DAY 1: HANOI - HA LONG BAY (L,D)
7:45 – 8:30
Meet your tour guide at suggested places around Old Quarter for Ha Long Bay.
Embark at Tuan Chau habor, Ha Long city. Transferred by tender to the Viet Beauty Cruise.
Greeted by crew members followed by welcome drinks, get cruise briefing and check in cabin.
Savor lunch on board while cruise heads to center of Halong Bay.
Explore Sung Sot Cave, the biggest cave in Halong Bay which famous for its wonderful stalactites and stalagmites.
Visit Titop Island for swimming or take a short walk to the top for some overview photos of Halong Bay
Enjoy sunset while local wine and fruit is served
Attending cooking lesson to make some spring rolls by yourself.
Having dinner on board, then free relax with other choices: Squid fishing, singing karaoke, relax on sundeck….
Stay overnight on Vietbeauty Cruise in the middle of Halong Bay
DAY 2: HA LONG BAY – HANOI (B,BRUNCH)
Start your morning with the Tai Chi class up in sundeck
Enjoy a new day with complimentary tea and coffee served for light breakfast on board
Visit Me Cung Cave (Maze Cave) with layers of fossillized shells which present the history formation of Halong Bay.
Stop by Pearl Farm to study the culture pearl making process.
Check out your cabin. Time for brunch while Vietbeauty cruise heads back to habor.
Disembark habor. Say goodbye to Halong Bay, back to Hanoi
Tour guide drops you back at your hotel. Tour ends
For along time,Halong Bay is not too strange to customers from all over the world especially those who are interested in travelling to Vietnam. However there some basic information about Halong Bay tour which may has been not mentioned on tour itinerary and there lots of questions for travelers so I've broken the story into five sections as it is pretty long: an introduction, a budget tour, a flashpacker tour, a more pricey option and then our conclusion.
Hope it helps!
Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site -- and you'll be reminded of this several times throughout your tour. UNESCO has picked out 830 World Heritage sites around the world, chosen for their cultural and historical importance, and also for their geological uniqueness. Ha Long Bay offers a little of all three.
It's not the cliffs themselves that make Ha Long Bay unique, but rather their sheer number. A huge bay, dotted with nearly 2,000 mostly uninhabited limestone cliffs, the breathtaking scenery is very similar to that of the Andaman coast of Thailand, Vang Vieng in Laos and Guilin in China.
Created over millions of years, tectonic forces slowly thrust the limestone above the water-line. During this process waves lapping against the stone carved out a number of vast, striking caverns, as well as other geologically interesting formations, such as tunnel caves and uniquely shaped massifs. Unfortunately the geological forces at work were not too flash in the beach-making department, so most of the beaches tourists are taken to in the bay are man-made with the umbrellas and the sand in which they stand are all shipped in.
Over the ages, Vietnamese fishermen with too much time on their hands began to see shapes in the stone massifs atop many of the islands, and named the islands accordingly -- Turtle Island, Human Head Island, Chicken Island and so on. In what constitutes one of the most fascinating cultural features of the area, some of these fisherman still live on the bay today -- on floating fishing villages, where houses are set atop barges year round, the inhabitants catching and cultivating fish throughout.
So what is a Ha Long bay tour like?
The primary purpose of a Ha Long Bay tour is to savour the tranquillity and beauty of the water. But two or three days of utter tranquillity can get a little too tranquil -- luckily the natural and cultural endowments of the bay provide activities -- in some cases with a heavy helping hand from the Vietnamese government.
Boats ply the waters slowly and take scenic, circuitous routes. They often stop and put down their anchors while the passengers are eating lunch.
The Viet Beauty Cruise
You may visit a floating village
Not all tours make a stop at a fishing village -- some just cruise by. If you do stop, you'll be able to view the seafood being farmed, have the opportunity to buy some, and have it prepared for you free-of-charge on the boat.
You'll get to swim
Every tour stops for a swim at least once a day. Sometimes these swims take place near local fishing villages, leading to jokes and apprehensions about the toilet situation on fishing villages. All tours also include a stop at one of the beaches.
You may get to kayak
All the boats bring kayaks and, weather and tides permitting, stop to let passengers paddle around. Sometimes the opportunity to kayak through one of the tunnel cave systems will present itself. Other times passengers are simply expected to paddle in circles around the boat -- not surprisingly the caves and tunnels are far more interesting.
You'll get to go caving
All tours include at least one cave visit in the price of the tour (admission on your own is 20,000 dong). The two most popular caves are the Dragon Cave and the Surprising Cave. You won't know beforehand which cave you will see -- that decision is made on the boat.
You may sleep over on the bay
Two and three-day tours always offer a night in a cabin. On any given night, about 80 boats are allowed to drop anchor in one of three designated areas -- that means each area is filled with 20 to 30 boats. Sometimes they anchor very close to one another, other times they'll find a more private spot away from other boats.
Double Cabin on The VietBeauty Cruise
You may overnight on Cat Ba Island
Most two-day tours offer one night in a two-star hotel on Cat Ba Island. Activities including a hike in Cat Ba National Park, a kayaking trip through some offshore tunnel caves, and/or a lunchtime-visit to a local fish farm, where you catch your own fish before it is prepared for you, are usually offered as a part of the tour.
You'll be fed and transported
All tours offer three meals a day, starting with lunch on the first day and ending with lunch on the last day. The quality of the meals varies tremendously depending on the price of the tour as does the transport to and from Hanoi.
So, no matter how much or how little you pay, all of the above, at least in theory, will be included in the tour. Judging the differences between tours, then, is not so much a matter of what they do, but how well they do it -- and if they actually deliver on what they promise.
To get the skinny on the inner workings of the Ha Long Bay cocktail, we tested out three tours of Ha Long Bay -- one budget, one midrange, and a more luxurious option -- and had three very different experiences of the same bay -- read on to learn how we fared.
Cosy large restaurant on The Viet Beauty Cruise
· Pick up/drop off by air-conditioned bus.
· Some local wine, fresh fruit on board in the afternoon.
· English speaking guide.
· Kayaking, entrance fees, activities on board.
· Meals as indicated.
· Tai Chi season
· Water on the bus
· Travel insurance.
· Tips and others not clearly mentioned above.
· Single supplement: Pay extra $40
· Itinerary is subject to change without prior notice due to bad weather: possible strong wind, cyclone, fog…
· Bring your passport with valid visa (a must), insect repellent, hat or umbrella, swimsuits, cash…
· Under 5 years old: Free of charge, sharing room with parents.
· From 5 up to 9 years old charge 75%.
· From 10 years old up: Charge adult price.