What to Expect from Your Halong Bay Travel Experience

As Vietnam’s overall tourism numbers continue to shoot upwards, Halong Bay travel is exploding in popularity as more and more people come to spend some time in the exquisite landscape.

Formed through eons of erosive force, Halong Bay’s beauty- the renowned UNESCO World Heritage site- has won a coveted place among six other Natural Wonders of the World.

What was once a place of solitude, populated only by a few floating fishing communes, is now a tourism hotspot and a highly sought-after holiday destination. Whether it’s honeymooners, adventurous travelers, nature appreciators or families enjoying a cruise together, one thing is for sure: Halong Bay travel is making headlines. Here’s what you can expect from a trip to the famous bay:

Cock islet - a symbol of Halong Bay

Cruise Options for Halong Bay Travel

Don’t be thrown by the name; Halong Bay “junk boats” offer one of the best cruising experiences in the entire region. Modelled on traditional Chinese wooden ships, the junk boat cruises come in every shape and size imaginable, with something to suit just about every budget. Budget backpackers and luxury seekers alike will have plentiful choice when it comes to finding the ideal cruising option for their Halong Bay travel experience.

Depending on visitors’ schedules, one can avail of Halong Bay day trips which are as short as a few hours, to the longer jaunts of 2-days-1-night or 3-days-2-nights. When it comes to the day trips, the shorter the cruise is the less time you’ll have to explore the bay; consequently, the day cruises tend to follow a route that stays relatively close to the main wharf so that guests can get the maximum from the allotted time (the result is a large number of cruise boats following a similar route and crowding the waters). Overnight cruises use their extended time frame to sail deeper into the bay, further away from the crowded areas, delving into some off-the-beaten-track areas.

Enjoying peaceful atmosphere of Halong Bay by cruising
Enjoying peaceful atmosphere by cruising. Source: IG @taiji1373

Activities to Spice Up Your Halong Bay Travel Experience

Taichi on the deck in the early morning mist, kayaking through coves and caves with ocean life teeming around you, rock-climbing the craggy karsts, pampering spa treatments to completely relax, or simply watching the sun rise and set as you cruise through the bay; there’s a virtually endless stream of activities for you to do, no matter what type of Halong Bay travel experience you’re looking for.

Taichi in the morning Halong Bay travel Cruise
Taichi in the morning

Must-Sees in Halong Bay

The UNESCO site offers a collection of diverse and beautiful sights at every turn.

  • The floating villages of Vung Vieng, Cua Van, and Cong Dam present a rare glimpse into the life of traditional Vietnamese fishermen living in a tiny ocean-surrounded town, and are always a highlight of the cruise itineraries. Take a ride in a little sampan, meet the locals and see their crafts, visit a local school, and have a taste of a life vastly different from your own.
  • Pristine beaches are a Halong specialty, and considering how many islands there are floating in the bay, there’s a lot of coastline waiting to be explore. Some are vast, sandy expanses, others are completely cut off from the rest of the bay- so much so that it’s common to find a surf-washed shore where the only footsteps in the sand are your own.
Halong Bay
A must-go in a travel list. Source: IG @agustinevalencia
  • Island exploring is a top activity for active and adventurous Halong Bay travelers, and there’s plenty to choose between, from mountainous national parks where you can test your trekking skills, to secluded fishing communities where you can sample some cheap, delicious seafood.
  • Then there are the Halong Bay caves, which- as well as playing an important role in the bay’s ecosystem- are great for exploring. Thien Cung Cave is known for the mythical stories that surround its past, while Dau Go Cave, the ‘Cave of Wonders,’ is named after the variety and color of its stalactites and stalagmites. Sung Sot Cave, considered the most beautiful of all caves in entire area, boasts leafy jungle foliage all around and wide open expanses within its ancient halls.
Halong Bay has many interesting floating villages
Many interesting floating villages. Source: IG @chihomap
Sung Sot Cave Halong Bay
Sung Sot Cave. Source: IG @dan_ecko
Monkey island in Halong Bay
Monkey island. Source: IG @ayaloli-co

Picking Your Dream Cruise

There are so many choices, and each line offers their own special spin on the standard Halong Bay travel experience. Pelican Cruises, for example, are a newer cruise line with a colonial French flair, while Glory Legend Cruises have a long running history of excellent customer service, and are especially attuned to their guests’ needs, and Paradise Peak Cruises is another newer line that focuses on luxury and relaxation. They’re a more exclusive line, and offer wonderful spa treatments so you can fully unwind. There’s also Paradise Luxury Cruises, who are a 5-star rated luxury line that take a less traveled route from Tuan Chau Island. Each of their boats is uniquely designed, so you can choose the one that best fits your own travel style.

Halong Bay from Bai Tho Mountain perspective
The Bay from Bai Tho Mountain perspective. Source: IG @backpackerstory

From exploration to relaxation, appreciation of the natural world and cultures to going on your own special journey – there is a time, a budget, an activity, and an adventure for every traveler. So, now the only question to really ask yourself is: when are you going to pack your bags?

Need any help planning your Halong Bay travel adventure? Get in touch with us today for advice, itineraries, and bookings.

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