Ha Long Bay is a place filled with natural beauty & marvel! There are many different companies that offer lots of variations of cruise, each having unique selling points of their own.
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As mentioned above, there are a ton of different cruises & companies to choose from. We would recommend Seasun Cruises as that’s the company we booked with & the experience was fantastic! Tom & Jerry (seriously, these were their nicknames) we our amazing tour guides/crew! We sadly can’t remember the name of the lady who taught our Tai Chi class & cooked the food but she was brilliant too! Most hostels in Hanoi will have brochures for Ha Long Bay for you to peruse & there are hundreds of different companies on offer.
Types of Cruise:
Cruises vary with each company but most will do similar activities/visit similar places within Ha Long Bay. There are two main types of cruise to choose from; Relaxing or Party! Relaxing is just the standard trip which can include drinking & games if your group fancies it. Party is a lot of the same features but with non-negotiable partying thrown in for good measure. We’d done a lot of partying so went for the Relaxing Cruise which was good as the weather wasn’t the best! Luxury or Budget are on offer too.
You can choose to do a 2 day, 1 night cruise, 3 day, 2 night or even just a 1 full day trip to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. Prices of course go up a lot depending on how long you want to be there for. We recommend doing a 3 day, 2 night cruise as we only did 1 night due to COVID restrictions and it wasn’t long enough! Typically the longer cruises will visit one of the many beautiful islands in Ha Long Bay, such as Cat Ba or Titop Islands. Staying on one of the islands is possible but adds a ton on to the cost so bear that in mind!
What You’ll Do:
Once again, this varies with which cruise package you pick! Most cruises cover similar things though, so don’t fret! We’ve put together a list below of all the attractions on offer!
Titop Island –
A gorgeous little tropical island in Ha Long Bay dedicated to Titop, who was somewhat of a Russian hero to the Vietnamese from what we were told. There’s a few great beaches on offer here should the weather co-operate. The best part of the island though is the viewpoint at the top of some daunting stairs. The steps are fairly steep and there’s about 300 of them so prepare yourself before tackling them. It’s so worth it however, there’s a fantastic 360 view of the bay waiting for you at the top!
The Amazing Cave –
A huge cave located within an unnamed island. Beaches are on the island of course but they aren’t the main attraction here. Instead, the attractive is the huge cave itself. It’s absolutely huge, airy and filled with loads of interesting shaped rocks; one that looks like a dick, one that looks like King Kong and another that resembles a crocodile. We’re not sure whether these were natural or man made but they’re pretty impressive nonetheless. Winding through the cave, you’ll be told interesting stories about your surroundings by your tour guide so make sure to pay attention! Another stunning viewpoint awaits you at the end of the cave so be sure to get some great shots there!
The Pearl Farm –
Interesting if not a little barbaric to say the least. A structure built on the water that keeps and tampers with oysters to enable them to produce pearls quicker than they normally would. There is some beautiful Pearl jewellery on offer but it’s fairly expensive & seemed a little cruel given what we’d seen prior to going to the shop so we didn’t buy any. That isn’t stopping you from doing so though! The whole experience at the pearl farm was different and unusual as we said above, very insightful into a lucrative business for Ha Long Bay.
So much fun, we just wish we had more time to explore in the Kayak! Bear in mind that some of the trips don’t include Kayaking so if you’re keen to do this, make sure your package includes it! It is a total blast though and we can imagine even better with great weather. Our cruise paired the Kayaking with the pearl farm which has a little boat station attached to it. Time on the water is fairly short at just 45 mins but it is enough time to have loads of fun! We’re certain on the longer package cruises, there’ll be other Kayaking sites too so have a look around!
Cooking Class –
We’re sure this doesn’t happen on the Party Cruise but we could be wrong. A cute hour long cooking class in which you make Fresh Spring Rolls (not deep fried which was actually quite refreshing). They were super tasty and simple to make but there was a technique to getting it right! Matt had the better looking (and somehow tasting) Spring Rolls isn’t surprising as he’s the neater one of us two! You also get to mix your own Vietnamese Dipping Sauce which smelled amazing but we luckily found out before trying it that it had fish sauce in which as veggies we didn’t eat. We would definitely recommend finding a cruise with a course (and doing cooking classes all over Vietnam for that matter)!
Tai Chi –
Tai Chi was a great way to wake up on our second and last day on the cruise! If you’ve never tried Tai Chi (we hadn’t) and you like Yoga, you should definitely give it a go! It seems like a combo of Yoga & Meditation and a great way to focus a clouded mind. The one drawback with the class was the horrific start time of 5:45am (we could’ve thrown up when we found out). We’ve been practising the art of Tai Chi again recently and we encourage you to try it!
Squid Fishing –
A great way to unwind after a day full of activities, this is another one that may not happen on certain cruises. The lure was special & didn’t harm the squid (not a metal hook), not that we actually caught one anyway! We could see all of the glowing plankton underneath the boat as the fishing is done in the evening and let us tell you, it was beautiful! Fishing starts at 9pm and goes on until the last person gives up. To be honest, we think it was mainly just a way for everyone to get to know each other and share stories! You’ll be on the cruise anyway so why not give it a go?
You won’t get this on a party cruise (two friends said they were permanently drinking/hungover on their one) but you could try! There is just nothing like the sea air spraying you as you cruise along the beautiful Ha Long Bay! The trip was a great (and pretty costly) way to recharge our batteries after a month of travelling at that point. If you have a hectic schedule in your travels before or after Ha Long Bay (and some money to spare) you will not find anything more chill.
The Food –
One of the main reasons we recommend Sunsea Cruises so strongly is because of the food. It was out of this world! We’re both veggies so didn’t eat any of the meat or fish on the table but we heard from our cruise mates that the fish was some of the best they’d ever eaten. The only negative thing we have to say about the food was that there was just way too much of it for any group to get through! At least we didn’t go hungry the whole trip though!
How to Get There:
Most hostels advertise trips to Ha Long Bay and the packages all include transit from Hanoi to the Bay. It’s a 2-3 hour bus ride from Hanoi to get there, with a stop over in a pottery/sculpture workshop. This in itself is a bit strange but cool and offers you a chance to get some food or snacks if you feel the need.
How Much Does it Cost?
Dependent on the cruise you go for, you could pay anywhere from £50-£200 per person from what we saw. Our cruise (2 days, 1 night) worked out at £95 for both of us as the company discounted it due to the Coronavirus causing disruptions at the time. Drinks on the boat are included on some party & relaxing cruises but mostly the luxury ones which cost a ton. If you’re buying drinks on the boat, these are pretty pricey too, so don’t go too hard! Do your research before you book & ask the staff at your hostel, they’re normally happy to help!
We really hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to Ha Long Bay and you’ve found the info useful! If you’ve been to Ha Long Bay and found that anything differed majorly on your trip, please leave us a comment! We’re always interested in hearing travel stories!
As always, Stay Safe & Much Love,
Matt & Mik
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