Cruise Halong Bay Travel Guide

The Extraordinary Beauty of Halong Bay

The incredible beauty of the bay and islands has inspired poetry for centuries. The combination of water, stone and sky create an atmosphere that is other-worldly. Called the playground of the gods, water spilling over the sky and meditating mountains on moon lit nights, Halong Bay is a site worth seeing.

Bai Tho Mountain is half in the sea and half on land. Named Poem Mountain in 1468, because Emperor Le Thanh Tong was so overwhelmed by the wonderful beauty of the area, that he wrote a poem describing his experience. Later it was engraved on the side of the mountain.

The best way to enjoy all the beauty and wonder of Halong Bay is by taking a cruise around the islands and along the coast. There are many different cruises from which to choose that are comfortable, for one, two or three nights and offer delicious food.

Halong Bay in Detail

One of the top attractions of Halong Bay is Bai Tu Long Bay. It is one of the three triangular peaks of one of the World Natural Heritage sites. It is a place of wild beauty with very few tourists. There are stone mountains, long sandy beaches, caves, forests, corals and mangrove forests as well as a charming fishing village. Considered an outdoor museum with its biodiversity, aesthetic beauty and culture it also offers kayaking, fishing, coral diving, cycling and several cultural activities.

Castaway Island is another site in the Halong Bay area that shouldn’t be missed. It is on an island that is surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs with a beautiful stretch of golden sand beach. The bay looks towards rugged islands and beyond to the Gulf of Tonkin. The South China Sea can be seen in the distance. It is rarely visited by tourists and often people find they have the whole island to themselves. There are several activities offered on the island including banana boat rides, rock-climbing and wakeboarding. The view from the top of the cliffs is spectacular.

Cruises of Halong Bay may provide various itineraries. It is recommended that Sung Sot Cave be among the destinations of a cruise. It is in the UNESCO World Heritage area on Bo Hon Island. It is one of the widest grottos on Halong Bay and has thousands of stalactites that glitter and sparkle in the strategically placed light.

A very interesting cave to visit is the Virgin Cave. Hang Trinh Nu is also named the Mid Gate cave. There is a statue of a woman reclining in the cave who, according to legend, was to marry an old mandarin. She committed suicide, and her body turned to stone. The most interesting part of the cave is the two kilometres of tunnels and chambers that crisscross the island.

What to Expect on Cruise Ships of Halong Bay

There are several different choices for cruises. Most are for one, two or three nights. The cabins are air conditioned within house phones. Some suites have TVs and they have all the amenities expected in a five star hotel. Most offer kayaking and other water sports as well as massage, swimming and snorkelling in the crystal clear water of the bay. Some cruises offer on board cooking classes and foot reflexology.

There are several choices for the size and type of cabin including suites and deluxe cabins. The cruise ships have modern facilities but are designed to look like an exotic oriental junk. The all have sun decks and some rooms have private balconies. Built with mahogany wood panels and cream silk tapestry, the atmosphere of these ships is luxurious.

Dining on most cruises consists of international cuisine as well as the best local Vietnamese flavours and an excellent selection of wine. With a service staff dedicated to giving each guest the best possible experience, these cruises are something special in the world of travel.

What to take to Halong Bay

Viet Nam is warm throughout the year including the rainy season from around August to December. Lightweight clothing is usually enough with some warm clothing for the northern regions during the winter. It is respectful of the local culture to dress modestly. Shorts and halter tops are fine at the beach, but not anywhere else.

A sunhat and sunscreen, insect repellent and personal toiletries and medication are essential in Vietnam. Pack shoes or sandals that are comfortable for trekking, walking or cycling inside the caves and over the limestone cliffs. Soft luggage is recommended. Boats and trains don’t have much space, and there is an approximately 20kg limit for baggage on domestic airlines.

When taking a cruise on Halong Bay, take several bottles of water on board. A sweater may also come in handy. It gets cool on the bay at night. A deck of cards and a book to read are also recommended.

For those who need special shoes or spectacles, it is wise to bring an extra pair. If they are lost or broken, the holiday could be ruined. Cheap clothing is available in Vietnam and can be discarded before the return journey. This way, less needs to be carried from home.

Exploring Dragon Bay or Halong Bay truly deserves to be part of the World Natural Heritage. No photograph can do it justice, and a cruise on the emerald waters is the best way to experience all the region has to offer. When choosing a cruise, the cheapest option may not give the best experience. Always ask what is included in the cruise and what safety equipment they have. Reputable travel agents can get high quality cruises at lower prices.

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