The cone-shaped hat is prevalent, the coffee is fantastic and there are places where you can get draft beer for 25 cents, so what's not to like? Touts trying to scam you and taxi drivers driving you in circles and asking about 10 times the price. I can't really complain though, because I've learned the tricks now!
The Halong Bay I organized through the hostel and it was fantastic! We had a day out on the bay, saw a cave and kayaked, and some swam! The food was INCREDIBLE - vegetarian option as well! Make your own spring rolls, tofu varieties, mixed vegetables, rice, french fries, onion rings, etc. They had the ultimate mix of asian and western vegetarian cuisine, what was not to like?! The rooms on the boat looked super modern and were a fantastic addition to the scrupulously detailed dining room setup (Which changed at each meal!). The following day was relaxing and then it was time to come back to Hanoi! I have one more night before heading south! I will enjoy! :)