Seeing turquoise blue water with thousands of 500 million-year-old limestone island formations topped with green forests and cave formations inside them. That’s a Halong Bay Cruise!
Halong Bay is one of the worlds wonders that sure must not be missed when visiting Vietnam. As locals say “If you haven’t been to Halong Bay, you haven’t been to Vietnam”. And rightly so!
As soon as we decided to take a month traveling across Vietnam, taking a Halong Bay cruise and spending a night on the boat was something I was extremely excited about.
We got a chance to experience this particular Halong Bay tour with our Vietnamese friends „Indochina Voyages”.
They are awesome at providing visitors with personalised expereinces all over Vietnam and other SE Asia countries, that only a local would be able to show you.
Even though we usually like to plan and do everything on our own, this time I admit that we wouldn’t have managed to have such an epic trip if it weren’t for them. That’s just because it’s so hard to pick the best Halong Bay tour as there’s such a huge variety of them.
I do believe that we got to go on one of the best ones! So here’s how it all went down…
“If you haven’t been to Halong Bay, you haven’t been to Vietnam!”
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Our Halong Bay Cruise experience
We were set to have a one night tour cruising around the Halong Bay on the boat „Huong Hai Sealife”.
Normally there are options for a Halong Bay day tour and a Halong Bay cruise overnight expereince – one night or a two-night tour.
We had the middle option and felt like it was the perfect length of time. Not too shot and not too long as well.
Hanoi to Halong Bay is around a 4-hour long tips by car.
Our tour started around 12 PM. As soon as we got on the boat and had a nice welcome drink, an amazing buffet lunch was about to start.
They had everything from seafood, sushi, fresh vegetable, and fruit, to delicious cakes and drinks. Both of us are such foodies, so this was a perfect start of the trip for us.
The rooms were unbelievable comfortable and felt like a luxury hotel. Very comfy beds, a huge bubble bath, and the best part – a balcony with the best view of the Halong Bay.
The rest of the day was packed with different activities!
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First day activities
The first stop was by one of the small islands where we got to see unbelievable naturally formed caves. Every time I see something like that I can’t stop being surprised over and over again about the fact of how powerful and impressive is nature.
The next activity was beyond amazing. We got into kayaks and were able to swim up to other nearby islands and see them close by.
That’s a great way to work off our lunch and just spend some time in the middle of the clear blue water. I remember looking around and thinking how this all can even be real.
If you love kayaking, you can even get a kayak yourself and really get into this hobby.
After we returned to the main boat, we were up for a cooking class. The chef of the boat did a real cooking performance teaching us how to make Vietnamese traditional Rice cakes.
We all got to try to make them ourselves and they turned out super delicious. Another new recipe in our pockets!
After the dinner, we got a chance to try out squid fishing. I never knew how it’s done so it was another chance to learn a new skill in the middle of this fairytale place. It was such an eventful and amazing day and a good night sleep.
Next morning started with what felt like a “Vietnamese yoga” on the deck of the boat surrounded by beautiful Halong Bay sunrise. There’s no better way how to start a new day.
A bit later we got in a smaller boat that took us to see a local fisherman village. It consisted of a bunch of colorful buildings on the water where local fisherman live with their families.
It’s so surreal to even imagine how a whole life of a family can fit into a small house on the water with nothing else around.
After seeing this magic we returned to the main boat for breakfast and still had some time to lay in the sun on the deck until we returned to the coast at around 11 AM to finish our tour.
Looking back at these two days I can honestly say that this is something that everyone should experience. A day packed full of fun, cool activities and delicious food at one of the most beautiful places on earth are awesome!
How to choose a Halong Bay boat cruise?
There’s a huge variety of options with boats and offers. Most of the tours have exactly the same itinerary but the prices and service quality varies.
I’ve heard stories where people start a tour on one boat and have to move to another boat along the way. That doesn’t sound very convenient packing up your stuff and having to move.
Since there are so many options, it’s important to look up some feedback before choosing the right tour or relying on locals who can suggest you the best.
The latter is exactly what we did and we couldn’t be more happy about the experience we got.
Important conclusions during our Halong Bay Tour experience:
The truth that proves itself every time – the cheapest Halong Bay cruise package is never is the best option.
If you will buy a tour for 40 Eur and feel like you have found a deal of the century – it will turn out that some crucial parts of the trip are not included. Maybe it’s food or activities or the way to the Bay.
You will end up paying in addition for all these things that will sum up to be more expensive than an average full package tour.
Another thing is that you are risking to spend a night on the floating “shed”. Seriously!
All the boats have more or less the same route and when the dusk comes, they all stop nearby each other for the night. Then you can see how each of the boats look like. There’s all variety from swimming royal palaces all the way to wooden sheds.
We were lucky enough to come across our trusted friends “Indochina Voyages” that provided us with what felt like the best Halong Bay experience possible. That’s what truly matters, doesn’t it?
If you a looking for someone to help you out with planning your personal Vietnam itinerary, there’s no one else we’d suggest more that the guys at Indochina Voyages.
If you do choose them, make sure to mention Anete and Gita from TheTravelLeaf and you might even get some extra bonuses! 😉