Exploring a world wonder with a five-star cruise. Photos by Paradise Cruises
The ride to Halong Bay from Hanoi can take up to four hours by car. One good thing about the drive is that you’ll get an early morning tour through the buzzing streets of the Old Quarter and enjoy the capital’s charming chaos from inside a comfortable car. Along the way, you’ll pass the historic Long Bien Bridge, plus many scenes of local life in Northern Vietnam.
At last, the moment you’ve been waiting for! Halong Bay, with nearly 2,000 limestone islands and islets, covers an area of 1,500km2. This part of Quanh Ninh province is home to legends centuries old. The Tuan Chau Marina is where most boats depart for overnight cruises. Have your cameras ready on arrival, and you’ll be rewarded with unbelievably stunning views.
Of course, the most exciting moment is climbing aboard your vessel. A few words from your captain and crew, a quick exploration of your cabin, and then… it’s anchors aweigh!
One of the great highlights of any Halong adventure is simply cruising the bay’s beautiful emerald water, floating past dramatic karsts, and observing local life on the fishing boats and floating villages. Treat yourself to a delicious lunch on board, then head to the top deck to snap a few photos for family and friends back home.
Time to go exploring. Two enormous, fascinating caverns await you inside Sung Sot, or Surprise Cave. A series of stairs takes you directly to the mouth of the cave, where you’ll find a magical subterranean world of stalactites and stalagmites, gently illuminated in colourful lights. Love the water? Get out on a kayak and head for Luon Cave, a serene grotto with a small sand beach, hidden behind a solid rock archway. The exotic natural beauty of the area and the scenery all around makes this one of the best activities in Halong Bay.
Of course, if you’re the type who enjoys a healthy dose of leisure in your leisure travel, you can always stay aboard the boat, enjoy an afternoon tea, or catch soak in the sights from the comfort of your cabin.
Five o’clock in the afternoon in Halong Bay means only one thing: happy hour. Whether you prefer wine or watermelon juice, this is a moment that can’t be missed. The sundeck is the ideal setting to watch as the last light falls across the bay, making silhouettes of the karsts on the horizon and sending sparkling ripples across the surface of the water.
When the show is over, try your hand at a traditional Vietnamese cooking class, or simply soak up the cool sea breeze. Finally, get gussied up for an elegant dinner on the water. This is your night, so make it special.
The fun’s not over. Halong Bay is equally mesmerizing after dark. If you’re not ready for bed yet, you can join in a spot of squid fishing, listen to some live music, or retreat to your comfy cabin to update your travel journal. The choice is all yours.
TIP: Paradise Elegance Cruise has an on-board spa offering a variety of Asian and Western spa treatments. A deeply restorative massage is the perfect way to cap off an exciting day in Halong Bay.
Rise and shine! Halong Bay is a beauty at sunrise. A morning tai chi session is just the thing to find your bearings and soak up the beautiful views outside. Many people are surprised to realize Halong Bay is not just a tourist attraction, but actually home to many local communities who work, study, and live on the water. Early morning is great time to acquaint yourself with local life in the bay, or strike up a conversation with fellow travellers over breakfast.
Paradise Elegance rewards its guests with one last surprise on their Halong itinerary: A visit to Titop Island. Titop Island was named for a Russian astronaut who visited this tiny island in the company of President Ho Chi Minh in 1962. On the island, you’ll have two options: embark on a tiring but rewarding climb to the top for a 360° view of the bay, or stay behind and unwind on the beach. Decisions, decisions...
Every journey must come to an end. Cruising back to the marina and saying goodbye to your boat can feel a little sad. The good news about visiting Halong Bay is that there’s always (always) more to see. While 24 hours is a little time to take in a lot of splendor, remember Halong Bay will always welcome you back again.