The best way to appreciate Halong Bay is on an overnight cruise. You not only get a lot more time to navigate the stunning scenery, but also you can get involved in more activities like swimming and exploring the caves by kayak.
Let's take a look at nine of the reasons to include an overnight cruise in Halong Bay on the itinerary:
The Halong Bay scenery is epic with its emerald waters and thousand of limestone islands. Plus, the weather or season will have a major impact on the day-to-day mood of the bay. For instance, on the dry and sunny days, the blue skies will help to create the cheerful and happy tone, while the cooler winter months have fog descending on the bay for the more eerie atmosphere. However, no matter the time of year, the Halong Bay scenery is still epic regardless of the storms, mists, sun or clouds.
Sleep on a boat
A stay on a traditional junk-style boat is certain to be a unique experience for many travellers on the Vietnam customised tour. Most of the decent quality boats are fitted out with many of the comforts of home. Also, the waters of Halong Bay are mostly calm, so there is little risk of feeling seasick. The seas are certain to be calm with not much rocking when the boat anchors for the night.
Exploring the bay by kayak is a standard part of virtually all overnight cruises in Halong Bay. Even for those with very little to no experience with a kayak, this can still be an unforgettable experience. The type of kayaking activity can vary with the cruise. If a guided tour isn't an option, the passengers will simply be provided with the necessary kayaking gear and directed to the prettiest local scenery. A kayaking trip to Ban Chan Beach or similar peaceful place is great with very calm waters and very few boats passing by.
Delicious and fresh local food
Any overnight cruise on Halong Bay will include fresh local food. However the quality of the food served will directly relate to the cost and quality of the cruise service booked. So, if you make the decision to book a high to mid-range cruise, there is a much better change of being serviced the outstanding dishes. Also, the food prepared in a cooking class will be of equal quality if this is part of the list of activities. The meals can range from the formal with a multiple-course menu served at the table to the less informal with the relaxed buffet-style affairs.
Time to relax
An overnight cruise on Halong Bay is a perfect break from sightseeing and touring the country on the tours of Vietnam. It gives a short time to fully relax with plenty of to rest on the sundeck to appreciate the stunning landscape.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Halong Bay is one of Vietnam's UNESCO World Heritage Site and appreciated for its all-round natural beauty. Efforts are maintained to protect the local area with some areas in better shape than others. For the best quality water and environment, it may be worth visiting the less-frequented areas of the bay which will not only display the picturesque beauty of the regions, but will also be a lot less crowded.
After a long day of activities, the evening back on board the boat is a great time to relax on the deck and appreciate the spectacular sunsets that Halong Bay has to offer. A typical day-trip will certainly miss this event. But, for those still on board for the evening, it is a wonderful sight to see the sky changing colour while the sun drops below the darkening islands.
Beyond, the sunsets in the evening on Halong Bay, there is also the equally as gorgeous sunrises. For those travellers on the Vietnam travel packages that like to wake up early, there is a great chance to watch as the sky lightens and with the sun's rays rising over the islands in the distance. Also, the early morning is still likely to be quiet, which makes for a very relaxing time.
Explore the caves
The spectacular seascape of Halong Bay has plenty of cave systems scattered throughout the area, but unfortunately there is only a limited number that are open to tourists. Any of the caves are found within the space of the limestone islets which will naturally limit their size. Even though they aren't the largest, there are many that are very striking and worth the effort to explore. Amazing Cave (Sung Sot Cave) is one of the most striking caves in the Halong Bay area. It attracts plenty of visitors on an annual basis and is easily reached by following a relatively steep path that is lined with trees and foliage. Also, Luon Cave is a popular place for the kayaking tours and appreciated for its in-mountain islands and smooth and pure blue waters. This magical bay is great to pass through its tranquil lake which is alive with crab, fish and shrimp. Other caves to visit include Pelican Cave (Bo Nau Cave) and Virgin Cave (Trinh Nu Cave).
The majority of Halong Bay's overnight tours offer a similar list of activities. One of the top activities on the family tours in Vietnam is likely to be a guided tour to one of the four floating villages. Tours often take place on board a local bamboo boat with a local woman working as the guide. In Bai Tu Long Bay, there is the Vung Vieng fishing village which is known for its involvement in the pearl farming and fishing trades. All the homes in the village are tethered together and built on large buoys to stay afloat. This is a great excursion from the main boat to appreciate the life of the local people and also to see how incredibly peaceful the village is. Additionally, the trip in the bamboo boat will give a further perspective of the natural beauty of the Halong Bay landscape.