A Halong Bay Luxury Luxury Cruise is the best way to see this magical part of Vietnam! Yet, with over 1,600 islands to explore picking the right company is essential to having the best experience in this natural wonder of the world. We did our Halong Bay luxury boat tour with Bhaya Cruises and we can’t recommend them enough! Come aboard the Au Co Cruise as we breakdown why it’s worth it to spend the extra money on this boat trip.
Boarding Our Halong Bay Luxury Cruise
We were picked up from our hotel in Hanoi around 9am with a few other passengers in a 7 person minivan. It’s actually called a limousine van in Vietnam, and we used the same transport to the north when we did the amazing Ha Giang Loop. From Hanoi it’s about a 2 hour drive to Halong Bay.
When booking a Halong Bay boat tour it’s important to work out your own transportation or pre-arrange it with your company. We boarded the Au Co Cruise just after noon to traditional music and drums as the friendly staff welcomed us aboard.
Au Co Cruise vs. Other Ha Lang Bay Boats
There are several options to choose from when booking your Halong bay tour such as a day trip, overnight, or two day trip. While the Au Co Cruise is one of the higher end ships that sail through Halong Bay, there are some things that separate it from the rest.
When hopping aboard the Au Co with Bhaya Cruises you will not only travel through Halong Bay, but also venture through the beautiful Gulf of Tonken.
Additionally, the boat is made of steel which is stronger than the traditional wooden junk boats. We stayed in the Au Co Suite at the very front of the boat, and oh was it magical! Our room on this Halong Bay luxury cruise was complete with a queen size bed, full bathroom, bathtub, and large balcony.
Facts About the Au Co Cruise
- 180 foot long steel boat
- 32 rooms all with private balconies
- Full bar and restaurant on 2nd floor
- Large rooftop sundeck with lounge chairs
- Elegant Spa and Jacuzzi
Best Halong Bay Luxury Cruise Activities Off the Boat
You might imagine your days sailing through Halong Bay sitting on the top deck, sipping a cocktail, and watching the world pass you by. While this will definitely happen, there are so many other fun activities to fill your time if you choose.
From kayaking through a floating village to biking on Cat Ba Island. Some of our favorite moments were actually adventures we had off our Halong Bay boat cruise!
Kayaking Through Cua Van Floating Village
For our first activity with Bhaya Cruises we got right back out on the water! The people of the Cua Van floating village have lived here for generations and make a living mostly from fishing sea bass, oysters, and squid.
There used to be about 500 families living here, but in 2014 the government resettled more than half of the people to the main harbor. You can either choose to kayak around the floating village, or hop on a small boat and see it with one of the locals.
Cat Ba Island Bicycle Ride
On the second day with Bhaya Cruises we started off by taking a smaller boat to Cat Ba Island. You’ll notice that they utilize the smaller boats to get from place to place for many of the activities here.
Once we arrived at the dock on Cat Ba we were unfortunately hit with an unrelenting downpour for our entire bike ride. Still, the rain didn’t take away at all from beauty of the 8km track!
The bicycle path is mostly flat with only one small hill that you can easily walk up. After we finished the first half of the ride we arrived at a local village on Cat Ba.
Here the guide explained about the village and their non-profit to Save the Langur Monkeys. These are an endangered species of monkeys living in the nature park, and they are definitely worth protecting.
Swimming at Ba Trai Dao Beach
Swimming at Ba Trai Dao is the only opportunity you’ll have to get in the water while on the Au Co Cruise so it’s time to dive right in! Due to the weather we weren’t expecting so many people to come, but when we got there other travelers were quick to jump into the turquoise water.
Even if you don’t plan to swim it’s nice to head to the small strip of sand to see the boat and mountains from the beach. You can even swim to another beach across the bay if you’re feeling adventurous!
Kayaking to Ba Ham Lake
Although we got a taste of getting on the water the day before, kayaking to Ba Ham Lake was the grand finale! Our Halong Bay boat cruise docked near the two caves that we would paddle through. One of coolest parts is that they are completely dark so you’ll have to wear a headlight to see.
