Cruising The Halong Bay

Halong Bay is probably one of the most famous destinations among tourists in Northern Vietnam. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. According to a local legend, Halong Bay was created when gods sent a family of dragons to protect the Vietnamese. These dragons spewed out jewels which later on became the karsts, islets and islands scattered all over the bay to form a protective barrier.

images courtesy of flipnomad
Legend aside, Halong Bay attracts hordes of tourists from all over the world to marvel at this magnificent natural beauty. Day trips, overnight tours and multi day cruises can easily be arranged in Hanoi.
Prices vary depending on the length of tour, inclusion of various services such as meals, junk boat accommodation and hotel accommodation in some islands. I took an overnight tour which I booked at one of the travel agencies in Hanoi and thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

Tours include free pick up to and from your hotel in Hanoi and the transportation to Halong City where the junk boats are waiting for tourists.

The cruise usually starts at around noon. Lunch is serve on board while you enjoy the amazing view. You'll get to see the amazing karsts with different formations, some of these include Mat Quiislet, Buy Moc islet and Cap de islet.

One of the stops in the cruise is a trip to Thien Cung grotto which is said to be one of the most beautiful grottos in the area. There are quite a handful of caves and grottos that can be found in Halong Bay and various tours might go to different places.

Another stop in the cruise is a tour to a floating fishing village where you'll get to see and observe the life of locals living here. You'll also get a chance to kayak around the area on your own or with a partner.

If weather permits and if it isn't too cold, swimming may be allowed as well in some areas.

Optional stops and additional tours are available for those seeking even more, for an additional cost.

Some tourists opt to stay longer in some of the islands such as Cat Ba. A cruise to Halong Bay is definitely one of the highlights of my trip in Southeast Asia.

Here are some tips if you're planning to take a Halong Bay cruise:

1. Book in Hanoi

Book your tour once you get in Hanoi as online price catering to overseas customers tend to be expensive.

2. Shop around first

Check out the prices of various travel agencies before you decide to book. Some travel agencies tend to charge more for the same services.

3. Ask for the inclusion

Don't forget to ask for whatever is included in the price that you're gonna pay. Some tours don't include drinks while others do. Some packages include the kayak and some don't. So you better have a good discussion so you'll know what to expect.

4. Bring a dry pack

If you're carrying some gadgets or items that you don't want to get wet, I suggest you bring a dry pack or any waterproof bag.

5. Leave your luggage behind

If you're intending to go back to Hanoi after your Halong Bay cruise, you might opt to leave your luggage behind to your hostel and just carry your valuables with you so you would have the comfort and convenience of just carrying a small day pack.


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