Heritage Line Cruises - Halong & Lan Ha Bay

Halong Bay & Lan Ha Bay, Hanoi & North, Vietnam

Heritage Line Cruises - Halong & Lan Ha Bay

Halong Bay & Lan Ha Bay, Hanoi & North, Vietnam

Seriously stylish cruises through Vietnam’s famous Halong Bay, or quieter Lan Ha: think 5-course dinners, comfy beds, deck-top tai chi, kayak trips beyond the crowds

Seriously stylish cruises through Vietnam’s famous Halong Bay, or quieter Lan Ha: think 5-course dinners, comfy beds, deck-top tai chi, kayak trips beyond the crowds

Imperious Halong Bay - a Unesco World Heritage site that resembles the set of a James Bond movie - has 1,500 forested limestone karsts rising sharply from the azure waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. This breathtaking seascape is becoming increasingly popular with tourists, so you might prefer to sail away into calmer waters at Lan Ha Bay. We've chosen to work with Heritage Line, which operates breathtaking cruise experiences to both destinations, so take your pick. You can zip up from Hanoi early in the morning, then decant onto one of these wonderful junks for a rather good lunch while sailing through a magical landscape, stopping off to check out beaches and kayak through crystal clear waters. Continue past floating fishing villages, then anchor up amid magnificent scenery before tucking into a 5-course dinner.

After a nightcap on the top deck, drop down to your suite 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 the snazzy Heritage Line Ginger and newest vessel Heritage Line Ylang for an upmarket junk experience through less-touristy Lan Ha Bay, or jump aboard Heritage Line Violet for a traditional, great-value Halong Bay experience.

Why we chose this partner

  • Of the many Halong cruise operators, we found Heritage Line the most comfortable and the most innovative: they have hosted ambassadors and travel journalists, and feedback has been superb
  • Heritage Line Ginger is very upmarket, with a plunge pool, live cooking demos and a spa on board
  • Two boats cruise through the less-touristy Lan Ha Bay, with a stop to cycle on Cat Ba island - perfect if you want to get off the beaten track; while the other boat offers 2- or 3-day classic Halong Bay experiences
  • With just 6 suites, Heritage Line Violet (which cruises Halong Bay) offers a more intimate cruising experience than most other vessels

Please be aware

  • Halong Bay is increasingly busy with cruise boats, but you can get away from the crowds if you opt for a Lan Ha cruise
  • The 2-day itinerary on Halong Bay is pretty packed - we'd strongly recommend the 3-day one if you can afford it
  • The 2.5-hour drive here from Hanoi is somewhat hectic so you may want to book the 1-hour seaplane transfer instead
  • The older boats are starting to look a little tired in places

Best time to go

The rainy season here is at its peak in July and August; September is also wet. July is the hottest month, January the coolest. The dry season runs from November to April.

Our top tips

Nights can get chilly, so bring a sweater. Also bring a pair of walking boots, a lightweight waterproof jacket in case of rain, and your swimmers for kayaking and sunbathing on the deck.

Great for...

Great Outdoors


Halong Bay
Heritage Line Violet is a small but luxurious wood-clad craft, built to resemble a traditional Asian junk. It has just 6 suites: 2 unique Junior Suites (main deck with balcony) and 4 decadent upper-deck Imperial Suites, complete with large windows and private balconies for expansive views of the bay.

Lan Ha Bay
Heritage Line Ginger is slightly bigger and the most upmarket, with a swimming pool, steam bath and spa facilities. There are just 12 Suites, spread over its 3 floors: all beautifully elegant with shiny wood floors, bamboo panelling and dove-grey tiles - so all attention is drawn to the huge views of sea and rock through big windows and from private balconies. Excellent mattresses are covered in crisp white linen, sparkling shower rooms come with robes and potions. The 2 Regent Suites have Jacuzzi tubs, too, and are more flamboyant in decor with scarlet mural walls.

Heritage Line Ylang is the newest vessel and has 10 Staterooms with 2 categories: Signature Suites with private balconies and Regency Suites, located on the upper deck with their own spacious balconies. Its design is Asian-Vietnamese with French-colonial accents. There is a big focus on wellness, with extensive spa facilities including a sauna and yoga room. A library lounge and terrace deck with pool are also ideal to pass the time when you're not out exploring or soaking up the views.


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. If you're sailing on Heritage Line Ginger, you can watch the chefs at work in the live kitchen.

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.


The below activities are subject to the bay chosen (Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay) and the itinerary selected (1 or 2 nights):

  • Make land at a small beach, where you can stop for a drink, swim and relax
  • Set sail on a sea kayak to get up close to the bay
  • Visit a floating village and witness centuries-old traditions
  • Go cycling on Cat Ba island or discover the caves of Sung Sot - they resemble a set from Raiders Of The Lost Ark
  • Wake for tai chi on the top deck. Your performance might be hopeless (ours certainly was), but the on-board master will show you how it’s done with seamless perfection; it is worth getting up simply to see this
  • Book a wonderful treatment in one of the dedicated spa compartments. We loved the Vietnamese massage therapy, which uses warm herbal compresses and lemongrass oil

Detailed activities for each cruise ship and destination, are included in the Itineraries below.

Activities include:

  • Cycling
  • Kayaking
  • Traditional cultures
Kid Friendly:

With Kids

Children under 5 years old are not allowed aboard. Children 5-12 years old benefit from special discounted rates. Connecting suites or extra beds are available.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available


There are 3 vessels, and a choice of 2- or 3-day itineraries:

Heritage Line Violet offers two cruise itineraries (2 days/1 night & 3 days/2 nights) through Halong Bay, both of which depart daily (see Location for departure points).

Heritage Line Ginger offers a 2-day/1-night cruise (daily departure), while Heritage Line Ylang offers a 3-day/2-night cruise (pre-arranged departure schedule) through the less-touristy Lan Ha Bay area.



For both Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay cruise destinations, check out this Google map.

Halong (or Ha Long) Bay is on the northeast coast of Vietnam. It's 170 km (2.5 hours drive) from Hanoi and most people stay there before and after their trip.

By Air:
Hanoi Noibai International (165km) is the closest.

Transfers By Car/Minibus:
All Hanoi hotels will be able to arrange transfers from their doorstep. The journey takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, private transfers from/to Hanoi to the marina or a round-trip transfer can be booked via the cruise line.

By Air:
If you want to get here in a hurry, helicopters will fly you up from Hanoi airport, but it's a good 40-minute drive from the city and the flight takes an hour, so unless you are transferring straight from the airport, or you are especially keen to see the world from the air, you’ll probably only save 30 minutes from the time of a normal transfer.

By Bus:
If you want to take the bus from Hanoi, you’ll have to ‘enjoy’ a 5- or 6-hour journey and the coach will be packed to the gunnels.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests


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