Which One Is Better: Halong Bay Day Trip Or Overnight?

Jane Pham
Jane Pham | Published: May 7, 2020

Halong Bay is always one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. With plenty of various and interesting activities, the bay attracts a huge number of tourists. Most tourists spend 2 or 3 days here to fully enjoy this beautiful area. But if you don’t have enough time but still want to enjoy its charming beauty, you can consider choosing a Halong bay day trip or overnight. In this article, we will tell you about the highlights of each option so you can choose the most suitable one for you.

I. Factors To Decide Halong Bay Day Trip or Overnight Stay

Halong bay

Your decision should be definitely based on your goal, your budget, and your time. So, the very first thing you need to do is consider these factors.

1. Your Goal

So what exactly do you want for this trip to Halong bay? Are you looking for relaxing moments or waiting to see the unique and gorgeous beauty of the sea and caves? For those who love to see charming caves with your own eyes and taking part in some recreational activities like swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling, etc, an overnight trip will be an ideal choice. Halong offers quite a lot to see especially in some islands so an overnight trip will give you a chance to see a wider part of it. But, if you have already visited the bay and this time you just want to see a certain island or cave, a day trip will be enough. You will have more time for other activities.

2. Your Budget

Your budget is definitely a great matter to consider before choosing day trip or overnight trip. Generally, a day trip with lots of activities and traveling to different islands will cost quite a lot as you need to rent a boat to move from this island to another. Besides, you also need to pay for some activities like kayaking. The price for a day trip is surely cheaper than the price for an overnight stay in Halong bay. 

For an overnight cruise, it often includes a package tour so you don’t need to pay for hotel fee or activities. There are many types of cruise categorized by many criteria like styles (charming, oriental, traditional or modern), by sizes (few cabins or many cabins), and by materials (metal or wooden), which leads to various prices. 

3. Your Time

If you have limited time, a day trip would be a wise choice. Generally, you will be picked up in the early morning from your hotel in Hanoi and drive around 4 hours to Halong bay. Upon arriving, lunch will be served on a boat before you spend your time cruising some islands and islets and participating in some activities. At 5 pm, you will depart from Halong bay to Hanoi and end the day trip.

If you have 2-day or 3-day time for Halong bay, we would recommend an overnight cruise. It will allow you to see and experience more of the bay and a wider range of excursions, as well as get a deeper insight into this UNESCO World Heritage site

II. Highlights of Halong Bay Day Trip

Most visitors choose a day trip due to limited time. However, to make your trip worth it, the most important thing you need to do is choosing the right tour. Taking a wrong tour will ruin your whole trip. If you are expecting gorgeous sails that you saw on travel blogs, one day trip may disappoint you because you will not have a chance to step on those sails. A day trip normally involves a couple of activities. 

  • Visit a cave
Sung Sot Cave in Halong bay

Among thousands of peaks rising out of the water in Halong bay, there are picturesque hidden caves, illuminated caves, and isolated grottos of all shapes and sizes. Landing on the bay, you can rent a boat to explore one of these caves in Halong. Among these caves, Thien Cung, also known as Heavenly Palace Cave, is standing out with its stalagmites and stalactites. Visiting one cave will give you more time to enjoy other activities like kayaking or swimming. But if you only expect to see grottos and caves, you surely can visit 1 or 2 more caves in a day.

  • Go kayaking

While some visitors enjoy discovering the bay in a relaxing pace, others prefer kayaking for something more adventurous. It is a type of padding and uses a kayak to move across the water. With clean and calm water, Halong bay is an ideal place for this activity. The most common spots for kayaking are Dark and Light Cave, Monkey island, and Peaches islets. The perfect time to enjoy this activity is from August to March as there is not much rain and the weather is quite nice. Trying kayaking takes around 30 minutes or 1 hour but it makes your trip more memorable and interesting.

III. Highlights of an Overnight Trip

For an overnight trip, there are many options for you to choose from. You can choose a luxury or budget cruise. And, the longer the cruise is, the more activities are. Below are some activities that are included in the itinerary of 2 nights and 3 days option.

