James Travel

How To Do Ha Long Bay Cruise 3 Days 2 Nights

If you’re traveling to Vietnam, Ha Long Bay should definitely be on your bucket list! 

This world-famous bay features shimmering emerald water, dramatic limestone pillars topped with lush forests, mysterious caves, and a rich history and culture. The bay is a real-life wonderland, so it’s no surprise that many tourists stop by.

If you want to soak in the wonders, booking a cruise is a great option. There are all sorts of choices, from a day cruise to a multi-day one, but to get the full experience of the area, a Halong Bay Cruise 3 days, 2nights is just the perfect choice!

You might ask why. Due to the bay’s popularity, it can sometimes be pretty crowded, especially on the easily accessible beaches. A night cruise gives a chance to go further to secluded areas, away from the crowds, and therefore, allows for more in-depth exploration. You are also able to witness the beauty of the bay during sunrise and sunset and the tranquility of nighttime. 

This world-famous bay features shimmering emerald water, dramatic limestone pillars topped with lush forests

Curious about what a Halong Bay Cruise 3 days 2 nights could look like? Read on as I give you a preview of what you could expect! I’ll also answer some key questions, like:

– How many days do I need for the cruise?

– What are the best Halong Bay cruise luxury?

– Can I book a private Halong Bay cruise?

– Should I book Halong Bay cruise in advance?

Halong Bay is calling — let’s dive right in!

Halong Bay Cruise -3 Days, 2 Nights. My True Experience

Every experience is a little different depending on the season and the cruise you go with. 

Here was my experience with the Mon Cheri 3-day 2-night cruise in Halong Bay, to give you a good idea of what to expect! It took me to visit not one but two bays: Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay. Actually, many cruises have begun to opt for the Lan Ha Bay route as this bay is less crowded and polluted than the other. 

My true experience will give you a good idea of what to expect about Ha Long Bay Cruise 3 days 2 nights.

My First Day. The Wonderful Start

One of the best things about taking a Halong cruise is how accessible it is from Hanoi! 

Visitors don’t need to stress about traveling. Your cruise will send a limousine bus to pick you up at your hotel. The pickup vehicle already sets the mood for the rest of the cruise, so you can focus on unwinding and enjoying the experience of the coming days. 

The limo typically arrives at around 8:30 AM. The driver called me the night before to confirm the pick-up time. Ten minutes before arriving, he called me again to inform me, and he was right on the dot!

Scenery on Hanoi - Hai Phong Highway. With its design speed of 100 km/h, the distance is shortened by 60 km.

After I made myself comfortable inside the limo, we sped off to Ha Long. The Hanoi – Hai Phong highway shortened the trip from 4 hours to 2.5 hours. We reached the Tuan Chau Marina just before 11:15 AM and headed straight for the lounge, waiting for the tender to take us to the cruise ship. 

We embarked on the tender to meet the ship.

By 11:45 AM, we were transferred by tender to the cruise. The cruise crew welcomed us warmly with cool drinks and helped bring our luggage while we checked into our rooms. We settled down for a short time before having a buffet lunch in the breathtaking sights of the bay. The waiter took us to our table, and we had our dining table for the whole trip.

The crew welcomed us warmly from the distance. They took very good care of us on three days.

The cruise manager was very accommodating and courteous. She briefed us about the cruise, safety precautions, and activities to look forward to. During our trip, daily itineraries were always informed at lunch and dinner time. Everyone was buzzing with excitement!

After lunch, we had about one and a half hours to relax in the room or pace around the ship and take photos. The room is beautiful and well-equipped. The beds are comfortable. There is a sofa bed and a balcony with chairs to lounge in with a book. I love the floor-to-ceiling glass that allows me to immerse myself in the view from my bed. The fresh sea breeze was the perfect greeting from the cruise! 

The room is well-equipped, and the bed is comfortable.

While we were relaxing, the cruise set sail from Ha Long Bay to Lan Ha Bay. The view was incredible, with mountain peaks soaring above the water, making the bay a surreal place. People said there was garbage in Halong Bay, but the water here was very clean. An overnight cruise can take you further than a day cruise, which mostly sails Ha Long Bay only, which is already overcrowded with visitors.

Stunning landscape, viewed from my cabin.

At 3:00 PM, the ship anchored at Tra Bau, where we had our first activity: kayaking. Even good swimmers were recommended to wear life jackets, and we should have, as no one knows about the water. We paddled from the ship into a picturesque lagoon.  Surrounded by limestone islands, it was like a little paradise on earth, completely separate from the outside world. 

It’s time for leisurely paddling. I leaned back, looked up at the sky, and filled my chest with the smell of the ocean. I saw rugged mountain peaks and seagulls spreading their wings freely. I enjoyed every moment of nature’s beauty and tranquility. 

We had two kayaking spots during our trip. This is the first one. We paddled into a secluded lagoon.

