Halong Bay is a bay featuring thousands of limestone islets in Northern Vietnam. Located 170km east of Hanoi, visitors often make a day or overnight trip to this breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the best ways to see Halong Bay is to join an organized tour where you cruise through the emerald water on a boat. Along the way, you can see caves and floating islands and even visit some of the bigger limestone islands.
In this post, I will cover all the details of selecting a Halong Bay cruise for solo travellers. Plus, I included all the details of the Halong Bay 2 night cruise, so you know what to expect.
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Halong Bay cruise: what you need to know
Before you join a Halong Bay cruise, take a look at some of these useful tips first:
- Most travellers like to book a Halong Bay cruise before going to Vietnam. This is advisable if you are travelling on a tight schedule.
- Or you can also book a cruise while you are in Hanoi. Many tour companies line the small streets west of Hoàn Kiếm Lake.
- Most overnight cruises charge a single supplement for solo travellers. It costs about $40USD per night. (This annoys me as someone who likes to travel solo. But I still think Halong Bay is worthwhile because the scenery is unreal).
How to pick a Halong Bay cruise for solo travellers
First of all, there are many types of Halong Bay cruises for solo travellers. They vary in the number of days spent on the boat:
- 1 day cruise
- 2 day 1 night cruise
- 3 day 2 night cruise
And most Halong Bay cruise package includes:
- Round-trip air-conditioned minibus transfer between Hanoi and Halong Bay
- Onboard accommodation (for overnight cruises)
- Meals (as indicated)
- Sights and activities (different with each tour company)
So when you decide which Halong bay cruise to pick, consider what you want to see and how many days you want to spend on a boat. And make sure to read all the fine prints and see what is included and what is not (i.e. single supplement, return transfer, etc.).
Recommendation: Halong Bay 2 night cruise
The best part of a Halong Bay cruise is that everything is planned and taken care of. From your accommodation to all your meals, everything is planned for you. All you have to do is have a great time!
But the bigger task is choosing the right cruise that suits your needs as a solo traveller.
And after reading about all the things to do in Halong Bay and having also been on two Halong Bay cruises myself, I highly recommend taking an overnight trip to Halong Bay. A two-day and one-night Halong Bay cruise tour will give you enough time to see the best highlights and allows you to relax onboard for the night.
Halong Bay 2 day 1 night cruise: typical itinerary
As I mentioned already, I went to Halong Bay twice and both times were on a 2-night cruise. And I saw similar attractions both times.
Here is a typical Halong Bay itinerary for a 2-day and 1-night tour, so you know what to expect.
Day 1 of the Halong Bay cruise
The Halong Bay cruise starts with a pickup from your hotel in Hanoi. A small minibus will come around and pick you and other passengers to embark on a Halong Bay 2-day tour.
Along the way, there is a pitstop for snacks, bathroom breaks and souvenir shopping.
Then, you’ll arrive at Tuan Chau International Marina after a few hours. Stay with your group at the pier; it can get pretty busy during the high season.
Then once you are on the boat, you will be given keys to your cabin. And after a quick lunch, the activities for the first day begin.
Bo Hon Island
The itinerary starts with Bo Hon Island, one of the largest island chains in the region. A short hike up the island will give you a magnificent view of the surrounding area.
There are many caves on the limestone island including Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave which has two large grotto chambers you can walk through.
The first chamber seemed rather small and busy as many tourists were taking photos. But as you keep walking, you will see the massive open cavity of the second grotto where coloured lights illuminate all the stalactites.
Ti Top Beach
After seeing the illuminated caves, next on the itinerary is Ti Top Beach.
You can spend a few hours on the beach playing volleyball or just lounging around. But the highlight of the beach has to be the panoramic view from the island’s highest point. You can get there by climbing 400+ steps. This spot is particularly nice during sunset.
The first day of your overnight cruise ends with a lovely dinner with fellow travellers.
And after dinner, you can watch a cooking demonstration, karaoke and or try squid fishing.
Day 2 of the Halong Bay tour
The second day started with an early tai chi class on the sundeck.
After breakfast, put on your lifejackets and make your way to Luon Cave, an open-air cave near Bo Hon Island which you can only access by bamboo boat or kayak. The boat tour includes a ride through the 100-meter-long arch. There were even wild monkeys hanging around the steep limestone islands!
Return to pier
Enjoy the last few hours in Halong Bay because the 2-night cruise ends right after lunch. When you return to the cruise boat, lunch is served. And soon after, you’ll arrive at the busy pier again for the ride back to Hanoi.
Halong Bay 2 day 1 night cruise: options for solo travellers
Majestic Halong Cruise
The 3-star Majestic Halong Cruise has three decks and twelve cabins, and a capacity for 27 passengers. The boat itself is basic but nice. It has an upper deck where you can hang out and suntan. The dining room is on the second deck, with panoramic views that wrap around the dining space.
I joined a 7 day 6 night tour which included two nights on a 3-star cruise, and the Majestic Halong Cruise was the one chosen for that day. I was pretty happy with it, especially because my room was nice and I had a private balcony with an awesome view!
Paradise Elegance Cruise
I’ve also been on the luxurious Paradise Elegance Cruise on my previous visit to Halong Bay.
The Paradise Elegance Cruise boat is newer and bigger. Each of the 31 deluxe cabins has a private balcony or a terrace and 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.
Other Halong Bay cruises 2 days 1 night
I highly recommend doing a Halong Bay 2 day 1 night tour because it will give you sufficient time to see all the important highlights around the area.
Most tour companies go to similar places in Halong Bay. They vary in pricing and quality.
A budget cruise includes basic accommodations, average food and all the activities as indicated whereas a luxury boat may include spa facilities, nicer guestrooms, nicer dining room, entertainment onboard, etc.
And if you really look at the itinerary carefully, an overnight cruise starts mid-day on day 1 and ends mid-day on day 2. If you join a one-day cruise, it might feel a bit short. So even though the overnight cruise starts late and ends early, at least you can see more and have some time to relax on the boat.
Other Halong Bay cruises for solo travellers
One day tour of Halong Bay
If you don’t have too much time during your time in Northern Vietnam, you can still join a 1-day Halong Bay tour to see the floating village and James Bond Cave and enjoy a seafood lunch onboard.
Three day Halong Bay overnight cruise
If you want to stay longer, there are 3-day 2-night cruises around Halong Bay.
Staying onboard longer means more sites and activities. They include kayaking around Luon Cave, Ba Hang floating village, Frog and Chop Stick Islands, visiting a pearl farm, and so much more.
Other Halong Bay cruises
Which Halong Bay overnight cruise will you join?
Honestly, there is no bad option at all. Halong Bay is truly magical! Every solo traveller visiting Northern Vietnam should consider spending at least a day seeing all the beautiful islands.
Halong Bay solo travel is totally possible – even if it means paying the annoying single supplement fee. If I have to go again for the third time, I totally would!
I hope this post was helpful for you in choosing a cruise on Halong Bay. Let me know in the comments which cruise you decide to go with.
Thank you for reading my Halong Bay overnight cruise post
You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Vietnam:
- 3 weeks Vietnam solo travel itinerary
- Hanoi Solo Travel: 2 days in Hanoi
- Trekking in Sapa as a solo traveller
- Day trip to Ninh Binh from Hanoi
- Hoi An 3 day itinerary
- One day in Hue Vietnam
- Things to do in Mui Ne Vietnam
- Ho Chi Minh City 3 day itinerary