Halong Bay Cruise - a must-do experience
As being a Natural World Heritage, Halong Bay owns the unique beauty that cannot be found anywhere in the world. However, to discover deep insight into the charm of the bay, tourists have to reach it specially: cruising.
Halong Bay cruise is the best choice to explore the bay as cruising is the only way that you can admire all the glory of Halong Bay conveniently. From the few-hour Halong Bay tour to many days voyage, a cruise will bring you on an unimaginable trip through the majestic karst small and big mountains in interesting shapes, visit stunning natural caves, kayaking and swim in the offshore crystal clear seawater, observe the local daily life floating in the bay, etc. And there are more and more things you can get in Halong Bay which no one can list them out.
Halong Bay Cruise overview
Technically, there are 2 types of cruises: wooden or steel boats. While most of the Halong luxury cruises were made from steel which helps them have more cabins (up to more than 40 cabins) and many function rooms for providing different convenient services to you. Besides, steel cruises are usually the new ones that may be launched in 2016 or later. On the other hand, most of the small Halong Bay boat cruises are wooden ones that were built at the beginning of the tourism in Halong Bay which means about more than one decade ago when a more than 10 cabins cruise means a big boat. Although the wooden junk boats Halong Bay are not as big as steel ones, they bring the different feeling of classic and quiet boats, suitable for those who prefer a tranquil Halong tour. Also, with more than one decade sailing in the bay, these small cozy wooden cruises are the ones that know this area inside out.
Depending on the cruise that you choose, the services are provided also different. However, in general, most of the time, the cruise can satisfy all your basic needs while traveling. For example: with dining services, except for the 4-hour day cruises in which normally the meal is excluded from the price, most cruises here offer tourists meals on-deck and depend on the itinerary it maybe 1 – 3 meals/ day. In addition, all Halong Bay cruises overnight provide comfortable cabins for the best sleeping time of their guests. Every cabin includes a cozy bed, an air conditioner, and a bathroom; the number of amenities, and how luxurious they are depending on the standard of the cruise you choose. Besides the basic needs like staying and dining, most of the Halong Bay junk boats can provide further services so that their guest can experience the most wonderful trip such as spa & massage, gymnastics, cabin service, laundry service, and safety box.
One of Halong luxury cruises
- Choose your Halong Bay itinerary
- Decide your budget for Halong Cruise
- Things to do while cruising in Halong Bay
- Before you travel with Halong Cruise
- How to process a Halong Bay cruise booking
Choose your Halong Bay itinerary
Not all junk boats in Ha long Bay go on the same itinerary, it is varied among Ha long Bay day cruise, 2-day-1-night cruise, 3-day-2-night cruise, private cruise, and different cruise brands. And base on your preference, you can choose the Halong Bay itinerary and the boat that you want.
Halong Bay day cruise itinerary
As the travel time is limited: from 4 – 8 hours, the itinerary for Halong Bay day cruise only can show the general view of the bay; however, these shorten itineraries are suitable for those who do not have much time to explore Halong Bay.
The typical itineraries for a Halong Bay day trip allow travelers to visit some most popular caves and islands in Halong Bay such as Thien Cung Cave, Sung Sot Cave, Titop Island, and Cock Fighting Islet. On the other hand, as the new trend of Halong tour is to visit also Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay, some new Halong cruises re providing their guests a Halong Bay 1 day tour to these stunning areas such as Jade Sails, Estella Premium, Amazing Sails, etc.
Visit Sung Sot Cave in the Halong Bay 1 day tour itinerary
This is the most chosen one for a Ha Long Bay cruise tour. The reason for the popularity of the Halong Bay 2d1n cruise is that their itinerary isn’t short and also not too long that fit with almost the client. Comparing with the Halong Bay day trip, the 2d1n cruise owns diverse options for itinerary which allows you to travel deeply inside Halong and also can visit its brothers: Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay.
