Naturally bestowed with awseome landscapes of limestone mountains scattered on emerald waters, Halong Bay is one of top tourist attractions in Asia, which we should arrange a visit at least once in our lifetime.Halong Bay Cruise, as a result, is a travel trend that gets much attention from tourists around the world. This article will get you covered with essential information to best explore this nature wonder....

Halong bay cruise overview

Just in 2 hour drive from Hanoi capital, Halong Bay is a world-famed tourist destination worth to be listed in any Vietnam travel itinerary. It covers an area of 1,553 km2 and consists of nearly 2,000 limestone islands and islets of different sizes and shapes on emerald water.Thanks to its significant geographical values and majestic natural seascapes, Halong Bay has been recognized as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage twice in 1994 and 2000. It was also voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011
Halong bay from sea planes

With the increasing interest in exploring the wild nature, numerous fleets of Halong Bay Cruise have been established to enable tourist to get a deeper approach to the bay. You will get the chance to explore every single corner of the bay as well as get involved in fascinating activities during your voyage.

Before going on a cruise, a question arises: "How to choose a halong bay cruise?" If it's your first time in Halong, you will have to take into account the different aspects concerning itineraries, boats, budgets, duration, advice and tips on board to find a cruise that fully meets your expectations.

How to choose the best Halong bay cruise

Currently, there are no less than 500 boats sailing in Halong Bay and neighbouring areas like Bai Tu Long and Lan Ha. Among this heap of cruises, it will be quite hard to choose which cruise is right for you, right? In order to help you find your perfect cruise more easily, we have prepared for you a short guide to show you how to choose a cruise in Halong Bay.Let's see what we should do to have the best Halong bay experiences....
Halong bay -Alisa

Step 1.Decide the exact bay to visit on your Halong bay cruise.

The first question to be answered is where you exactly you want to go? Halong is the first name that comes to mind for any visitors, but the area actually includes three adjacent bays : Halong bay, Bai Tu Long bay and Lan Ha bay.In general, these three bays all shared the same geographical and geomorphological features. They all have limestone pillars, karst caves and grottos, and turquoise water. However, the experience you might get when visiting the three places are different.

a. Halong Bay, the biggest bay recognized as UNESCO Natural Heritage.

This is the most well-known bay among tourists and therefore, the most crowded one. Cruises will depart from Tuan Chau Harbor or Bai Chay pier and start a voyage around the famous tourist attractions in Halong Bay. You will visit the well-known islets, caves, and beaches that appear a lot on media such as Ba Hang floating village, Fighting Cock islets, Sung Sot cave, Ti Top island, Hang Luon cave..... However, as it is the famous name among tourists, Halong is usually crowded with flocks of tourists.

Halong bay

The majority of cruise lines operate their route to Halong bay.Some outstanding names to be considered are Glory Legend Cruise, Pelican Cruise, Syrena Cruise, Paradise Cruises, Bhaya Cruises, Legend Cruises, Au Co Cruises

b. Lan Ha Bay – The hidden gem with pristine beauty

Located in the south of the Halong bay, Lan Ha bay boasts its pristine landscapes and still in less touristy state - as beautiful as Halong bay itself.Despite covering not so large an area, the bay is home to breathtaking beaches and clean sea water. Lan Ha also steals tourists’ hearts with the beautiful Cat Ba Island, where exists evergreen forests with extraordinary bio-ecological systems. Lan Ha Bay cruises normally start from Binh Pier or Beo Pier in Cat Ba. It is the perfect destination for a get-off-the-beaten-track tour.

Lan ha bay - Halong

La Regina Legend Cruise, Genenis Regal Cruise, Serinity Cruise, Era Cruise, Mon Cheri Cruise are some great names to consider in this Lan Ha bay route.

c. Bai Tu Long bay - The hideaway to enjoy tranquil landscapes.

