Drone shot of Halong Bay luxury cruise ship with mountains in the background

The #1 Luxury Halong Bay Cruise + Runners Up & Video | 2023

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Choosing the best luxury Halong Bay cruise can seem daunting with all the options! Watch the video and read this article to find out which is best for you.

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2-Day Aspira Cruise

If you want a luxury Halong Bay cruise but also don’t want to empty your wallet then book the exact tour we went on here. All of the activities on the boat are included in the price, the food is excellent and the rooms are beautifully decorated.

If you’re not as concerned about the money then for the absolute pinnacle of luxury then check out Le Theatre Cruise.

Incredible LUXURY HALONG BAY Cruise! We tried ALL the activities!

Halong Bay

Halong Bay is utterly gorgeous. This UNESCO world heritage site boasts some of the most incredible sites that I have ever seen in my whole life. But, you already know that and that’s why you’re considering taking a luxury Halong Bay cruise to see this wonder with a little bit of opulence.

I don’t blame you.

We tried both a 1-day tour and then went back for the overnight experience. If you’re interested in the 1-day tour then check out our guide here. It costs less and is still a very good experience. However, there really is no comparison when it comes to deciding which is best.

Read More: Is A 1 Day Halong Bay Cruise Better For You?


The Best Luxury Halong Bay Cruises: Aspira

We went with Aspira Cruise and we chose them because of the insane amount of 5-star reviews they have, and we were not disappointed!

Key Information

  • Tour Duration: 2 days, 1 night
  • Pickup Included: Additional fee
  • Age Suitable For: Any
  • Need To Take: Overnight bag
  • Start Time: 8 am
  • Lunch Included: All meals

Click here to check availability and prices

Top deck of luxury Halong Bay cruise ship with brown sun loungers and swimming pool at the end

The boat, the food and the service on an Aspira cruise is just fantastic. From the minute you’re picked up to the minute you’re dropped off, you’re treated like a 5* guest. You have the option of different suite types (upgrade if you can – the terraces with the executive and presidential rooms are amazing!) but everyone on the boat gets access to the same amenities. Take a dip in the outdoor pool on the top deck, enjoy a massage in the spa or enjoy a sunset cocktail at the bar.

All of the activities are included in the price, so make sure you take advantage of the opportunities to go kayaking, swimming and squid fishing. There’s a cooking demonstration, plus the chance to show off your karaoke skills after dinner if you’re brave enough!

Read our full review of Aspira’s luxury Halong Bay cruises here.

Click here to check availability and prices


Le Theatre Cruise

If your budget can stretch to it then you also have the option of an incredible 3-day, 2-night cruise with Le Theatre. This is one of a kind experience on an absolutely gorgeous boat – book this luxury Halong Bay cruise for your honeymoon or anniversary trip!

Key Information

  • Tour Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
  • Pickup Included: Additional fee
  • Age Suitable For: Any
  • Need To Take: Overnight bag
  • Start Time: 7:30 am
  • Lunch Included: All meals

Click here to check availability and prices

Having an extra day on the boat means that there are so many more fun things to do on the trip! The first and third days will be very similar to most other luxury Halong Bay cruises, but the second day will give you time to explore the surrounding areas a little more.

You’ll visit a local village and take a cycling tour around before returning to the main boat and cruising through even more stunning scenery.

Evening image of outdoor pool on roofdeck of boat

You can relax in the afternoon and enjoy the sundeck, mixing with your fellow travellers and taking a leisurely swim in the outdoor pool!

Click here to check availability and prices


Genesis Regal Cruises

This boat is stunning and you have the choice of booking as a solo traveller if you need to. There is a surcharge but most people would prefer to have their own room than share with a stranger.

Key Information

  • Tour Duration: 2 days, 1 night
  • Pickup Included: Yes
  • Age Suitable For: Any
  • Accessible: Yes
  • Start Time: 8:30 am
  • Lunch Included: All meals

Click here to check availability and prices

This is a great option if you want more flexibility with your cruise. Not only is there a solo option, but kayaking is also an optional extra. It means that you aren’t paying for things that you don’t want to do which is always a bonus, especially if you can’t physically join in for medical reasons or having children in the group.

The Genesis Regal boat is gorgeous too, with an onboard jacuzzi pool and outdoor bar where there will be a sunset party just before dinner. It’s a great way to meet other travellers, both local and international!

