Halong Bay is one of those places you need to see for yourself to believe. This UNESCO World Heritage site is located on the northeast skirts of Vietnam and is home to an astonishing 2,000 islands.
To fully take in the seemingly endless islands, an overnight cruise is a must. There are so many cruise options to choose from which can be pretty daunting at first.
We wanted to take a cruise that had plenty of activities to do while onboard. We went with the Au Co Luxury Cruise from Bhaya Cruises.
For 3-days and 2-nights we packed in as many fun activities as we could.
Here are the top 12 things we did while on the Au Co Luxury Cruise in Halong Bay:
1. Tour Cat Ba island on bikes
One of the major stops of your three day cruise is Cat Ba island. This rugged island is the largest in Halong Bay and is home to a protected national park, as well as remote fishing communities.
It is here where you have the opportunity to partake in several day activities including bike riding and trekking. You also get to visit a small community farm that Bhaya Cruises sponsors that sources the produce you eat on the cruise.
2. Visit Cua Van floating fishing village
Cua Van is the largest fishing village in Halong Bay with a population of roughly 700 inhabitants nestled in nearly 200 floating households.
Arriving by kayak, you get an inside peek into the culture and everyday lives of the Cua Van people. Walking among the makeshift fishing nets was definitely a highlight of our cruise.
3. Drink snake wine
What is snake wine you may ask? Snake wine is what you get when you take venomous snakes, drop them into a jug of rice wine, let them sit for several months, and call it a day.
Sound like a death wish? This Vietnamese concoction is actually safe to drink and is said to “revitalize” those who dare to drink it.
Lucky for us we had shots waiting for us at one of the secluded villages on Cat Ba. Mot, Hai, Ba, YOOOO!!!!! (one, two, three, cheers!!!)
4. Kayak in Halong Bay
Not only do you get to see the islands of Halong Bay from the cruise ship, you also get to hop on kayaks and do even more sight seeing.
Consider these kayaks your little vessels to explore the islands, floating fishing village, and beach. Plus your group has a guide there to give you the full tour.
5. Relax and swim at the beach
One of the nice parts about seeing Halong Bay on a 3-day cruise is that you get the chance to relax and swim at the beach while the ship is anchored.
There’s nothing quite like floating in the water while looking up at the rocky green islands all around you.
6. Before and after dinner activities
If you haven’t already noticed, the Au Co crew does an excellent job keeping you entertained at all points of the day.
Take for instance the few hours before and after dinner. Everyday there are buy-one get-one happy hours, as the sun begins to set over the Bay (I highly recommend taking advantage of this lovely perk).
Other activities include a “Master Chef” competition where select passengers compete in making the best Vietnamese fresh rolls, a fruit carving demonstration, and evening movies on deck.
7. Squid fishing
While this one falls into the after dinner activity category mentioned above, we thought it warranted its own callout.
Flick the spotlights on, drop a line over the side of the ship, and try your hand at squid fishing. Only the skilled go home with a squid picture for the ‘gram, so make sure you practice up.
8. Get a massage
While we did not end up getting a massage while onboard, I will definitely say we were jealous of those who did.
Tucked away in a private area at the back of the boat was the spa area. I recommend setting some time aside for a massage (or maybe two). It might not be bad to schedule one for the morning and start the day off right.
9. Relax in the jacuzzi
After our daily adventures, we headed straight to the jacuzzi in the back of the ship. This cozy little spot gives you views of cliffs right off the back of the boat just as golden hour hits the bay. The perfect setup for some pre-dinner relaxation.
10. BBQ on the cruise deck
After the long fun-filled days of activities, the last night of the cruise is capped off with a full on BBQ on the sundeck of the ship. The feast is quite impressive and will not leave you disappointed. Shrimp, squid, fish, veggies, desserts… the list goes on.
11. Morning Tai Chi
The days and nights onboard the Au Co are packed with activities, making your bed seem that much more comfortable each morning.
If you’re able to pull yourself out of bed for a bright and early Tai Chi lesson, you will not be disappointed.
Not only is it interesting learning the basics of Tai Chi, it is quite therapeutic standing on the top deck as the ship weaves in and out of passing islands.
12. Visit Tien Ong Cave
On the last morning of the cruise we made a pit stop at the Tien Ong Cave. The sights were truly amazing with stalagmites and stalactites everywhere you looked.
The cave was actually once home to ancient Vietnamese people dating back 10,000 – 8,000 years ago. This stop was the perfect way to round out the trip before we headed back to the port.
If you are planning a trip to Halong Bay, we feel that a 3-day, 2-night cruise is a must. The amount of fun activities that the Au Co luxury cruise enabled us to do was simply amazing.
We would definitely recommend it to any of our clients looking to make the trip here.
Hands down, Halong Bay was one of the most amazing places we have ever been to in our lives.
If you have never been to this UNESCO World Heritage site, I highly recommend making it one of your next vacation destinations.