What to Expect When Cruising at the Halong Bay

A tourist enjoying beautiful beach in Ha Long Bay

Halong Bay is one of the most popular attractions in Vietnam and that is for a good reason. This scenic bay stretches to 600 square miles consisting of almost 2,000 islands. It’s divided into three main parts, namely the Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Lan Ha Bay. If you’re heading to Vietnam to cruise at the Halong Bay, here’s everything you need to know.

Sort your Visa

Getting visa on arrival at the airport of Vietnam
Getting visa on arrival at the airport of Vietnam

Before you start planning for your trip to Vietnam, the first thing that you need to do is to sort your visa. It’s surprising to know that there are many tourists that are getting turned away at the Vietnam airport every day because they don’t have the right visa. So before you get too excited to cruise at the Halong Bay, you must first get your Vietnam visa sorted.

Fortunately, you can now apply for your visa online at Evisa-vietnam.com. Using the website is very convenient. You simply have to fill out the information needed, make a payment, and submit the form. Wait for an email for your pre-approval letter and carry this with you on your trip. Before leaving, make sure you triple check all your documentation and don’t forget to carry the visa on arrival pre-approval papers and other requirements needed.

All About the Halong Bay

A tourist taking selfie on top of mountain to enjoy the great view of Halong Bay
A tourist taking selfie on top of mountain to enjoy the great view of Halong Bay

The Halong Bay comprised mainly of limestone cliffs that have created a breathtaking landscape view and other interesting cave formations. Emerald-covered limestone peaks thrust out beautifully from the water off the bay while a vast coral reef system supports an abundance of marine life underwater. The bay was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and is definitely a must-see in Vietnam.

The most common way to cruise around the Halong Bay is by a cruise vessel also known as junk. While there are various day-only cruises available, it’s highly recommended that you spend at least one night on board to fully enjoy your trip around the Halong Bay. This also allows you ample time to partake on some activities such as kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, and other water sports activities.

Highlights of Halong Bay

Sung Sot Cave in Halong Bay, Vietnam
Sung Sot Cave in Halong Bay, Vietnam

As mentioned, the Halong Bay is divided into three main parts and exploring these places should be the highlight of your cruise:

  • Central Halong Bay – this bay surrounds the ports of Hong Gai and Bai Chay where most of the vessels would stop. Here, you could explore floating villages and get a feel of how locals live by the bay. This is also where some caves are located, such as the Dau Go Cave, Thien Cung Cave, and Sung Sot Cave.
  • Lan Ha Bay – located at the southwest area of the Halong Bay, this area is home to around 400 islets and that includes the larger Cat Ba Island. There are plenty of stunning beaches in this area and provides for a great spot for swimming and caving.
  • Bai Tu Long Bay – this newly developed place at the Halong Bay is located at the northeast and about 3/4 of the area is a UNESCO site. Although the area is relatively new, there are lots of interesting attractions in the place that is definitely worth exploring. Some of the highlights are the Vung Vieng Fishing Village, Thien Canh Son cave, Tra Gioi beach, and Cong Do Island.

Choosing the Best Cruise

Boat cruising in Halong Bay in Vietnam.
Boat cruising in Halong Bay in Vietnam.

With hundreds of cruising vessels plying along the bay every day, choosing the right cruise to book can be overwhelming. So to help you with, here are some tips:

  • Decide how long you want to go on a cruise. There are mainly three types. Aside from the day cruises, there’s a 2-day, 3-day, and 4-day cruises. If your time is limited, you can opt for the day cruise, but if you want to fully enjoy the experience, book several days.
  • Decide what places you want to visit. As mentioned above, the Halong Bay is divided into three main places so you need to be able to decide which among them you will visit. That should also help you in choosing the right cruise to book.
  • Read reviews and do your research. Take advantage of the Internet to look for reputable companies that you can book for your tour of the Halong Bay. Take time to read reviews written by customers who have tried taking the cruise. That way, you will know what to expect and you can decide for yourself if it’s the right one for you.

Hopefully, these tips can help you in planning for your trip to Vietnam and booking your cruise at the Halong Bay. If you have enough time in Vietnam, you can also visit some other places, such as the beautiful city of Hanoi, which is where you will most likely land in Vietnam since the city is only a few hours away from Halong Bay.