Halong Bay is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. This natural wonder, located in the Gulf of Tonkin, is famous for its emerald green waters, towering limestone cliffs, and picturesque islands. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Halong Bay is by taking a cruise. In this article, we will explore the best experiences you can have when you take a Halong Bay Cruise.
The Best Experiences when you take a Halong Bay Cruise
1. Spectacular Views
The first and foremost reason to take a Halong Bay Cruise is to appreciate the breathtaking views of this world heritage site. The towering limestone karsts, the crystal-clear water, and the lush green islands create a stunning landscape that will take your breath away. On board a Halong Bay Cruise, especially an overnight boat, you’ll have a 360-degree view of the surroundings when sailing through the maze of islands all day and night.
2. Exploring Caves
One of the most exciting experiences of a Halong Bay Cruise tour is exploring the magnificent caves that are hidden inside the karsts. There are many caves in Halong Bay, but the most popular ones are Thien Cung Cave, Sung Sot Cave, Trung Trang Cave, Hoa Cuong Cave and Dau Go Cave. These caves are not only beautiful, but they also have an interesting history and cultural significance. Inside the caves, you will find a variety of stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over millions of years. The caves are also illuminated with colorful lights, creating a magical atmosphere that is truly unforgettable.
3. Swimming and Kayaking
Another fantastic experience you can have when taking a Halong Bay Cruise is swimming and kayaking. The crystal-clear waters of Halong Bay are perfect for swimming, though many of the cruise ships today have onboard swimming pools. You can take a dip in the ocean or relax on the beach. Kayaking is another popular activity in Halong Bay, and it is a great way to explore the many hidden lagoons and caves that are inaccessible by larger boats. Kayaks are usually available for rent, and the cruise ship will provide all the necessary equipment.
4. Local Cuisine
Vietnamese cuisine is famous around the world for its bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and healthy dishes. When you take a Halong Bay Cruise, you will have the opportunity to try some of the best Vietnamese food, which is prepared fresh onboard. The meals are usually served family-style, and the dishes include seafood, meat, vegetables, and rice. Some cruises also serve with high-class a la carte menu from local ingredients. The local cuisine is an essential part of the Halong Bay experience, and it is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture.
5. Tai Chi Lessons
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that is known for its health benefits and stress-relieving properties. Almost every Halong Bay Cruise offers morning Tai Chi lessons on the deck of the ship, which is a great way to start your day. The lessons are usually taught by a local instructor, and they are suitable for all levels. Tai Chi is a gentle form of exercise that combines deep breathing, relaxation, and slow movements, and it is ideal to connect your body with the natural surroundings.
6. Sunset Cruise
Watching the sunset over Halong Bay is a magical experience that you will never forget. Many of the Halong Bay cruises offer sunset tours, which are timed to coincide with the sunset. The cruise ship will take you to a quiet spot where you can watch the sun slowly sinks below the horizon, painting the sky with brilliant colors. It is a perfect time to take photos, relax with a drink, and reflect on the beauty of nature.
7. Cooking Classes
Another fun experience you can have on a Halong Bay Cruise is taking a Vietnamese cooking demonstration. The cooking classes are usually held onboard, and they are taught by a local chef. You will learn how to prepare some of the most popular Vietnamese dishes, such as pho, spring rolls or banh mi. The classes are interactive, and you will have the opportunity to try your hand at cooking under the guidance of the chef. The best part is that you get to enjoy your creations as a part of your meal. This activity is a great way to learn about Vietnamese cuisine and culture while having fun.
8. Floating Village Visit
Halong Bay is also home to many traditional floating villages that are nestled among the limestone cliffs. A visit to one of these villages is an excellent time to explore the local way of life and culture. You can take a small boat to visit the village, where you will have the opportunity to interact with the locals, learn about their daily routines, and taste their delicious seafood. These fishing villages are also a nice choice to buy souvenirs, such as handmade crafts and jewelry.
9. Spa and Relaxation
After a day of exploring, you may want to relax and unwind. Plenty of Halong Bay Cruises offer onboard spas that provide various treatments, such as massages, facials, and body scrubs. The spa services are usually performed by experienced therapists using natural products. You can also relax on the sun deck, read a book, or take a nap in your cabin. The calm waters of Halong Bay and the soothing sound of the waves create the perfect ambiance for relaxation.
10. Squid Fishing
Squid fishing is a fun night activity that many Halong Bay Cruises offers to travelers after the dinner time. It requires patience, attention and a little luck, but the reward can be extremely sweet. The cruise staff will give you all the devices and tools to catch squids. If your lucky comes with some squids, you can ask the chef to cook fresh dishes and enjoy them with your friends. The best time of squid fishing in Halong Bay takes place in fall and winter, especially between October and November.
11. Cat Ba Island Biking
Various Halong Bay cruise ships include a Cat Ba Island visit on their itineraries, combining with a biking tour. Heading to Viet Hai village nestled in a valley, you will hop on bikes and ride along small paved roads through the green rain forest of Cat Ba National Park until you see the rice fields and local houses. Here meet and greet local inhabitants doing their daily work, visit their homes and the village school. It’s an exciting excursion of beautiful natural landscape and friendly and hospitable people.
12. Mini Golf Course
Yes! Play golf onboard a cruise in Halong Bay. It’s now just a modern facility that many luxury cruises like Stellar of the Seas Cruise, Elite of the Seas Cruise or Capella Cruise offer for your finest and relaxing voyage in this natural wonder. The Mini Golf Course often consists ofa driving range, a short game practice area with green and greenside bunker. Golfers can use golf equipment onboard while enjoying the stunning views of Halong Bay.
13. Live Music Night
Live music is a unique and exclusive experience that Ambassador Cruise and Paradise Elegance Cruise provide to all customers. After the dinner time, you and your friends can enjoy live music from Midnight Buzz Band at Piano Lounge from 20:30 – 23:00 (except Monday), while sipping good wines and cocktails from the Bar.
Finally, one of the most memorable experiences you can have on a Halong Bay Cruise is stargazing. The night sky over Halong Bay is incredibly clear and bright, with thousands of stars visible to the naked eye. Many of the cruise ships offer stargazing tours, where you can learn about the constellations and the myths and legends associated with them. It is great to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the universe.
In conclusion, a Halong Bay Cruise offers myriad experiences that combines natural beauty, culture, and relaxation. From exploring caves and fishing villages to kayaking and swimming, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained during the voyage. Whether you are traveling solo, with family, or friends, a Halong Bay Cruise will let youfully experience one of the most beautiful places on earth.