1. About Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is the center of a larger zone including Bai Tu Long to the northeast and Cat Ba islands to the southwest. It was recognized as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1994 and listed in the New 7 Wonders in 2012.
Ha Long Bay is located in the north east of Hanoi, about 3.5 hours from the capital city. Convenient transportation and modern road infrastructure make it easier to reach the Bay.
The Bay is constituted by thousands of grottos and islets, which are well connected by emerald body of water and 120km of coastline. The specific area considered UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site alone is cornered by CốngTây Island to the east, Đầu Gỗ Island to the west and Ba Hầm Lake to the south. Most cruise trips will take you for a ride within this complex, visiting the most important sights such as Surprise Cave, Titop Island, Bai Tu Long Bay and several floating villages.
The most common way to reach Ha Long Bay is by road, with Hanoi being the most popular starting point. Currently there is no tourist train line connecting Ha Long Bay with Hanoi as yet. One can also choose to book the helicopter service, which will reach the Bay in less than 2 hours.
Some famous cruise vessels also sail their way from the North directly to the port nearby but one still need to be transferred by tender or smaller junk in order to visit the Bay.
What to see in Ha Long:
First of all, be sure to include Sung Sot (Surprise Grotto), the mothers of all majestic caves in your itinerary. It is regarded as an epitome of karst caves in Ha Long Bay and an Opera Theatre, with 3 main chambers that promise to take your breath away. Other visit-worthy caves are Dau Go, Bo Nau and Trinh Nu.
Whether or not you are intimidated by the inevitable crowd of tourists in those caves, Bai Tu Long Bay is absolutely not to be missed. The complex, which occupies three-quarters of the Ha Long Bay area, is less known, but it doesn’t pale in comparison with nearby attractions. It’s not easy to find a place so packed full of aesthetic beauty, biodiversity, and culture as Bai Tu Long Bay. You won’t be disappointed with stone mountains, long sandy beach, corals, forests, and fewer tourists as a bonus.
Cruise trip as the best way to enjoy Ha Long
Now kick start your journey by hiring a boat cruise through the bay that will let you indulge in the breathtaking vistas of islets. There are plenty of options when it comes to cruising in Ha Long. Most cruises fall under one of the three categories: Superior Cruise, Deluxe Cruise and Luxury Cruise, with the luxury level ascending in that order. Some cruises go as far as to accommodate a 5 star resort room type on board, with diverse forms of entertainment.
Many boat cruising’s offer rewarding activities for the energetic, such as kayaking; discovering the geology, geomorphologic and biodiversity value of the bay; fishing trips; talking with people in fishing villages; coral diving; and cycling on islands
Once you’ve got your kicks from all the good things that Ha Long Bay can offer, what is a better way to call it a day than sleeping on the boat at the bay, immersing in the majestic and mysterious, inspiring and imperious nature of the calm water, the starry sky and the grand islands.
Ha Long Bay is the stuff of myths and naturally the Vietnamese have concocted one. Even when you have seen numerous beautiful caves in your life, it won’t spoil to explore the distinctive nature of Ha Long Bay and see why it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When to go
The annual temperature of Ha Long bay is 22.8 Celsius degree, suitable for tourists to travel all year round. The best time to visit is from March to August, because during this time, tourists have the chance to shoot exotic photos with blue sky and sea as smooth as mill pond. It’s cloudy and rainy in autumn and chilly in winter. Especially, the period between August and October is the typhoon season.
What to do
Trekking can be provided on these islands. The boat trips drop their guests on one of these islands where they can make a short trek up to the peak. Longer trekking trails are also available in bigger islands. Vietnam trekking tours Ha Long bay may be what you would like to do while you are cruising on Ha Long bay. These trekking tours are optional.
Rock climbing: The Karst limestone of the region came about by a unique process of erosion over thousands years of creating rock formations unlike anywhere in the world.
Cast off and journey through Ha Long Bay to Lan Ha Bay, an area of Ha Long Bay world heritage site that is lightly traveled, clean, and astounding in natural beauty. Spend the morning exploring the astonishing beauty of Lan Ha Bay - less traveled beaches, archways, and wonderful lagoons, which will no doubt leave you hungry for more discovering or at least hungry for food!
With seawater caressing two shorelines beneath massive limestone cliffs, you will have the opportunity to get close to the beauty of Lan Ha Bay as you're certified climbing outfit that brings you with safe and comfort with UIAA standardized climbing harnesses and rock climbing gear.
After a brief instruction, your guides will set up top-rope systems on a variety of different routes so that you may ascend the rock face safely and worry free. With the coaching of experienced guides, climb as high as you will like overlooking the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay and enjoy a spectacular and unique view compared to any other in the world. Or swimming and lounging may suit some...no worries...this is island life! No forced itinerary will allow you to choose your own adventure. Take it as it comes and the guides will be there to help make it happen!
Enjoy the setting sun as you sailing back to your cruise for a well-deserved evening dinner under the stars of Ha Long Bay and astounding day to remember!
Go fishing with local fishermen in Ha Long Bay will be an excellent experience. The fishing trips create the genuine feeling of being a fisherman on these waters, and make for an exciting and interesting excursion for all tourists. This activity will give you the real time of relax while discovering the magnificent beauty of Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay.
