• How to choose your cruise in Halong Bay? [2024]
  • How to choose your cruise in Halong Bay? [2024]

  • on Apr 22, 2023       By: BN
  • Who has never dreamed of going to Halong Bay to admire one of the 35 natural wonders of the world recently published by the Insider newspaper? Also honoured by US News as one of the top 30 destinations in the world to visit at least once in a lifetime, Halong Bay is synonymous with incomparable splendour.

    When we think of Halong Bay, we also think of cruises. A boat trip is undoubtedly the best way to appreciate its sublime and magical beauty. Before going on a cruise, the first question that arises is "How to choose a cruise in Halong Bay?" Especially if it's your first time in Halong. That said, you will have to take into account different aspects concerning itinerary, boat, budget, duration, advice and tips on board… to find a circuit that fully meets your expectations.

    Remember that there are no less than 500 boats sailing in Halong Bay and neighbouring bays such as Bai Tu Long and Lan Ha. You will certainly be spoiled for a choice of boat ranging from 3 to 5 stars. Rest, entertainment, discovery or honeymoon, whatever your desires, there is always a cruise to suit you. In order to help you find your dream cruise more easily, we have prepared for you a small guide to cruises in Halong Bay.

    These are 6 key steps to consider. Each one attempts to shed light as best as possible on the various points which are likely to influence the quality of your getaway from the start of the port to the activities on board. Before attacking the crucial questions, an overview of this dream destination is necessary to make you imagine what awaits you and what track to follow in the middle of the endless rocky corridors.

    Halong Bay, between legend and world natural wonder

    Found in the Gulf of Tonkin, about 170 km east of Hanoi, Halong Bay consists of more than 1,600 islands and islets, many of which are inhabited. It is renowned throughout the world for its exceptional values, whether natural, historical or cultural. Twice included in the UNESCO natural heritage list, Halong has been repeatedly acclaimed by the international media as one of the most beautiful bays on the planet, one of the seven new natural wonders of the world.

    Halong means "Descent of the Dragon", this name refers to the legend that the Mother Dragon descends to help the Vietnamese people attack the invaders from the North. The thousands of limestone peaks scattered in the sea resulting from the movements of the descent of the Dragon Mother and her son, current Bai Tu Long Bay which means "son of the prostrating dragon".

    With its formidable assets, Halong Bay has established itself for years as one of the best destinations in Vietnam. In 2018, it welcomed more than 9 million visitors, the majority of whom opted for a cruise ship.

    6 Steps to Finding the Best Halong Bay Cruise

    1. Decide the length of your cruise

    There are mainly three types of tours in Halong Bay:

    + Halong Bay day cruise
    + Halong Bay cruise for 2 days and 1 night
    + Halong Bay cruise for 3 days and 2 nightsor cruise for 4 days and 3 nights

    The first circuit offers a good choice for those who wish to enjoy Halong Bay with time constraints. A wide range of day cruises is available to book depending on your desired departure point, Hanoi, Haiphong city or Cat Ba Island.

    A circuit with a night on board is undoubtedly ideal to relax and fully enjoy the wonderful landscapes. This is an opportunity to soak up the magic of Halong in all dimensions, day and night. Starting the day in front of a superb sunrise in the open sea with a multitude of fantastic activities, it’s a real delight. This is what a 2-day-1-night tour has to offer which is suitable for many travellers.

    In short, the duration of your stay in Halong depends on your need for relaxation and your budget. Longer itineraries are recommended for those wishing to rest and explore the more remote corners of the bay, such as the 3-day-2-night and 4-day-3-night cruises. In this case, you move from time to time between the main boat and a small one for the different activities and spend the night on board the big boat.

    2. Decide where exactly you want to visit

    If the name Halong is the first that comes to mind for visitors, the site actually encompasses three adjacent bays, Halong being the largest, followed by Bai Tu Long and Lan Ha. Knowing the DNA of each of these berries helps a lot in making a good decision about your destination. These sisters have in common countless multifaceted karst islands and islets, many of which are attractive. There are also pretty beaches, coves and in particular, caves as magnificent as each other. Halong Bay, a long-time star, now seems a bit like a colossal shipyard with hundreds of boats cruising there year-round. It is not the best idea for those looking for relaxation away from the crowds.

    The Bai Tu Long and Lan Ha bays, still little exploited, offer similar attractions, but in a more peaceful and relaxing setting.

