Few of the millions who visit Halong Bay each year ever set foot in a hotel. Instead nearly all sleep aboard a junk! While the vast majority of cruise operators shave corners to compete on price, a handful differentiate their cruises by offering upscale amenities or activites such as kayaking. Because the price you pay generally includes everything except beverages, this is one of those instances when you truly get what you pay for!
Nearly all operators offer an identical itinerary: arrive from Hanoi at Noon, board your chosen craft, lunch on seafood, visit an island or two, anchor before sunset, dine and sleep. Following breakfast, you return to the harbor where you are picked up and whisked back to Hanoi in time for dinner. This is dictated both by time and the fact provicial authorities require all boats to anchor overnight in the same area.
Aside from obvious attributes such as price and amenities, what differentiates one cruise from another is your fellow passengers. Most boats accommodate only about a dozen passengers and offer communal dining, so your enjoyment of the cruise is influenced by your fellow passengers. On one recent cruise, slightly inebriated 20-somethings aboard one boat provided amusement and eye candy for the slightly inebrietad 40 and 50-something passengers on our boat by doing canonballs off the top deck. If you prefer witty conversation to downing shots of sex on the beach, choose your boat accordingly! (Most operators will gladly describe their typical passenger profile if you ask).
Here are our recommendations:
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