Kayaking: Ha Long Bay is one of the premier sea kayaking spots in Vietnam. Covering an area of 1500 square km with thousands of limestone islands and pillar rocks emerging from its crystalline emerald water
Ha Long Bay is a spectacular place for enjoying any sea kayaking trips that range from easily paddling on the calm water near the floating fishing villages to adventurously exploring the stalagmite caves and hidden lagoons. You will have chances to see at first hand the wildlife that you might never see before Kayaking inside limestone karst is one of the greatest excitements. Aside from the comforts, escort boats allow your efficient experience about the remote geology and untouched culture harbored within Ha Long's scattered limestone islands. With tranquil on-the-water sunsets and sunrises, you chances of wildlife sightings are good, and the eerie romance of the islands is unforgettable.
All Ha Long Bay Cruises offer short sea kayaking trip along with the cruise program. For those who are fan of sea kayaking, the multi-day kayaking tours can be arranged upon request.
2. Dietary needs
All overnight cruises will make every single effort to accommodate your special dietary needs so please is rest assured. The only thing to keep in mind is to let us know of your dietary needs at the time of booking so that the cruise kitchen team can have ample time to meet your request.
Vegetarian: as vegetarian you will be served vegetable-filled meals with legumes and grain as well. However, keep in mind that some soup, although no meat is included, still has trace of animal product in the seasoning process.
Seafood-allergic: what a pity you can’t join us tasting the wonderful fresh seafood caught from the ocean. No worry! The seafood-free meals prepared on board combining both Western and Asian style will delight you as well.
Lactose-allergic: most Vietnamese food does not contain cheese or milk so you will not have a hard time with this special need.
Gluten-free: bread is often served in the morning on board, you may just skip it and go for the eggs and rice instead.
3. Packing Tips
Most of the cases, Ha Long Bay will be a side trip from your grander voyage to Vietnam. If possible, leave your luggage with a hotel (if trusted) and bring only day pack with you to best enjoy the trip. Take into account that you will need to carry them onto the shuttle bus, then onto the deck, then from the deck back to land. The lighter you pack the better. Below are a few tips for you to pack smartly:
Travel documents: These are essential and you may be denied boarding without valid documents such as passport and visa. Please visit our section on travel documents for further information.
Clothes: You will need at least 3 set of clothes: for casual day wear, for evening wear and for swimming if you plan to do so. If you travel between May and October, it is fine to bring shorts and skirts and short sleeve shirts. For the rest of the year, bring extra sweaters since Ha Long Bay can get quite cold. In December and January for example, bring some light jackets.
Water bottle: Although the cruise will have water ready for you, some shuttle bus will not have them. Keep yourself hydrated all throughout the trip to best enjoy it.
Footwear: Sandals and walking shoes are both fine though the frequent exposure to water may make your feet wet and stinky with high capacity shoes. Sandals, on the other hand, may make you feel uncomfortable walking insides the caves or when you climb the rock to the top of some grottos.
Electronic device: Camera is another essential item on your to-pack list. Charge the battery to full before you leave Hanoi and always leave them charged when you are in the cabin. There are so many things in Ha Long Bay to capture photos of and you do not want to miss the opportunity.
Bringing the laptop or expensive device with you to Ha Long Bay may be better than leaving them at the hotel back in Hanoi. Always keep an eye on your personal belongings to minimize the risks. Unless otherwise noted, all cruises on our website are equipped with Wi-Fi facility for you to keep in touch with friends and relatives.
Others: A raincoat will be helpful in rainy summer months. The cruise will have umbrella ready but it does not hurt to bring your own. Sunglasses and sunscreen also work great for the sunbathing moments on the top deck of cruise and junks. Bring your medication if required by doctor. If you are seasickness, stock up on pills.
What not to bring: Below is what you should not bring with you on board – some are prohibited by the cruise:
- Firearms, inflammables, sharp objects
- Illegal drugs and substances
- Irons, hot plates and kitchenware
- Alcoholic beverages
- Pillows, Blankets, Towels (already provided on board)
4. Pick up/ Drop off time
You will see that the pickup and drop off time are well noted in each of the cruise itinerary. Generally speaking, most cruise trip will start at noontime, thus if you are leaving from Hanoi, you will need to depart between 8:00 and 8:30AM to meet the cruise schedule. If you book a seat on the shuttle bus provided by the cruise, you will be picked up from your hotel in this time range or asked to come to a meeting point near the Old Quarter (except for Syrena Cruise whose pick up point is near the West Lake).
The cruise trip will return to the harbor by 11 AM or 12 PM on the last day of the trip and you can expect to reach your hotel between 4:00 and 4:30PM. Day trip to Ha Long Bay will have later drop off time, at 8:00 PM approximately.
Keep in mind this time range and plan your travel accordingly. For example if you arrive at Hanoi airport at 9:30AM, it will be too late for a cruise departing on the same day. Similarly, any onward flight or train trip from Hanoi will need to be later than 7PM so that you can avoid all the hassle involved.
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