Halong Bay holds a mysterious charm conjured up by 1969 jungle-clad islands rising from distant emerald waters. Getting there is increasingly straightforward, thanks to the building of an expressway connecting Hanoi and Halong City and the opening of Van Don International Airport, a mere 50km away from Halong Bay.
Want to spoil yourself? Halong Bay has some luxurious cruise options that are luxury hotels on water. You’re spending for an adventure of five-star facilities here – not for any peculiar deviation from the regular cruise itinerary – but if you want to live it up from a swanky sun-lounger while savouring the sunset over a vista of rugged jungle-topped islands, you can’t go wrong.
Most boats go gradually through the bay so that everyone can take in the beautiful sites. However, each tour has various destinations. For instance, some may stop by Dragon Cave while others stop at Surprising Cave. Some journeys provide kayaks for tourists to experience, while others stop at floating villages. Still, others choose to stay at fish farms so that travelers can catch their meals and have them ready to eat.
Budget tours are an excellent option for those who don’t want to waste a lot of money as they view the landscape around Halong Bay. While some budget cruises are beautiful, others are noisy and overcrowded. Most of them offer overnight stays on the water or a beach, and they provide meals as you travel. You can still purchase snacks and souvenirs from water vendors and at the beaches or pack your lunches.
Mid-line sails are ideal for those who don’t want to spend a ton of money but still want a great adventure. The tour guides are often a little more fluent and may speak more English. These tours go to many of the same beaches and caves, but they may offer more time for kayaking and swimming. Mid-line cruises are less crowded than budget tours, and they don’t pick up as many day-trippers. The cruise operators may also be more willing to make different stops at passengers’ requests, such as an improvised hiking trip along some of the mountains. Lodging and meals are included in the price.
These high-end cruises provide a little more quality and privacy at a higher price. Travelers are usually picked up by a ferry and carried to the boat, whereas other trips may require passengers to walk through many crafts to reach the relevant junk. You may also have more room on the ship since there won’t be as many passengers. The rooms are a little more beautiful than those on the mid-line cruises, and they are better suited for vacationing families.
Some things to know before you pick your cruise:
- When matching prices, check whether transfers between Halong Bay and Hanoi are covered, and if so, whether it’s round-trip or one-way, and if it uses the new freeway or not.
- While the Ha Long–Hai Phong Expressway has cut travel time between Halong Bay and Hanoi to 2 hours, it only applies to private vehicles that don’t stop picking up any other passengers and which don’t make the usual 30-minute relaxation stop halfway through the journey. Aboard a bus, plan for a three to 3-hour ride.
- Check carefully to see whether overnight cruise rates are priced by cabin or by a person. Single travelers should expect to pay 70% of the full cabin price.
- The itinerary on a one-night cruise can be packed, with shore tours, hiking, kayaking, and hiking, leaving little time just to sit and watch the fantastic scenery during daylight hours. A 2-night itinerary is much more leisurely, with the bonus of touring sights with fewer people around if you have the time.
Things to do in Halong Bay
- Island-Hopping: No holiday in Halong Bay is complete without visiting some of the islands to explore their caverns and caves. The largest of them is Cat Ba island, which owns long sandy beaches, a national park to hike in, and its complex of restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues.
- Scuba Diving: There’s no better activity than scuba diving in this beautiful wonder. Come between April and November to savor warm waters and stunning landscapes of colorful and assorted coral. The coral is home to many fishes like the Sergeant Major fish and anemonefish, and are a sight to behold. Many qualified licensed scuba coaches will smoothly guide you on this diving experience in clear and shallow waters.
- See sea turtles: If you like wildlife, you can reserve a guide or a boat cruise to seek out the unique and wonderful animal species of Halong Bay. Sea turtle tours are top-rated, for example, and many of these guided treks can be arranged on Cat Ba Island in its national park.
- Visiting Fishing Villages: The floating villages are a pleasant attraction in Halong Bay, and a must-visit for visitors to learn about the way fishing villages have lived in this area for ages, as well as to encounter their ways of living. Some of the things you can do here visit the schools and shop for wholesome seafood. Some villages even allow home-stays, which are a more authentic way to enjoy Halong Bay.
- Learn Cooking: Vietnamese cuisine is one of the most famous Asian cuisines in the world, and this is because of its exquisite and clean flavors that rely on fresh and simple ingredients. Halong Bay offers affordable cooking classes that will have you cooking like a local in no time. And it’s a fabulous location because you’ll have access to the seafood and freshest vegetables caught and grown right in the region.
No matter what they want to do or how much money they have, travelers are sure to pick a Ha Long Bay cruise that accommodates their needs. All of the journeys allow travelers to view the area’s attraction, so it is up to the passenger to decide what he wants to see and how much he wants to spend.