    Not far from these bays, Cat Ba Island is to be seen without hesitation for a stay in the sun combining relaxation and discovery. Its beautiful beaches, its spectacular cliffs and its national park of great biodiversity make it a haven of freshness. Note that it is quite easy to navigate between these points of interest due to the number of boats available to serve them during the day.

    >> Read more: Halong, Bai Tu Long or Lan Ha, which bay should we choose for a cruise?

    Halong Bay Cruise Routes

    Halong Bay

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    Titov Island

    This option takes you along the busiest and therefore least quiet track of the large bay. Given the importance of navigation, the water in some detours is polluted. With this route, classic stops often include Titov Island and Surprise Cave.

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    Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island

    This tour gives you the opportunity to spend the night at a resort in the heart of Cat Ba Island after relaxing hours on the emerald waters of Lan Ha. Cat Ba deserves, for its part, an extension of a few days of idleness between sea and jungle.

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    Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay

    This itinerary visits some of the most famous spots in Halong combined with some secret corners of Bai Tu Long. A program to go off the beaten path and the price is usually more broadly.

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    >> Read more: Bai Tu Long Bay: the earthly paradise of the north

    3. Always Check What's Included

    The classic formula on board almost all cruises includes a number of services, food, activities, and leisure… with the exception of drinks. So you should remember to check the free offers available.

    Reading the detailed program is important because it is not the same between different operators. In addition, the transfer from Hanoi to the boat in Halong is not supported by the cruise company in some cases.

    A typical on-board activity program on Halong Bay

    Visit a pearl farm
    Visit a fishing village
    Discover one or a few caves
    Tai chi class
    Cooking lessons
    Squid fishing
    Bike (Cat Ba)
    Some cruises offer a few slightly different activities, such as dining in a cave, and picking up trash from the bay...

    4. Target your cruise ship

    Among hundreds of boats circulating in Halong Bay, what should you choose from a wide range of choices for their difference in size, style and quality standard? Be aware of the boat and be sure to research online before making a decision. In addition to the question of the age of the boat, its capacity is also to be taken into account. A cruiser capable of carrying more than 35 people certainly does not ensure great conviviality and intimacy.

    In Halong Bay, there are boats from 2 cabins to 6 cabins for couples, families and groups of friends who want to seek a more private and friendly cruise. Otherwise, larger boats between 20 to 30 cabins are very luxurious. It's up to you to choose according to your desires.

    5. Prepare your budget

    The price/quality ratio is particularly important when you pay for an excursion where almost everything is taken care of by the boat. Eating, sleeping and having fun, everything happens in the open sea. Imagine a food problem like intoxication in the middle of the sea, what a nightmare, isn't it? A cruise in Halong Bay is far from being an opportunity to save money and remember to inquire about quality boats in terms of safety, activities, cabins and food.

    If you book through a local travel agency in Vietnam, negotiations can sometimes be very long. In case of booking online, you can compare prices with IZITOUR.COM or Expedia.com which offer a wide offer of cruises in Halong Bay.

    6. Book in the right place

    A final question that is particularly important to consider before departure is knowing who to rely on for your benefits. Note that tourist traps, even though they are not very common, are still practised in Vietnam, of which Halong is one of the best targets. To avoid unpleasant surprises, you should avoid an ambiguous structure. More than anywhere else, Vietnam is the destination on which it is necessary to inquire beforehand. Places recommended by other travellers and those around them are to be preferred.

    Using a cruise line directly is a viable option. But reality shows that it is not these operators who offer a better price. On the contrary, the cost is higher than through a tourist agency.

    It is better for many people to entrust the organization of their cruise in Halong Bay to a reliable travel agency. This requires sorting work on your part with the search for information on the various channels available. You can take advantage of the reviews and comments of others and check their credibility.

    Best time to cruise Halong Bay

    Note that summer during May and August is the time to flock to the sea for the Vietnamese. It's the peak season for Vietnamese resorts and Halong is no exception.

    As for the weather, you can contemplate Halong Bay in all its beauty during the months between the end of February and April or between September and October for pleasant temperatures and perfectly clear skies.

    Related articles:

    >> Halong Bay Private Cruise: List of Small Boats

    >> Top 10 in Halong Bay: the must-sees and things to do

    >> How to get from Hanoi to Halong Bay: 6 best ways to travel


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