Once you decide to experience a Halong Bay Cruise for your vacation, you then know it’s a long and overwhelming process to choose the best cruise that’s right for you. With hundreds of choices, it takes time with some challenges; therefore, this article will offer little guidance to give you some peace of mind.
How To Choose the Best Halong Bay Cruise?
1. Decide Your Halong Bay Cruise Route
The first thing you need to consider when picking a Halong Bay Cruise is deciding where exactly you want to go and visit. Because there are in fact 3 different bays in the whole area: Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Lan Han Bay, each of which offers different itineraries to cruise along various points of interest, as well as distinct starting and ending points.
- Halong Bay: cruise inside the core area of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, always crowded
- Bai Tu Long Bay: to the Northeast of Halong Bay, similar landscapes but quieter and less lively
- Lan Ha Bay: to the South of Halong Bay, offer visits to Cat Ba Island
2. Decide Your Halong Bay Cruise Length
There are three basic types of cruise tours sailing in the three bays: day trip cruises, 2-day 1-night cruises, and 3-day 2-night cruises.
Day trips are a suitable option for those who have limited time available but still want to get a little taste of gliding through the beautiful seascapes of a World Heritage Site. You can depart from Hanoi, Halong City or Cat Ba to enjoy a half-day long cruise in the bay with lunch included.
Almost every overnight cruise offers both 2-day 1-night and 3-day 2-night itineraries. While a 2-day 1-night cruise is a more classic choice for most travelers that allows you to stay one night on board and have more time to discover the destination, the longer 3-day 2-night tour is recommended for tourists looking to relax and explore more. On the second day of the 3-day 2-night itinerary, you are transferred to a smaller boat to visit more remote areas of the bay and return to the main ship in the late afternoon.
In a nutshell, deciding the length of your cruise depends much on how long you want to stay onboard and relax, and also what your budget is. The longer stay will give you more chances to do outdoor activities and enjoy immersive experiences.
3. Choose Halong Cruise Category: Luxury or Deluxe or Budget?
Overnight cruise categories in Halong Bay are mainly divided into three types: budget, deluxe, and luxury. The differences among them usually come from onboard facilities, cabin amenities, and the quality of the food and service, which lead to the various prices. Therefore, opting for your proper cruise category is all about your budget, and remember “you get what you pay for” adage is true in this case. If your budget for this voyage is tight, a budget or 3-star cruise is your best bet. Your cabin is still great with all needed amenities. For those who have a bit more money to spend, a deluxe or luxury cruise is worth considering to splurge and enjoy an unforgettable journey in the middle of the sea.
4. Choose Your Halong Cruise Style: Modern or Traditional?
The next step is choosing the type of boat that would suit you. Today's Halong Bay Cruises mostly fall into two kinds of vessels: steel and wooden junk, with two décor styles: modern and traditional. If you favor mid-century modern and traditional Asian boats, check out some options like Orchid Premium Cruise, Heritage Cruise, Stellar Cruise, or Glory Legend Cruise. Meanwhile, most recently built vessels are made of steel with modern Western styled outfits, which gives you a feeling of floating hotels with up-to-date and fashionable decoration. To have a closer look, do some research on the cruise line websites for information about the boat, facilities, cabins, dining options, and other services.
5. Consider Cabin Amenities and Cruise Facilities
Another criterion you should take into account when selecting a Halong Bay Cruise is your cabin amenities and onboard facilities. Choose your cabin carefully with considerations about the location, size and amenities, and remember that the higher the cabin, the better. A private balcony is highly recommended to relax and enjoy the best views. If you travel on a special occasion like a honeymoon, look at Honeymoon Cruises or Private Cruises and ask your travel agent for available couple settings inside your cabin. In case you stay with your children, find a Family Cruise or Small Group Cruise that offers you connecting or adjoining cabins, as well as stuff for kids. About public facilities, think about your needs if you want a seasonal pool, a jacuzzi or even a mini golf course, then check with the operators or agents for detailed information.
6. Choose Best Time to take a Halong Bay Cruise
Although Halong Bay Cruises operate throughout the whole year, the crowds and sometimes weather factors may affect your journey. Hence, choosing the best time to cruise is a must to do when planning your cruise in Halong Bay. There are two basic periods: peak season and off-peak season. Peak season starts from November to March with cooler temperatures (15° - 23° Celsius) that makes it ideal for sightseeing and tourist activities. The prices during this interval are generally 10% higher than in the rest of the year. Off-peak season runs from April to October with higher temperatures and humidity. Long hours of sunshine each day is perfect for water activities. Cruising this time of the year guarantees the best price, but take note that August and September may suffer several storms that may cancel your tours.
In short, the best time to sail Halong is from late February to April when you can expect the ideal conditions for a fantastic cruise.
7. Select Extra Services
It is common that everything is included in a Halong Bay cruise package like food, activities, etc; however, there are also several extra services you need to pay for use onboard, for example, drinks, spa facilities, and wellness treatments. Sipping a cool cocktail while admiring the splendid views or having a massage is an excellent and relaxing way to spend an afternoon on board. Some cruise operators do not include transportation from Hanoi, so make sure you double check that. If it is excluded, you can consider options among shuttle buses, private cars, even sea-planes or helicopters. There are also hotel and cruise combination packages that offer you a night at a Hanoi or Halong hotel.
There is a variety of boat styles and sizes in Halong Bay to cater to all types of travelers that sometimes makes it a little challenging for travelers to pick the right option. These above tips will help you sort through and save time from doing some research online. If you still feel confused, please contact our Halong Bay Cruise Experts for more information and good deals.