Whenever you’re in Hanoi, don’t miss out to visit Halong Bay. It’s one of the UNESCO world heritage sites – and here in this post you’ll see why. Halong Bay was definitely one of my personal highlights on my trip to Vietnam! It’s super close to Hanoi, and it’s definitely a must for every traveller in Vietnam. In this blog post, I’ll tell you about my personal experience and I give you helpful tips if you’re planning to go on a boat trip through Halong Bay in Vietnam.
Halong Bay tours from Hanoi: How to book!
I opted for a two-day trip with an overnight on a boat, including food and non-alcoholic beverages. In Hanoi you will find several tour operators with offers for every budget from cruises on simple boats or the luxury version on the most sophisticated sail boats. The most popular trips are the 2 or 3 day trips. You can also book a one day trip to Halong Bay, but I wouldn’t recommend it, because the trip takes four hours by bus (one way!) and you’ll end up spending more time in the bus than at location. Futhermore, you will miss out on the overnight on the boat, which was really amazing and one of best past of the trip! At night, all day tourists are gone and the others return on their boats which are anchored silently in the bay. It was such an awesome experience to sit on deck watching the stars on a clear sky and the silhouettes of the surreal karst rocks in the sky.
As I was travelling alone, I was adverted that I had to share a double cabin with a another female person for the price of the excursion. But I was lucky, the boat wasn’t sold out, so me and another female solo traveller got our own cabin! One of the advantages if you don’t travel in high season :)
Booking a boat cruise to Halong Bay in low season
From Halong City we got on a smaller motor boat, which brought us to the actual cruise boat. By the way, almost no one on this trip got on the boat we actually booked… somehow it seems to be common pratice to change the bookings at short notice to fill up the boats in low season. Luckily, all of us got mostly an upgrade to what we had booked before, so everyone was okay with it. The weather on that day was a little bit cloudy initially, but it cleared up as soon as we drove more into the bay – and than this wonderful panorama opened up right in front of us!
The first day was packed with activities, so no worries about getting bored. We visited a cave, very big, but somehow it didn’t flash me that much, went kayaking (lots of fun) – and there even was some time left to go swimming in this wonderful turquoise water. The highlight of the day was a climb up to one of the highest viewpoints in the area. A bit exhausting, especially in the heat, but the view was worth it!
The Halong Bay is often filled with cruise boats.
Spending the night on board in Halong Bay
I have to say, I was a bit skeptical as first to spend the night with some total strangers on a tiny boat, because I’ve never done a similar cruise before. That’s why I only booked the two night trip, actually. But in the end, I was really sad, I didn’t book the extra night – because our little boat gang was really amazing. Thanks to Alex and Maria, two exceptionally well prepared British girls with a never-ending stock on good gin, we even got through the obligatory karaoke evening on board and enjoyed the rest of the evening on deck gazing into the stars over Halong Bay.
You can book tours from Hanoi to Halong Bay from almost any hotel, hostel or travel agency. Or you can book online in advance here:
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