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About Halong Bay

Often referred to as the 'Bay of the Descending Dragons', Halong Bay is your gateway to Hanoi. Local legend has it that the gods sent down a family of dragons to protect Hai Phong from invaders, especially the Chinese, and defend their land.

While the dragons' watched over the land, their mighty tails carved the rocky seabed and Halong Bay was created. Cruises here will reveal the natural wonder of Vietnam, with 3000 or more incredible islands rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.

These tiny islands are dotted with beautiful beaches and dramatic grottoes, created by the natural forces of the wind and waves. In 1994 Halong Bay was designated a World Heritage site. Hanoi is a city that carefully combines Vietnam's rich history with today's rapid and changing cultures. Here you will find a lovely combination of lakes, temples, monuments, shaded boulevards and cosmopolitan cafés. Halong Bay cruise itineraries include a visit to the Fine Arts Museum, a tour to see Ho Chi Minh's embalmed body and a journey to the Old Quarter, for anything from beautifully coloured silk to traditional medicines.

 

Shore excursions in Halong Bay

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Halong Countryside

Activity mediumRefreshments included

Duration: 5½ hours

A chance to experience rural life on a home visit to a local farm and gain an insight into Vietnamese beliefs and local life.

Take in the scenic countryside of Halong, passing villages surrounded by bamboo fences and limestone walls, en route to the Giac Tam Buddhist Zen Monastery. The Giac Tam was the first Buddhist Zen monastery in the north and is situated at the site of Cai Bau Pagoda next to the famous Bai Tu Long Bay. Here, you’ll learn of the history of Vietnamese’s Buddhist Zen, which started in the 13th century when the Tran Kings climbed into this primitive forest and dedicated their life to Buddhism, following their victory over the Kublaikhan troop.

Leaving the monastery, you’ll drive to a small local village to gain an insight into rural life. As you walk into the village, a stop will be made at the home of a local farmer. Here you can chat, interact with the family and learn of their lives and ways of worship, while you sip a cup of green tea. You can also admire the Farmers garden and discover what produce is harvested.

Afterwards, you can enjoy the Halong countryside once again as you take the return drive to the ship.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. There are approximately 40 steps to negotiate at the Zen Monastery and approximately 1½ hours of total walking time. The ground in the village may be rough and uneven in places. Shoes must be removed when entering the Monastery.

Hanoi, the Jewel of Vietnam's Crown

Activity highMeal includedShopping

Duration: 11 hours

Boasting glorious French colonial architecture and numerous lakes, Hanoi is a little known blend of east and west.

Sit back, relax and take in the scenery of the Red River Delta on the 3½ hour drive to Hanoi. A comfort stop will be made at the ABC Plaza where you can also browse the local handicrafts on display.

Upon arrival at Hanoi, visit the Temple of Literature, founded in 1076 as a Confucian temple. Walk through the tranquil walled courtyards and around the site of Vietnam's first university that stood here from 1076 to 1947. See the pavilion where 'men of letters' once recited poetry.

Indulge in a delicious lunch at a local restaurant in Hanoi.

View the exterior of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an impressive marble and granite memorial to the 'father' of the country. Enjoy a walk to the simple teak building of Ho Chi Minh's Cottage, built in the style of the ethnic hill tribe homes.

Visit the Ngoc Son Pagoda perched on a tiny island in the central lake and only accessible by a small footbridge. Back on board the coach you’ll pass Hoan Kiem Lake and hear the legend of how the island got its name, which means 'Lake of the Restored Sword'.

Nearby is the ancient quarter. After an orientation drive through the narrow streets, time permitting, you can explore further on foot before your return journey.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Comfortable, flat, walking shoes are recommended as there is up to 2 hours walking on this tour. Temperatures may be high during the day, but can turn colder, so we recommend you wear layered clothing.

Junk Cruise on Halong Bay

Activity mediumShopping

Duration: 3 hours

Halong Bay has more than 3,000 islands, a blue sea, secret grottoes and sandy beaches well worth enjoying on this Junk Boat ride.

Enter the mystical world and World Heritage Site of Halong Bay aboard a Junk boat. The warm, welcoming smiles of the friendly crew will set the mood as you embark on your voyage into the Bay of the Descending Dragon. Legend says that Halong is the translated name of a descending mother dragon, which came to help the Vietnamese fight against the northern invaders. After victory, the mother dragon and her babies decided to stay in the Bay and turned into islands to form a great barrier of mountains to protect the locals.

The Bay is truly a natural wonder with over 3,000 islands and endless limestone grottoes. The Junk will stop to disembark passengers for a visit to Thien Cung Cave or Dau Go Cave. There are 100 steps to climb up to the Cave and nearly 100 steps down to the exit. Those who do take the challenge will find themselves lost in the colourful and splendid dome of the Caves. The Junk will sail from the drop-off point to pick up passengers at the exit of the Caves. Those who do not wish to participate should remain on board the Junk.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by motorised Junk Boat and on foot. There are several steps to negotiate to board the Junk. The Junk boats are not air-conditioned and are fitted with very basic toilet facilities. There is no PA system on board the Junk. At the end of your cruise, it is important that you remain seated inside the Junk and do not venture out onto the open decks during disembarkation. Passengers are not permitted to sit on the open top deck during the junk cruise. Comfortable, non-slip shoes are recommended. The cave visit is weather dependent, in wet conditions this part of the tour will be omitted and additional time will be spent cruising the Bay.

Kayaking Adventure

Activity highMeal included

Duration: 8½ hours

Sea kayaking is an incredible way to explore caves, lagoons and paddle up to visit fishermen in their woven bamboo boats.

One of the great natural wonders of Asia, Halong Bay is admired for its outstanding beauty. Referred to as the ‘Bay of the Descending Dragon’, it is home to more than 3,000 limestone islets, each rising from the calm water. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by human presence.

Local myths tell that when the forefathers of the land were fighting foreign invaders from the north, the gods from heaven sent a family of dragons to help defend the land. The dragons descended upon what is now Halong Bay and showered it with jewels and jade. Once they hit the sea, these treasures turned into islands that functioned as natural barriers against invaders.

In your 2 man kayak, you’ll paddle through some of the many caves, which lead to breathtaking lagoons and floating villages to experience this unique way of life. You’ll visit the Ba Hang (Three Cave) area, before enjoying a rest and lunch onboard a traditional junk boat.

After lunch, continue paddling in your kayak to Luon Cave and the local fishing village before visiting the Thien Cung and Dau Go Caves. The junk boat will then complete your adventure, gently sailing back to Halong Bay.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by junk boat and kayak. The junk boat is a motorised sailboat. Participants should be competent swimmers and physically fit. All participants must be 18 years or over and weigh more than 6 stone and less than 14 stone. Please take a hat, sunglasses, shoes that can get wet, a towel and plenty of non-oil sunblock.

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