Click here to check availability and prices

Cruise Hunters

The itinerary is similar to the Aspira cruise but there are other options including a combo Hanoi hotel + Halong Bay cruise or even a trip with a helicopter ride!

Key Information

  • Tour Duration: 2 days, 1 night
  • Pickup Included: Yes
  • Age Suitable For: Any
  • Need To Take: Overnight bag
  • Onboard Activities: Yes
  • Lunch Included: x2

Click here to check availability and prices

The best thing about this luxury Halong Bay cruise company is that you can pretty much choose any combination to fit any budget!

There are also options for different types of travellers so it makes it easier to choose between each boat. Go on a party cruise if you fancy a late-night boogie or pick the boat with an evening kayak to spot the luminescent plankton!

Read More: Try These Awesome Street Food Tours In Hanoi

White cruise ship with 4 decks and swimming pool at top from side on

The main activities will be similar across the boat – kayaking, visiting the caves and hiking – but the vibes will be different!

Round-trip transfers are also included so the price of the tour is exactly what you pay, and you don’t have to worry about arranging extra transport on the morning of your luxury Ha Long Bay cruise.

Click here for more information and prices of these options


Athena Cruise

This is one of the cheaper boat trips so if you’re on a budget take a look at this one – but don’t worry about the quality of the trip because the boat is still as luxurious as the rest!

Key Information

  • Tour Duration: 2 days, 1 night
  • Pickup Included: Additional fee
  • Age Suitable For: Any
  • Need To Take: Overnight bag
  • Start Time: 8 – 8:30 am
  • Lunch Included: All meals

Click here to check availability and prices

Close up of yellow kayak in Halong Bay with mountains in the distance

You can choose from an elegant suite on the 2nd floor or an executive suite on the 1st floor – either one will be gorgeous so just look at the photos before you book!

The small details make this an even better trip – free WiFi onboard so that you can share your experience with everyone back home, a decent Happy Hour before dinner and complimentary fruit in your cabin.

All of the activities are included in the price so if you do want to go kayaking then you don’t have to pay anything extra for this.

Click here to book a room on an Athena cruise


The Best Luxury Halong Bay Cruise: Our Aspira Experience

Let’s get right into it! We did quite a lot of research before booking and wanted to experience some serious luxury without having to pay a crazy amount of money.

Read More: The Best Cooking Schools In Hanoi

Booking our Aspira luxury cruise was very easy. We actually only booked the evening before the cruise and they were incredibly helpful in getting this completed in time. The bus that picked us up was pretty damn nice, the AC worked well and the seats were comfortable.

Luxury red and white leather seats on bus

Our guide, Bobby, was chatty the whole way there and told us some fascinating stories about the local area and Vietnamese culture. It was good to feel like we could ask him anything and we knew that we would be looked after well.

When we arrived at Halong Bay, we were taken to a nice cool waiting room where we waited for about 10 minutes for the boat to get loaded with our luggage (a small transport boat that takes you to the main boat out to sea).

Front of boat overlooking Halong Bay

For any luxury Halong Bay cruise, you can expect the boat to be too big for the harbour which means that you will have to get a smaller boat to the main ship. This will take around 20 minutes.

As soon as the boat came into sight, we could tell how nice it actually was. One thing we were really impressed with was the fact that the boat looked exactly like it did in the photos – a rarity these days! We walked straight into a gorgeous reception area (yes, a reception on a boat!) that set the standard for the rest of the ship.

Read More: Check Out The Phu Quoc Night Market Here

Lunch

As you arrive at the boat at around 12:30, everyone heads straight upstairs where you have a table set up ready for you and the size of your group. There is no shuffling around, moving tables and all that nonsense. This level of customer service is maintained throughout the whole experience.

A short welcome message is given in English and Vietnamese by the very capable cruise manager and lunch begins. This was the only part of the cruise where I was sceptical about going in.

Buffet bar in the middle of a room

I don’t know about you but I always go through the reviews quite thoroughly before booking and something I realised, with many luxury Halong Bay cruises, was that there were lots of people complaining about the food.

I shouldn’t have been worried – I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the lunch and it was well above my expectation.

