How to Choose the Best Halong Bay Overnight Cruises + 5 Hand-Picked Tours!

If you’re planning that dream trip to Vietnam, and you’re having a hard time choosing the best option for your Halong Bay cruises overnight, you’re in the perfect place! I have been there and spent hours (if not, days) researching before deciding to choose the best option!

Let me start by saying that a cruise in Halong Bay is part of most Vietnam Itineraries, and certainly one of the bucket lists and highlights of your trip to the country. Halong Bay is a lovely bay in Northern Vietnam, where 1,900 islands and islets rise up from the stunning turquoise waters of the South China Sea.  

Your experience will vary tremendously based on the areas you visit, the time of the year you go, the number of days you visit, and the type of tour you book.

I am here now to share the best activities you will have during your Halong Bay overnight cruise, plus make expert recommendations on what are the best overnight cruises for you! So, without any further ado, let’s dive into this very helpful guide!

You may also want to read:

Junk Boat on Halong Bay

Read More: The Most Amazing Halong Bay Luxury Cruises

Best Halong Bay Cruises Overnight Overview

There are hundreds of boats available to choose from, each with a different route, activities, and prices and it can drive us crazy! In this detailed guide, you will find everything you need to know to help you to choose the best Halong Bay cruises overnight, so let’s review some important information first. I also recommend you read the 15 essential tips you should know before you go cruise in Halong Bay.

If you’re looking for even more comfort or perhaps you’re celebrating a special occasion, I recommend you choose one of the incredible Halong Bay luxury cruises.

Row boat tour of Halong Bay

Tips to Choose a Perfect Halong Bay Overnight Cruise:

MOST POPULAR TOUR: Make sure you read carefully the whole description of the tour you choose to do. Book in advance to make sure you will be able to join the right tour on the right day. Also, read customers’ reviews to make sure it is a well-rated tour and avoid any frustration.
TYPE OF BOAT: The most popular way to explore Halong Bay in Vietnam is to cruise on a “junk boat” – They are these beautiful old wooden ships that really look more like pirate ships. Then you can choose from the yacht, with an aesthetic design and luxurious vibe it just depends on what kind of experience you’re after.
TOUR TYPE: You can choose from a 1-day cruise for up to 5 days and a 4-night overnight cruise. Your experience will vary tremendously based on the areas you visit, the time of the year you go, the number of days you visit, and the type of tour you book.
ITINERARY: Make sure you check the itinerary. The cruise I chose takes you to a less crowded bay, Lan Ha Bay where you will see fewer boats and explore crystal clear waters where you can go kayaking or swimming.
HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR TOUR: Pay attention to what the tours offer such as stopping at the floating villages, and including activities such as kayaking, cooking classes, and squid night fishing. Also, what islands will you be visiting during your tour?
BOOK WITH A RELIABLE COMPANY: Lastly, make sure you book in advance to guarantee you get the tour you chose to go on. And use a reliable source such as Get Your Guide or Viator. They offer a cancellation policy and excellent customer service. These are the services I use and recommend.
Balcony in Junk Boat

5 Best Halong Bay Cruises Overnight

You can choose from over 500 licensed junk boats to cruise, and there are options for every taste and pocket. The junk boats can be very simple to super luxurious, and don’t forget the simple rule just like anything else: you get what you pay for! The higher the price, the better quality and experience you will have. 

1. La Pinta In Halong Bay & Lan Ha Bay (3-Day & 1-Night)

I did extensive research before I decided on which cruise to choose, and I booked the Le Journey Cruise. I made my choice by reading a lot of reviews and looking at photos of the rooms. Also as it’s a smaller boat with only 16 cabins, I didn’t have to deal with the crowds.

Plus, they are a reputable and ethical tour. The staff does a phenomenal job caring for the hosts, as they are fun and extremely helpful. Cruising at Halong Bay was certainly the highlight of my trip to Vietnam. I chose the 3 days 2 nights overnight cruise, which allowed me to see more of the magnificent bay.

