It’s absolutely no coincidence that Halong Bay was granted its title “One of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World”. The famous Vietnamese attraction amazes visitors not only because of its heavenly natural beauty, but also of its geological, historical, and archeological values.
One of the most frequently asked questions by tourists is: “How many days in Ha Long Bay do I actually need?”
However, we can’t tell if there is a right or wrong answer for such question, as personal preferences like budget, time and personal circumstances can wildly differ among people. How many days you need to spend in Halong Bay is therefore highly subjective.
To give you a more objective perspective, we have taken multiple advice from different travel bloggers on this topic. Take notes on any factor that matters to you, from then you can decide what type of cruise fits you the most!
We asked them these questions in order to find the best solution for most scenarios, while identifying the pros and cons of each cruise type:
- Do you think that it is enough to go on a ‘2 Days 1 Night’ cruise?
- If not, how does ‘3 Days 2 Nights’ make any difference? Is the third day worth the extra budget?
Now, let’s see what they have to share:
How Many Days in Halong Bay Is Enough? – “I Chose 3!”, Shared Bruno From Geeky Explorer
Cruising in Halong Bay twice, and having tried both 2D1N and 3D2N options, here’s what Bruno concluded:
“A 3 Days 2 Nights option, technically a total of 48 hours in Halong Bay, usually takes you to less touristy bays, islands, and coves, with less cruise traffic and visitors. Having experienced this option, I feel the additional day allowed me to truly unwind and relax in the scenery of Halong.”
To reinforce his third-extra-day preference, he added:
“The first part of the trip was too rushed and quite frankly, felt like being herded from point A to point B all the time. If you have the budget, I’d definitely recommend going for that extra day!”
Jessica and Laurence from IndependentTravelCats
This lovely couple from the U.S. also shared their thoughts on the best cruise type to choose:
“I do think that 2 days and 1 night is enough for most visitors to Vietnam and is certainly better than a day trip or a day cruise. But we chose to do the 3 Day/2 Night cruise as we had the time and really wanted to see more of the area, and we were glad we had done so. ”
Adam from TravelsOFAdam
“Halong Bay is an especially beautiful place in Vietnam, and while you may want to spend as much time there as possible, a 2 day 1 night cruise would probably suffice for most tourists. That experience will still provide you with some beautiful moments and relaxation.”
“For those who have more time, more money, and more willingness to disconnect and enjoy nature, a third day is nice—but probably not necessary.”
Mei from MeiMeiChu
“It’s hard to advise on whether it is better to go on a 2-day or 3-day cruise as it really depends on the amount of time you have in the country, the people you are traveling with, and the cruise company.”
She continued on with her say on 2 days cruise tour:
“A 2-day tour is enough if you just want to see what Halong Bay is about. It gives a taster into Halong Bay and its famed undulating limestone karsts that are truly mesmerizing. It also stops at approximately three scenic highlights that almost every boat also stops at – a cave, beach, hills – these places are beautiful but can also get quite crowded, which unfortunately takes away the quiet serenity that makes the places truly amazing.”
“You are also mostly on the boat, except for the hour or two at each spot. The night time was something special though, as the surroundings fall silent and you chill at the sundeck dwarfed by the looming shadows of the limestone karsts.”
However, she also suggested going for the third day with the following benefits:
“The 2-day itinerary may not be enough for the adventurous nature junkie who wants to explore more of Halong Bay and its surroundings. The 3-day itinerary provides a deeper experience of Halong Bay as it stops at Cat Ba Island where you can get off the boat and do some fun nature activities like hiking, biking and swimming. This allows you to get off the beaten path a little as most tourists will opt for the 2-day tour. As the 2-day itinerary is quite packed with a long drive on the first and second day, the 3-day itinerary allows more time to relax and really immerse yourself in Halong Bay. If you have the time, extra cash, and a love for nature, the 3-day itinerary would be more suitable.”
Flo Shih From YogaWineTravel
And here’s what Flo Shih shared with us:
“When you’re deciding how much time to spend on an overnight Halong Bay cruise, there are a few factors to bear in mind. In my opinion, a 3D2N cruise is the perfect amount of time sailing through the towering karst islets scattered around Halong Bay, and gives you the opportunity to not only make the most of your time relaxing on the ship, but also visit some of the highlights in Halong Bay. These include Ti Top Island, Cua Van Floating Fishing Village, Sung Sot Cave and more.”