  • Watching sunrise over the limestone karsts
sunrise over limestone karsts

Sunrise in Halong bay is one of the most attractive scenes that you should not miss. You can witness it with an overnight cruise. Waking up early, a spectacular scene is in front of your eyes. It’s the sun rising up over the limestone karsts and the immense sea. The emerald waters of the sea and red color of the rising sun bring a great feeling. This beautiful picture will bring you unforgettable peaceful moments.

  • Visiting Cua Van floating village by bamboo boat
Cua Van Fishing Village

Most overnight cruises will not miss this largest floating fishing village located in the calm Halong bay surrounded by small islets and limestone mountains. The fishing village is home to nearly 180 households. Local people here all live on floating houses and mainly make their living by fishing. Cua Van floating village has been voted as one of the 15 most beautiful ancient villages in the world. Coming here, you not only witness the beauty of the village but also feel a sense of responsibility in keeping the surrounding environment clean. Everyday, local people often collect floating waste and garbage to protect the water from pollution.

  • Explore some caves in Halong bay 
Luon Cave in Halong bay

Booking an overnight cruise will offer you a chance to explore many hidden secrets of this famous bay. An amazing thing you can’t miss in this area is its caves. There are plenty of caves with mysterious legends from thousands of years ago. To name a few, it would be Sung Sot Cave, Me Cung Cave, Thien Cung Cave, Dau Go Cave, Trong Cave, and Trinh Nu Cave – the most visited caves in this area. In a 3 days 2 night tour, you will have a chance to visit most of these caves. Each cave has its own beauty and features, so your trip is not boring at all. Colorful stalactites in the caves in different shapes and sizes under the light make you feel like entering a magical world. And for those who are interested in science, these unique caves are worth researching also. 

  • Taking a Vietnamese cooking class

Vietnam is famous for its fine and delicious cuisine. So in the overnight cruise, it often combines a cooking class in the itinerary to make the trip more interesting and help visitors get to know Vietnamese cuisine. On the cruise, the chef will instruct you step by step about the ingredients and Vietnamese cooking techniques. After cooking, you can enjoy the delicious dish cooked by yourself. So if you are a food lover, an overnight trip with a cooking class is for you.

  • Enjoying Tai Chi exercises on the sun deck
Tai Chi exercise in Halong bay

Getting up early in the morning, it is a great time to experience Tai Chi exercise. Being an outstanding gem of Chinese culture, Tai Chi is a good exercise to get good health, improve your concentration as well as many other skills. Referring to the complete relaxing state of mind and body, the exercise is better done in a peaceful time and tranquil atmosphere with fresh air so your body can get the balance state. And, nowhere is better than a cruise on the sea in the early morning.

  • Trying night squid fishing with locals
squid fishing trip

Squid fishing is one of the most expected for those who choose overnight trips. After a long day of cruising, swimming, or kayaking, etc, squid fishing at night is an unique activity that can bring a refreshing travel experience. In recent years, this activity has become more popular and gained popularity among travelers to Halong bay. After learning basic information on squid fishing, you can go squid fishing yourself under the instruction by friendly locals. The squids you caught will be cooked into yummy night snacks after.

IV. How to Choose Between a Halong Bay Day Trip and Overnight Trip?

It is quite a tough decision to choose between these 2 interesting trips. So, here comes the tips for you:

  • If you choose the day trip, there are some options for you: four, six, or eight hours. Your decision should be determined by the time.
  • It’s better to book through the boat or with the operator to get the best boat and most useful guide.
  • Vietnamese ports take quite high rates right from the parking lot. You can save up to 30$ by telling your reservation agent to meet outside the pier area.
  • It is necessary to read the itinerary carefully and check whether it can meet your expectations for the trip.
  • Going in small groups costs higher than going in larger ones. 

Generally, there are both advantages and disadvantages when choosing a Halong bay day trip or overnight cruise. If you have enough time, we suggest 2 days 1 night trip to enjoy the best highlights of Halong bay and try some fun activities here. 

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