Our Top Pick
Halong Bay cruises overnight

Le Journey Cruise – Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay 3 Days, 2 Nights

The Le Journey Cruise was my choice for an overnight cruise in Halong Bay, and I highly recommend it. The boat is great, the accommodations are very comfortable, and the service and food are outstanding. Besides exploring the best of Halong Bay, you will also sail on Lan Ha Bay, with a jaw-dropping landscape of towering karst, and it’s less crowded.

2. Halong Bay Cruise from Hanoi (2-Day & 1-Night)

over-tourism on Halong Bay


  • DAY 1: Tuan Chau Habor – Dog Head Islet – Swan Islet – Ba Hang Floating Village – Luon Cave – Ti Top Island
  • DAY 2: Surprise Cave – Fighting Cock Island – Incense Burner Island – Stone Dogs Island – Tuan Chau Habor

Why Take This Tour:

This 2-day & 1-night Halong Bay Overnight Cruise is excellent if you’re short on time as you’ll still get to see plenty of the area’s highlights. Run by Phoenix Cruise, this cruise includes all entrance fees, all your meals, a double/twin cabin, and hotel pick-up and drop-off in Hanoi.

There are also other activities included with your cruises like a cooking class, squid fishing, kayaking, or a bamboo boat tour. If you’re still not convinced then you’ll get to visit a variety of beautiful islets, islands, and caves. This includes Surprise Cave which is the largest cave in Halong Bay!

This 2D/1N cruise will also take you to Ba Hang Floating Village and Ti Top Island so the itinerary is rather jam-packed. However, you’ll still have ample time to relax on the top deck, swim in the emerald waters, and enjoy the epic views.

3. Halong Bay Luxury Cruise (3-Day & 2-Night)


DAY 1: Hon Gai Wharf – Thien Canh Son Cave –  Bai Tu Long Bay

DAY 2: Sung Sot Cave – Ti Top Island

Day 3:  Da Chong Islet – Con Vit Islet – Gia Luan –  Lan Ha Bay – Ba Trai Dao Beach/Tra Bau Area of Lan Ha Bay

Why Take This Tour:

This All-Inclusive 3-day & 2-night Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay route tour are one of the most amazing options out there! Not only will you get to visit a variety of destinations, but this cruise puts more of an emphasis on onboard activities and socializing.

The itinerary suggests that each night is full of activities such as cooking classes, karaoke, leisure time at the bar with your fellow passengers, and plenty of board games! Another great thing about this cruise is that you’re guaranteed an ocean-view cabin which is a huge bonus.

As well as the usual places, you’ll get to visit some more hidden gems as you’re staying on board an extra night. This includes caves, beaches, and stunning islets so what are you waiting for? Better yet, you’ll get to explore Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay as well.

4. Halong Bay and Ca Bat Island Cruise (3-Day & 2-Night)

Halong Bay Luxury Cruises


DAY 1: Halong Bay – Lan Ha Bay – Cua Van Floating Village – Bai Tu Long Bay

DAY 2: Cat Ba Island/Pearl Farm – Viet Hai Village – Lan Ha Bay

Day 3: Kayaking/Bamboo Raft Trip – Dark & Bright Cave area/Ti Top Island

*This is a sample itinerary and can change based on which specific itinerary you choose when you go to purchase!

Why Take This Tour:

If you’re looking for a romantic time in Halong Bay, this 2-Nights on Best Balcony Cruise is the perfect option. Ran by Halong Bay Cruise Hunters, you know you’re in for a fantastic time as this company has thousands of reviews on Tripadvisor.

For starters, this 3D/2N cruise takes you to some of the most beautiful bays in the area including Halong, Lan Ha, and Bai Tu Long. You’ll also get to choose between some other popular locations depending on your itinerary. This includes the spectacular Cat Ba Island which you’ll be able to explore by bicycle.

All meals are included with this cruise as well as a cooking class, Tai Chi lesson, and kayaking. Just keep in mind that there’s a surcharge per person if you’re cruising during the Christmas season, Chinese New Year, or New Year’s Eve. You’ll also have to pay extra if you’re fancying a massage.

5. Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay (3-Day & 2-Night)

Kayak view ethical tour in Halong Bay


DAY 1: Halong International Cruise Port – Thien Canh Son Cave – Bai Tu Long Bay

DAY 2: Bai Tu Long Bay – Kayaking, Tai Chi, Swimming, & sightseeing

Day 3: Vung Vieng Fishing Village

Why Take This Tour:

This 3-day Bai Tu Long Bay and Halong Bay overnight cruise is a great off-the-beaten-path option. Although many of the cruises simply stay in Halong Bay, this ship will take you on a more hidden path so you’ll have a quieter experience.

All meals are included with this cruise, as well as all entrance fees and activities such as the Tai Chi lesson, cooking class, and pre-dinner cocktail party.

The one thing to note with this cruise is that there doesn’t seem to be as much included on the itinerary. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as you’ll have plenty of time to relax, admire the views, and get involved with the onboard activities. However, if you’d prefer an action-packed itinerary where you’ll get to see a lot within a short amount of time, you might want to go for one of the other options in this guide.

Top Activities To Do In Halong Bay

There are plenty of awesome things to do in Halong Bay. Whether you’re looking to explore by kayak, spend some time swimming, or take a trip on a bamboo boat, there’s something for everyone. You’ll also get to visit a variety of incredible places so let’s take a look at what you’ll be getting up to…

1. Sailing among the majestic limestone kasks

I spent a good amount of time on the boat, sailing, taking pictures, flying the drone or just relaxing on the roof deck while enjoying some very yummy (high alcohol content) cocktails. I felt that I was really on vacation and sometimes it’s so important to slow down and enjoy the magical view, especially if you’re in Halong Bay!

Halong Bay breathtaking view

2. Boating on the floating Villages

The cruise line took us to a harbor near some small floating fishing villages. We got picked up by locals with their row boats and they took us along the bay. Each boat held 6-8 people.

We could see the beauty of the mountains very close up. It was intriguing to see the floating villages and be able to observe the families with their dogs living their normal lives in the same way, for so many generations. It was nice and relaxing, and I took many beautiful photos during the tour.

Cruise Tour

3. Visit a Pearl Farm

Halong Bay Cruises often include a visit to the area’s thriving Pearl Farm. This farm was originally opened in 1995 and owned by a Japanese company until it was sold to locals. Covering around 74 acres and home to around 3,000 cages, it’s rather impressive.

During your visit here, you’ll get to learn all about how pearl cultivation is done as it’s not a simple process. Throughout the tour, you’ll get to see the floating rafts where the pearls are grown, the processing rooms, and the showroom where you’ll see the final product.

This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Halong so try to look for a company that includes it in their itinerary. As the Peal Farm is around 15 miles (24 km) from Halong City, you’ll need to be on a 2D/1N or 3D/2N package to visit this destination.

4. Visit Caves during your Halong Bay Tour

Depending on the cruise company you choose, most likely you will visit one of several natural caves on an island (weather permitting). It’s just amazing to think that some islands are hollow and there are lovely formations inside.

If you’re lucky to have a good tour guide, they will also give you an explanation of the history of the cave and an overview of the formations. The view from the top of the cliffside was outstanding, as we could overlook the whole bay and the junk boats.

Cave tour at Halong Bay

5. Visit other islands in Halong Bay

Some overnight cruises in Halong Bay offer to visit other islands during the tour. If you want to experience more of the bays in this area, I’d recommend choosing a 3D/2N cruise as this allows you to travel a further distance.

To give you a rough idea, here are some of the other bays that are often included:

  • Cat Ba Island: Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay and is famous for its wild and rugged beauty. Half of the island is located within Cat Ba National Park and other areas are relatively untouched. Although not as popular as Halong Bay, tourism is starting to increase here and many tours now include a visit to this island in the package!
  • Lan Ha Bay: This bay is located in the Gulf of Tonkin and is much less touristy compared to Halong Bay. However, it’s just as beautiful and if you can you’ll want to visit. Boasting undisturbed beaches, awesome hiking trails, and a unique ecosystem, Lan Ha Bay has a lot to offer. Some tours include a visit to both bays so I’d recommend choosing that option if possible.
  • Bai To Long: Lastly we have Bai To Long – one of the largest bays in the area. Although relatively undeveloped compared to other bays in the area, the beauty here is breathtaking. Add that to the fact that you won’t have to share this place with hordes of tourists and you’ve got a sure-fire winner. The pollution here is very low too compared to other bays in the area which is another reason to visit!
tips to be in shape for your vacation

6. Kayaking & swimming in Halong Bay

The Halong Bay cruise overnight tour I chose, offers kayaks and it was a highlight of my cruise, so I recommend taking advantage of it. They anchored the junk boat while we had the chance to explore the nearby area at our own pace. It’s an opportunity to see the limestone cliffs close up.

