What to expect on a day cruise on Lan Ha Bay, Vietnam

by - 9/05/2023


Cruising on the Ha long Bay or the Lan Ha Bay is one of the biggest highlights of any Vietnam trip. I mean you may or may not explore the other quaint parts like Hoi An or Sa Pa, but this cruise is something that no one wants to miss. Having said that, the cruises are really expensive. I mean the barest minimum of one night on the Ha Long Bay is 170 USD onwards per person, which of course you wouldn't like. We were a 6 family members travelling so it would have cost a bomb, just paying 1200 USD for a single night on the water. So we started looking for more feasible options.

Some people take a day cruise from Hanoi, which means an early pickup from the capital, before the crack of dawn, cruise from 10 Am till 5 30 and then a ride back to Hanoi. I am not at all a fan of day trips that seem like blink and miss. Like in this case, it's a transfer to a completely different world for less than 24 hours. I need time to fully absorb a novel experience, and this kind of rushed excursion feels like you are just ticking something off from your list. I was looking for a more holistic experience, that did not feel like just touching the water and drying up.
That's our sweet guide in the backdrop

After a ton of research, we decided to not to do Ha Long Bay and go to Lan Ha Bay instead. Now Lan ha Bay is in Hai phong district, and the journey is through the Cat Ba island, which is impossible to cover in a single day (to and fro). So we based our trip in Cat Ba island and did our cruise from there.

Can you spot the little one nesting beneath her Granny's dupatta?

Now I wanted the big boat with the traditional Vietnamese sails, so we went for Serenity Cruises, which were the only ones to have those sails. However since the boat bigger, we had to take a smaller boat from the dock to reach the main cruise ship. And my my, it was so beautiful!

A typical day cruise involves a pick and drop from the resort, welcome drinks, lunch and evening snacks. The boat keeps sailing throughout the day, passing around 300 limestone karsts; the main attraction of this region. The Lan Ha Bay also has a historical fishing village, which is 7000 years old. The village is still very much thriving, with a ship assigned to pick and drop the kids for school on the Cat Ba island. Those who opt for Ha Long Bay cruise, they sail upto here to see this fishing village.

Overlooking the fishing village

7000 years old fishing village

Then they take us to the Gulf of Tonkin, where we are given kayaks, and we row through the Dark caves and light caves and swim in the middle of the South China Sea. In short, it's an adrenaline packed day.

Since this is a day cruise, the ship is small. The top deck has loungers to relax and plants for decoration. The lower cabin has couches, television and a book shelf. And the lowest level is the dining hall with a big bar (useless for us) and washrooms.

Thankfully it did not rain that day and was neither too sunny. So we spent our whole time on the top deck. The limestone karsts are something that one can never bored of; they are so freaking mesmerising! My mom stayed back with the little one whenever we jumped in to the sea or disappeared for hours kayaking through the limestone caves.

We love connecting with fellow travellers while on trips

The cruise culminated with a sunset party. We were served fresh fruits and lemonade, while we all witnessed the sun dip behind those limestone karsts. It was one hell of an unforgettable day! So while we did not spend the night on the cruise, it surely was the biggest highlight of our trip!

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023 

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’
hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Dr. Preeti Chauhan.

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  1. Lovely pictures and very nice and detailed write up about your experience on the cruise. Thank you.

  2. I loved your hat! It would have been to be on a boat with sails, go through dark and light caves and kayaking. I have not done many boat holidays, this really sounds like a must-do trip.

  3. I kind of missed your track stories as we had a long gap but it's amazing to virtually experience your adventures

  4. Firstly cheers to you lifted glass as I was sipping on some juice while reading ur post. I liked the details you shared and how you enjoyed the ride.

  5. I love to being on cruise. I had been and I know how wonderful it was. Love the fishing village and the beauty you captured in your each photo.

  6. Lovely pics...looks like such a fun trip.

  7. Just by looking at the pics one can say that it was an unforgettable experience Mandira and your post says as much. So what if u missed the night cruise and Ha long bay... you got something worthwhile. Loved the idea of watching the sunset behind those rocks... what are they called again? n as usual loved your pics... u look hot in the outfit😍

  8. Just looking at the pics, it's clear you had a blast, as your post suggests. Its looking like a relaxed post to read. The vibe is chill and makes for an enjoyable read. I always love reading all your travel posts.

  9. Mandira you are a true traveller. Although I love travelling and do travel but I am far behind you in terms of exploring the places you are already done with. I am glad you get time in between your busy schedule and that too with 2 lovely daughters and parents. I need tips from you on how I can maximize the number of trips annually as I really want to explore more. The pics are enough and your smile speaks the rest how meaningful and happy the trip was for you. What makes this traveloque more entertaining for me to read is your pics, as it adds a extra layer of velvete cream on the post. Keep exploring new places and keep sharing with us.

  10. Vietnam! After our Thailand trip this year, I knew this is what we would love to travel next. Hopefully, next year, we'll be able to explore, experience, and see this magnificent place. Appreciate your sharing this. - MommyWithAGoal

  11. I am planning for Vietnam and find this post. I must say you all looked so good together and can see your smile :) . Cat ba or Halong Bay , I am also confused which one to choose. Can you give me an idea what's the charge for 1 night 2 days trip?

  12. Fantastic read! Your vivid descriptions and personal experience made the cruise come alive. Your decision to explore Lan Ha Bay instead of Ha Long Bay was a great tip. Brilliant post!

  13. I always love reading your travelogues. You just don't share about less popular but must visit places but also have really good suggestions to get the maximum for your money. Lovely pics as always. God bless.

  14. the island and the cruise and the spent there must be so memorable and relaxing and shows in the elegant pictures you have taken.

  15. Love cruises and this one seem right up my alley. Such experiences are not meant to be rushed. I already have a long list of recommendations from you for Vietnam. This goes in there too. Thanks for making travel easier for us.

  16. The sunset party with fresh fruits and lemonade, surrounded by the mesmerizing karsts, sounds like the perfect ending to an unforgettable cruise adventure. Your vivid descriptions and beautiful photos bring the experience to life!

  17. This sounds absolutely wonderful! Will mark this post for when we do visit Vietnam.