Travelling to Vietnam without visiting Halong Bay is a missed opportunity. The UNESCO World Heritage site, with its drowned limestone karsts is a unique landscape is a must see, not to be missed activity. Indeed, many tourists return to visit Halong Bay time and again because it is such a magical place.
The decision to visit Halong Bay in one day, or take an overnight cruise, comes down to two factors: budget and time. There are benefits to day trips, which involve approximately four hours of cruising and cruising the Bay on longer, overnight trips.
If you have limited time and a smaller budget and don’t mind long road trips, a day trip may be for you. Generally, you’ll be picked up at around 8:00 AM from your hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter or other designated meeting point, drive the 3.5 to 4 hours to Halong — with a 30 minute comfort stop — and arrive at Halong Bay at roughly noon. Lunch will be served on the boat while you cruise the islands and islets, and there may be one or two excursions — for example kayaking or a cave visit — in the afternoon. You’ll depart Halong Bay for Hanoi around 5:00 PM and arrive back in Hanoi at around 9:00 PM.
An overnight cruise is a much more leisurely affair, and allows you to see and experience more of Halong Bay, particularly if you choose the 2-Night, 3-Day option. You can enjoy a wide range of excursions, designed to give you a deeper insight into this UNESCO World Heritage site, and participate in a variety of onboard activities. Watch the sun rise over the limestone karsts while performing Thai Chi on the sun deck, take a Vietnamese cooking class, pamper yourself with a spa treatment or simply watch the sun set with a cocktail or two during happy hour. After dinner where you will dine on world class cuisine, relax with a movie or feel all the excitement of squid fishing with the locals. Staying two nights ensures that you make the most of your time in Halong Bay as your cruise ventures farther into more secluded areas of the Bay where there are fewer tourists.
If you know you don’t want to do a day trip — and most day trippers to Halong Bay wished they had spent at least one night in Halong Bay — and you are having difficulty choosing which how many nights you’d like to stay, a 1-Night, 2-Day cruise will be sufficient. A 2-Night, 3-Day cruise, which covers Halong and Bai Tu Bays is the perfect choice for a full experience of this ancient, mysterious landscape.