We returned to the cruise at around 5:00 PM. Those who loved swimming could swim near the cruise. Others decided that was the perfect time to drink; the cruise’s Happy Hour from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM was right up their alley. There was also a cooking demonstration in which we learned to make fresh spring rolls (which paired perfectly with my cocktail). Cookies and fresh fruits were complimentary at the bar.

We ordered one cocktail and got one free at Happy Hours.

Due to the earlier rain, the sunset came late and was not as brilliant as I expected. But seeing the setting sun casting a pale orange glow on the dramatic landscape and shimmering water was still something. 

Although the night already covered the ship, there was still a lot of stuff to enjoy!

Dinner was served at 7:00 PM. The food impressed me the most on this voyage. Every dish was the perfect combination of Vietnamese and Western cuisine: incredibly rich and flavorsome. If you’re a vegetarian or halal eater, just let them know in advance. Trust me when I say the meal added so much to my cruise experience—I mean, all of the meals. 

All the meals were amazingly delicious.

I enjoyed a slow dinner and ended up heading to bed early for a fresh start! Some guests participated in evening activities like squid fishing or unwinding at the cruise spa.

My Second Day. A Full-Day Activity

Now, usually, I’m one for sleeping during vacations, but not on this cruise! I woke up at 6:00 AM, ready to start the second day. I couldn’t miss out on the sunset, so I made my way to the deck and even joined in on the tai chi lesson! 

To start the day, we had a light and delicious buffet breakfast at 7:15 AM. Make sure you pack light and bring your swimsuit because the second day is filled with exploration.

A hearty breakfast. Lots of options, both Vietnamese and Western cuisines.

By 8:00 AM, we boarded our day cruise and headed to Viet Hai, a secluded village backed by tall karsts. When we arrived at the local pier at around 10:00 AM, we got caught up in the rain. Many of us decided to choose a buggy ride instead of a bike ride, as we planned at the first step. 

Even though many chose a buggy ride due to the rain, there were two courageous cyclists.

Even though the weather was not favorable, we still enjoyed the scenic ride along the lagoon path and into the forest before reaching Viet Hai village. The buggy stopped at a small lagoon nestled between striking limestone towers which set the scene for the movie ‘Kong: Skull Island’ in 2017 for people to take photos. 

The lush kart-mountain landscape set scene for the movie Kong: Skull Island in Cat Ba National Park.

Our guide introduced the village’s history, and I learned that Ha Long Bay was just one of three adjacent bays. Ha Long Bay is the biggest one, with the most islands (1,969) and caves. Unsurprisingly, it attracts the largest number of visitors. Bai Tu Long Bay, northeast of Ha Long Bay, has 630 islands. Its landscape is similar to Ha Long Bay. 

While those two bays belong to Quang Ninh province, Lan Ha Bay belongs to Hai Phong City. It’s the smallest with 400 islands. It is often overlooked relative to its famous neighbor. But nowadays, brand-name cruises are changing their routes to Lan Ha Bay due to its pristine nature. 

The guide explained the locations of Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Lan Ha Bay to us.

After spending time absorbing the village’s slower pace, we returned to our day cruise a little past noon, at around 12:30 PM. We enjoyed a delightful lunch while the boat was cruising to the kayaking and swimming spot. If you want a lazy afternoon, you can stay on board. But I won’t recommend it because you’d miss out on this opportunity. I paddled away under the warmth of the afternoon sun with fellow guests. The destination of this kayaking is an untouched and quiet beach. Completely different than the first kayaking spot.

Our second kayaking spot is a sandy beach. Small but exotic and untouched.

After spending time relaxing on the smooth white sand, I retired back to the boat at 4:30 PM to rest on my private balcony before having a filling dinner to end the day. For those who want a little luxury, order a favorite drink at the bar and have a soak in the Jacuzzi mini pool on the 4th floor. 

There is a cooking class on the deck every afternoon at 6 PM. And the food paired perfectly with my cocktail.

Third (Final) Day. Cave Visit and Fond Farewell

I welcomed the third and last day on the cruise with another invigorating Tai Chi session, with the sunrise as my backdrop. Taking part in this martial art while enjoying the scenic beauty of Lan Ha Bay and the fresh breeze is simply heavenly!

It felt so good to start a new day with a tai chi class in this kind of view.

After the Tai Chi, we had our fill of quick and nourishing breakfast while the cruise ship headed for Cat Ba. The ride was short, and we reached Gia Luan jetty before venturing deeper into the Cat Ba World Biosphere.

Shortly after 8:00 AM, we reached the Trung Trang Cave. There were quite a few tourists visiting the cave that morning, so the queue was long and slow at first. As you go deeper, the cave becomes wider, and it becomes easier to move. Even then, I only saw a few people around. The limestone formations are marvelous! Try to identify all the shapes that the stalactites have formed over millions of years or soak in the lush greenery just outside the cave.

We easily climbed 300 steps up to the cave. There is a view point for people to take a break and have photos.
A visitor marveled at stalactites that have formed over millions of years.

