The perfect 3-day Halong Bay cruise overnight

3-day overnight halong bay cruise

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2 night Halong Bay cruise (+ Bai Tu Long Bay)

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in northeastern Vietnam, a place that we couldn’t skip during our Vietnam itinerary. And the best way to explore this gem is by going on a Halong Bay overnight cruise!

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know on how to visit Halong Bay and the off-the-beaten-track 3-day / 2-night Halong Bay cruise with the Dragon Legend by Indochina Junk we took, escaping the crowds and mass tourism.

Halong Bay is known for its stunning natural beauty, with thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.

The bay covers an area of around 1,553 square kilometers and is dotted with hidden caves and pristine beaches. It actually consists of multiple bays such as Ha Long Bay, Bai To Long Bay, or Lan Ha Bay.

As mentioned before, the best way to discover this region is by doing a Halong Bay Cruise. But how to choose which cruise to take, how many nights, and where to?

Let’s dive into all you need to know to plan your perfect Halong Bay cruise!

Halong Bay Cruise Vietnam Overnight 3 days 2 nights

How to choose the perfect Ha Long Bay cruise

When we were doing our research to find the best Halong Bay cruise, we were overwhelmed by the huge amount of cruises that are offered. How do you choose between all of those? Here are some things to consider:

  • Halong Bay is a very popular destination. This means it can get very crowded, resulting in a different experience because of all the boats and tourists everywhere. Try to select a cruise that goes more off-the-beaten-track and visits some of the bays nearby.
  • Consider how many nights you want to be on the ship. If you only go for a day trip or a one-night cruise, you don’t get to go deep into the bay, meaning you’ll stay in the crowded areas. You won’t have as much time to take in the incredible natural beauty. If you ask us, a 2-night Halong Bay cruise is the way to go.
  • For a more authentic and personal experience, don’t go for one of the huge cruise ships. Choose one of the smaller ships. We were with 30-40 people on the ship, which was the perfect amount for us. Also, these smaller ships can go into bays that are impossible for big cruise ships.
  • Take the environment into consideration. Choose a cruise company that bans all single-use plastics and has smaller boats.

Considering all of these criteria, we found the best Halong Bay overnight cruise: the 3-days/2-night cruise in Halong Bay with Indochina Junk, going off the beaten track to the beautiful Bai Tu Long Bay.

Bai Tu Long Bay 3 day 2 nights cruise Indochina Junk

best time to visit Halong Bay

The best time to visit Halong Bay is spring (mid-March to May) and autumn (September to November). During these months, the weather is typically mild, with clear skies and calm seas, making it ideal for cruising and outdoor activities like kayaking and swimming.

We went on our 2-night cruise in Halong Bay off-season, at the beginning of March. We had some drizzle and mist, so we didn’t always have the clearest views. because it was a bit colder and rainy, we were also unable to eat outside on the deck.

However, that being said, the Dragon Legend of Indochina Junk is such an amazing ship with lots to do (even inside). So, it didn’t really matter we could spend less time outside. We still had a fantastic time!

Also, we felt our trip was still beautiful and the clouds added to the mysterious feeling of the place. We still got to visit places, kayak, and even have a BBQ on one of the beaches.

So, don’t let the weather hold you back from traveling to Ha Long Bay. It’s magical in any season!

Best time to visit Halong Bay

How to get to Halong Bay

The most common way to get to Halong Bay is by taking a bus or a shuttle from Hanoi, which is approximately a 2 to 3-hour drive. The drive to Halong Bay is easy since there is a highway connecting Hanoi to Halong Bay.

You can also stay in Cat Ba, which is close to where most cruise ships are leaving.

When you book a cruise with Indochina Junk they will pick you up from your hotel in Hanoi with a luxury van. We found our English-speaking driver to be very professional in the traffic (which is not always a given fact in Vietnam). They even have WiFi onboard the luxury van.

Itinerary 3-Days Cruise Ha Long Bay Indochina Junk

3-Day itinerary Cruise WITH INDOCHINA JUNK

Here’s an overview of our 3-day Halong Bay overnight cruise itinerary with Indochina Junk.

Day 1: Ha Long International Harbor – Bai Tu Long Bay – Vung Vieng Village

After our pick up in our hotel in Hanoi by luxury van, we arrived at the Indochina Junk Office. While enjoying a coffee, we could wait in the lounge before getting transferred to the cruise ship, where the crew and staff welcomed us aboard. After a brief introduction to the 3-day, 2-night itinerary and some safety information, it is time to discover our rooms.

