How to Choose a Halong Bay Cruise

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Vietnam’s Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with postcard-perfect scenes at every turn, is best seen from the water. Whether your schedule and budget allow for a day trip or overnight tour, here are some tips to select the best Halong Bay cruise for you.
 
For Those Short on Time
If you’re in Hanoi and don’t have enough time for an overnight cruise, a day tour is your best option. It’s a long day—the ride from Hanoi to Halong city is roughly four hours each way—but once you’re on the boat, gliding through the karst islands, you can relax and take in the scenery. Most tours take place on a traditional boat called a junk; some day trips include kayaking from the boat as an additional way to enjoy the bay. If you’re already in Halong, all the better: Look for a tour that departs there so you can skip the travel time from Hanoi.
 
For Those with a Night or Two to Spare
If time isn’t an issue, opt for a 2- or 3-day cruise for more opportunities to explore the limestone caves, visit island settlements, and see floating villages. Most cruises make stops to swim, kayak, or hike and might feature locations such as Bai Tu Long Bay, Ti Top Island, Luon Cave, Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba Island, or a pearl farm.
 
For Activity Lovers
If you’re the type of traveler who needs more to do than simply enjoy the view—no matter how incredible the view is—look for a luxury cruise that comes with on-board activities such as spa treatments, Tai Chi lessons, or Vietnamese cooking classes. Some tours include these perks while others offer them for an extra fee.
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