Besides, there are more interesting activities that you can join such as Halong Bay kayaking, swimming, and fishing... And there is no worry about the meals, they are included when you choose to travel with Halong Bay cruises overnight.
More travel time means more experience that you can get with the Halong bay cruise overnight. The 3d1n Halong tour itinerary is the perfect option for those who dive deep in the glory of Halong Bay. With the Halong Bay 3d1n cruise overnight, you will have the chance to not only visit Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay, or Bai Tu Long Bay but also can visit 2 or all the 3 stunning Bays. Also, it is a wonderful choice with 3 days enjoying many interesting activities in a Halong Bay boat tour included kayaking, swimming, fishing, trekking, and biking in Cat Ba Island.
- Customized Halong Bay itinerary
Besides, the fixed itinerary of each cruise, there are some options that you can create your own travel route as below:
- Charter cruise: Booking a charter cruise means you will have a Halong tour on a private Ha long Bay Cruise and it is the most expensive way to discover the stunning Natural World Heritage on a Ha long Bay boat cruise. However, if you are looking for a totally private voyage without sudden annoyance from strangers and traveling on your own route with your preferred activities and attractions, enjoy your Halong tour with a Halong Bay private boat sounds reasonable and worth the price.
- Hotel & Cruise combo: Do you know that you can book a cruise and a hotel at the same time? Depend on your orders, you can choose a combo of a Hanoi or Halong hotel & a junk boat Halong Bay with a better price than book separately. The brand is up to you but we suggest some options with the best price such as Mon Cheri Cruise & Sofitel Legend Metropole or Peony Cruise & Hanoi Pearl Hotel.
- Tour package: A Halong Bay tour does not mean you only can have a trip with Ha long Bay cruise overnight and travel around that area. You can always choose to book a Halong tour, which includes a few days of traveling and take you to different destinations in Vietnam. The length of package tours is varied from 2 days to many days upon your requests.
Visit Floating Village for an overnight Halong cruise itinerary
Decide your budget for Halong Cruise
Tourists not only can choose the best itinerary due to your demands but also has many options for cruises that fit with their budget. There are hundreds of cruises that provide varied service standards for both Halong Bay day cruises and Halong cruise overnight at different prices. Depending on the quality of services, you can choose the best Halong Bay cruise price range as follow:
Halong Bay Cheap Cruise / 3-star Halong Bay Cruise
Base on the itinerary and services quality, the price of a budget Halong Bay boat tour is only from about US$ 59/person for a day cruise and US$ 120/person for an overnight cruise. Most of the cheap Halong cruises are made of wood in rustic style. Besides, as the budget Halong Bay cheap cruises overnight are quite small, there are not many cabins on them (only about 9 – 15 cabins on average).
Normally, a budget Halong cruise takes its guests to visit Sung Sot Cave, Titop Island, and Cua Van floating village. However, as some Halong Bay cheap cruises provide service also in Bai Tu Long Bay, their typical itinerary allows tourists to visit Thien Canh Son Cave and Vung Vieng floating village.
Swan Cruise - One of the best budget Halong Bay Cruise
Best cheapest Halong Bay Cruise recommendations:
- Glory Legend Cruise
- Oriental Sails
- Phoenix Cruise
- Swan Cruise
- Phoenix Day Cruise
Mid-range Halong Bay Cruise / 4-star Halong Cruise
Just like budget cruises in Halong Bay, the 4-star Halong Bay boats are also available with the itinerary of day cruises (price from US$ 69/person) and overnight cruises (price from US$ 133/person). However, while most of the Halong Bay cheap cruises are wooden, 70% of mid-range junk boats Halong Bay are made of steel; and the newer the boat, the more impressive of its design.
While the options of 4-star Halong Bay day cruise are limited with only some popular names such as Estella Premium or Amazing Sails; the choices for a 4-star Halong Bay junk boat overnight are more diverse with so many familiar names as below.