Jade went vegetarian for the cruise and they brought 5 courses directly to her table, completely separate from the buffet. They do this as a lot of Asian food has fish sauce, oyster sauce or something similar that makes a typically vegetarian dish non-vegetarian. If you have any dietary requirements, make sure you let them know and they will cater for your needs specifically.

Read More: Check Out The Best Beaches In Hoi An!

Accommodation

After lunch, we went to our room, where our bags were waiting outside the door for us. The rooms are absolutely incredible and you have quite a few options available to you. There are options all the way from twin rooms to inter-connecting family rooms.

If you are in a group of 4 then you can actually get one of the rooms that join together and you will pay less for 4 people than if you got two separate 2-person rooms (don’t worry, the joining doors shut so there really isn’t much of a difference).

If you are a solo traveller then you will have to pay a premium for any of the rooms as they are all designed for two. However, this is synonymous with all of the luxury Halong Bay cruises I have seen so this is not specific to this tour.

Room on cruise with double bed facing windows with open curatins and curved TV on desk stand

We were actually upgraded to the executive suite with a sun terrace, and it was absolutely excellent. The room was super spacious and bright, with a fantastic bathtub overlooking Halong Bay.

The terrace is a great addition to the room, with comfortable loungers and chairs, giving you the perfect place to unwind after all the fun activities of the day!

There are 3 other room types:

  • Junior Suite with Private Balcony
  • Senior Suite with Private Balcony
  • President Suite with Private Sun Terrace

To be completely honest, all of the rooms looked like good options so if you don’t want to spend the extra money on an executive suite, don’t worry because the junior suites are still very high quality.

Kayaking

After cruising through the insane scenery, we arrived at the Dark and Light Cave where you can choose to either go kayaking or jump on a bamboo boat and be rowed around. You can also choose to do neither and simply stay on the boat sunbathing on the beautiful sun terrace.

I highly recommend kayaking if you can as it really is one hell of an experience. Paddling underneath the cave and out into the breathtaking bay is just unreal! You go through a cave which opens up to a massive bay surrounded by verticle cliffs. It is breathtaking.

2 people in a kayak holding paddles in the air

However, if you can’t or don’t want to then the bamboo boat is just as incredible. This activity would be ideal for children too.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide To The Phu Quoc Cable Car

Swimming Near The Boat

After a short journey to where the boat will stop for the night, you have the opportunity to jump off the back and have a swim in the cool water. Again, this is optional and not many people on our cruise chose to do this. We couldn’t resist and had a great time swimming around behind the boat. In June, the water was perfect! There are life jackets for weaker swimmers/kids and also a guard watching out to make sure that everyone is safe.

Sunset Drinks & Cooking Demonstration

For sunset, they put a ‘buy 2 get one free’ offer on at the bar. There are snacks available and the bar staff are more than happy to make you your favourite cocktails! The drinks are more expensive on the boat than on the mainland but this is to be expected. Make the most of the offer whilst it is on.

Blue cocktail with watermelon garnish and red cocktail with lime garnish

There is also a table set up to show you how to make a local snack – on our cruise, this was a fresh spring roll!

We went over to the spring roll demonstration and had a good time making a couple each. The staff made it really fun and light-hearted, adding in a competition element and really helping us to get involved. We have actually taken part in a cooking class in Hanoi (check out the full article here) so we already knew how to make incredible spring rolls. It didn’t matter though as it was more of a fun activity whilst waiting for dinner.

Read More: Try This 1-Day Hanoi Itinerary Here!

Dinner

This is where I really was shocked at the quality of the food. We got a 5-course meal, including soup, salad, pork main, large shrimp and fruit for dessert. Every bite was incredible. Jade got a specific vegetarian menu and this was equally as good.

We ordered a bottle of wine for the meal and they have a very good selection on board. Again, the drinks prices are not comparable to the mainland but this is to be expected. Dinner is accompanied by live music – a very talented lady played a traditional Vietnamese instrument called a cây đàn tỳ bà (a pipa). It created a very nice atmosphere as we ate, and we couldn’t have had a better evening.

The staff were incredibly attentive, so our wine was constantly topped up, we were asked how our meals were regularly and there were plenty of people nearby to ask if we needed anything.

