A Guide to Luxury Halong Bay Cruises in Vietnam

Halong Bay’s lush emerald waters, filled with limestone towers and thousands of islands and islets, is one of the most spectacular sights in the world. Best seen from the comfort of a luxury cruise, this UNESCO World Heritage site is an unforgettable experience.

Luxury Vietnam Cruises

Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Vietnam’s Halong Bay is bound to blow you away. The glassy waters of this ethereal bay harbours endless limestone karsts jutting out of the sea and thousands of caves, deserted islands and floating villages to explore. Feel a million miles from reality on one- to three-day cruises around this natural wonder, stopping along the way to let you take in the beauty of it all. Read on to find out all you need to know about a luxury Halong Bay Cruise.

The Best Time to Go on a Luxury Cruise in Vietnam

The best times of year to visit Halong Bay are March and April or October and November when the weather is dry and warm. However, it’s a beautiful sight almost all year around, even in the winter. The only time to avoid a luxury Halong Bay cruise is between July and September when you might get typhoons, and rain could prevent departure.

What to Expect on a Luxury Cruise in Vietnam

Just a couple of hours from Hanoi, Halong Bay is an easy addition to your Vietnam itinerary. While car transfers are one way to get there, there’s nothing more thrilling than arriving by seaplane and getting a bird’s eye view of the jagged, looming limestone cliffs that emerge from the emerald-green waters.

Naturally, an attraction so beautiful is popular with tourists and Halong Bay can fill up with boats. However, there are two ways to avoid the crowds. The first is to take a longer cruise. Two or three nights instead of one allows you to sail further away from shore to the floating fishing villages, uninhabited islands, and mysterious caves and grottos that are further afield. The second option is to depart from next door La Han Bay, which limits the number of boats in the area at one time. Three-day cruises and longer often include tours of Halong Bay and La Han Bay, as well as all the other attractions listed below.

Deserted islands

During the cruise, the junks will stop at several islands and beaches to swim, bicycle, kayak, climb or trek. Cat Ba Island is the largest of Halong Bay’s islands, boasting some of the area’s most treasured landscapes. While a lot of the middle part of town is new — thanks to a rapid surge in tourism in recent years — the rest of the island is unspoilt, wild and rugged. Here you’ll find 354 square kilometres of national park, which is home to a jungle, cascading waterfalls, rocky cliff sides, idyllic bays, sandy beaches, and small fishing villages.

Ancient caves

Many caves and grottos are found in Halong Bay. Some date back millions of years and have examples of human civilization that go back as far as 10,000 BC. During a luxury Halong Bay cruise, guides will take you around the subterranean spaces enlightening you on their history and geology.

Floating villages

Out on the water, you’ll find several floating fishing villages, an iconic sight. More than 600 people live on boats and floating homes and they provide easy access for fishermen who come and go in the early mornings collecting fresh fish to eat or sell at Bai Chay market. Among the floating villages is also Halong Bay’s pearl farm, which boats can stop at for guests to learn about the art of cultivating seawater pearls. Some cruises tour the villages by local rowing boat, while others are by kayak. You can even join local fishermen to try your luck at a catch.

On board

There’s plenty to enjoy from the comfort of your boat too. Early risers are treated to Tai Chi and yoga lessons, or simply a peaceful cup of morning coffee while soaking up the epic scenery around you. There are spas, gift shops, Jacuzzis, sunset cocktails, delicious Vietnamese cuisine and beautiful cabins on the luxury Halong Bay cruise boats too.

Luxury Cruise Itinerary 

Itineraries differ depending on how long your trip is and which port you start from. However, they all give you the chance to experience the beauty of the bays. Some will stop on islands and take you on a tour of the local villages by bike, while others will allow time for kayaking up to the traditional fishing boats or have special picnic meals on the beach.

Heritage Line has three luxurious ships that cruise Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay offering very exclusive stays for guests. Ginger is a 12-suite boat, which takes one night to explore La Han Bay, the six-suite Violet tours Halong Bay on a three-day, two-night luxury cruise, and Ylang is a 10-suite boat known for its amazing wellness experiences, which tours La Han Bay over two days. The boats are beautifully decorated in an elegant style, with private balconies, separate living areas and gorgeous bathrooms with tubs looking out over the water. Meals are equally as well considered, cooked in front of guests and with the freshest local ingredients, they are a feast for the eyes and mouths.

For longer cruises, choose Bhaya Legend, which has itineraries that last between two and four days. They take you to visit several different caves, Cong Dam Geological Park, floating villages, and swimming in secluded beaches like Trinh Nu, and the itinerary includes cooking lessons on board. This luxury Halong Bay cruise boat has fantastic service and lovely cabins, also with private balconies and ensuite bathrooms.

Bhaya can organise private charters on Halong Bay for families or friends travelling together who’d like more privacy and flexibility. Boats have between one and five cabins, come with private butlers and a completely bespoke experience. You tailor everything, from the menu choices to the activities you do.

Visit Vietnam

A trip to Halong Bay is a highlight of any Vietnam itinerary and most of our suggested tours include it. To see how it might fit into your holiday, how long to go for, or just to find out more about a luxury Halong Bay cruise, contact one of our Travel Experts on 020 3733 9378 or via the plan your trip button.

Call us on 020 3918 9367 to start planning your holiday

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