Bai Tu Long bay is locally known as the place where baby dragons descended down and knowtowed their mother dragon ( in Halong bay).This bay locates to the northeast of Halong bay, covers a large area including Bai Tu Long national park. The bay is featured typically with endless craggy & towering islets, scattered with many white sandy beaches & floating villages, and in the early stage of tourism exploitation.When it comes to comparisions, Bai Tu Long bay truly offers the most magnificent views out of all three bays, earn itself a reputation as one of the top off – the – beaten path destinations in Vietnam.Bai Tu Long bay will be a smart choice if you expect to treasure the wild nature, appreciate the tranquility and stay away from the touristy crowd.

Bai Tu Long bay

The following cruises are typical ones operating their daily route to Bai Tu Long bay : Victory Star Cruise, Bai Tho Cruise, La Regina Royal Cruise, Indochina Junk, Dragon Legend Cruise, Emperor Cruise...

Step 2. Define your budget, the cruise's type to take.

It is important to estimate your budget for your Halong bay trip because it would entail in several steps later such as choosing the itinerary, cruise line, and personal expenses during the trip.

A trip to Halong Bay may cost you from tens of dollars for a dayboat to hundreds and thousands of dollars for a luxury overnight one. So, make sure you have well prepared the money before you go.

Most of your money will go for the cruise booking, as everything has been included already in a Halong Bay cruise package. Hence, check out the cruise's included services carefully before going.

The fleets of ships in Halong Bay are now divided into 04 main levels: Standard, Budget, Middle- Range, and High End & Private

Halong bay day cruise

a. Standard day cruise - a typical day excursion to visit Halong bay.

Standard boat is a popular cruise to visit Halong bay's attractions on day trip. The cruise is normally facilitated with a restaurant for the guess's lunch, a sundeck for sighseeing, public toilets, but no private cabin/ room for resting or sleeping.If limited time you have, it is good to visit Halong bay on this cruise.The cruise's duration is ranging from 4-6 hours up to the choice of tourists and cost only tens of dollars for a Halong bay day trip from Hanoi included with transfer, tourguide, entrance sightseeing fees, tourguide, lunch, kayaking....

b. Budget Halong bay cruise, the choice of budget travellers

It refers to standard overnight cruise to meet normal standards of visiting Halong bay & spending night on cruise.While the price is cheaper than other types, the service quality is also lower basing on the budget cost.Many backpackers tends to choose this option following a number super-cheap Halong bay tours daily operated from Hanoi ranging between 80 - 100 USD/pax/ night for a 2 day/1 night Halong bay itinerary.

Halong bay cruise- budget

c. Middle - Range 3-4 star Halong bay cruise, good cruise at affordable price

Halong Bay mid-range ship is perhaps the most chosen option for Halong bay excursion. Most of the ships see themselves as 3 – 4-star cruises with private cabins for overnight stay and English-speaking guides. The service is also superior to the budget boat, for sure, in terms of service quality, facility & experiences

The prices of mid-range cruises ranges from 110 – 140 USD/pax/night with meals and kayaking included already.

Halong Bay Regina Legend Cruise

d. High-end 5 star & private charter Halong bay cruise, luxury comfort with Halong bay

5-star Halong cruise is the perfect choice for the most discerning visitors.It is actually the luxury hotel that floating on the waters!  Here there are private rooms with expensive interiors, a spacious dining room, a beautiful sundeck, and excellent services. The activities are also more diverse, promising to offer passengers an unforgettable stay on the Bay.
Of course, it would cost more for a luxury stay. The average price for the luxury cruise is about 30 – 60 USD higher than the mid-range one for a person per night.If you would love the privacy among your family, you can charter a private cruise only for your family to share your special moment on this unique bay.
Sundeck Vicolet cruise

Step 3.Define the length of your Halong bay trip.

The next thing you need to do is to determine your schedule to see when you will start and how long you could stay. Depending on your budget and time, you can choose among 03 options: day trip, 2 days & 1 night, or 3 days & 2 nights.

a.Day Trip to visit Halong bay 

The first circuit is a good choice for those with time constraints who wish to appreciate Halong Bay even for a short period of time.The trip would last 04 to 06 hours, enabling tourists to have a quick tour around the famous landmarks of the Bay. For most of the time, you are expected to stay onboard while the ship comes across the incredible islets. Of course, the ship will stop by some famous spots for you to wander around, but the time will be limited.

