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Being recognized as a Natural Wonder of the World by the UNESCO, Halong Bay is one of the most tempting destinations in Vietnam for travelers who love discovering nature. One of the best ways to explore this world wonder is a cruise trip through rock islands, caves and spectacular beaches.
Normally a cruise trip lasts about 2 or 3 days. A popular itinerary of a 2 Day cruise tour starts in the morning in Hanoi where shuttle buses from your selected cruises pick you up and bring you to Halong Bay on a 3.5 to 4 hours trip. After you are on the boat and check in, lunch are served with Vietnamese specialties while the junks initiate its trip to Sung Sot Cave. This is one of the most magnificent and visited grottos in Halong Bay, where you are mesmerized by spectacular beauty of limestone in different shapes. After the visit is time spending at Titop Beach, where you have relaxing moments swimming, doing kayaking or taking a nap on its white sandbank before having dinner onboard. There are not many activities at night, with only going to the bar on sundeck, movies or music, or night fishing. The trip continues with visit to other destinations in the bay like Trong Islands or floating villages before returning to the pier and heading back to Hanoi on shuttle bus. Itineraries of a 3 day cruise trip is identical to the 2 days, except that what you do on 2nd day is moved to 3rd day, and 2nd day of the 3 day tour is for exploring Lan Ha Bay and the like on a small day boat.
There are dozens of cruises in Halong Bay, which are designed differently to serve all types and demands of travelers as well as size of the tourist groups. You can also select cruise based on their level of superiority and quality of services which can be from under $100 (Bai Tu Long Cruise, Phoenix Cruise…) to more than $300 (like Au Co Cruise or Paradise Cruise). You can easily reserve your cruise trip at any online booking website, or simply get in any agency in the Old Quarter.
Some tips for booking your cruise trip:
- The above mentioned itinerary is the most standard one - there are also variants such as Dragon Pearl Junk who takes you to visit highlighted attractions in Bai Tu Long Bay. You can choose where you want to visit by looking at the detailed itinerary of each cruise.
- It is cheaper to visit Halong Bay during the summer as it is a low season and many cruise agents often put up attractive promotions, such as free shuttle bus or discounted cabin price.
- Make sure you note with the cruise companies or agents if you are celebrating special events such as birthday or honeymoon. There will be free additional arrangement on board for you.
- Go with a trusted agents if you are booking via third party as there are many of them online. One of the frequently recommended agents on TripAdvisor and other travel forum are Cruise Halong Bay (http://www.cruisehalongbay.com/) and Halong Bay Tours (www.halongbaytours.com). Otherwise, it is advisable that you book directly on the cruise website (for example: www.halongglorycruise.com). Please also keep in mind that some website appear to be official but they just have a faux domain name and it is not a good choice to go with the fake ones.
Some official website for you to take note of:
Indochina Junks (for Dragon Pearl, Red Dragon, Prince/ Princess junk): www.indochina-junk.com/
Paradise Cruise (for Paradise luxury, Paradise privilege, Paradise peak): www.paradisecruises.vn
Indochina Sails (for Indochina Sails and Valentine Junk): www.indochinasails.com
Pelican Cruise (for Image Halong Cruise, Pelican Cruise): www.pelicancruise.com/