Best 4-star Halong Cruise recommendations:
- Peony Cruise
- Paloma Cruise
- Signature Cruise
- Indochina Sails
- Sena Cruise
Halong Bay Luxury Cruise / 5-star Halong Bay Cruise
Different from the budget and mid-range option, there is only one best cruise for a Ha long Luxury day cruise: Jade Sails; while other 5-star options offer Halong Bay cruise overnight price ranging from US$ 168/person that can satisfy even the most difficult guest with the perfect services and promise the unforgettable experience for all tourists.
Normally, Halong luxury cruises are made of steel with big size boat for the safer voyage and larger comfortable cabins. The number of cabins is varied but most cruises have about 20 cabins on average. Of course, there are some most luxurious Halong Bay cruises with the extremely high-end standard which owns only a few cabins for better care for their guests such as Emperor Cruise (8 cabins), Paradise Peak Cruise (8 cabins) or Heritage Line Ginger Cruise (12 cabins).
Traveling with 5-star cruises means all the services may become unforgettable with extremely large fully equipped cabins included deluxe amenities and balcony, fine-dining meals, “happy hours” at panoramic-view bars, swimming pool or Jacuzzi on deck, coffee lounge, etc. Some top Halong Bay luxury cruises even provide the butler service, kids’ corner, mini-golf, library, and wine cellar.
The most popular Halong luxury cruises
Best Halong luxury cruise recommendations:
- Mon Cheri Cruise
- Orchid Cruise
- Stellar of the Sea Cruise
- Era Cruise
- Scarlet Pearl Cruise
Things to do while cruising in Halong Bay
Kayaking in Halong Bay is always mentioned as the best thing to do when people visit here. For the overnight cruise, the kayaking at Halong is included in the itinerary; therefore, no extra fee is needed and you can freely enjoy the remarkable Halong Bay kayaking.
There are many stunning places for Halong kayaking. However, the most popular areas are Dark and Light Cave and Luon Cave where you can experience the interesting nature construction while kayaking among the unique karst mountains, through the natural cave and crystal clear seawater.
Halong Bay kayaking
Besides the interesting Halong Bay kayaking, depending on each cruise’s itinerary that tourists may have the chance to swim in Halong Bay. Normally, visitors can enjoy Halong Bay swim if their cruises stop by Titop island, Ba Trai Dao Islet, or Tra Bau area. Please note that the sea in the middle of Halong Bay is quite deep; therefore, if the swimming skill is not so good, tourists should spend time sunbathing on-deck or if the cruise has pool or Jacuzzi, enjoy them instead is not that bad.
To enjoy biking in Halong Bay, tourists have to book cruises that include visiting Cat Ba island in its itinerary such as Mon Cheri Cruise, Orchid Cruise, or Peony Cruise. As Cat Ba island is the biggest island in the Gulf of Tonkin, located at the border of Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay, biking in Cat Ba island becomes an unforgettable experience for many tourists. In addition, as biking in Cat Ba island is included in the itinerary of some cruises, visitors do not have to pay any extra fee for this activity while traveling with them.
- Night fishing
Fishing may sound boring but night fishing on a cruise in Halong Bay is an interesting activity as there are not so many things to do at night when anchored in the middle of the bay and instead of familiar activities like drinking, chatting, playing board games, or watching movies, trying night fishing and wishing for a lucky supper with a small squid or fish seems more attractive.
With food lovers, the dining experience while traveling with a Halong cruise will be unforgettable. The more luxury the cruise you travel with; the better the dining experience you can get. All the meals will be included in the itinerary of overnight cruises in Halong Bay and on some extremely high-end cruises, tourists will have the chance to experience the truly fine-dining meals. Besides, a few luxury cruises like Paradise Cruise or President Cruise will provide diners with a Michelin menu on some special occasions each year.