For our family of four, we have 2 beautiful connected double bedrooms with huge windows, providing great views over the bay. And… our bathroom even has a bathtub overlooking the karst mountains.

After our first lunch onboard with delicious seafood dishes, it’s time to explore Bai Tu Long Bay. It is less known than Halong Bay but Bai Tu Long Bay offers equally stunning landscapes. And there are fewer tourists than in Halong Bay (one of the main reasons we wanted to go on this cruise).

Our first destination is Vung Vieng fishing village, where the local fishermen take us on bamboo boats to explore their small floating village. The landscapes and reflections on the water are beautiful as the weather is a bit foggy (but no wind). While the dogs are protecting the houses we float between the karsts… We also visit a local pearl farm where we learn more about the whole process.

Bai Tu Long Bay Vung Vieng Fishing Village
Ha Long Bay Cruise Activity Pearl Farm

After the trip with the bamboo boat, it’s time to discover the ship and enjoy the views from the upper deck and …. the bath. Unfortunately, there is no sunset but still, it feels magical. Next to the restaurant, there is a zone where the kids can play card games or exercise their golf skills.

Dinner is served inside by the fabulous staff at 7 pm. The food is delicious and a mix of vegetables, rice, seafood, and meat.

After dinner, it’s time to do some squid fishing. With no more than a bamboo stick, we try to attract the squid with the light and catch them while they take the bait. And yes, we do catch some squid but they are rather small to eat. Throwing them back in the water when they are too small is better.

Ha Long Bay cruise food Indochina Junk review
Off the beaten track Ha Long Bay Cruise

Day 2: Cap La – Vung Dang – Cong Dam

After a great night of sleep, we start with some Tai Chi on the second day of this 2-night cruise in Halong Bay.

Next is a delicious breakfast before we go exploring Cap La by kayak. Kayaking is the best and most peaceful way to discover the rock islands.

After the kayaking, we cruise further to the Cong Dam area to have a unique BBQ lunch on one of the picturesque beaches. The chef is preparing everything directly on the beach. Again, the food was delicious. There is some time to swim or explore the beach before we go back to the boat.

Ha Long Bay Cruise Beach BBQ
Beach barbecue Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise
2 nights 3 days Ha Long Bay cruise kayak family

Now it’s time for some relaxation. The kids are taking a hot bath while enjoying the views of the Cong Do area. We are having tea on the upper deck enjoying the fantastic views over the bay.

Before dinner, the chef is doing a cooking demonstration with Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancakes). One of our favorite Vietnamese foods. You can choose to prepare it with seafood or chicken.

And then it’s time to have another fabulous dinner. They serve 5 different dishes with seafood and meat (but you can always ask them to serve something else if you have a specific diet or are vegetarian/vegan.

3 days overnight Ha Long Bay cruise family
Indochina Junk overnight cruise bathroom with view

Day 3: Cong Do – Thien Canh Son Cave – Ha Long Harbour – Water Puppet Show

It’s time to get up early today. Before breakfast, we get on the sundeck to enjoy the beauty of the bay. There is some fog and some rain but it’s all so serene and peaceful.

Today we visit the Thien Canh Son Cave, probably the most beautiful natural cave in Bai Tu Long Bay. After doing 100 stairs you can see the stalactites and stalagmites formed over thousands of years. Next to the cave, there is a stunning small beach, don’t forget to explore it.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and at 10 am it’s time to check out of the rooms. We end our time on the Dragon Legend boat with a premium buffet (spring rolls, french fries, pumpkin soup,…).

Ha Long Bay Beaches
3 days 2 nights itinerary Ha Long Bay Cruise with kids
Breakfast Ha Long Bay overnight cruise

After arriving at the port we drive by luxury van to Yen Duc village in Dong Trieu province for a short break, a water puppet show performed by local artists.

This was our last stop of the 2 night – 3 day Halong Bay overnight cruise before we headed back to Hanoi.

Buffet Ha Long Bay Overnihght Cruise indochina Junk
Waterpuppet show Ha Long Bay Cruise

We had a fantastic time in Ha Long Bay with Indochina Junk and hope we have inspired you to visit this area with them! If you have any questions, let us know!

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3 day itinerary Halong Bay Cruise Vietnam
what to do in hoi an, vietnam

The perfect 3-day Halong Bay cruise overnight

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