“When you take a closer look at the itineraries for Halong cruise trips, a 2D1N tour typically boards at noon, and disembarks at 10 or 11 AM the next morning; this means, you really only get 1 full day and 1 night. The same goes for a 3D2N cruise – the length of the tour is closer to 2 full days and 2 nights. Cruising through Halong Bay is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! My advice? Savor the journey and spend 3D2N exploring one of the “7 new natural wonders of the world”.
So there you have it, some popular and respected travel bloggers have given their take on how many days tourists should spend in Halong Bay. Let’s make a summary by making a list of the pros and cons for each option…
Halong Bay Day Trip
- Suitable for travelers with limited time but keen on visiting Halong Bay
- Day trips are offered with reasonable rates
- Offers panoramic views and brief but wonderful experience of Halong Bay
- Travelers may feel rushed due to limited cruising time, which can be as short as 4 hours
- Passengers will miss the opportunity of seeing the beauty of Halong Bay at night
- There isn’t sufficient time to explore everything in Halong Bay
Halong Bay 2-Day Cruise
- Suitable for travelers who want more time to enjoy Halong Bay
- The overnight cruise offers a trip to less touristy routes such as Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay
- Considered by many as the best way to see and experience Halong Bay
- This cruise offers more activities to make sure the time you spend in Halong Bay is worth your money
- More expensive than the Day Cruise and the rate may change depending on time of the year
- Still somewhat restricted in terms of how many Halong Bay attractions can be visited. This is when compared with the 3 days 2-night cruise
Halong Bay 3-Day 2-Night Cruise
- Ideal for those on extended vacations and who want the ultimate experience in Halong Bay
- Passengers have more time to relax and engage in different on and off board activities
- Offer more time for shopping and witness the local life in Halong and Quang Ninh
- 2-night cruises are generally more expensive than the first two options
- Some travelers may find it boring to do repeated sessions of Tai Chi and squid fishing
Key Takeaway: To explore the beauty of Halong, 2 days cruise is fairly necessary, but 3 days is the sufficient amount for the ultimate experience. 2 days in Halong Bay can only bring you to near and too-often-crowded attractions. So, if your time and budget permits, an additional day will get you to farther and untouched destinations with more activities and more time to spare!
Again, the decision of going on a 2 or 3 days cruise totally relies on your personal preference. If you have a hefty budget and lots of spare time, then why not go for a fully spectacular 3 days tour? On the other hand, you can always go for the 2-days tour if your time and money are somewhat limited.
Before we finally end this post, we’d like to share a few more commonly asked questions…
What is the best time to visit Halong Bay?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It all depends on your concept of a perfect trip. It depends on whether you’re after the best deal or the best time to come when the weather is at its finest. If you concerned about the weather, schedule your visit from September to November or from March to May. These periods are ideal for a memorable trip to Halong Bay. If you are traveling on a budget and wish to get the best possible deal, then book your trip from May to September. This is considered the off season and most cruise companies offer huge discounts on cabin accommodation. You may want to read our related post on the best time to visit Halong Bay if you wish to know more about this topic.
How long does it take from Hanoi to Halong Bay?
It will depend on the mode of transport that you’ll be using. If you are traveling in a local bus (coach), the trip could take at least 3 hours. By shuttle bus it’s at least 2.5 hours and approximately 2 hours via private car. The fastest way is to travel on board a seaplane, with the flight taking only 45 minutes. Please take a look at our previous post for more information about the travel time from Hanoi to Halong Bay.
How many days should I stay in Hanoi?
Two to three days is enough to take in all the sights and sounds of this colorful, 1000-year-old city. You’ll have ample time to see all the major attractions including the Old Quarter and North Hoan Kiem, Ngoc Son Temple, Hoa Lo Prison aka ‘The Hanoi Hilton’, Van Mieu (Temple of Literature), Vietnam Army Museum, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and the Nha Tho Cathedral. You’ll also be able to try the local coffee, catch a water puppet show, try the street food, and shop till you drop!