In some instances, you will be able to explore caves, which unfortunately didn’t happen for me in the area where our boat left us. I was able to go to different beaches and just admire the formations.

But please, make sure you are safe and that you have a good conditional kayak, you are offered a life vest, and that you are paddling your kayak in a safe area far from the big fish boats.

Kayaks - ethical way to tour Halong Bay
The cruises offer kayaks as an option to see the bay in areas where the junk boats can not go

7. Taking a trip on a Bamboo Boat

There are plenty of kayaking opportunities on Halong Bay overnight cruises but this experience is something special. Many companies also offer you the chance to explore parts of Halong Bay via bamboo boat – a mode of transport that is often used by local fishermen.

Each bamboo boat can carry between 4-6 people and you’ll be maneuvered around the limestone caves by an expert. Although you can learn to do it yourself, it takes a lot of skill to avoid endless rock formations! As you cruise along Halong Bay you’ll also get to listen to the fisherman’s stories and connect with the locals on another level.

This may be a more suitable option for older individuals or families with small children who aren’t up for kayaking.

8. Activities on the Cruise Boat

Aside from having an action-packed itinerary off the cruise, you’ll also have a variety of awesome activities onboard. No matter your hobbies or interests, you’re guaranteed to find something to your liking.

Here are some of the activities you can expect to find on Halong cruises:

Cooking Class: The cruise line offered a “cooking class” that was basically making summer rolls. It was entertaining, but I never really used my new expertise in my own kitchen.

Fishing Squid: Every night after dinner, if you’re interested, they will provide you with fishing poles and you can catch squid. I passed on the fishing but it’s a unique experience to have and the little ones tend to love it!

Sunrise Tai Chi on the Deck: This is one thing I can definitely get behind. Not only will you get to appreciate the beauty of Halong at sunrise but this martial art has a ton of benefits. It not only helps you physically but it’s thought to have emotional and mental benefits too.

Sunroof Bar: This is something you just have to do whilst on a cruise. There’s no better place to relax than at the Sunroof Bar as you can treat yourself to a cheeky cocktail or beer whilst admiring the epic views.

Spa Massages: This activity is an extra charge but it’s a great way to wind down after the day. The Halong Bay overnight cruises can be pretty taxing as there’s so much to do, so this is a great way to relax and recharge.

Local Wine Experience: Not all cruises will offer these so it will depend on your company. If your company does offer this then fantastic as you’ll get a better understanding of the local alcohol.

Vietnamese Cultural Films: Watching these types of films may not be to everyone’s taste but they’re a great way to learn about the country’s culture.

Music Entertainment: Lastly, many cruises will play music throughout the evening which only adds to the ambiance and location. I have done a Halong Bay overnight cruise during New Year, and we had a DJ with a dancing floor. Even the boat crew joined us, and boy, these guys can dance! We had a blast!

Overnight cruise Halong Bay

Halong Bay Cruise Overnight Conclusion

Halong Bay is the most frequented place in Vietnam and every year millions of people visit, and for a good reason. The opportunity to sail on a junk ship through hundreds of dramatic limestone mountains sticking up from a deep turquoise sea is like nothing else!

There are so many karst islands and rocks rising from the water in every direction that it looks mystic. There are caves, secret lagoons, and sea gypsies so you’ll have endless places to explore.

Not only is Halong Bay beautiful, but there are plenty of awesome activities waiting for you if you opt for an overnight cruise. These will give you a chance to immerse yourself in Vietnam’s culture so the cruises really do offer a bit of everything!

Hopefully, this guide has given you a good idea of what the most popular cruise options are, and what you can expect from your trip.

If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, make sure you check out my other posts:

Halong Bay overnight cruise Pinterest

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2 thoughts on “How to Choose the Best Halong Bay Overnight Cruises + 5 Hand-Picked Tours!”

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