Budget boat or luxury boat on Halong Bay
Tourists to Ha Long Bay are spoiled for choice; they can do anything from a few hours’ cruise on the bay to a multiple-night stay including a sleep aboard in a cabin on a tourist boat, outdoor activities in the vicinity of the bay, and accommodations in a resort on Cat Ba Island. Your choices are only limited by your budget.
Low End: Hovering about the $30-$50 range (per person), you can score a day trip to Ha Long Bay that may include the following:
A round trip ride via minibus or bus between Hanoi and Ha Long Bay;
A four-hour tour via tourist boat ride around Ha Long Bay;
Lunch aboard the tourist boat; and
Detours to a fishing village and a cave on an island in Ha Long Bay.
High End: Overnight or multiple night cruises can be yours starting at $100 per person. This should get you:
Pickup and drop-off from your hotel in Hanoi;
One night aboard a deluxe tourist boat, inclusive of meals;
Outdoor activities like kayaking, cave visits, and bike rides (ask your travel agent about the specific inclusions); and
The services of an English-speaking guide.
If you’re staying more than 1 night, accommodations at a resort in Cat Ba Island will be included.
As with everything else in life, you get what you pay for. The more cash you pay up, the meatier the package tour you get. Prices will also vary depending on the season: Ha Long Bay’s high season occurs between July and August, so expect the prices to be at their peak during this period. Ha Long Bay tours are cheapest during the low season from November to March.
Here are some recommendations for budget cruises:
Booking Your Ha Long Bay Trip – Tips
This is the key rule to remember: Ask about inclusions before you pay up, not after. Don’t just assume something is part of the package because you paid top ticket for the tour. An unscheduled kayaking tour, if it’s not part of the itinerary, can cost upwards of $50 per person.
Ask about food and drinks. Drinks can also be quite expensive on board the tourist boat, like the equivalent of $2 for one bottle of beer. And the meals they serve as part of the trip might not be enough for your tastes. Find out what meals are part of the tour package, and check how much you’ll need to pay per extra drink or meal if the inclusions don’t meet your needs.
Ask about pickup and dropoff. Does the tour include pickup from your hotel? Conversely, will the tour include drop off at the hotel itself? Some tours offer hotel pick up but drop off only in the Hoan Kiem district.
First Choice refund the tour cost in case the weather makes your tour untenable while many other tour agencies do not.