“Cruise through Vietnam’s most famous bay, where floating villages huddle at the foot of mountains that rise from the sea”
After a nightcap on the top deck, drop down to your cabin for a good night’s sleep and find comfy beds, shiny wood, huge views and fancy showers. Sleep with your curtains open and wake to magical views. In the morning there’s tai chi on the deck (your teacher’s performance is quite sublime) and a trip to mountain caves for the best views in the islands. Then you jump back on board for a leisurely brunch before heading onwards. Choose from Halong Ginger or the very fancy Halong Jasmine; either way, it's an unforgettable - if slightly touristy - experience.
Why we chose this partner
- Of the many Halong cruise operators, these guys are probably the most reputable and the most comfortable
- They have had country ambassadors and high-level travel experts on their cruises, and feedback has been superb
- Our own experience with them was excellent
Best time to go
Our top tips
Halong Ginger is a small junk (38mx8m), but despite its size, the cabins offer everything you need: a great night’s sleep and a surprisingly sophisticated bathroom. They are fairly simply decorated - shiny wood floors and bamboo panelling are the order of the day - and if few pictures hang on the walls, it’s simply because windows frame huge views of sea and rock. Excellent mattresses are covered in crisp white linen, sparkling granite shower rooms come with robes and potions. Two Deluxe Rooms are available; they are slightly bigger than the others and come with rain showers. There are blinds to drop if the sun’s too bright, but make sure you wake to the world outside - it’s a great way to meet the day.
Halong Jasmine is slightly bigger (55mx11m) with 24 cabins and the interiors are more sophisticated and luxurious - think 1930s Indochine style. The shiny wood floors and pressed bamboo panelling is still present, but there are additional comforts - private balconies with curved chairs; spa baths that overlook the ocean and bath tubs. You can choose from 3 categories: Premium (fairly standard); Deluxe (with private balcony) or the decadent Suites (with private balcony and Jacuzzi).
You certainly don’t starve on Halong Cruises. You embark for lunch and the junk cruises through the islands while you eat. Course after course comes to your table: Vietnamese chicken soup, fresh spring rolls, Halong Bay squid, grilled prawns with lemongrass, chilli chicken, stir-fried beef, steamed rice topped with sesame, then tropical fruits and yoghurt. Dinners are equally indulgent: pumpkin soup, mango salad, char-grilled beef skewers, prawn cocktail, lamb masala with coconut rice, then chocolate cake. In the mornings, you may rise early for a trip to some caves; coffee and patisseries are served before the trip, then, when you return, a buffet brunch is served as you sail onwards. You’ll find cereal and yoghurt, rolls and toast, freshly-sliced fruit and freshly-squeezed juices, then a hot buffet for Vietnamese noodles or bacon and eggs. Both junks have lovely indoor and outdoor dining areas.
- Make land at a small beach, where you can stop for a drink or swim in the sea
- Snorkel in clear blue water or set sail on a sea kayak and check out the caves
- Cruise past floating villages that shelter in the calm waters at the foot of mountains
- Before you anchor for the night, guests decant into a punt-like bamboo rowing boat for a stunning dusk journey back to the boat that takes you across looking-glass waters, under limestone tunnels, into hidden lagoons and then back to the boat as the sun sets
- Wake for tai chi on the top deck. Your performance might be hopeless (ours certainly was), but your very own tai chi master will show you how it’s done with seamless perfection; it is worth getting up simply to see this
- Discover the caves of Sung Sot - they resemble a set from Raiders Of The Lost Arc
- Boat trips
- Traditional cultures