After the cave visit, it was time to return to the main ship. It was a bit bittersweet because we had to start packing up. Still, the upcoming parting was softened by the thoughtful crew, who helped us put our bags out for them to later bring back to land!

We enjoyed one last meal aboard the ship—a brunch at 9:30 AM in the cruise restaurant—before it was time to say goodbye. By 11:00 AM, we left the cruise ship, said goodbye to the crew, and returned by tender to Tuan Chau Marina.

They helped carrying our luggage from tender to the lounge.

It was a little past 2:30 PM when we were dropped off at our accommodation in the Hanoi Old Quarter. Being worn out from all the activities, everyone had a nap after sharing experiences on the cruise, but we were all very happy!

The three-day, two-night cruise was just right for me. I didn’t need to rush through the experience or worry about squeezing time. It wasn’t too short, and it left us wanting more. Overall, it was a happy middle ground that was relaxing without feeling like a drag! 

Ah, if you ask what impressed me the most about the cruise trip, it’s the food, the kayaking, and the ship crew. I surely will miss their dedication and hospitality.

Ha Long Bay Cruises. How Many Days Are Enough?

How long you allocate to your cruise is up to you! The exact number of days depends on how much time you can set aside, the activities you want to experience, and more.

The day cruise is the right choice for guests who don’t have the luxury of time for a longer trip. You have four hours or so to take in the scenery, visit a cave and a beach where you can swim, or visit a fishing village. You have a taste of the bay, but that’s just a glimpse of the landscapes, and you might feel a bit rushed.

A night cruise can take you further that allows you to explore hidden lagoons and beaches

For tourists who want a better experience than a single-day cruise, the two-day, one-night option might be right up your alley!  It’s a short and sweet cruise that doesn’t take too much time, paces itself just right, and won’t leave you feeling like there are more activities you could’ve done. Note that the experience might feel a little fleeting! You will feel it end quickly just as you are starting to enjoy yourself. Still, it’s a great choice for those who want to save time and money.

Honestly, a three-day, two-night cruise is the perfect Goldilocks zone for cruises! I highly recommend this cruise option for guests who can splurge a bit and have more time than they can burn. It takes its sweet leisurely pace, takes you to all the must-see places, and leaves you relaxed right after!

Top 5 Luxurious Ha Long Bay Cruises

There are many cruise operators in Ha Long Bay, so it can take time to decide which one to pick!

While the following names are all top-end and luxurious, there are slight differences between them all that should help you make a decision: 

On luxury cruises, table setting with character and colors sets the mood and ambiance for your every meals.

Ylang Cruise: Ylang has twelve exquisite cabins decorated with floral patterns, bringing a romantic and elegant mood. It sails the far-flung corners of Lan Ha Bay for a three-day, two-night itinerary. 

Ginger Cruise: this beautiful cruise exudes a vibe of Vietnamese heritage. Ten luxury suites are designed with high-end interiors and local artworks. Ginger Cruise offers two-day, one-night cruises or three-day, two-night cruises. 

Emperor Cruise: Your best bet if you love a drink, Emperor is the only cruise that offers an all-inclusive option. It has 10 cabins and offers two and three-night cruises. 

Orchid Premium Cruise: With five cabins and an intimate, boutique atmosphere, this cruise is the perfect choice for a honeymoon trip. It offers a two-day, one-night cruise trip.

Indochine Premium Halong: This is the largest ship of the bunch with thirty-seven cabins, meaning the biggest sundeck and most amenities. It’s also rumored to have the best food. Indochine offers one and two-night cruises.

Can I Book A Private Halong Bay Cruise?

If you prefer more privacy, you can charter your own cruise when exploring Halong Bay. While this is the more expensive option, it is a unique experience that’s sure to be worth it! You have a crew to take care of your every need – a go-to for some serious pampering.

A private cruise is a unique experience that’s sure to be worth it!

My top picks for private cruises are L’Amour Junk, Valentine Premium, Prince Junk, and Bhaya Legend. They range from one to five cabins, small enough for intimacy. For honeymooners, expect candlelit dinners and knowledgeable hosts that make this experience live up to the romance of its name.

Should I Book Halong Bay Cruises in Advance?

If you want to find the perfect cruise option, it’s a good idea to book in advance. This is especially true if you’re choosing a brand-name cruise or private option or are visiting Ha Long Bay in peak season. 

You can also check the prices in advance, and take advantage of special promotions or packages that might crop up throughout the year. 

On the flip side, if you’ve left it until the last minute (but are a little flexible with your pick), don’t be too worried! Check around, and there’s likely still space on a cruise for you – so you won’t have to miss out if you didn’t plan too far in advance. 

Check the prices in advance, then enjoy a wonderful trip on Halong Bay.

There are so many amazing cruise options around Ha Long Bay! However, there might not be a better pick than booking a three-day, two-night cruise. 

It gives you plenty of time to soak up all the magic of the area and experience without dominating your trip. Good luck, and enjoy visiting Vietnam! 

Related Posts