Halong Bay is located around 144km east of Hanoi in the Gulf of Tonkin. With over 1,600 islands and islets. In ancient Vietnamese, it literally means “descending dragon”. According to the legend, when Vietnam was being attacked by northern invaders, the Jade Emperor sent the Mother Dragon (and her children) to descend to earth and help defend the country. The Vietnamese gave the name “Halong” to the place where it first appeared as a sign of gratitude.
If you visit Vietnam and you don't visit the Halong Bay, your trip to Vietnam is not complete. If you’ve never been to Halong Bay, you need to add taking cruise through Halong Bay to your bucket list! Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a good reason. It is one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen! It’s filled with giant lime stone karsts that jut out of the water in every direction for miles.
The best way to experience the bay is by a cruise. Why go on a cruise in Halong Bay? Without a cruise boat, you couldn’t reach some of the most beautiful places in Halong Bay. It allows you to not only see Halong bay from where it’s truly powerful, from the sea, but also to navigate to remote areas you’d never reach on your own.
There are mainly three types of cruise tours operating in Halong Bay:
Day trip cruises
2 Day-1 Night cruises (2D1N)
3 Day-2 Nights cruises (3D2N)
4 Day-3 Nights cruises (4D3N)
Day trip cruises are short journeys created to give you a little taste of the feeling of navigating between forest of islands. You can book day cruises with no overnight stay departing from Hanoi, Halong City or Cat Ba. In the limit, you can do a long day trip from Hanoi with a half-day cruise in the bay.
Overnight cruises are more classic choices and allow some more time to relax and truly enjoy the scenery out in the water. Plus, you get to sleep on board and wake up with a gor-geee-ouuusss view! 2D1N cruises last exactly 24 hours and will suit most travelers. Longer itineraries are recommended for people looking to unwind and explore more remote areas of the bay.
In 3D2N and 4D3N cruises, you are transferred from the main boat to a smaller one for the daily activities, returning to the main ship in the evening.
In a nutshell, how long you stay depends on how badly you need/want to relax and what your budget is. The longer you stay, the more chances you’ll have to navigate through areas far from crowds and to do more outdoor activities.
Although the whole area is mostly known as Halong Bay, there are in fact 3 different bays: Ha Long, Bai Tu Long and La Han Bay.
They all have a similar (beautiful) landscape of limestone cliffs, idilic bays, caves and small beaches. However due to massive tourism and a stupidly high number of boats, navigating Halong Bay can be disappointing.
Another point of interest is Cat Ba island. Known as the Jurassic Park island, it boasts a killer combination of lush forest, white sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs and hills.
The cruise boats offer different itineraries to cruise along these points of interest.
This is the most popular route amongst tourists, but also where you will find the most crowded areas. The water in some of the areas with more boats is oily and dirty. It will often include stops in Ti Top island and the Surprising Cave.
Lan Han Bay & Cat Ba island
Some cruise boats offers you the option of sleeping a night in a resort in Cat Ba. Good option if you wish to combine it with a stay of your own in the island for some extra nights.
Halong Bay & Bai Tu Long Bay
These itineraries combine some of the best of Halong Bay with some more remote areas in Bai Tu Long Bay. It’s more off the beaten path and usually come with a higher price tag.
We - Hanoi Cherry travel - offers all of the curises range from cheap backpack boats to five star luxury cruise ships. Have a plan to go Halong bay soon? Come here check the list and choose the right Halong bay cruise for you.