Dinning on boat
- Cooking Class
There is no doubt that the cooking class is one of the most expected activities among tourists while visiting Halong Bay by cruise. The cooking classes are available on all overnight cruises and usually take place in the late afternoon on the first day of the itinerary. You don’t have to worry if the class is hard or not as the dishes here are some very simple Vietnamese foods which everyone can learn how to make them easily such as spring rolls (nem cuon), fried rolls (nem ran), or Vietnamese salad (nom).
- Tai Chi class
Nothing better than start your energetic beautiful day in Halong Bay with a short Tai Chi lesson. Tai Chi is a type of martial art that includes gentle and flexible movements, which suitable for all ages to exercise and train the body. Besides, it is believed that exercising Tai Chi can help to purify the mind and keep calm.
- Spa and Massage
All overnight Halong Bay cruises provide spa and massage treatment at a very reasonable price on-deck. For tourists who are so tired after a long day traveling in the Bay, 1-2 hours for massage or spa sounds great for relaxing all the body. Depends on each cruise, different therapies are available for you to choose from the basic ones like the foot, face or body massage to the customized ones, salt or hot rock spa, herbal essential oil treatment, etc. which are believed can help to relieve the headache, calm the body, mind, and soul.
Before you travel with Halong Cruise
There are not so many things to prepare before the voyage with the Ha long cruise. However, well-prepared will definitely make the trip more fluently. Please take a look at the list below for more information.
- Halong City – Tuan Chau / Halong International Port: you can easily take a taxi from your hotel to Tuan Chau Port and Halong International Port which may take only about 15 minutes. However, if the cruise departs from Got Port (Hai Phong), you should arrange transportation with the travel agency at least 1-2 days before your trip.
- Hanoi – Halong Bay:
Travel duration: 2.5 driving hours
The most convenient transportation to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay is the shuttle bus. You can book a shared bus by yourself; however, the better way is to arrange it with the travel agency which you booked the cruise before as they are the only ones who know your itinerary clearly, guarantee the bus’s quality, and can support you whenever you need. The Hanoi to Halong Bay buses which are used to transfer here usually is the Limousine Dcar which may include from 7 – 9 seats which is large and comfortable. If you have the car sick, just tell your travel assistance about it so they can help arrange you a front seat (if available).
If you need to bring along too much luggage, another option for traveling between Hanoi – Halong Bay is by private car. Although traveling by car seems more expensive than by shuttle bus, this type of transportation is more suitable for people who travel in a group of family/friends, have a lot of luggage, or simply prefer traveling alone.
- Ninh Binh – Halong Bay:
Travel duration: 4 driving hours
It is possible to travel by shuttle bus from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay. However, as all Halong Bay cruise tours only provide the pick-up service in Hanoi, it is hard to guarantee the quality of the Ninh Binh to Halong Bay bus. Therefore, in this case, a trip by private car between Ninh Binh – Halong Bay seems reasonable. On the other hand, as the distance between Halong Bay and Ninh Binh is quite far, you have to wake up really soon to prepare luggage, have breakfast and depart at 7.30 a.m.; therefore, if you want to sleep a bit more, you should come back to Hanoi 1 night before the trip then get to Halong Bay from Hanoi so you can rest more, shorter the travel time, and lower the travel cost.
- Sapa – Halong Bay:
Travel duration: 7 driving hours
There are 2 ways to travel from Sapa to Halong Bay. First of all, you can get back to Hanoi 1 day before by car, bus, or train and then get to Halong Bay the day after by shuttle bus or private car. The other way is traveling to Halong 1 day before your trip by car. The reason for these complicated transfer options is because of the far distance between those 2 destinations (about 450km) and it is almost impossible to drive from Sapa to arrive at the port on time for the Halong tour.
- From other destinations: please follow the travel agency’s instruction
As the Halong Bay tour is short, you should not bring too much luggage while doing the cruise. If you have too many luggage, you can leave it at your hotel and come back to get it after the trip. In case all the luggage must be brought along during the trip, you should talk with the travel agency a few days before and order a private car instead of a shared limousine Dcar to has more space for the luggage.
