How to Choose A Halong Bay Cruise

by - September 15, 2018

The hardest part about planning trips in South East Asia? Choosing from the millions of potential possibilities. For example, oh you're going to Halong Bay? No problem, here are 500+ different cruise ships you can choose from! I mean, if I'm given more than 1 choice I need at least a year to weigh my options. This is also why I could never be The Bachelorette. 

Because we managed to research Halong Bay until our eyes bled, I thought I'd be the nice Canadian that I am and give you all the insider information before you endlessly scroll to the depths of the deep dark internet. The one thing I do love about South East Asia, is that you never have to plan in advance because there will always be availabilities. However, I think it's in your best interest to book a Halong Bay cruise in advance (1-2 weeks), just so you can secure one of the better options.

Halong Bay vs. Bai Tu Long Bay

First things first, which bay are you going to choose? Right!? Who even knew there was a second option? Well, there is, there are two main bays to choose from: Halong Bay (think party boats, booming music, more touristy, more boats) and Bai Tu Long Bay (quieter, less boats, less tourists).

We opted for Bai Tu Long Bay. Seeing as we were only going to be spending one night on board, we wanted to soak in as much of the area's zen as possible, without having a raging Tiesto glow stick party as background noise.

Only a select amount of boats are able to dock in Bai Tu Long Bay at night, which gives you the best views and a more authentic experience of the area. If you're really stressing about which bay to choose, just know they are both extremely similar and you most likely won't be able to tell the difference. The choice comes down to whether you want a quiet or lively experience of Halong.

Length of Your Cruise

Everyone will tell you that a one night cruise is enough. And even though you hum and haw over one night, just one night? They're right, one night is plenty. These cruise tours really cram everything you need to do into your 2-days-1-night experience.

So Which Cruise to Choose?

I can only speak from experience, however we couldn't have asked for a better experience on board. After some hardcore research, we ended up booking our cruise with Cristina Diamond Cruise and no question, I would do that exact cruise again. We had a great guide, some great food, met great people and took in those jaw-dropping views we were hoping for.

What to Expect...

Day 1

Pick-up from our hotel in Hanoi was key and it saved us the hassle of attempting to figure out how to make the 3 hour journey from Hanoi to Halong City ourselves. With a pretty painless journey to Halong City, we were on our boat with a welcome drink in our hands by noon. And as we cruised into the magnificent Bai Tu Long Bay we had a delicious buffet lunch. We were of course given some spare time to check into our rooms and freshen up before the days activities commenced.

That afternoon we kayaked through Vung Vieng floating village and hopped off to see the Pearl farm. One of the best ways to see the caves, lagoons and the World Heritage sights of Halong Bay itself is to kayak through it. I mean the photos speak for themselves, but really there is no better way to experience Vietnam's beauty than on the water.

Back to the boat we cleaned up and got ready for our rooftop sunset party while cruising to Cong Dong, Cong Do to anchor overnight. With a complimentary glass of wine and 360 degree views of the bay, it just couldn't get more picturesque #amirite

Now, dinner was just insane. The amount of food? An 8 course imperial feast that was at one point only available to royalty. Of course it was absolutely fantastic and not to mention delicious. After dinner, we grabbed some Halong beers from the on-board bar and relaxed on the sun deck watching the stars twinkle over the limestone islands. A couple beers deep we were ready to squid fish. Let's just say our sundresses were not helpful in the attempt to seduce a squid to our rod.

Day 2

If you're feeling up to it, sunrise Tai-Chi is offered. We, however, "slept in" until our 7:00am breakfast, before departing to the Thien Canh Son cave located in one of the towering limestone islands. A neat little cave to explore, with some fantastic views from the outside. Next to the cave is a little beach where we got to spend some time strolling about before our ship beckoned us back. Although, there is no swimming in Halong Bay because the amount jelly fish is so high, it's nice to exfoliate your feet in the sand.

Once we were back to the boat, we gathered our things from the room to check-out and headed up to the sundeck to join the onboard Chef in a mini Vietnamese spring roll DIY. Finally, to finish off our Vietnamese culinary experience we had a traditional Vietnamese family meal while docked close to the shore.

After lunch we were jetted back to the pier where it was time to say our goodbyes and get back on the bus to transfer back to Hanoi. However, we jumped off early as we were on our way to Cat Ba Island.

The Verdict

An absolutely breath taking experience that you can't miss if you're in Vietnam! This is the golden egg of the country, you'll be able to see why once you're there. If you like views on views on views on views, and enjoy cruising through extravagant scenery with a glass of wine in your hand then this is the place for you. I mean, it's the place for me, so can someone come visit me so I can go back?

Essential Information

Company:  Cristina Diamond Cruise 

Pick-Up Point: Your hotel in Hanoi

Drop-off Point: Your hotel in Hanoi

Cost: From đ 3,858,000 (about $165 USD) enjoy 1 nights 2 days of Halong Bay's beauty. Explore the limestone islands while sailing on board a mid-luxury ship. Includes all meals, activities and pick up and drop off.

If you have any questions you can also find me on Instagram at @AlyshiaTurchyn! Definitely reach out, there's nothing more I'd love than to help you plan your next meal at Benaras!

Looking for a place to stay in Ho Chi Minh City? Checkout all your accommodation options here!

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