Overnight or 3 Days/2 Nights Halong Bay Cruise: Which is Better?

As a first timer out of the country and a first time cruiser, I got pretty excited about this Halong Bay cruise. According to all resources I’ve read, it’s a unanimous observation that you get what you pay for. So instead of booking a cheap cruise, I decided to level up from a third class to an average junk and didn’t bother shelling out more than $250 as my share for a 3d/2n in a twin suite cabin.

Hang Sung Sot Cave
Hang Sung Sot Cave

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However, there’s an option to book the same cruise overnight. So what’s the difference between an overnight stay and a 3d/2n cruise aside from the length of stay and price? And does a longer stay really fair better than a short one?

Ti Tpo Beach
Ti Top Beach
overlooking on top of Ti Top
overlooking on top of Ti Top

Please be informed that even if you book a 3d/2n cruise, you will still be joining others who booked an overnight stay only. This was quite a surprise for me when I learned that all of the guests inside the junk were only staying for a night except for the three of us. Therefore, all of us shared the same itinerary for the first day. Also note that this may not apply to all cruise companies. I booked with Glory Cruise, a mid ranged junk.

floating village
floating village

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For an overnight stay

First day activities:

  • Arrival
  • Cabin check in
  • Lunch
  • Visit to Surprise Cave
  • Visit and swimming (optional) to Hang Sung Sot
  • Cooking demo
  • Dinner (7 course meal)
  • Fishing

Second day activities:

  • Breakfast (I mean really awesome breakfast)
  • Sightseeing and feeding monkeys via tender (kayaking optional)
  • Early lunch
  • Pack up and check out

For a 3d/2n stay

The first and third days are the same as abovementioned. (second day being the third day for 3d/2n)

Second day

  • Transfer to a day boat
  • Sailing farther about an hour
  • Visit to the floating village
  • Visit to the pearl farm/store
  • Kayaking/swimming
  • Lunch
  • Transfer to main ship
  • Free time… free time… actually a very long free time
  • Dinner
  • Fishing
three small beaches and kayaks
three small beaches and kayaks
on top of Hang Sung Sot
on top of Hang Sung Sot

Our second day (for me) was pretty much boring. Sailing farther from shore took a lot of time and made me feel sleepy. We were only four in that ship. Visit to the pearl farm was quick and I honestly didn’t understand what the guy was saying even if he spoke English. Visit to the floating village was quite interesting but it didn’t suffice the lack of activity later that day. Kayaking was awesome though.

fishing after dinner
fishing after dinner
junks on stand by
junks on stand by

Going back to the question, as a young and active backpacker, I’d say that doing an overnight cruise is enough to see and admire this UNESCO Heritage Site. Activities you’ll do outside the ship will be squeezed into two days and there will be no lull period. Plus, you won’t have to shell out that much for an overnight stay and will have more time to explore Hanoi or nearby tourist destinations.

pearl farm
pearl farm

However, if you are one of those who would like to relax totally, don’t mind being in the cabin sleeping almost all day and could shell out a few hundred bucks, then doing a 3d/2n cruise is for you.

on the way to feed the monkeys
on the way to feed the monkeys

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