Squid Fishing

After dinner, we had the opportunity to learn a new skill! Our guide, Bobby, showed us the equipment and how to use it. We didn’t end up catching anything in the end but it was still a fun activity! By this time, it was dark so it was amazing to sit outside on the deck and watch the pretty lights from the other boats nearby.

Man in white shirt holding rod

Karaoke

In the evening there is an opportunity to do some karaoke in the main dining area. On our tour, not many people got involved but we had to do it as we were on a mission to experience every single activity that the cruise had to offer.

Don’t worry if you don’t want to do it, this is a great time to find a space on the boat or on your balcony to enjoy a few drinks and relax the night away. It might even be a good time to get a message on the onboard spa.

If you do want to do it, grab a drink (or three!) and get stuck in! There are plenty of songs, both in Vietnamese and English so you’re bound to find something you’d like to sing your heart out to! Even the staff got involved in our songs, dancing and encouraging us, which made the experience a lot more fun.

Watch the video at the top of this post if you want to see some cringey singing going on!

Read More: The Essential Guide To Backpacking Vietnam

Day 2: Tai Chi In The Morning

At 6:15 am you can rise early for morning Tai Chi on the top deck. I actually enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. It turns out that early morning exercise really does wake you up nicely, especially if you have had a few drinks the night before…

Light Breakfast

At 7:00 am a light breakfast is served and this includes pastries, toast, fruit and other breakfast items.

Kayaking

There is an opportunity to grab a kayak and have a morning paddle around the islands and villages near the boat. This is not the same as the kayaking experience the day before and there is no option to get a bamboo boat. If you are thinking of only choosing one kayaking experience then doing it on day 1 is the obvious choice.

Yellow kayak in bay with bluey green water and tall hills in disntance

You can also spend this time swimming in the bay if you’d prefer, or just enjoy a lie-in! There are also some other free time activities on the boat, such as the hot tub on the top deck, the fitness centre and the spa. Spend your time however you want – this is YOUR luxury Halong Bay cruise so enjoy it how you want to!

Brunch

You need to have checked out of your room by 9am, but on the way back to the port, a brunch is served so you aren’t just sitting around waiting. If I’m honest, this meal felt like a bonus. If you are getting transport back to Hanoi then it is really handy as you won’t have time to get lunch until you get back to the city.

Final Thoughts On Cruising Halong Bay

As activities go, a luxury Halong Bay cruise is not the cheapest one out there. We went in hoping that the money we were paying was justified by the quality of the experience. I can safely say that we were both 100% satisfied. We enjoyed every single activity that was provided, and I think that everything was well organised.

The staff were incredibly helpful, fun and available – we always felt that we could ask them for anything we needed and they’d be able to deliver.

Our room was great – the bed was comfortable, there was minimal noise at night and taking a bath on a boat was a new experience for Jade and she loved it!

Read More: The Best Ways To Travel From Hanoi To Hoi An

View from terrace to smaller Aspira boat with greenery and mountains in the background

The WiFi was free and good enough for general use, which was great as even though it is great to switch off sometimes, we like to update our families with our location regularly, so we were glad we could do that.

All of the meals were high quality – we would definitely pay for that type of food in a good restaurant so for it to be served on a cruise was a great surprise.

We have read reviews on these types of cruises before, and some people seemed to be a little disappointed with the trip. This was because they only sat in their rooms and didn’t take part in any of the activities so I would highly recommend getting involved with everything – otherwise you may as well be in your hotel room in Hanoi! Obviously, the big attraction is seeing Halong Bay, but take advantage of the fact that you can do all these fun things whilst there too!

We’d definitely go back on this trip (and perhaps even do the 3-day, 2-night version next!) and we would highly recommend it!

Read More: How To Visit The Great Hanoi Night Market Or The Hoi An Night Market


Why Take A Luxury Halong Bay Cruise?

We travelled around Vietnam for a month, and the overnight luxury Halong Bay cruise was one of our favourite things that we did.

When you hear the word ‘cruise’ you automatically think about an expensive week-long trip to the Caribbean, right? But you can get an excellent cruise experience for a fraction of the cost and time, with outstanding views of Halong Bay, so it really is a great thing to do!

You also get the opportunity to kayak, go fishing, try a little Vietnamese cooking and more, all on an overnight cruise. Sometimes it can be hard to organise your daily plans when you’re travelling, so having all of these things available to you on your boat is a great way to experience some great Vietnamese activities.

