still need to spend money to rent a boat, but it still seems we would save quite a bit.
A secondary question is if anybody has a strong recommendation for Halong vs. Cat Ba or the other areas?
Thank you in advance for your help!