1 Decide how long you want to go.
There are mainly three types of cruise tours operating in Halong Bay:
+ Day trip cruises
+ 2 Day – 1 Night cruises (2D1N)
+ 3 Day-2 Nights cruises (3D2N)
+ 4 Day-3 Nights cruises (4D3N)
Day trip cruises are short journeys created to give you a little taste of the feeling of navigating between forest of islands. You can book day cruises with no overnight stay departing from Hanoi, Halong City or Cat Ba.In the limit, you can do a long day trip from Hanoi with a half-day cruise in the bay, but I personally don’t see any appeal in this. It’s too rushed and there’s no point in having such a long tiring day!
Overnight cruises are more classic choices and allow some more time to relax and truly enjoy the scenery out in the water. Plus, you get to sleep on board and wake up with a gor-geee-ouuusss view! 2D1N cruises last exactly 24 hours and will suit most travelers. Longer itineraries are recommended for people looking to unwind and explore more remote areas of the bay.
2. Decide where exactly you want to go.
Although the whole area is mostly known as Halong Bay, there are in fact 3 different bays: Ha Long, Bai Tu Long and La Han Bay. They all have a similar (beautiful) landscape of limestone cliffs, idilic bays, caves and small beaches. However due to massive tourism and a stupidly high number of boats, navigating Halong Bay can be disappointing. Another point of interest is Cat Ba island. Known as the Jurassic Park island, it boasts a killer combination of lush forest, white sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs and hills. The cruise boats offer different itineraries to cruise along these points of interest. Very roughly, these can be summarised below
3.Always double check what’s included.
A common rule amongst cruise operators is that everything is included – food, activities, etc – except for the drinks. Double check that. Read carefully the itinerary proposed by each company and check the daily activities they have. Also, some companies do not include in the price the transportation from Hanoi. Make sure you ask!
4. Research the cruise boats.
This is key. You’ll notice there is a huge range of boats styles, sizes and quality standards to cater to all types of travelers. Make sure you ask which boat you’re going and do some research online before you pull your wallet. Does it look decent? How old is the boat? What are the reviews like?