Coming to Halong Bay one of the world's natural heritages and also among seven natural wonders soon you will notice taking part in a Halong Bay cruise is the best way to completely explore the stunning beauty of this destination. The feeling of cruising through around 3,000 thousand islets of Halong Bay is definitely a fantastic experience to every tourist. Regardless whoever you are and how much money you have in your pocket, you still find your wishes fulfilled and your requirements met with a wide variety of Halong Bay cruises.The Halong bay cruises to grasp the unique charm of the attraction are classified into different categories, based on the quality of facilities, features of itineraries and diversity of activities.
It wasn't easy searching for the perfect cruise as the programs are all the same except the luxury of the boat... All in competitive price just hard to choose one! after all we are stupid we paid so much money for our boat, while other passenger in the same boat paid less than we are.
When you wish to book a Halong Bay cruise online, you need to be discreet as to what tour company to choose as practically all of them would require your credit card details should you want to pay by that mode. What will make you apprehensive even more is that they require your signatures on some forms they will email to you in order to make the necessary credit card.
It took a leap of faith on my part but since Columbus Travel was highly recommended in another travel website, I provided them the credit card info and my signatures to make a cruise reservation. And voila...they were honest with the transaction.
So if you're seeking for a honest and reliable cruise company, I would recommend this one.
Halong Emotion combines charm and great comfort. Launched in July 2008 ,their boats feature 28 air conditioned cabins, with private bathrooms and facilities similar to a boutique style hotel.
Founded in 2007, Halong Emotion ., Ltd mainly operates from its headquarter in Bai Chay, Halong City with the Booking Office in Hanoi
Their office is situated at : 43/43/ 91 lane/ Tran Duy Hung road, Hanoi, Vietnam
email address is :firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
The cheapest tour that I could find is from Khanh Sinh tour. Their contact is as below:-
24C Ly Quoc Su, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: (84.4) 926 1718
From Cat Ba town, we took a bus to Cat Ba National Park. At the park, we began a 9km trek through beautiful jungles and rugged terrain. With the intense heat and humidity, this became a taxing nine hour journey (including stops). During the hike, our guide pointed out several animals and a crater from the Vietnam War. We stopped for lunch in a small farming village called Viet Hai. At about six in the evening, we boarded a boat at Lan Ha Bay that took us back to Cat Ba Town.
Bring plenty of water... there is non available on the trail until you Viet Hai Village, well over halfway through the journey. Though 9km doesn't seem far, it was very taxing because of the heat and the six or seven steep ridges we had to scale.
Also, the footing in many places is very unstable, and much of the road is under water in one section. Wear shoes that provide good tracking on loose rocks, but also shoes that can survive being submerged for quite a way.
Bring bug spray and sunblock, too!
Halong Bay has an impressive variety of boats available for touring the islands. Many of these are the Chinese junk boats with the huge orange sails that resemble a dragon's wings.
The cost for a boat tour varies widely depending on the number of days for your trip, the quality of boat you book, and the number of passengers. For our trip we had about 16 passengers on a lower-end junk called the Bien Mo, that had just a few cramped rooms under the deck (in fact the rooms were so small most of us chose to sleep on the deck). The food aboard our boats was plentiful, very tasty, and included in the trip price (except for the beer). Our trip cost us about $40 per person for three days and two nights including one night in a hotel on Cat Ba Island, various tours of caves, floating villages, and a long guided hike on Cat Ba.
Other boats for group tours run as much as $200 per day, or you can just rent a private luxury boat for around $800 a day...
Most tours of the bay include a ride on a junk. You know, those iconic boats with the big sails. Some tours of the bay even include an overnight on a junk, which I highly recommend. We spent one night on the junk and wished we could have spent more. Our cabin was clean and comfortable. It was lovely being rocked to sleep on the water. And since we were on an organized tour, it was great to be able to relax at night on the top deck with other travelers, sharing stories and tips. Be aware that many of the junks have strict rules on bringing outside liquor on board (of course they don’t tell you about this rule up front). They want you to purchase their liquor and have hefty fees for bringing on your own alcohol. But when you’re docked for the night locals will row their boats up, selling snacks, cigarettes and liquor. They can’t do anything if you buy liquor and take it to your room but they’ll try and catch you if you’re drinking on deck with the other travelers. And of course their liquor is more expensive than anywhere else. Just hide the booze and keep the contraband on the down low and you’ll be fine.
