An overnight cruise on the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay, an archipelago of thousands of rock and island formations, is a top bucket list item for plenty of travellers on the Vietnam tour packages. Rather than book a traditional junk boat for a day-trip, many tourists are staying out overnight for the more relaxed and exciting adventure. The quality of the boats can differ significantly in relation to itineraries, service and cleanliness, so it is essential to use the services of a well-regarded Vietnam travel company.
Overnight vs. day-trip
The cruise ship's itinerary can help with making this choice. For the day-trip, the time on the bay exploring the emerald waters and rock formations is easily limited to a 4, 6 or 8 hour cruise. Also, the type of vessel will vary with the different cruise options. The more luxurious ships are less used for the single day trip; also swimming and kayaking is often left until later in the day when the ships put down anchor.
Cruise ships can vary in relation to amenities and condition. The best overnight cruise is organized by booking via a well-respected private operator or through a particular ship. On the multi-day cruise, there are more options in relation to level of service, amenities, and vessels. This type of cruise is still available for all budgets, from basic and inexpensive to luxury and high-cost. Plus, there is more time and opportunities for water-based activities, such as piloting a bamboo boat, swimming, or kayaking. But, beach going and swimming is strictly a summer activity.
How Much Time?
A notable difference with the different cruises in Halong Bay is the total amount of time spent in the water. For the short day-trips with a 4-hour cruise, this will cost a lot less, but the vessel isn’t likely to travel far and tourists will only see the most traffic-heavy parts of Halong Bay. Plus, there is no guarantee of seeing the bay's caves.
But, the overnight cruise gives a lot more freedom to explore further out into the emerald waters of Halong Bay, while also getting the time to visit the Vietnamese fishing villages and take in the many caves. The extra time is also great for those that love to relax in the sun, and relish the opportunity to spend more time among the rock formations.
For the overnight Halong cruise, the most luxurious accommodation and better service come from the ships with fewer cabins. But, this is likely to be the most expensive option. Make sure to check the vessel description and itinerary before confirming a booking to ensure it matches the specific needs. Booking ahead is a practical decision. By booking ahead, it is possible to get an idea of the number of passengers on board, the itinerary, and activates. Alternatively, the traveller that simply goes with a random overnight cruise that is waiting at the pier, there is the risk of being on a packed boat that doesn’t match the specific needs.