Posted By : Threeland Travel / Halong Bay - Travel Tips
Any tourist planning on a holiday to Vietnam must have heard about Halong Bay boat tour, and yearns for a visit to this one-of-a-kind wonder. However, not many people knows there are actually two other nearby bays to be explored, which are Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay.
With some cruises running on these newer routes, it can be daunting to figure out which itinerary is the perfect fit. This article, therefore, is to help filter out the best 3 Halong cruise itineraries for your upcoming trip.
1. Top reasons that you should not miss any cruise trip in Halong when in Vietnam tours
To start off, there are three reasons why you must do a cruise trip on the world-acclaimed Halong Bay. One, these cruises are a complete package with accommodation, meals, transportation and activities floating on one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Second, they allow you to see Halong Bay from where it is truly powerful – the sea.
Last but not least, the cruises navigate to remote areas you could never reach on your own. Hence, it is obvious that most visitors out of the 6 million travelling to Halong per year opt for a cruise tour, and by booking a Halong cruise tour with Threeland Travel, you are secured for the one of the most memorable travelling experience in Vietnam.
2. How many Cruise duration (itineraries) are there?
Halong Bay is perfect for both a day trip and a slow-down relaxed 1-night or 2-night cruise trip. If you are short on time, you might only be able to enjoy a day cruise on Halong Bay, but be prepared for a hectic day if you are planning to travel from Hanoi. The best way to see Halong Bay is on an overnight cruise, because it allows you time to enjoy some activities, travel deeper into the quieter areas of the bay, as well as enjoy some down-time.
You can choose from either a 2 day 1 night or 3 day 2 night cruise depending on your time in Vietnam. Nevertheless, go on board for majestic and breathtaking views of thousands of islands, wind- and wave-eroded grottoes and caves, all among the emerald waters of Gulf of Tonkin.
3. Top 3 Halong cruises itineraries
As mentioned above, although the whole Gulf of Tonkin is mostly known as Halong Bay, there are also newer routes to be explored in other bays which are Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay is even the nearby Cat Ba Island. Three bays offer nearly similar beautiful landscape of limestone cliffs, idyllic bays, caves and beaches. Continue reading to see the differences between three routes, and decide the option you would like to cruise along.
Northern Vietnam’s number one tourism hub – Halong Bay is globally famous ever since its World Heritage Site designation in 1994. Located in Gulf of Tonkin in northeastern Vietnam, the legendary bay is around 3-hour driving from Hanoi. It is the must-do day trip, or overnight cruise trip after you spend some days visiting the hustle capital.
As famous as it gets, Halong Bay is often crowded with boats, big and small, navigating around thousands of islets and visiting the most popular attractions like Surprise Cave and Ti Top Island.
Despite the ethereal beauty and dramatic backdrop, cruising on Halong Bay definitely doesn’t give the castaway vibe, in fact, it is far from being an off the beaten path travelling destination. Unsurprisingly, this is the most popular routes among tourists where you will find the most crowded areas.
However, as Halong Bay is closer to mainland Vietnam than the other two, you will arrive in the bay rather quickly after boarding your boat. There is also a fierce competition between the dozens of cruise companies operating in Halong Bay, so cruise prices are cheaper and, in general, the cruises are only for one night. Thus, Halong Bay boat tour is a great choice if you have limited time or a tighter budget.
Below are some of the most popular activities that are generally included in Halong Bay itinerary: Surprise Cave and Ti Top Island are the two most popular stops along the Halong boat tour route and a part of your visit regardless of how long you stay.
To get to Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave, you will start by climbing a long set of stairs where you can stop along the way for fantastic views of the bay below. And once inside the cave you will follow the path that winds around the fantastic stalactites and stalagmites. It is a big cave that is well-lit and easy to navigate with or without a guide.
Ti Top island
On Ti Top Island, you will have time to lounge on the beach, swim in the sea, or climb to the lookout high above for the most incredible 360° views of the bay.
Me Cung (Maze) Cave is another major attraction that has a few different chambers to explore. You will get to see the beautiful Maze Lake from an opening in the cave wall and experience the interesting acoustics as you get deeper inside.
Onboard, early morning relaxing Tai Chi lesson and cooking class are organized on almost every cruise ship, as well as kayaking at Luon Cave and lake. You will have chance to kayak through a cave and into a large lake that is surrounded by massive walls and lush vegetation on all sides. There is also a brief trip to a pearl farm or floating villages to see the locals’ floating life, and on special occasions, you can even book for dinning in a cave.
If everything described above seems too touristy for you, there are other ways to explore this Gulf of Tonkin. You can pass on Halong Bay and instead choose to explore the less-crowded but also incredibly beautiful Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay.
Lan Ha Bay
One of the best-kept secrets of Vietnam are the two neighboring bays that offer the same stunning scenery as Halong Bay, but without the crowds. Bai Tu Long Bay is located to the east of Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay is to the south. If you prefer visiting more off-the-beaten-path destinations, then a cruise in Lan Ha Bay is a perfect non-touristy alternative to Halong Bay.
Lan Ha Bay hasn’t yet had the international fame of Halong Bay, but it is just as spectacular. It is also farther from the mainland which means more isolation and more authenticity. With Lan Ha Bay cruises, you will find far fewer boats, far fewer crowds, and cruise boats that offer more luxurious experience.
When relaxing on the sun deck, you will be able to contemplate the towering limestone cliffs instead of countless other boats blocking your view. An ideal itinerary to visit Lan Ha Bay is 3 days and 2 nights, since it takes most of your first day sailing south to Lan Ha Bay and most of the last day sailing north back to the pier, it would be too rushed to just have a 2 days 1 nights trip.
Dark and Bright Cave
For activities, the itinerary is likely to include exploring Bright and Dark cave, kayaking, visiting floating market or hiking/biking in Cat Ba Island. Bright and Dark cave are beautiful grottos lying on the border of Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay that can be accessed either by kayak or a local bamboo boat.
Some outdoor activities you cannot miss in this serene bay are kayaking under small caves or relaxing and swimming at the white-sandy beaches. Besides, many boats also stop at Cat Ba Island for you to hike in the national park or bicycle to a local village. Morning Tai Chi lessons and other activities are held as well, vary from cruise to cruise.
Bai Tu Long Bay
Similar to Lan Ha Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay features less-touristy attractions and clearer water in comparison with Halong Bay. The panorama scene is in front of your eyes, vast and breathtaking, plus instantly quieter. A minimum 3-day cruise is a better idea if you want to explore this hidden bay because of the much farther distance.
There are cruises that combine some of the best of Halong Bay with some more remote areas in Bai Tu Long Bay, which is more off the beaten path and as a result, come with a higher price tag. In return, you will have chance to explore the less-known gems such as Thay cave, Vung Vieng fishing village, Thien Canh Son cave or Ang Du area.
Thien Canh Son Beach
In short, longer itineraries which usually involve the two latter bays are recommended for people looking to unwind and explore more remote route areas. Therefore, it depends on how long you want to relax and what your budget is. The longer you stay, the more chance you will have to navigate through areas far from crowds and do more activities, for example, transferred from the main boat to a smaller one for daily activities and return to the main ship in the evening.
Thien Canh Son Cave
We hope you have found the best suitable cruises itinerary through this blog. It is reliable to book for Halong Bay boat tour, Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay cruise directly with Threeland Travel. For more travel tips in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, visit Threeland Travel Blog where latest travel news, guides and trends are updated daily and exclusively!