Bus can be found at any travel agency who organise tour to Halong.
Normally, shared van is included in the trip to Halong. But by any reason, you just need the transfer only to Halong, try the bus of agencies leaves at 8.00 every morning ( 16 sts van ) 10 $ or go to the " Ben Xe Luong Yen " ( Luong Yen bus station ) for a local bus Hanoi / Halong - 45.000/pax ( every 1 h as I remembered ).
It is worth the experience to return to the warf at the busiest time of (mid afternoon). It is as crazy as the streets of Hanoi. There is no organization what so ever. It is an over-grown version of bumper boats. At the end your captain will just give up trying find a space near the dock and you will hopp from boat to boat until you reach the shore.
One of the key features of the junk boat cruise of Halong Bay is the open upper deck which offers the ultimate relaxation and enjoyment of the whole trip. You can lie down comfortably here and enjoy the cooling breeze and beautiful scenery while sun-tanning, reading a book, chit-chating with friends etc. Personally I find this to be one of the most enjoyable place of my trip to Vietnam, very relaxing and enjoyable :)
The junk boat which ODC Travels offer for the Halong Bay trip is spacious and the wooden architecture is very nice. Essentially, there is a deck where there are seats and tables for meals, small lounge for drinks and dancing etc (see photos). The lower deck are the rooms for us to stay overnight (see my accomodation tip) and the upper deck is an open deck for us to relax, sun-tan and enjoy the scenery (see part 3 of this tip). There are many games and books on board the junk boat for us to pass our time. Do take note that although the meals are included, additional drinks and food will cost you extra but at a minimal price.
For Halong Bay, I think it will be much easier to book a packaged trip from the many tour operators at Hanoi as it will be cheaper and hassle free to do it this way. These trips include everything ranging from land transport (mini-buses - 3 hours one way from Hanoi to Halong city, see photos), boat cruise on board a junk, accomodation (for overnight trips), food and equipment for water sports such as kayaking, snorkelling etc. It is advisable to spend at least 2-3 days at Halong Bay to have a full enjoyment of the place. The tour operator which VT members recommended me is ODC travels (see website below) and I find it to be a very good choice with friendly guide, good tranportations (see photos), food, equipment etc. Also, the total packaged cost of my 2 days trip was about US$40 which I find to be one of the best around town. See part 2 of this tip for tips on the junk boat which I took for this trip.
While in Hanoi, we chose to take a guided group bus tour to Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island. This is probably the best way to go if it's your first time in Vietnam or you are short on time. The trip was very convenient, well organized, and efficient. At times we were a little rushed, while other times we waited a little while for the group, but all-in-all a great experience.
However, if I went back to Vietnam, I would research doing this trip myself rather than taking the guided tour. You can take a train or bus to Haiphong then a ferry to Cat Ba or Halong City. There may be other options.
I felt I missed some good opportunities to learn more of the local culture by being on a tour full of westerners where the tour guides herded us along like sheep.
There are a few children who own boats and will take you around Cat Ba Harbor for a few dollars. Find one who speaks good English, and you'll have a great time and you will learn a lot. I went on a night boat trip that lasted about an hour -- it was fascinating.
He wanted to take me to a place called monkey island, but I didn't have the 2-3 hours to spare, especially after dark.
We read in the travel recommendations in tourist guides that it is better to book with a travel group your transportation to Ha Long Bay. We booked our Ha Long tour with Pacific Prince Hotel in Hanoi and we were satisfied with their service.
Only setback is the usual thing when you go with a tour bus. When you're the first to be picked up you go around all the hotels before you are off to your destination. But that's understandable and inevitable.