A vast majority of tourists in Halong Bay get there by joining a tour from one of several travel agencies in Hanoi. These agencies are often clustered around Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter, and provide services that range from budget to luxurious cruises.
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Choosing a Halong Bay Package Tour
Ha Long Bay’s visitors are spoiled with a variety of choices; they can go on a few hours cruise or a multiple night stay in a cabin aboard a tourist junk cruise, outdoor excursions around the bay, and a night or two stay on Cat Ba Island. The choices you have are only limited by your budget.
Low End: The price is approximately $50 to $90 per person; you can get a day trip to the bay that comes with:
A round way minibus or bus between Ha Long Bay and Hanoi.
A four hour tour around the bay aboard a tourist junk cruise.
Lunch aboard the cruise ship.
Excursions to a cave and fishing village in Ha Long Bay.
High End: A night or two aboard the many cruises which start from $160 per person. This trip includes:
Hotel pickup and drop-off in Hanoi.
A night aboard a deluxe junk cruise with meals.
Outdoor excursions and activities like biking, kayaking, and cave visits (ask your travel guide about the activities).
English speaking guide.
If you want a cruise with more than a night stay, the trip includes accommodation on Cat Ba Island.
You get what you pay for when it comes to choosing a cruise for your holiday. The more cash you spend on your cruise the better the package. The prices of the cruise will also vary depending on the season: high season on the bay is between July and August, expect prices to be high during this season. Tours around the bay are cheaper during the low months of November to March.
Booking A Tour Through Your Hotel: Pros and Cons
Almost every accommodation in Hanoi, from cheap hostels to posh, 5-star hotels, offers tour packages to Ha Long Bay. The same guidelines stated above apply, but is more uncertain; as accommodations often outsource these tours to travel agents, you have less control for the kind of tour you get, while paying more.
Make sure to choose your package wisely; the service you get tends to be as good as the hotel you get the tour from, so you’ll get a better package (though not guaranteed) from 3-star hotels and up. You will most likely get pickup and drop-off at your hotel lobby, if you book through your hotel.
If you’re on a budget, it is best to go directly to the tour company and book the tour.
Booking Your Ha Long Bay Trip – Tips
This is the key guideline to keep in mind: always ask about the inclusions before paying and not after. Avoid assuming something is part of the package simply because you paid top dollar for the tour. A kayaking tour that is not part of the itinerary can cost more than $50 per person.
Ask about the drinks and food. Drinks aboard a junk cruise can be quite pricey, like the equivalent of $ for one beer. The meals aboard the cruise might not be to your preference. Determine the meals included in the tour package, and check how much you need to pay for the extra meals or drinks you’ll be having.
Does the package come with pickup and drop-off at your hotel? Some packages offer hotel pickup but only drop-off guests in Old Quarter instead of directly to the hotel.
If your tour gets cancelled because of the weather, My Way Travel do offer refunds 100%.