Ha Long Bay cruise – is it worth it? You’ve come to the right place if you’re thinking about doing a Ha Long Bay Cruise but aren’t sure whether it’s worth the money. In this blog post, you’ll find tips on how to book your cruise and if its worth booking in the first place. 

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. The name Hạ Long means “descending dragon” which I think is pretty cool.
The climate of the bay is tropical and wet, with two seasons: hot and moist summer, and dry and cold winter. 

How To Choose a Ha Long Bay Cruise

Look on booking.com There are so many scams in this area and so many boats that are advertising something completely different than what they are offering. On booking.com you’ll find pretty much all the cruise deals, and you’ll also be able to check genuine reviews. On this website you can only leave a review if you’ve booked the particular place, meaning the reviews aren’t fake. Cruises will be a lot cheaper on here too and you’ll know exactly what you’re paying for. This is not sponsored, just something that we found so useful when planning our few days in Ha Long Bay.

Our Ha Long Experience with Serenity Cruises

Again, this post isn’t sponsored. We paid the full price for this experience, and we would like to share it with you in this blog post. 
The reason we chose to cruise with serenity is that it seemed to be the best value considering the things that were offered. They promised to stay away from the main tourist spots and visit some lesser-known areas, this was important for us as we were looking for a chilled, quiet experience. 
Before we get started with the Q&A (questions from my lovely Instagram followers about the Ha Long Bay Cruise) I’ll detail our whole cruise and talk about the good and the bad things. 

Make Your Own Way There or Pay for the Transfer?

When you book with serenity cruises, you can decide whether to have a pick up and drop off from your hotel in Hanoi. Of course, with us being budget travellers, we decided to make our own way there and back without the help of the cruise line as we were not planning on going back to Hanoi. We did this for literally a fraction of the price with a bus and taxi combination. 

Things To Know Before You Go

After signing in at the Tuan Chau Wharf office, expect to wait a while with the other cruisers in the heat. This brings me to the most important thing in this blog: BRING WATER. You may notice the price of the water in the office… This will stay consistent during the entire cruise, we each brought with us enough water for the entire 3 days/ 2 nights and we were so glad we did. The same goes for all cruises in Ha Long, even where food is included, water and drinks are not. 

Arriving On The Serenity Cruise Ship

After a quick speed boat ride, you’ll arrive safely on the ship. Our bags were taken care of and already outside of our rooms after the welcome drink and introduction. The room was clean, simple and had everything we could need. We had a balcony and a bath that looked out over the water. 

Food On The Ha Long Bay Serenity Cruise 

This was one of our biggest worries and a big reason that we chose to go with serenity. As vegans, we do find it a little more difficult to find options, especially on a boat that serves a lot of seafood. After the first lunch, we realized that we had no reason to be worried at all. The staff were so friendly and approached us before serving our food to let us know that they will make sure that we have vegan meals every day. During the 3 days we were on the cruise I’m pretty sure we had more food than anyone else on the ship, the vegan meals were plentiful and delicious. We never felt like it was any trouble and the staff were so accommodating. The most important thing to remember before you go: Food is included but drinks are not. Water is expensive and if you don’t bring your own, you’ll end up with an unexpected bill at the end. 

Kayaking in Ha Long Bay

On the first day, you’ll reach Đầu Bê Island, one of the most beautiful islands located in the South East of Ha Long bay. This is where you’ll be able to discover Ha Long Bay by kayak. This was probably my favorite part of the whole cruise as I am an avid kayaker. You’ll even get to kayak into a hidden lagoon.

Exploring Cat Ba Island

After an early morning Tai-Chi session on the sundeck, (Jake and I were the only people who took part in this as the other guests were still sleeping, we didn’t expect to have a private class, but that was quite nice) we set off to explore Cat Ba island. After taking the speed boat you can choose between taking a golf buggy or bicycle to Viet Hai, a small village located amid jungles. Here you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the local history and culture and try some unusual rice wine. 

Saying Goodbye

Checking out was relatively stress-free. Many people were a bit miffed about the fact that they had to pay for the water they used. We, however, had done our research so the only thing we had to pay for was a couple of beers. All hail booking.com for making the whole experience a whole lot easier. 


Was There Pollution in The Water?

Not as much as we thought. The boat we went on took us to quiet places. We were away from the main tourist area, so we didn’t see much pollution at all. We didn’t even see many tourist boats. We happened to be in Ha Long in low season, I think this hugely impacted the cleanliness of the area. We love traveling in the low season, we always find the weather is never as bad as we think and everything is always cheaper. 

Were The Other Passengers Annoying?

No, they were very chill. Most of the people on this cruise were couples so it wasn’t very social. You can choose to go on a party boat, so if you’re wanting to meet people then this is the option for you. We, however, were looking for a quiet, chilled few days to ourselves so we were very happy with our decision. 

How much did it cost?

A total of £204 with everything included. We bought our water so that was not something we had to pay for, just keep it in mind. Also even with the discount offered directly from Serenity Cruises, booking.com was still hugely cheaper. 

How Was The Language Barrier?

There was no language barrier at all. All staff spoke perfect English, including every waiter, the tour guide and the cruise director. Download google translate if you’re worried, but you shouldn’t need to.

Can You Choose Vegan Food on The Ha Long Cruise

One of the things we did before deciding on a cruise was emailing and checking that they were happy to cater to vegans. Many of them said that it would be fine but the Serenity staff made us feel at ease. We ate so well over these few days. Every single meal was freshly made and completely delicious. They brought us so much food even when the buffet was open to make sure we had enough. Each time they brought a plate they would confirm its a vegan meal. I appreciate everything they did for us and would definitely recommend to all vegans. 

Ha Long Bay Cruise – Is It Worth It?

In my personal opinion, yes it was worth it. The views were gorgeous, each day’s activities were well planned and great fun. It didn’t feel too much like a “tour” which I was so pleased about. Generally, I’m not a fan of being part of a tour, I’d rather just go it alone and organize it myself, but this was chilled and relaxed. There was plenty of food and the staff made sure we had everything we needed at all times. 
I didn’t think I would love this experience as much as I did. 
If you have any specific questions about visiting Ha Long, feel free to message me on Instagram or comment on this blog post.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this was useful. What do you think about the Ha Long Bay Cruise – Is It Worth It?

Travel safely and courageously,

The Lost Girl



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About Me

Hi! I am Beth Johnstone, a travel journalist and photographer.

I began travelling in 2014 with what I thought would be a short holiday. I’ve now been travelling around the world full time for five years, taking photographs, writing about the places I’ve been and immersing myself in new cultures.

I am passionate about capturing the whole experience not just with images, but with words too. My blog is a positive place where I welcome readers to learn about the best places to stay, along with tips and advice on long term travel.

“Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in now.”