Halong Bay is truly magical! From the emerald water to the limestone islands, every view is breathtaking. With 1969 islands and islets scattered in the Gulf of Tonkin, tourists from all over the world make their way to this part of the world to experience the natural beauty of Northern Vietnam. Whether you go only go there for the day or join a multi-day trip, cruising the islands is the best way to experience Halong Bay and must be on your Vietnam itinerary!
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Why Halong Bay is Great for a Female Solo Traveller
It can’t get any safer than being on a boat with other fellow travellers. Not only you are taken care of by the excellent staff on the boat, but you will meet a lot of other like-minded travellers. You are no longer in the hustle and bustle of the city and have to be wary of any potential danger. The only thing you need to worry about is if there’s enough time to take in all the beautiful scenery.
From the time you embark on your journey to returning back to the pier, there are back-to-back scheduled activities. There is almost no time for you to feel lonely or bored. And you definitely won’t feel out of places as a female solo traveller as there are other solo travellers. And if there aren’t any other solo travellers, people are welcoming and easy to talk to.
The whole tour is safe and predictable as tour companies do this every single day. Buses full of tourist are shuttled into Halong Bay, and an equal amount of people are shuttled back to Hanoi the same day. The entire operation is relatively smooth and easy.
What to Do in Halong Bay
Our tour company shuttled us from Hanoi train station (since we just returned from Sapa) to the hotel where we picked up a few things and had breakfast. And soon after, we were ushered to Halong Bay via a minibus and embark on a Halong Bay 2 day tour.
We started our overnight cruise tour at the busy pier. We got the keys to our cabin and were rushed off for the series of activities for the day.
The first activity for the day was visiting Bo Hon Island. One of the largest island chain in the region, there are many caves including Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave. The cave consists of an extensive hidden grotto system where you walk through two large grotto chambers. The first chamber seemed rather small and busy as there were many tourists visiting the caves at the same time. But as you keep walking, you will see the massive open cavity of the grotto where coloured lights illuminate all the stalactites.
After seeing the illuminated caves, we were off to Ti Top Beach. You can spend a few hours on the beach playing volleyball or just lounging around. But we climbed the 400+ steps to the pagoda at the top for beautiful panoramic views of Halong Bay. This spot is particularly a favourite while the sun is setting.
At night, there was a cooking demonstration, karaoke and squid fishing. While it is not squid season, it was still fun for everyone to gather around and try something new.
The second day started with an early tai chi class on the sundeck. After breakfast, we made our way to Luon Cave, near Bo Hon Island. The grotto is an open-air cave where it can only be accessed by bamboo boat or kayak. You must enter through the 100-meter long arch to see this open cave. There were even wild monkeys hanging around the steep limestone islands!
After an early lunch on the boat, we made our way back to the busy pier for our ride back to Hanoi.
Even though this was my second time cruising the islands, I still find Halong Bay a magical and unique place. This UNESCO World Heritage Site does not disappoint at all!
Where to Stay and What to Eat in Halong Bay
The best part of this tour is that everything is planned and taken care of. From your accommodation to all your meals, everything is planned for you, so you don’t have to worry about a thing except for having a great time.
We stayed on the three stars Majestic Halong Cruise as part of our package tour. The boat has three decks, twelve cabins and has a capacity of 27 passengers. We had one of the cabins on the second deck which is beautiful, spacious and has a private balcony. There is an upper deck where you can hang out and suntan. The dining room is also on the second deck. The best part of the dining room is the panoramic views that wrap around the space.
I’ve also been on the luxurious Paradise Elegance Cruise on my previous visit to Halong Bay. The boat is newer and bigger. Each of the 31 deluxe cabins has either a private balcony or terrace. The furniture and finishes are very high-end. The Paradise cruise also has spa facilities and can house more passengers. The dining room space is exceptional, and the food was excellent.
There are many other cruise companies, and they all vary between prices, quality of the boat and duration. Most people choose the two day one night option because it is not as rushed as the day tour. Check with the tour operator companies in Hanoi for all the options because they are endless! Or you can join a cruise on Bai Tu Long Bay as another option.
Or alternatively, you can enjoy a stay on Cat Ba Island if you don’t want to tour around the islands.