b. Overnight Halong bay cruise

If you want to spend more time on the sea, choose the overnight Halong Bay cruises, which is undoubtedly ideal for relaxing and fully enjoying the marvellous landscapes. This choice is an opportunity to soak up the magic of Halong in all dimensions, day and night. Start the day before a superb sunrise in the open sea with a multitude of fantastic activities, it’s a real delight.
While the day trip is the more preferred choice for Vietnamese, foreign travelers tend to spend their night on the Bay. The price for 2D1N or 3D2N cruise might be higher but the experiences would be definitely worth it.
Halong bay kayaking
To choose between the two itineraries, 2D1N Halong Bay cruise seems to be more preferable. Most of the cruises on the same route will have quite the same itinerary, which would include all the must-do activities that every Halong cruise should have. In other words, whether you are on a 1-night or 2-night program, the activities are roughly the same. 3D2N itinerary only takes you to more destinations, honestly.

Step 4.Check the cruise's detailed itinerary.

When you have already decided the length of the trip and the bay to visit, it’s time to put the itinerary into consideration.

Firstly, sort out the cruises that you might take, then check their detailed itinerary to see what you are going to get during the tour.Reading the detailed program is important because it is not always the same between different operators. In addition, sometimes the transfer from Hanoi to the boat in Halong is not supported by the cruise company.

Halong bay view - titop

The typical cruise normally includes the significant things to do in Halong Bay such as a quick cruise through the limestone islets for the bay's view, a visit to the marvelous karst caves, a stop at the sandy beaches, a kayak ride, a tour to the pearl farm or the fishing village. Some additional activities to consider are squid-fishing, cooking class, morning Tai Chi practice, sunset party, etc.....

With this step, you will find out the cruise to meet your requirement with their activities you love to take part during the trip - important factors for Halong journey & unforgetable experiences.

Step 5.Check their reviews on tripadvisors

To this step, certain cruises have been well selected in terms of cost, itinerary, the bay you prefer.Let's do further work to find more details about your selected cruises by following the reviews about them on Tripadvisors to double-check if these cruises are as good as they are advertised.Some clients have recently done Halong bay trip & shared their actual experiences on Tripadvisors about their chosen cruises.This source of information will reveal any bad things about the cruises including about food, service quality, itinerary, price, staffs’ attitude, and so on.Here, after all, you must have known which is the best Halong Bay cruise. Now, it’s time to direct the final step to reserve the Halong Bay cruise.

Halong bay cabin

Step 6.Proceed your Halong bay cruise booking

After deciding which cruise to take, it’s time to consider the pros and cons of booking channels. You can make Halong Bay cruise booking by 03 ways: tour operator, online booking sites, and direct booking via cruise’s website.

a. Book your Halong bay cruise with a Vietnam Tour Operator - the first priority.

Tour operator is considered the best way to book a cruise, especially when you are on a Vietnam customized trip that Halong Bay is only one of your destinations. Vietnam tour operator will assist you in providing every necessary information for your trip. Not only will they book the ship for you, they also take care of transportation and other services. The price is also bargainable because travel agencies often get a lower contract rate from the cruise lines than the public rate we see online.
Booking Halong Bay cruise via travel agents or tour operator, clients will get the care from both the cruise crew and the tour operator. It is a very reliable way for those wanting to have an easy and smooth trip.
Halong bay cruise cabin

b. Online booking sites.

Another popular way is booking via online booking agents (OTA)  like booking.com, agoda.com, and tripadvisor.com.You will do the search yourself to compare the prices among the cruise, check every inclusion and exclusion, read Halong Bay cruise reviews, and finally book the tour. Once you make the booking, you will recieve the booking confirmation right to your email.
When you process the booking via online booking sites, pay serious attention to the inclusions. Many of the cruises omit some services from the packages to set a lower price to attract clients, hence there would be the hidden costs. In other words, you might need to pay extra for some optional services like kayaking or sightseeing tickets....
Halong bay swimming pool

c. Halong bay cruise's websites

Using a cruise line directly is a thinkable option.By communicating directly with the cruise's sales staff, you can check every detail carefully & get their best halong bay cruise's deals. But reality shows that it is not these cruise liners who offer a better price. On the contrary, the cost is even higher than through a tourist agency.
In summary, booking Halong Bay cruise with tour operator is the best choice that you should opt for. Excellent customer service, in-depth consultant, and smooth combination of Halong bay trip with other destinations have made Vietnam tour operator a reliable booking source to put faith in.
Meals on the cruise