Read More: The Best Hoi An Tailor To Visit!

Not only that, but Halong Bay is GORGEOUS! The caves, islands and even the water are just all sublime – and having an extra day (compared to just a 1-day tour) to appreciate the views is perfect. There are some glorious sunsets in the Halong Bay area, but an added bonus of staying on a cruise is that you can also experience a beautiful sunrise with your morning coffee.

Other Things To Do Near Halong Bay

If you have fallen in love with the Halong Bay area (and I wouldn’t blame you if you had!) then stay a few days on either side of your cruise and enjoy some of these other awesome activities nearby!

Cat Ba Island

This is a gorgeous island that you can see on your cruise trip from your boat – some of the tours even stop off there. There are plenty of outdoor activities to do here, such as cycling, snorkelling, rock climbing and hiking. If you’d prefer to spend more time on the island rather than just a quick stop off on your cruise, take a day tour like this.

Sun World Ha Long

Vietnam has some great theme parks, and this one is no exception! There’s a cable car linking two sections of the park together, plenty of rollercoasters, a water park area and a soft sandy beach to relax in after your busy day! There are lots of different ticket options – this is good if you don’t want to enter all sections of the park. Book your tickets here.

Take A Helicopter Tour

If you thought the views of Halong Bay were breathtaking from a luxury cruise, wait until you see them from the air! You can choose between a 10-minute, 25-minute or 40-minute flight. You’ll leave from Tuan Chau Island and be treated to the spectacular sight of Halong Bay and all of the magical islands dotted around the area. The flight is fully insured, and there will be a maximum of 4 people on the trip. Click here to choose the length of your flight.

Read More: 9 Fun Things To Do In Vietnam On A Budget

Take A Seaplane Tour

If a helicopter is not cool enough for you, then try out a seaplane flight! It’s something a bit different and unique, and the standard flight lasts 25 minutes. It’s a great option for people who want to see Halong Bay from a different perspective and you’ll take off and land from the water near to Tuan Chau Island. 12 people can fit in the plane, and everyone gets a fantastic view from the windows.

Book your seat on the plane here.


Where To Stay For Your Luxury Halong Bay Cruise

For some of the luxury Halong Bay cruises, pick-up is not included. Some companies give you the option, so if you have decided that you want to spend some more time in Halong Bay instead of being picked up from Hanoi, you’ll need somewhere to stay on land!

Here are the top recommendations for hotels near the harbour in Halong Bay, or just read our post for some more hotels!

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Budget

Ha Long Essence Hotel

Booking.com

This is a great hotel if you’re on a budget but don’t want to miss out on a pretty place to stay! There’s a good choice of rooms too.

Mid Range

Sai Gon Ha Long Hotel

Booking.com

Spend the afternoon relaxing in the pool, burn off some of those bia hois in the tennis court or just enjoy the included breakfast!


Frequently Asked Questions

How much is a luxury Halong Bay cruise?

All of the trips have different pick up points, itineraries, room options and cruise lengths so prices do vary. For a standard 2 day, 1 night Halong Bay luxury cruise you can expect to pay around $180 per person but this also depends on the season.

What is the best time to visit for a Halong Bay luxury cruise ?

I think the best time for weather and fewer crowds will be April/May. High season is September to March.

How many days do you need on a luxury cruise in Halong Bay?

I think 2 nights/3 days would be the perfect amount of time but if you are on a budget or you don’t have that long, 1 night/2days is still a great choice.

What are the best luxury cruises in Halong Bay?

I think the best luxury cruise in Halong Bay is the Aspira cruise as it is a high-quality boat and experience, but it is also on the lower end of the budget. For the most opulent cruise, try Le Theatre.

How do I get to Halong Bay for a luxury cruise?

Most cruises offer pick up (paid or included) but you can also get a taxi. Use Grab (popular app similar to Uber).

Can you swim in Halong Bay on a luxury cruise?

Yes, you can swim! The cruise ships usually provide lifejackets for people who need more support.

What is the closest airport to Halong Bay?

The closest airpot is Cat Bi (Haiphong) International airport but it is also simple to get there from Hanoi (Noi Bai).



Which luxury Halong Bay cruise would you choose? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to ask any questions about our experience!

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