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Cruises to Halong Bay

Halong Bay (Photo:Jimmy Tran/Shutterstock)
Halong Bay (Photo:Jimmy Tran/Shutterstock)

About Halong Bay

Mystical and magical, Halong Bay -- comprised of more than 1,969 uninhabited islands and rock formations -- is one of Asia's great natural wonders. Vietnamese legend has it that the archipelago came into being when a dragon fell to earth; Ha Long Bay, loosely translated, means the Bay of the Descending Dragon. Situated in the Gulf of Tonkin, Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pack your cameras and get up early as the scenery starts several hours before your ship docks, and witnessing fishing boats among the rocks at sunrise is a moment not to be missed.  

Cruise passengers have two main choices of what to do in Halong Bay. You can either explore the bay on a "junk" cruise of varying duration or make the trek to Hanoi, a three-hour drive each way. Some ships dock for more than one day, allowing you to stay in Hanoi one night or take an overnight cruise. Even if your ship doesn't do this, your port stop will be at least 12 hours to allow people enough time for longer excursions.

Halong Bay City itself is on a growth spurt. Construction cranes dot the port (known as Bai Chay), luxury hotels and resorts are on tap and the government is looking to build a beach to entice more tourism. Residents are very proud of the Bai Chay Bridge, a 3,629-foot cable-stayed bridge that changes color at night; it's a pretty sight at nighttime sail-away.

Most cruise ships tender to the port area. Near the pier, it's a 15-minute walk or so to shops, tourist markets and cafes.

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DAY 1: Tokyo

15 Night
Cruise to Halong Bay

Leaving:
Tokyo
Visiting:
Kagoshima, Xiamen ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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DAY 1: Singapore

21 Night
Cruise to Halong Bay

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Muara, Vietnam, Kota Kinabalu ...
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Cruise Line:
AIDA
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DAY 1: Singapore

18 Night
Cruise to Halong Bay

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Brunei, Kota Kinabalu ...
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Cruise Line:
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
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DAY 1: Singapore

21 Night
Cruise to Halong Bay

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Muara, Vietnam, Kota Kinabalu ...
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Cruise Line:
AIDA
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10 Night
Cruise to Halong Bay

Leaving:
Thanh Pho Ninh Binh
Visiting:
Viet Tri, Gia Thanh ...
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Cruise Line:
Pandaw River Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Halong Bay

Leaving:
Hong Kong
Visiting:
Halong Bay, Da Nang ...
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Cruise Line:
AIDA
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10 Night
Cruise to Halong Bay

Leaving:
Hong Kong
Visiting:
Halong Bay, Da Nang ...
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Cruise Line:
AIDA
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10 Night
Cruise to Halong Bay

Leaving:
Hanoi
Visiting:
Halong Bay, Viet Hai ...
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Cruise Line:
Pandaw River Cruises
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Why go to Halong Bay?

Pros:

Sail a traditional junk across an absinthe-hued bay, past ancient karst and limestone islands

Cons:

Litter and overcrowding is common at this popular destination

Bottom Line:

An extended port stop provides ample time to explore the World Heritage-listed site

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The local currency is the Vietnamese dong, but vendors and guides take U.S. dollars, euros, British pounds and other currency (anything but Laotian and Cambodian money, one guide told us). If you arrange tours in advance, your guide will tell you what currency to bring; crisp bills in $100 or $20s are preferred. ATMs are available near the port. For up-to-date currency exchange rates, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.

Language?

Vietnamese. While some people speak English in the tourist trade, it can be difficult to understand. If you want a guide, it's best to book ahead of time.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2017 Top-Rated Asia Destinations

Halong Bay Cruise Reviews

Seabourn Ovation
Knyght1
Sail Date: Jan 2020
The islands of Halong Bay are incredible. Loved seeing them. The cruise out on the junk was good and informative. I would pass on the kayak tour if you have breathing problems. If you kayak, the tour was... Read More
stormywaters
Sail Date: Nov 2019
Full day boat trip of Halong Bay with a small group of 14 on a boat which had capacity for 40 so it was roomy, intimate and a fabulous day. Booked independently with fellow cruisers on the CC website using Travel... Read More
Sun Princess
notahappytraveller
Sail Date: Sep 2019
Having been to Halong Bay before, we did not wish to pay an exorbitant amount to see something with which we were already very familiar - and, just as well we didn't! The offloading procedure for those passengers... Read More
TravelDreamer75
Sail Date: Dec 2019
I had been to Halong Bay before and took an overnight junk trip, so I had decided not to take a boat ride unless weather conditions were good. It was sprinkling a little when we docked, pretty cloudy so I decided... Read More
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