Some basic things you should bring along to Halong Bay:
- 2 – 3 set of clothing
- 1 evening gown
- 1 swimsuit
- Phone and camera
- Your medicines (if need)
- Basic skincare and make-up set (if need)
- Cash and credit card
- Travel documents
There are some travel documents you have to bring along while traveling by the Halong Bay boat cruise:
- Passport with visa
- ID card
- Booking voucher
- Halong Bay tour itinerary with tour guide and travel agency contact
- Special request
- For tourists who have allergies to some types of food or special diet (vegan food, Halal food, etc.), please notice with the travel agency at least 1 – 2 days before your Halong tour.
- For any special medical support, please talk to the travel agency before booking the Halong Bay boat cruise to make sure if the cruise can satisfy it or not.
- For tourists traveling with small kids, please tell the travel agency if you want to find a cruise providing kids’ corner or babysitting services.
- For the proposal, honeymoon, wedding, anniversary, birthday, or any other event special arrangement, please talk to the travel agency 5 – 7 days or more before your Halong Bay boat tour for the best support.
In fact, tipping is not compulsory in Vietnam culture. Therefore, in the Vietnam tourism services industry, a tip means a big complimentary for staff who provided outstanding service and it makes the day. Below are some suggestions for how much you should tip for the Halong Bay cruise staff.
- Tip for the tour guide:
Even you travel on a 10 or 40 cabins junk boat Halong Bay, there is always only 1 tour guide to direct and help all the guests on a cruise during the Halong tour. This guider is usually the only one who can talk in English fluently, give tourists the deep information of each attraction and area in the bay, instruct and solve guests’ problems on each activity in the itinerary. Therefore, if you are happy with the trip, a generous tip of US$ 5-10/day is quite reasonable.
- Tip for waiter/waitress/bartender:
Normally, there is a waiter/waitress on the Halong Bay boat who takes care specifically your table while you having meals. If you feel they are so enthusiastic, helpful, and totally happy with your meal, you should tip them about US$ 3-5.
With the bartenders, the amount of the tip may raise a little as they are the ones who make your drinks. A small tip of US$ 5-10 seems reasonable if your bartender is so skillful, interesting and the drink is totally perfect!
- Tip for spa & massage therapist:
The price of spa and massage services on a Halong cruise is quite high and even very expensive if you experience them on a Halong Bay luxury cruise. These fees usually include the commission for therapists, therefore just give them a tip if you receive an outstanding service.
How to process a Halong Bay cruise booking
As avoiding scams is quite hard, it is important that tourists need to find a reputable travel agent to book a Halong Bay boat cruise confidently. BestPrice Travel is the most popular name among thousands of travel agencies providing booking junk boat Halong Bay service in Vietnam. With more than 10 years of experience and 5 years awarded “Traveller Choice” of TripAdvisor, tourists definitely should mark BestPrice Travel as the top priority travel agent for booking their Halong Bay boat tour with no hesitation.
The process of booking a Halong Bay boat cruise with BestPrice Travel is very simple as all visitors can check the cruise and book it online at BestPrice Travel website: https://www.bestpricetravel.com/ and create booking through some step as below:
- Click on the “Cruise” category on BestPrice Travel website and choose “Halong Bay Cruise”
- Choose the best cruise that fits with your demands and budget
- Check the rate for the itinerary, the date, and the number of people you want
- Click “Book Now” for making a reservation of the cabin on the junk boat Halong Bay you like
- Fill up the “Optional Services” (If need)
- Finally, continue to submit and make payment with BestPrice Travel
Note: If there is any question about Halong Cruise and the booking process, tourists always can get in touch with BestPrice travel through:
- A small chat box at the right corner below BestPrice Travel website
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone number: +84 2436 249 007 (the international calling fee may be applied if visitors are not in Vietnam)