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Halong Bay Cruise Reviews: Incredible Adventure

Hey there, adventurers! Have you heard of Halong Bay in Vietnam? It's a giant bay in Vietnam with these incredible rock formations that jut out of the water. They look like giant dragons sleeping in the sea!

Today, I want to share my amazing cruise adventure there.

Ha Long Bay

(Photo credit: Nadova)

Halong Bay vs. Lan Ha Bay vs. Bai Tu Long Bay

But first, let's clear up some confusion: Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay, and Bai Tu Long Bay are all stunning locations. People may think they are all one but actually, they're different areas!

  • Halong Bay: The most famous bay. A UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its dramatic rock formations and tourist attractions.

  • Lan Ha Bay: Less crowded than Halong Bay, Lan Ha offers a more secluded and pristine cruising experience.

  • Bai Tu Long Bay: The furthest bay, Bai Tu Long is the least developed, making it ideal for those seeking a truly off-the-beaten-path adventure.

Now, back to the cruise!

Three main options are available for cruising Halong Bay: a day cruise, a 1 night 2 day cruise, and a 2 night 3 day cruise. The time allowed for the journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay is around 2 hours so if you chose a day trip, you would spend half of your time in the coach, rather than on the boat.

Many different cruise lines are operating in Halong Bay, and each of them has slightly different itineraries – they may also change their itinerary slightly throughout the year. The cruise I selected was 1 night 2 day cruise included in the Vietnam Insight 14 days from Nadova Travel.

What was the boat like?

the boat at Ha Long Bay

(Photo credit: Nadova)

The boat had a relaxed vibe, and while the exterior might not have been brand new, it was clean and well-maintained. The dining space was bright and airy, with a fun playlist keeping the atmosphere lively. The top deck was a fantastic spot to unwind, with comfy sun loungers and plenty of seating to soak up the incredible view of Halong Bay. The rooms were cozy and functional, with fresh linens and a private bathroom – perfect for resting up after a day of adventures.

What are some of the activities included?

Sung Sot Cave

The path to Sung Sot Cave is under lush of tree’s shadows. Walking through steep rock stairs, you may have the feeling of climbing on mountains and experience the excitement as if they are walking to the sky.

The cave consists of 2 parts: the outer and the inner. The first one looks like a theater hall with thousands of stalactites hanging on the ceiling. A narrow tunnel leads to the second chamber, where there is a flow of natural light glittering. The light is filtering from above, through a large opening natural skylight. This opening route is also the exit way from the cave.

Just when you think it ends, the cave just keeps on going. I’m still glad I had the opportunity to see it.


The calm water of Ha Long Bay is absolutely ideal to go kayaking. This was by far my favorite activity! Do you know what could be more exciting than sailing amid breathtaking views in the bay? You can see marine species like jellyfish under the blue waters of Ha Long Bay.

We spotted a tiny beach at the base of one of the limestone giants, and parked our kayaks for a group swim. The water was incredibly warm and I was in a state of bliss, as was everyone else.

Pearl Farm

The Ha Long Bay Pearl Farm is an enterprise that literally floats in the middle of the bay.

The highlight of my visit was the grafting of the nucleus into the oyster. With a small knife, the skilled farmers open the oyster’s shell and carefully place an artificial nucleus and a small bead inside. This technique ensures the formation of a high-quality pearl.

After about two years of nurturing, the oyster shells are opened to reveal the pearls. I had an opportunity to try opening oysters and extracting pearls by myself. It was quite memorable and personal connection with the fascinating world of pearl farming.

The friendly guides provided instructions on how to gently cut open the oyster shell to unveil the hidden treasure within. You can even keep the pearls you open as a meaningful souvenir of your visit.

Side activity

The tours included a Vietnamese cooking lesson to make fresh spring rolls. Such a fun and rewarding experience. It allowed us to not only learn a new skill but also savor the delicious flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. Plus, it made the perfect pre-dinner snack after a day of exploring!

side activity at Ha Long Bay

(Photo credit: Nadova)

Final thoughts

I did have a great time on our Halong Bay cruise. I finally experienced my most wanted activity when visiting Vietnam and I’m so glad we did. We saw some beautiful scenery, enjoyed some delicious food and were spoiled with a bit of luxury and great service – what more could you want from a little trip?!


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