Once you get to the other side you will come out to the gorgeous lake where you’ll have some time to explore and paddle around. While the Langur’s are very rare now, we did see other types of monkeys up in the trees playing above the lake.
Meals on the Halong Bay Boat Cruise
The thing that truly made the Au Co stand out among other Halong Bay luxury cruises for us was the meals. Breakfast on the Au Co is buffet style with an omelette and pho soup station. Lunch consists of a starter, soup, entree, and dessert. Then for dinner it’s stepped up a notch with starters and the main course served family style.
To say we were excited for dinner would be an understatement once we saw the menu! It started off with a chicken stew with lotus seed and red apple, then we had refreshing green papaya salad with beef all before the main course.
After reading the list we initially thought we had to pick a main course from six different options. Yet to our surprise we would find out we were getting all of them to taste! They brought the plates out one by one and each dish seemed better than the next.
Our personal favorites were the seafood options, and in particular the lemongrass sea bass. The 2nd night of our Halong Bay boat tour we had a self serve barbecue. This western asian fusion was very well done, and fit the upscale theme of the Au Co Cruise.
Halong Bay Luxury Cruise Onboard Activities
Bhaya Cruises Happy Hour
Every day from 5pm to 6:30pm is happy hour. On our boat they had a buy one get one free deal that cost 160,000 VND. Be sure to try the unique mixed drink specials! Our personal favorite was the Au Co Breeze which consisted of rum, ginger, mint, and other fruity flavors.
Morning Tai Chi
If you’re an early riser there’s no better way to start your day than with traditional Tai Chi. The ancient exercise originated in China as a martial art, and is now practiced around the world. The slow motion stretching and movement of Tai Chi has been known to improve muscle strength and fitness, as well as getting your body and soul right.
Tour the Halong Bay Luxury Boat
On the first day you’ll have the opportunity to tour the engine room and where the captain operates from. This is the only Halong Bay boat cruise that allows you to do this so we highly recommend it.
If you have you have any energy left on the last night there is a special fishing experience. The Halong Bay waters are known for its plethora of squid, and the fisherman have a unique way of catching them. The sea creatures are actually drawn to the light so the night makes for the best time to fish.
They do this by shining bright lights over the water to get them to come to the surface. On Bhaya Cruises you will get to see how they do this firsthand, and even take a stab at it yourself!
Master Chef Competition
They’ll also have some sort of fun going on at happy hour like learning how to roll spring rolls. After a quick lesson from the head chef we had an interactive rolling competition.
Should you take a Halong Bay Luxury Cruise?
Yes, absolutely! We had an incredible trip on the Au Co Cruise. In addition to having all these amazing luxury amenities on a boat, the staff treated us like family.
It’s that kind of service that truly separates Bhaya Cruises from other tour experiences we’ve had. After taking a Halong Bay Luxury Cruise along with other types of boats, we can definitely say it’s worth the money!
Just note that because of its luxurious style and price it does tend to attract an older crowd, many of whom are on longer multi-country tours. Even if this Halong Bay luxury cruise is out if your price range, Bhaya Cruises offers different boats for every budget including day trips.
Have any questions about our Halong Bay luxury cruise or want to give your own Halong Bay boat tour recommendations? Comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where To Stay In Hanoi Vietnam
Ultra Luxury – Peridot Grand Luxury Boutique Hotel – Amazing luxury property with a rooftop swimming pool overlooking Hanoi.
Fun Vacation – Scent Premium Hotel – Located in the center of the Old Quarter and just a quick 2 minute walk to the lake.
Budget Travel – Nova Luxury Hotel – Right next to the Hanoi Old Quarter with a beautiful chic design.
Hostel Life –Little Charm Hanoi Hostel – Clean rooms, soft beds, and in the heart of Hanoi. Great budget option in one of our favorite places to visit in Vietnam.
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Vietnam Travel Planning
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