We went to Halong Bay in the last week of August which is ideally not the best time to cruise this World Heritage site. We were a bit apprehensive that our trip would be spoiled by days of rain, but we went for it anyway.
And yes, as expected, we had a day and a night of rain-- but not even lightning and thundershowers could stop us from enjoying this must see sight in Vietnam.
Booking A Halong Bay Tour
Halong Bay is North Vietnam’s most popular attraction (or is it Uncle Ho’s monument, I wonder?), so every travel agency in Ha Noi will practically have Halong Bay tours slapped all over you the moment you enter their doors.
That is the good news.
The bad news is that these tours range from really cra*** to luxurious. So if you want to enjoy your trip, it’s good to know the reputation of the travel agency you’re booking your tour with.
We were lucky enough to book with Exotissimo Travel – (we’ve used them a few times since then and I’d say they’re the best!). They’re a little bit pricey but the service is also top-notch, so we were v.v. happy.
Other good travel agencies are Buffalo Tours (about the same price as Exotissimo – we didn’t have a good experience with them in one tour, so I don’t recommend them –although Bill & Hillary Clinton might) and Kangaroo Tours (high end budget).
Number Of Days To Cruise Halong Bay
Most tours on offer are for 1 night and 2 days – which I think is just enough to be amazed at the Bay’s wonders and yet still long for more (which is always good).
We did a 2 nights 3 days tour and when we booked it, we thought we might end up becoming so bored after seeing the same mound of limestone cliffs for 3 days! Nothing could be farther from the truth. Halong Bay is just so beautiful and the seafood we were served so delicious, it was actually very very relaxing and fun ( and I’m not even the cruise travel type of person).
But that’s not what made it great! You see, since most people take the 1night 2days tour, there was no one else on board on the first day & night except us (and the crew, of course!).. It was like having our own private boat!
Note: There are also Halong Bay one day tours, but I do not recommend it. Everyone I know who have done this say Halong Bay is so overrated! Well, maybe it is, but I attribute their opinions to the circumstances they were in. Imagine being very hot in a cramp boat (where most day tourists are) – I don’t think you’ll appreciate the view at all.
The Best Way To Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam
The only way to cruise Halong Bay is by traditional Junk boat!
So shame on those who’ve started a luxury(?) cruise ship on the Bay.
If you want to explore Halong by junk boat, be forewarned that some travel agency will offer Emeraude Cruises (maybe they get more commission), the moment you say you want a Halong Bay tour. Always say you want to travel on a traditional junk boat.
Note: Emeraude Cruises is much like any big cruise line. And I think it's a bit too out of place.