Halong Bay was a HUGE bucket list item for me, and it didn’t cease to disappoint! It really is a beautiful, peaceful and serene place and 100% should be on your list! A UNESCO World Heritage Sight and one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, Halong Bay is made of nearly 2,000 limestone islands and cover a vast area of nearly 600 square miles.
How To Get There…
From Hanoi, Halong Bay is a 4 hour bus ride, which can be arranged with your boat cruise company or accommodation, who come pick you up.
Sadly, the Visa for Americans has gone up almost 50% in the last two years, as they are only permitting one year visas to US citizens.
There are two fees associated with the process.
Stamping Fee Prior To Arrival: $135USDpp
Vietnam Arrival Processing Fee: $25USDpp
If you’re going to Halong Bay, the boat cruise that you booked with will be happy to process the stamping fee for you, or alternatively, if you have ample time before leaving for your trip, you can mail/drop your passports at the Vietnam Embassy. After arriving at the airport in Vietnam, take the required paperwork with you to the Visa On Arrival counter (plan to wait an hour+) and pay the processing fee.
There’s NO better way to see Halong Bay than with a boat cruise. There are MANY different options, but I’ll highlight the top three.
For A Romantic Cruise (our choice):
Company: Paradise Luxury Cruises
Total Trip Time: 3 day, 2 night cruise
Cost: $900USD for 3 day, 2 night cruise (Paradise Peak)
Cost: $370 for 2 day, 1 night cruise (Paradise Peak)
We had such an INCREDIBLE trip with this company…their customer service was OUTSTANDING. The food was delicious, the rooms are gorgeous and the boat was well kept. It was truly a memorable holiday. I’d totally recommend staying two+ nights, if you have the time/budget permits. Cost includes all meals on board, transport to/from Hanoi, kayak rental, swimming, cooking class, morning Thai Chi, and entrance/sightseeing fees. Cost does NOT include alcohol or spa on the boat.
For A Party Cruise:
Company: Oasis Bay Party Cruise
Total Trip Time: 2 days, 1 night cruise
This is a great, booze cruise option for those that want to see the beauty of halong bay, kayak, swim, boat jump and then party at night. The cost includes pickup from your hotel, all meals on board, cooking demonstration and the entrance/sightseeing fees. It does NOT including alcohol.
For a Day Trip:
Company: Halong Bay One Day
Trip Total Time: 12 hours total (8 transport, 4 on Halong Bay)
Cost: $35USD/pp (Fee includes pickup at hotel/meals)
Cruise on a traditional junk boat for four hours, including kayak and a visit to Thien Cung Cave. You may be rushed, but if you only have one day to see Halong Bay, this is your best option.
Get duty free when entering Vietnam and carry alcohol on the boat too save money on drinks.