Halong Bay Day Trip or Overnight Cruise: Complete Guide to Choose the Right One

Last updated: April 06, 2021 /14 Views

Halong Bay offers an extraordinary seascape that attracts many tourists every year. If you are wondering how long to stay in Halong, this complete guide will help you out to choose over a Halong Bay day trip or overnight tour. 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 overnight cruise in Halong Bay?

Key factors to decide on a Halong day trip or overnight cruise

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


At first hand, your travel plan will definitely affect your length of stay in Halong.

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.

In contrast, spending 2 – 3 days in Ha Long Bay is highly recommended for travelers whose time schedule 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?

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. 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 Halong Bay 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 pick a day or overnight Halong Bay cruise. The more time you stay in the bay, the higher cost you will pay for your 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 from 60 USD to 100 USD per day on average.

Meanwhile, 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, 2-day staying costs averagely 125 – 185 USD for a night cruise in Halong Bay or more for a luxury one.

Differences between a day tour and overnight cruise in Halong

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 Halong Bay day tour

Overall, a few hours is only enough to join a couple of activities, including cave visiting, swimming, kayaking, and sometimes cooking class on cruise.

  • 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 for 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 in pristine beaches or untouched areas. It usually takes you 1 hour to paddle slowly among the emerald water and upright rock formations.

Highlights of Halong Bay overnight cruise

Typically, you have two options of the itinerary to opt for: 2 days/1 night and 3 days/2 nights. The longer you stay in Halong, the more activities will be included. Let’s see what to expect on a night Halong Bay 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 the 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 movie, and so on.

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




Halong day tour

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

2D1N Halong cruise

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

3D2N Halong cruise

  • Wide range of 4- and 5-star cruises
  • Various things to do in Halong
  • In-depth experience to hidden sites
  • 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 tours with different lengths to opt for. Following are the top-rated cruise recommendations according to high quality, exclusive services, reasonable price, and previous customers' feedback. 

(Price: per person)


Cruise line

Starred range


Halong day cruise


Phoenix Day Cruise

3 stars

From 59 USD

L’Azalee Day Cruise4 starsFrom 69 USD
Estella Premium Day Cruise4 starsFrom 79 USD

Amazing Sails

4 stars

From 89 USD

Jade Sails

4 stars

From 99 USD


Halong overnight cruise

Swan Cruises

3 stars

From 127 USD

Paloma Cruise

4 stars

From 133 USD

Peony Cruise

4 stars

From 156 USD

President Cruise

5 stars

From 185 USD

Mon Cheri Cruise

5 stars

From 185 USD


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 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 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.


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 from the cruise.

Whether you are on a Halong Bay day trip or overnight Halong 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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