Located 170 km northeast of Hanoi, sandwiched between two other bays, Lan Ha and Bai Tu Long, Halong bay is a well-known hub for tourists thanks to its breathtaking beauty which earned the title “One of the New 7 World Wonders of Nature”
Stretching over a massive area of nearly 1,500 sq km, Halong is like something on your wildest dream with thousands of small limestone islets “sprouting” out of emerald green water.
Every year, millions of both domestic and international visitors pay a visit to this wonder. That’s one of the reasons why people praise the charm of Halong bay as “the colorful bustling beauty”.
Introduction on Halong Day Cruise
There are so many different ways to experience the beauty and charm of Halong but a cruise trip on one of Halong’s luxurious and comfortable cruise ships is never out anyone’s recommendation list. The choice can vary from small cruise boats with 2-5 cabins that can be privately chartered for as long as you wish (usually ideal for a family, couples or a group of friends) to 1-2 night all-inclusive cruises on larger boats with a range of on-board activities and excursions. There are also day-tripper boats, including party boats.
Easy may it seem, choosing a suitable cruise is by no means a one-step simple task as you will need to consider a variety of factors, including your budget, who you travel with and what you expect from the trip. Therefore, it can be quite irritating and time-consuming for many people. However, it shouldn’t be overwhelming – especially if you follow our advice.
Tip 1: Decide on your trip duration
There are many factors that should be taken into consideration, but you should start first with the length of your cruise time.For a day trip, the cruise will be only within a day. This type is ideal for an overview of the bay or other activities to different destinations in the bay. Typically, there are 3 subtypes which are divided according to their duration:
- Short-trip: a four-hour cruise trip, also known as the half-day tour
- Long-trip: a standard six-hour cruise trip, followed by most of cruise in halong
- Extra-long-trip: a standard six-hour cruise trip plus two hour extended to visit the National Park on Cat Ba island, usually followed by cruise operated in the Lan Ha Bay area.
If your time in halong is limited, going on a half-day cruise could help you to enjoy the fantastic view of Halong while still able to follow your schedule. If you have more time in Halong and want to spend your leisure time to explore the bay, then you should go with the long trip option. If you’re a fan of active outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking, then a full day of eight-hour trip in the Lan Ha Bay is the best option.
Tip 2: Decide on your budget
After duration, the next thing you need to consider when it comes to how to choose a Halong Bay cruise is your budget. Budget here also means the level of comfort you want. Usually, cruise ships are divided into 3 ranges: Luxury, Deluxe and Economy.
Luxury: If money is no big matter for you, don’t hesitate to opt for a high-end cruise. As money comes with quality, you can expect a beautiful well-maintained boat, with spacious well-equipped and luxuriously furnished sundeck, and also the facilities and amenities of a five-star hotel.
Deluxe: In case you have a tighter budget but still want to experience good service, a deluxe cruise is the choice for you. For this range, the boats will be a little older than the high end boats, will have fewer facilities and amenities. The sundeck won’t be as spacious and the furniture might be looking less gorgeous. However, in overall, it’s still a good choice.
Economy: If you’re on a budget, then a economy cruise may be the choice. Keep in mind that to keep the cost low, the boats’ decorations, furniture and facilities are often simplified. The cabins can also be quite small and less comfortable. However, if you care more about the activities on the cruise rather than you time on board, the economy would still offer you the experience of kayaking and bamboo boat rowing just like on any other cruise.
Tip 3: Consider the cruise capacity
The number of travellers on board could highly effect the experience you have while cruising in Halong. The reason is that if you like to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Halong, then traveling on a smaller cruise which only serve a small group of customers would be a better option.
On the other hand, if you keen on making new friends and socialize with others, the bigger cruises is the one that you’re seeking for. Usually, there will be two type of cruises, the big cruises that serve about 30 to 40 people on each trip and the smaller ones that carry about 20 to 30 people. Therefore, it would be useful to check the cruise capacity before booking one to avoid any unpleasant experiences.
Tip 4: Check if transfers are included
Although it may not sound too important, checking if transfers are included or not is crucial, especially if you are traveling from Hanoi to Halong for a day.
For many cruise ships, transfer service is part of the package, so you just need to contact them and wait to be transferred to your ship. It’s convenient and you don’t have to think about calling taxi or how to get back to your hotel in Hanoi.
If your cruise doesn’t include transfer, you will have to do it yourself. It can be a little bit inconvenient as in some cases, you will need to contact the taxi company and book a taxi or a car. This will be even more challenging if the car driver can’t speak English or you need to leave for the plane in the evening. To avoid any potential inconvenience, you can use the transfer service of the local travel agency, who would support you along the trip and watch the time for you so you don’t late for your flight.
Tip 5: Check for cruise routes, destinations and excursion
One of the most important things is to check what you are going to do when you take that cruise.
Usually, you can read on the advertisement the information about the cruise including the routes that it is scheduled to go, activities on and out of the ship and excursions to places in the bay.
Most cruise ships only offers trips around Halong. However, you can also find ones that travel to the less popular Lan Ha, which will be a rather different experience.
For activities, each cruise will have a different schedule that involves aquatic sports, trekking, mountain climbing or cave exploring to different islands.
Therefore, by searching carefully in advance, you can decide which cruise would have the things that that you want to do and not end up on a cruise that doesn’t satisfy your interest. This also gives you some insight of whether you will get what you pay for.
Tip 6: Check for the cruise add-on service:
As mentioned before, this is very important while you decide which cruise to reserve. First of all is the kayak rental service. Some cruise would include this fee into their final price, while others would charge extra 5 USD to rent a kayak. Secondly, if you’re a vegetarian, you need to check in advance to see if the cruise can prepare the food for you. Lastly, if you’re traveling with kids, please read the children policy of each cruise and choose the one that has the best offers.
To sum up, these 6 tips are useful when you need to decide which day crusie you should take. To help you get the picture, we have come up with a simple table to show you how these tips is applied on some highly rated cruise in Halong. Hopes this would come in handy when you vist Halong Bay in the near future.
|Halong One Day Tour||Trip duration||Cruise Class||Cruise Capacity||Transfers Included?||Cruise Routes||Add-on service|
|1: Ha Binh Cruise||4-hour||Economy||30-40||No||Halong Bay||Yes|
|2: Genesis Cruise||4-hour||Luxury||20-30||Yes||Halong Bay||No|
|3: We go cruise||4-hour||Economy||30-40||Yes||Halong Bay||Yes|
|4: Alova Cruise||4-hour||Deluxe||30-40||Yes||Halong Bay||Yes|
|5: The Incredible Cruise||4-hour||Deluxe||30-40||Yes||Halong Bay||Yes|
|6: Wonder Bay Cruise||6-hour||Luxury||20-30||Yes||Ha Long Bay||Yes|
|7: Dragon King Cruise||6-hour||Economy||30-40||Yes||Halong Bay||Yes|
|8: Arcady Cruise||8-hour||Deluxe||20-30||Yes||Lan Ha Bay||Yes|
|9: Jade Sails Cruise||8-hour||Luxury||20-30||Yes||Lan Ha Bay||Yes|
|10: La Regina Cruise||8-hour||Luxury||20-30||Yes||Lan Ha Bay||Yes|