Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is one of the world’s most breathtaking natural destinations. Located in the Bay of Tonkin, travelers often depart from Hanoi for a road trip to the port. There are many cruise providers to choose from, each one offering its activities and cruise durations.
Young and old travelers alike will surely find themselves marveling at this one-of-a-kind experience, cruising not in modern-like boats but in junk boats, which are, essentially, renovated fishing vessels meant to look like pirate ships. And, although the cost for renting a boat can be steep at times, it's truly a unique experience like no other.
Ha Long Bay may seem like a small and quiet place, but it’s certainly not one that’s devoid of fun. There are many things you can do during your Ha Long Bay cruise to make it more enjoyable and memorable. Here’s how you can achieve that:
This first tip is worth emphasizing, as there might still be travelers who think that going on a cruise isn’t absolutely necessary to enjoy Ha Long Bay. This may be true, but going the extra mile by joining a cruise may give you a more in-depth experience of what Ha Long Bay truly has to offer.
This tip, however, may also send some eyebrows raising. What about those who are on a budget? One may ask. One of the main reasons why some travelers may opt only for a day trip to Ha Long Bay is that it’s the most budget-friendly choice. Technically, this is true. However, tour providers have a wide range of offers now such that there are budget, mid-range, and luxury Ha Long Bay cruises to choose from. Take the time to research very well so you’re sure to book a cruise that meets your budget requirements without compromising the quality of the trip.
Second, you must visit during that time of the year identified as the best days to avoid heavy rainfall and ensure great weather. In Vietnam, this means traveling anywhere between October until March. It’s neither too hot, nor too cold, although you may have to deal with a lot of tourists.
Traveling to Vietnam from April to September means you’ll have to deal with hotter weather and the highest chances of rain. August, in particular, is the wettest month of the year.
Once you start the cruise, you have to expect that there won’t be any Wi-Fi or 3G reception at all. If you’re used to sticking to your screen multiple hours a day, this can be a bummer. However, remember that you’re on a holiday and the adventure of a lifetime. Take those few days on Ha Long Bay as an opportunity to recharge sans worrying about your cell phone. You don’t always have to post those photos in real-time.
There’s no way you can say that you’ve fully enjoyed the place if all you did was focus on your phone, the Internet connection, and having the best photos. Ha Long Bay is one of the world’s best wonders of nature—savor it while you’re there!
While the whole area is collectively referred to as Ha Long Bay, there are three main bays you can choose to visit: La Han Bay, Ha Long Bay, and Bai Tu Long Bay. Each has its own charm, with limestone cliffs, caves, and small beaches.
Apart from those three main bays, another point worth visiting is Cat Ba Island, or Jurassic Park Island. It has everything nature could offer: dramatic hills and cliffs, lush forest, and white sandy beaches.
Bai Tu Long Bay is one of Ha Long Bay’s off-beaten paths, so it’s a good choice if you want to avoid the massive crowds of tourists. However, this privacy comes with a price, too, as it can be quite expensive.
Many mid-range to luxury Ha Long Bay cruise operators will offer kayaking activities, although for an added fee. But, it’s certainly worth it! Kayaking allows you to go up close to some of the islands minus the noisy thrum of the junk boat’s engine in the background.
Kayaking is also a great way to escape the crowds. Just be sure you don’t go too far, and that you remember your way around and the white junk boat you belong to (as they all can look quite similar).
If you’re the type of traveler who enjoys getting to know more about the locals, then booking a cycling trip to one of the local villages is something you might fancy doing. You can ask your tour operator which islands have communities of local villages, usually fisher folks. That way, you can step down from the cruise for a few hours, go back on land and cycle your way around the island.
7. Pack Only the Essentials
If you’re only there for a night, at most two, don’t bring anything more than the essentials.
If the weather is good, light and airy clothes will suffice. Slippers, sandals, and comfortable shoes are a must especially if you’re planning on going trekking or hiking. A cave excursion is also usually part of the itinerary, so you need comfortable shoes for that.
It’s also a plus to be ready with sunscreen, mosquito repellent lotion, as well as the medicines you’re currently taking. Be prepared with a little cash, too, especially if you want to buy food or souvenirs from some small vendors on boats.
Start Planning Your Ha Long Bay Cruise
With the magical and picture-perfect sights that Ha Long Bay has, it’s not surprising that this earned the accolade as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once you start the cruise, it’s not just the postcard-like views you’ll be waking up to, but also the fun cruise activities you’re set for the day. There’s so much to do in Ha Long Bay, making it a trip to remember whether you’re on your own, with friends, a significant other, or with the entire family. Now, you can get started with planning this holiday cruise to ensure the best experience.
© Written by Kim Pham for itourvn.com
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