Step 7.Decide the transfer to Halong bay from Hanoi

You have already selected your best Halong bay cruise, right? but whether your cruise package is included with Hanoi - Halong transfers? If not , have you known how to get there? Some available Hanoi - Halong bay transfers are seaplane, tourist shuttle bus, private car, and public bus for your choice. While you need to take the public bus yourself, the other three are available to arrange with travel agents

a. Hanoi- Halong bay by public bus.

It is the cheapest way to travel to Halong Bay. Using the public bus, you will need to go to the station to wait for the bus and then share the narrow space with lots of people. Drop-off is available at some certain points also, so you might need to take a taxi to reach Halong bay harbor.
Public bus

b. Hanoi - Halong bay by Tourist Shuttle Bus

Tourist shuttle bus from Hanoi is the most popular choice. The limousine car has soft large leather seats and spacious storage for luggage. The two most common vans are the Dcar Limousine with 07 – 09 seats and Felix Limousine with 16 seats. You will be picked up and dropped off right at your hotel.
Since September 2018, a new Halong – Hai Phong Expressway has been opened, reducing the travel time to only 2.0 hours. Most of the vans would go that way, so it takes roughly 2.5 hours to travel, including a 30-minute break at the waypoint.
Hanoi - Halong bay shuttle bus

c. Hanoi - Halong bay by private car with driver

You are travelling with your family or group of friends, you don’t want to share space with strangers, a private car is the right one. Depending on the number of members in your group, you can book a 4-seat, 7-seat, 16-seat, or even a larger car. You can decide whether to go on the new Expressway or the conventional road, also.

Hanoi - Halong bay by private car

d. Hanoi - Halong bay by Sea Plane, the fastest & awesome way to experience Halong bay

Hanoi to Halong bay by seaplane is a new experience & the fastest way to reach Halong bay operated by Hai Au Aviation.If you are looking for a remarkable way to explore Halong Bay from Hanoi, seaplane could be a life-time travel experience.It will take you 60 minutes for a seaplane flight from Hanoi to Halong Bay. Clients will get the opportunity to admire the aerial views over the Northern countryside. It also includes a 15-minute scenic flight when you can catch the bird’s eye view over the majestic limestone islands and emerald waters of Halong bay
The seaplane will land at Tuan Chau Marina, which is close to the cruise port in Ha Long Bay.You can request cruise package with Hanoi- Halong bay transfer by sea plane with Golden Holiday Travel, then have unforgetable exploration of Halong bay's beauty on seaplane & cruise together.
Halong bay by sea plane

Step 8. Pack your lugguage & ready for your life-time Halong bay cruise.

After having done all the steps above, it’s time to pack your luggage and wait for your trip. Don’t forget to bring along important items like cash, sunscreen, hat, repellent, camera, sport outfits, waterproof backpack, etc. Especially, remember to keep a positive mind and hang on a smile to get started. It’s a lifetime trip, so welcome it with the best attitude!
Halong Bay is irresistibly stunning and worth a visit. Whether you are about to have a leisure trip or just simply wanting to escape from the bustling city life, Halong Bay Cruise is definitely a should-try. Do not hesitate to go, as the beauty of nature here will make your jaw drop.
Halong bay activities

Halong bay Cruise with Golden Holiday Travel

Above are our share of 8 steps on how to select best Halong Cruise for your Halong trip of life-time experiences. Hopefully, it wiil be useful for your trip planning to Halong bay. As a local tour operator, we are pleased to support & consult any travellers doing their trips to Vietnam.If you are looking for a Halong bay cruise, in need of local support, feel free to contact us at +84.988451530 (whatsapp) or email us to goldenholidaytravel.vn@gmail.com, our travel experts will soon reply you back with useful suggestions & updated consultancy.

How to select a suitable Halong bay cruise

Need local support, please, let us know!

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