Halong Bay is one of the highlights in Hanoi. It is about 188km away from Hanoi city. This is not the first time we visited Halong Bay. The first time I came here was a one-day trip, just a few hours on the cruise. That time we booked one day Halong Bay cruise with Klook.
This time we opted for 3 days 2 nights in Halong bay with Orchid Cruise. Most of the Halong Bay cruises offer a pick up and drop off service from Hanoi Hotel. It takes about 3 hours from your hotel to Halong Bay.
There are many cruises available in Halong Bay and we booked Orchid Classic Cruise. It has 14 cabins on board and all cabins has an ocean view. The cruises launched in 2016 so it’s pretty new.
Food and activities are planned for 3 days 2 nights. An English-speaking guide will be touring onboard. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all-inclusive.
Luxury van picks us up at around 7.30 from our hotel and go to few other hotels to pick up other guests. We arrived at the waiting lounge in Halong Bay at 11.30 am. After that, we catch the feeder boat to the Orchid Cruise because the water is too low for the bigger cruise to come near the marina.
It took about 15-20 mins to reach the Orchid Cruise, there are classic Orchid or Premium Orchid. We booked the Classic cruise. Upon boarding the cruise, the buffet-style for lunch was ready for us.
The first activity start from 3pm in the afternoon to the Dark and Bright caves which is an ideal place for an up close to Halong Bay by bamboo boat or kayak. If you choose bamboo boat, someone will be paddling for you and you can sit and relax and enjoy the view for about half an hr to 45 mins.
In the evening there are rice paper spring roll making on the cruise before dinner. Dinner starts at around 7pm with an elegant French and oriental style of fine dining.
The room in the Orchid Classic is quite spacious, we have 3 adults sharing a cabin which is about 36 to 72 sq meter. The decor inside the cabin was exotic wood and marble. In the bathroom, both shower and bathtub are provided. Free WiFi is available on the cruise but most of the time the connection was not great.
On the top deck of the cruise, there is a mini-bar that serves you alcohol and drinks. There is also a small jacuzzi but no swimming pool. You can always swim in Halong Bay river.
Ok, lets talk about day 2 in Halong Bay. We were out the whole day from 8 am. The feeder boat brings us the first activity, that is cyling in a village of Viet Hai Fishing village. It is about 5 km each way, there are also optional electric car service if you do not want to cycle. The road is pretty good except a few up and down hill so just watch up especially when it is downhill.
The way to Viet Hai fishing village is simply beautiful where at one point, you will cycle through a short dark tunnel. We stopped at one of the ancient house and banana was served.
Day 2 lunch was at the Orchid cruise, not the cruise where we stay but a different cruise with an air conditional dining area and public clean changing toilet and bathroom on board.
It was in June that we went so the weather was pretty hot. So it is very comfortable to dine on the aircon dining cruise. Food was served, not the buffet style but served to each group separately.
After lunch, we rest a while before we went for the next activity which is kayaking or swimming near the Bao Trai Dao (Three peach islets).
At around 5 pm we went back to our main cruise.
The dinner on the second night was another highlight, food was nicely served to our table individually. The presentation is very pretty with a mix of Vietnamese and western styles.
Some of the food that we had on the Orchid cruise.
Vietnamese egg coffee
On day 3, you can still do kayaking in the morning and early lunch was provided at around 10am. At about 11.30 we disembark Orchid cruise and back to Tuan Chau Marina where our transfer are there to pick us up to go back to Hanoi.
We reached Hanoi at around 2.30 pm.
The total charge per person for 3 days 2 nights is USD$275 including cabin, activities and food. Transfer from Hanoi and to the marina in Halong Bay is not inclusive. The transfer service is USD40 per person to and fro to Hanoi Hotel.
How long should you stay on the Halong Bay cruise? I would strongly recommend you to get 3 days 2 nights that way you have more time to relax and soak in the nature of Halong Bay. The second day is one of the highlights where we got to cycle in Viet Hai fishing village where you are able to enjoy the countryside in Vietnam and get up close with the paddy field and fishing village.
Food provided in Orchid Cruise is 9/10. The portion is enough and tastes very yummy and well presented on the table.
The cabin is very spacious and it has all the basic facilities that you require.