Choose Halong Bay day trip or an overnight cruise?

August 22, 2023 - 2804 views

Halong Bay offers an extraordinary seascape that attracts many tourists every year. If you are wondering how long to stay in Halong, this guide will help you to choose between a Halong Bay day trip or an overnight cruise. After taking your budget and tour highlights into account, you can come to a decision on the most suitable one.

Halong Bay always keeps you busy with a never-ending list of leisure activities as well as a variety of tours and excursions. As normal, most tourists prefer to spend 2 or 3 days on an overnight cruise tour, whereas many decide on a day excursion.

For those who are still in consideration, this article will guide you through the determining factors, major differences between a day excursion and an overnight tour in Halong Bay, also some choosing tips to decide on the best itinerary.

Halong Bay day trip or overnight cruise

Which suits you best: a day tour or an overnight cruise in Halong Bay?


Key Factors to Decide on a Day Trip or Overnight

First and foremost, the length of your stay in Ha Long Bay greatly depends on 3 main factors: your itinerary duration, your expectation, and your travel budget. 


Day Trip

Overnight Cruise


  • 4 hours (half-day)
  • 7 hours (full-day)
  • 24 hours (2-day-1-night) 
  • 48 hours (3-day-2-night)


  • Visit highlight beauty spots
  • Discover hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path areas
  • Join different activities


  • 60 – 100 USD/day
  • 125 – 185 USD/night



Above all, your travel plan will definitely affect your length of stay in Halong.

  • Day Trip: If you have a busy schedule in Vietnam, a Halong Bay day excursion must be an ideal choice. It takes 4 hours (half-day) or 7 hours (full-day) to go back and forth within a day. The trip will start from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, which suits the needs of those who have scanty time.
  • Overnight Cruise: Spending 2 – 3 days in Halong Bay is highly recommended for travelers whose time schedules can be flexible. Actually, a 2d1n Halong cruise itinerary lasts for 24 hours to visit 2 – 3 attractions; while a 3d2n Halong cruise itinerary takes 48 hours for you to discover all the must-sees and must-dos as well as the unspoiled areas in the spectacular bay.



Each of the tourists will look forward to exploring Ha Long Bay in a different way: some first-time visitors to Halong need considerable time on an overnight trip to fully discover the bay; while some returned travelers can spend only a day visiting several places.

So, what is the purpose of your Halong trip? Are you eager to see the landmarks or seek leisure time in the world-famous natural heritage site?

  • Day Trip: If you are really into the unique rock formations and limestone caves, a full-day tour is enough to visit most of the beauty spots.
  • Overnight Cruise: In case you enjoy taking part in fabulous things to do in Halong, an overnight cruise offers great opportunities to join swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, cycling, visiting pearl farms and fishing villages, doing Tai Chi morning exercise, etc. Not to mention, an overnight tour will give you a chance to uncover some hidden islands and off-the-beaten-path areas.

Differences between a Halong Bay day trip and overnight tour

What to expect on a Halong day trip and overnight tour?


Travel Budget

Definitely, travel cost is a matter of concern to picking a day or overnight Halong Bay cruise. The more time you stay in the bay, the higher cost you will pay for your trip.

  • Day Trip: On a Halong day tour, the price usually includes lunch, entrance fee to some caves, cost of kayaking, rowing boat trip to fishing villages, etc. Normally, there is a variety of day cruises that cost 60 – 100 USD/day on average.
  • Overnight Cruise: An overnight stay will cost you much higher due to a wider range of expenses. Depending on the boat styles, sizes, materials, and standard of quality, a 2-day staying costs an average of 125 – 185 USD/night cruise in Halong Bay or more for a luxury one.


Differences Between A Day Tour and Overnight Cruise

To help you make a better decision, this part will look at the major differences between one day and two/three days stay in Halong.

Highlights of Day trip

Overall, a few hours is only enough to join a couple of activities, including cave visiting, swimming, kayaking, and sometimes cooking class on Halong Bay full-day itinerary.

  • Cave visiting

Considered one of the not-to-be-missed activities on the Halong itinerary, cave visiting will feast your eye on tremendous grottos as well as hidden lagoons endowed by Mother Nature. Generally, a day tour will take you to visit only one of Halong Bay caves in order to spend time on other activities.

  • Kayaking

To deeply explore the world-famous natural heritage site, a day excursion in Halong will give you a chance to join kayaking and swimming on pristine beaches or untouched areas. It usually takes you 1 hour to paddle slowly among the emerald water and upright rock formations.


