2019 | How to Choose a Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise

Nguyen Thanh Hung - Updated July 27, 2019

Bai Tu Long Cruise for a trip to this beautiful destination? How to choose the right cruise is your biggest question? The same question comes to thousands of travelers around the world. Therefore, I wrote a detailed guide to solve your problem. 

Cruising in Bai Tu Long Bay (insta: nicolikixx)

Cruising in Bai Tu Long Bay (insta: nicolikixx)

The number of tourists visiting Bai Tu Long each year doesn’t even account a portion of 6 million tourists come to Halong Bay, that’s why this place is called as “The bay less traveled”. Bai Tu Long Bay is a substitute for Halong Bay with the same charm but less crowded. However, it’s difficult to get good information about Bai Tu Long cruises. In Hanoi, there are operators offering much higher price in order to increase profit. The low price cruises impersonate the other company with suspicious front counter selling overpriced tours.  Assuming this situation is rare, but who knows it can happen to you or not.

Below are tips to choose a Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise plus information, review and prices for Bai Tu Long trip.

A cruise in Bai Tu Long Bay

A cruise in Bai Tu Long Bay

1. Why go on a Bai Tu Long Cruise

You may hesitate when choosing Bai Tu Long Bay instead of Halong Bay. It is understandable since Halong Bay is much more famous, and there are tons of good reviews and article about this place on the Internet. Halong Bay also has a long list of beautiful caves such as Thien Cung Cave, Dau Go Cave, Sung Sot Cave, Trinh Nu Cave… along with many peaceful floating fishing villages. Bai Tu Long Bay, on the other hand, has fewer attractions but they are as charming as those in Halong Bay. If you really want to see the caves, Bai Tu Long also has marvelous ones: Thay Cave, Cap La Cave and Thien Canh Son Cave. Visiting floating fishing village is also offer in Bai Tu Long cruise itinerary.

Thien Canh Son Cave

Thien Canh Son Cave

The biggest reason you should go to Bai Tu Long Bay is that this place is less crowded and polluted than Halong Bay. Bai Tu Long is known for its preserved biodiversity and remained pristine with clean water and fresh air thanks to the low popularity. Many tourists had bad experience with the crowds in Halong Bay, especially in the peak season when the pollution gets worse.

If you love to enjoy your time in a tranquil environment, just go for Bai Tu Long Bay right away! You will rarely see another ship while cruising and if you are a person who takes a lot of photos during traveling, good news is they won’t be ruined by other people. All of these factors are enough to create a completely relaxing voyage for you.

Bai Tu Long Bay & Bai Tu Long Bay Compare

 

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Halong Bay Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise compare

2. Decide how long you want to go and the itinerary

Many cruises in Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay have the same itinerary.

Based on the duration of the trip – 2 days 1 night and 3 days 2 nights – I provide 2 types of itinerary.

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Bai Tu Long Bay 2 Days 1 Night Cruise 

DAY 1: HANOI- HALONG BAY 

12:00: Arrive at Tuan Chau International Passenger Port.

12:45: Enjoy welcome drinks from the staff while the Cruise manager re-check the itinerary and safety condition before start your journey on cruise.

13:00: Let’s having tasty lunch while cruising to the Southwest of Halong Bay

15:00: The first stop is Tien Ong Cave which has mysterious beauty and is an archaeological site. This is one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay and covered by 1000 m2 of spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.

foods-for-bai-tu-long-bay-cruise-2-day-1-night

Having tasty lunch while cruising to the Southwest of Halong Bay

16:00: Stop in swimming area to immerse in the clear blue sea of Halong Bay

17:00: Relax at the bar onboard with nice drinks. This is a chance to meet other passengers.

17:30: The boat anchors for overnight.

Cooking class demonstrating how to carve fruits and make authentic Vietnamese food. Or you can enjoy the admirable dusk scenery of Halong Bay from the sundeck.

19:00: Having dinner with various menus onboard. The Manager will introduce the program of Day 2 in the dinner.

21:00: Back to your cabin if you need to rest or take part in squid fishing. Overnight onboard. 

 

Back to your cruise in the afternoon to relax and have some drinks before dinner (insta: jessleeflint)

DAY 2: HALONG BAY - HANOI 

06:15: Enjoy the dawn of Halong Bay on the sundeck or start your morning with Tai Chi lesson. The slow movement of Tai Chi can help you refresh your mind and your body. Tea and coffee are served.

07:00: Enjoy light breakfast on board while the cruise’s sailing to Cua Van floating fishing village

07:45: Visit Cua Van floating fishing village, one of the 11 world’s beautiful small towns accordance to huffingtonpost.com. Time for kayaking or you can choose bamboo boat to explore the local life in Halong Bay.

09:00: Return to your boat. Relax and enjoy lunch before checking out.

