A cruise on Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a highlight of northern Vietnam for many travelers. While it’s possible to see the bay on a day trip, two days (and an overnight on a boat) lets you experience the exquisite scenery at a more leisurely pace. Here’s what to expect from two days in Halong Bay.
Day 1: Caves and Climbs
Morning: Most visitors on a 2-day cruise through Halong Bay begin the day with a scenic drive through the Red River Delta between Hanoi and the town of Halong, where boats depart for the bay. Board your vessel in time for lunch and a safety briefing before you set sail.
Afternoon: Many of Halong Bay’s most famous sights can be seen on this first afternoon sailing into the sea of karsts (islandlike limestone formations). Depending on your itinerary, you might hop off to explore Tien Ong, Bo Nau, or Surprise Caves; visit the small Ba Hang fishing village; or climb to the top of Titov Island for a panoramic view of the bay.
Night: Day trippers miss out on something special—a sunset on Halong Bay followed by dinner out on the water. Most boats offer a seated dinner with a fixed menu, followed by nighttime squid fishing on deck. Let the gentle rocking of the boat lull you to sleep in preparation for another day of exploring.
Day 2: Active Adventure
Morning: Arise early to watch a sunrise over the karsts of the bay, and get your blood flowing with a session of morning tai chi or yoga on the sundeck of your ship. After a light breakfast, get off at Luon Cave for an excursion by woven boat, or grab a paddle to kayak through the interior of the cave.
Afternoon: Passengers on 2-day cruises often head back to the passenger port at Tuan Chau Village by early afternoon to begin the drive back to Hanoi. Those on 2-night itineraries will have more time to explore the bay, at sites such as the Tung Sau Pearl Farm or Cua Van floating village.
Night: Depending on the length of your cruise, you might have another night aboard your ship, watching movies, fishing for squid, lying on deck beneath the stars, or relaxing in your cabin before disembarking the next morning.