How to avoid scams and disappointments for booking cruise tours in Halong Bay? To help you avoid being scammed in Halong Bay and unexpected situations, this article will point out some risks that you should be aware of and how to deal with.
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The best way to explore and admire Halong Bay is by joining a cruise tour around the bay; that’s why nowadays when coming to Vietnam, travelers always choose to take a cruise even if they have scanty time to spend. As a local who knows very well all the facts, I'm very proud of my country but also want to share some good and bad experiences for international tourists in Halong Bay.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
I have been to Halong Bay several times since I was a little girl. Everything was different back then. I traveled with my family on a small local boat, it wasn’t too modern but very safe, we were allowed to stop at some points to have a swim or sunbathing. The boat swung slightly as small waves moving in the bay. And to be allowed to go to Cat Ba Island, we had to change boat. Come along with the development of tourism and to serve passengers better, that kind of visiting has been upgraded to modern overnight cruises. I bet that you’ve heard a lot about the good memories, good experiences with Halong Bay cruises. The following are several facts that you rarely know if you just go for a Halong Bay tour once.
To resume, the best way to take a cruise tour in Halong Bay is to research and book it online through travel agencies. Why? There are 3 reasons:
First of all, let's find out what cruise scams could happen on your Halong Bay tour?
The advantage of booking Halong Bay cruise online is that you can shop for any demands: budget to luxury cruises, different programs, different visiting points, etc. by just some clicks on the website, you will easily see any information you need, from cruise type, cabin size, amenities, to anything. Anytime, anywhere, so convenient!
BUT, the most common scam while booking a cruise tour online is fraud agents. There are more and more unscrupulous companies bearing a resemblance to the real one. The same tricks happen to other services like accommodation, transportation, and day tour. The reason I told you to seek for a reliable agency is that there are hundreds of travel agents selling services to you. Not all of them can guarantee the advertised quality and serve you satisfied. Depending on many elements such as how long did the cruise run, how good their staffs are, how often the cruise maintains their facilities, etc. the quality of different cruises is different.
DON'T choose too cheap prices, since many Halong Bay cruise scams coming at low-cost tours to tempt those traveling on a budget. In most cases, you will receive advertising emails and pop-ups for a super sale cruise tour in a while. If you are lured by these promotions, you can be urged to deposit an amount of money to secure a tour. As you know, you buy cheap you buy twice, if not be careful, low quality and unsafe cruises (facilities, services, foods, etc.), miscellaneous additional charges will not be explicitly announced. Otherwise, the cheap prices you see might have hidden additional fees or charges, so cheap might become not cheap at all.
*My advice: Your choice, choose wisely. Remember to opt for a reliable agency, choose a reasonable price, don’t choose ‘cheap’. And Halong luxury cruises are very worth spending, even the locals enjoy that type of cruise.
Booking Halong Bay cruise online is much more convenient
Some tourists prefer to book traveling services by modern devices, but some others only believe in what they see and what they hear. That’s why there are many tourists choose to book Halong cruise on arrival. Presumably, to some of you, it is inevitably reliable when witnessing something directly rather than through an intermediary. Such a good idea if you decide to book a cruise tour on arrival; however, there will be also disadvantages to this kind of booking.
There is a popular swindle circumstance that tourists usually have to face with, especially the eye-to-eye temptation without researching information. Imagine you are standing at the ticket point and bewildering which kind of Halong cruise would be the best choice. Suddenly, a tout appears and provides you a surprisingly cheap price 40$ for a day cruise with a friendly smiley face, sweet, and enthusiastic introduction. You will be easily convinced, decide to pay 40$ and follow a cruise tour.
The cruise and crew will serve you very heartily, many delicious foods are laid out on the table, an itinerary is designed with interesting activities such as exploring caves, floating villages, kayaking on the bay, etc. Feel like an amazing trip with a jitney price, but finally, it turns out to be the worst experience until you are charged extra money for every single service you used on cruise. The 40$-trip, as you thought, transforms to the 340$-trip in just a few seconds. At that moment, it is difficult to explain with boat owners as you used all of their services and the tout who sell you the cruise trip with the cheap price completely disappeared.
*My advice: Make sure you have someone to claim or complain if any bad thing happens. You can book with a cruise operator or with an agency, but make sure that the source won’t disappear after you pay them.
Booking Halong cruise on arrival makes you easily be cheated with no clear price and quality guarantee
Please understand that weather is something we cannot control. To secure the safety of passengers first, when weather conditions do not allow, cruises are all canceled due to the announcement of the Administration of Halong Bay. You should read very carefully the cancellation policy of cruise or agency to make sure you will not misunderstand the terms. Legitimate agencies or cruises will publish their policy on the website and that will be the base for you to have full information.
The correct policy will be applied is to charge you what service you have used and refund the part you did not use. For example, you used transportation, eat one meal, visit a cave and then the storm comes, of course, you only have to pay for what you use If the seller says that you are fully charged because the trip already started or any other reason, you might be bumped into a scam. I do not want this situation to happen, so be careful where to put your trust. As my advice before: CHOOSE WISELY!
The following are 4 tips to avoid some common scams while traveling on a Halong Bay cruise tour.
To check the quality of a travel company through their website, you should:
Extra charges: To ensure your trip will not be bothered by miscellaneous extra charges, negotiate explicitly with the travel consultant about the cost of services included or not included in the tour such as a car from the airport to the hotel, bus from Hanoi - Halong - Hanoi, airfares, visa arrangements, beverages, tips or beauty services on cruise, etc. Children's policy is also a problem that tourists usually care about. You should learn and ask about the surcharge for children in sharing rooms because there will be different policies for children ages.
Refund policy: Cancellation due to bad weather or suddenly by customers is the issue that requires travel agencies to take responsibility to have the action for customers. However, the “full refund” does not happen at all times. Depending on the time of the cancellation, refund policies will be applied. You can consult the policy of one of the reputable local travel company in Halong Bay cruise tours.
The final cost will be confirmed by your consultant via email. In all cases, please contact your consultant directly for any urgent help.
Online booking is pretty much more convenient than on arrival due to several reasons
Buy cheap you buy twice
Above are the most common situations that could happen on your trip. For me, I have many chances to avoid or to redo my trip if it went wrong. But for some travelers, going to Halong Bay is a plan that they need to prepare a lot and go for once. So I do not want this to happen with your trip of a lifetime. So pack this as a small tip and have a wonderful trip!
Read more about useful local tips for Halong Bay.
Hope this helps! Cheers!
Image sources: Internet