10:45: Return to Tuan Chau International Passenger Port

Locals selling things at Cua Van floating fishing village

Locals selling things at Cua Van floating fishing village

Bai Tu Long Bay 3 days 2 nights Cruise

DAY 1: HANOI - HALONG BAY

Depart from Hanoi to Halong City in the morning. After the arrival, you’ll get on the cruise heading to swimming and kayaking location. The lunch is served while cruising to the spot, which also the place for anchor overnight - near Trong Cave. You can kayak to discover the cave in the evening, or spend time on the deck chatting and having nice drinks while enjoying the peaceful night of Halong Bay.

DAY 2: BAI TU LONG BAY - QUAN LAN ISLAND

After breakfast, the cruise will sail to the North of Cai Rong Island. Arrive Bai Tu Long, you will move to a smaller boat to travel among the islets, around the bay, and visit local floating fishing villages. The boat stops at Quan Lan Island, where the homestay for overnight is located and you will need to ride a bicycle for a short distance to reach it. You can learn the recipe of Vietnam spring rolls and squid fish since the owners of the homestay organizes a cooking class. A bottle of local alcohol and card games may keep you up all night. 

You can bring your kid to go kayaking with you in Bai Tu Long Bay (insta: maisonawayfromhome)

You can bring your kid to go kayaking with you in Bai Tu Long Bay (insta: maisonawayfromhome)

DAY 3: BAI TU LONG BAY - HANOI

Start your morning early to discover Quan Lan Island. You can hop on a bike to visit the small fishing market in the island or spend time enjoying the beach before return to the boat. Then you will go to the kayaking location for a few hours then return to Cai Rong Island that you finish the tour. The transfer car waiting on the island will take you back to Hanoi.

Let's go on a Bai Tu Long Bay cruise adventure!

3. How to Pick a Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise

After 2 millenniums of formation, 2000 islets have been impacted by the weather of the tropical climate. Bai Tu Long Bay, a part of Tonkin Gulf, attracts a lot of companies to run cruise tours, and here are things you need to consider before booking.

The basics: How many days are you going to stay in Bai Tu Long Bay? May you want to visit Halong Bay as well? The typical duration of Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise is 3 days with 1 night in Bai Tu Long Bay and 1 night in Halong Bay. Some cruises departing from Hon Gai Port even don’t have Ha Long Bay in their itinerary.

Bai Tu Long Bay Cruises depart infrequently and have a higher price than cruise sailing in Halong Bay only

Bai Tu Long Bay Cruises depart infrequently and have a higher price than cruise sailing in Halong Bay only

  • Cruise options: Do you prefer a basic cruise or premium one with well-prepared dishes and decorative cabins?  Are you interested in a Bai Tu Long Cruise covering biking and kayaking? Or you want a low price cabin on a big boat or to add a little to your payment for a less-touristy boat? Backpackers tend to choose Halong Bay cruise, Bai Tu Long Bay cruises are mainly upper mid-range with low capacity.
  • Booking Options: Would you rather book Bai Tu Long Bay cruise online or in arrival? Should it be a local or international operator? Hanoi has a lot of travel agencies, so to avoid travel scams, it is necessary to do research based on your needs before actually booking.
  • Costs and Inclusions: What is your budget? How about the transportation for moving between Hanoi and Halong Bay? What does the price cover? How much is a beer onboard? The price range of Bai Tu Long Bay cruises is from $100 to $800. Ask for the inclusion beforehand and list things you are going to pay for and things you will do yourself.

4. Best Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise Operators

Bai Tu Long Bay cruises provide a wide range of itineraries, wide varied level of accommodation and wide price ranging. It can be $100 up to $800. With my experience and research, here are some of the excellent cruise operators:

Ethnic Travel: Best budget-friendly cruise

Amazing dishes served on the cruise of  Ethnic travel

Amazing dishes served on the cruise of  Ethnic travel

Bai Tu Long Bai cruises offered by Ethnic Travel show the famous attractions plus hidden places in Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay. One of the cruises’ stop is Quan Lan Island - a remote spot in Bai Tu Long Bay – where you can bike, join in cooking class and overnight in a homestay.

Swan Cruises Halong: Best moderate-priced cruise

Swan cruise deck Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise

Swan cruise deck

The itinerary of Swan Cruises in Bai Tu Long Bay is similar to others’, but they have differentiation: better rooms and local tour guides. Swan Cruises departs from Hon Gai Wharf and only cruise in Bai Tu Long Bay.

 

Indochina Junk: Best deluxe cruise 

Although Indochina Junk brands their Bai Tu Long Cruises as luxurious cruises, the reviews on the services proved that it’s worth paying. They offer spa, sundeck and big windows in every room which will make your vacation memorable.

 

Traditional Vietnamese patterns are used to decor this beautiful deluxe cruise (insta: christinexplores)

If you need more detail information, feel free to contact us! 

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Based on choices of travellers earlier this year