Highlights of Overnight trip

Typically, you have two options of the itinerary to opt for, including 2 days/1 night itinerary and 3 days/2 nights itinerary. The longer you stay in Halong, the more activities will be included. Let’s see what to expect on a night cruise tour beside cave visiting and kayaking.

Things to do on Halong Bay overnight tour

Highlights of overnight Halong Bay tour

  • Sunrise watching

Only an overnight cruise offers you a great chance to behold the mesmerizing landscapes over Halong Bay at dawn. This is a must-do for all early birds to catch the sight of beautiful sunshine glowing in crystal clear water.

  • Tai Chi session

At dawn, you can take part in another highlight on board, Tai Chi – a physical exercise of the Chinese. Which is better than doing meditation in a tranquil atmosphere amidst the calm sea of Halong Bay? The refreshing air in the early morning gives a perfect retreat for your mental health and body balance.

  • Vietnamese cooking class

In the afternoon of the first day, the night cruise often holds a cooking class to teach you how to make Vietnamese traditional dishes, commonly spring rolls. You can learn step by step about the ingredients and cooking process. This kind of activity is perfect for foodaholics and those who are eager for culinary and cuisine in Vietnam.

  • Night squid fishing

Squid fishing is a uniquely common thing to do on an overnight Halong Bay tour. At night time, you can follow the instruction of the locals to go squid fishing on board. After being caught, these squids can be cooked into delicious food.

Apart from these mentioned above, you will have sufficient time to treat yourself a gentle exhilaration at the spa, have world-class dining, relax with night movies, and so on.


In a nutshell, you should consider the pros and cons of each Halong cruise length as follow:




Day Trip

  • Affordable price 
  • Efficient for those who have scanty time
  • Limited itinerary & activities
  • No chance to witness Halong at night

2D1N Cruise

  • Economical and the most popular choice
  • Only one night in the bay
  • Undiversified activities

3D2N Cruise

  • Wide range of 4- and 5-star cruises
  • Various things to do in Halong
  • In-depth experience with hidden parts
  • High cost


You may also like Halong Bay Itinerary: 1 Night or 2 Nights On Cruise Is Better?


Recommend Halong Bay Day Trip and Overnight Cruise

There is a great diversity of Halong Bay cruises with different lengths to opt for. Following are the top-rated cruise recommendations according to high quality, exclusive services, reasonable prices, and previous customers' feedback. 

(Price: per person)


Cruise line


Day trip


Jade Sails - 5*

From 99 USD/pax

L’Azalee Day Cruise - 4* From 69 USD/pax

Phoenix Day Cruise - 3*

From 59 USD/pax


Overnight cruise

Swan Cruises - 3*

From 127 USD/pax

Paloma Cruise - 4*

From 133 USD/pax

Peony Cruise - 4*

From 156 USD/pax

Ambassador Cruise - 5*

From 185 USD/pax

Mon Cheri Cruise - 5*

From 185 USD/pax


Tips to Choose the Most Suitable Halong Bay Itinerary

After getting to know about each type of Halong Bay itinerary, you should equip yourself with the following travel hacks to come to the final decision.

  • Time is the most considerable concern

All in all, the length of your stay will act on your decision directly. There are 3 options for the day tour (4 hours, 6 hours, and 8 hours) and 2 options for the overnight tour (2 days/1 night and 3 days/2 nights). You must take advantage of time efficiency to make the best choice.

Halong Bay day tour

Halong Bay day tour is best for those who have scant time

  • An overnight Halong Bay tour is highly recommended

Staying for 2 – 3 days in Ha Long Bay, you will get more in-depth experiences and greater opportunities to uncover off-the-beaten-path places. This time is sufficient enough to fully admire the spectacular landscape.

Overnight Halong Bay tour

An overnight cruise is worth trying in Halong

  • Other factors (weather, cruise categories, etc.) must be taken into account

In addition to these above factors, the weather sometimes brings out decisive effects on your travel plan. In the case of Halong's bad weather, a day trip would be an ideal choice as staying overnight in the bay is quite dangerous. Otherwise, if you are an aesthete, a Halong luxury cruise in 2 or 3 days will give you the most stunning photos as well as a superb experience on a state-of-the-art cruise ship.

>> Read more: Tips for choosing the best Halong Bay cruise in 2023


In a nutshell, Halong Bay is a must-see that everyone should spend at least one day to call on while visiting Vietnam. If you have a tight budget and limited time, a day excursion is still a great option. Or else, an overnight Halong Bay tour is always advisable to truly experience the cruise.

Whether you are on a Halong Bay day trip or an overnight cruise team, you will have a wonderful time in this mesmerizing bay. For more valuable advice, don’t hesitate to contact us at BestPrice Travel.

Nhung Dang

(Image source: Internet)

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