Halong Bay is a MUST when visiting Vietnam, but choosing a cruise can be stressful. It took me a lot of time and research to finally decide which company we wanted to use. Here is my advice when visiting Halong Bay.
1. Do at least a 3 day 2 night cruise. The 2 day one night cruises are so short. You don’t get on the water until the afternoon and the next day you leave in the morning. Hardly touching Halong Bay. With a 3 day 2 night cruise you get to see so much more I would even suggest booking a longer tour if you have the budget and time for it.
2. Choose a cruise that visits Lan Ha Bay. All of the cruises hit Halong Bay, as you can imagine Halong Bay gets packed. It’s still gorgeous, but you should try to see Lan Ha Bay as well. Lan Ha Bay is way less crowded and you feel as though you have the sea to yourself. It is also home to the largest floating village in Vietnam.
3. Stay one night on Cat Ba Island. There aren’t many rave reviews about Cat Ba Island, but I beg to differ. We loved Cat Ba! We hiked up to Cannon Fort and watched the most gorgeous sunset. We biked to a remote village and hiked to an ancient home. I was worried about the hotel our cruise was putting us in, but it ended up being one of the cleaner hotels we stayed in and definitely the most western like hotel.
4. Don’t get near the monkeys. I’m not joking…. our guide warned us about the monkeys but no one seemed to notice. I watched as a woman got close to get her photo taken and the monkey chase her down and scratch her. Ryan and I were relaxing under the cabana when one jumped down onto our table. We backed up and watched her for a minute when another one jumped down and showed it’s teeth and chased us. Seriously, these monkeys are mean! I even saw one try and steal a woman’s bag. STAY AWAY! If you get bit they have to take you back to get a rabies shot…. stay away from the monkeys.
5. Don’t stress, just pick a cruise. I’m a hypocrite on this one…. I stressed a lot. I researched and researched and finally chose a cruise and then stressed about it. We went on the Golden Lotus. There aren’t many reviews on it so I was really worried. It ended up being just fine. The boat was a little musky, but it’s a boat… the food was decent and the guide was WONDERFUL. Just find an itinerary you like and make sure the price is about average or more(I’ve heard budget cruise nightmares) and you will be just fine!