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Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises | 2 day, 1 night Ha Long Bay Cruise Review

If you’re in Hanoi, Vietnam, you should absolutely, 100%, without a doubt make your way to Ha Long Bay. In fact, if you’re not in Hanoi, you should probably book a trip to Hanoi so you can go to Ha Long Bay (and also because Hanoi is a fascinating city in its own right). 

The best way to see Ha Long Bay is from the water, and the best way to get on the water is to take a mini two-day cruise. In this post, we’ll cover a complete review of our experience on the 2-day-1-night Ha Long Bay Cruise with Bhaya Cruises, complete with lots of pictures from our journey. We’ll also share a promo code with you to get 20% off your own cruise! (Don’t worry, this review was written in full prior to receiving this incentive.)

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

Booking with Bhaya Cruises

Planning a trip to Ha Long Bay is both insanely simple and completely overwhelming at the same time. There are hundreds of tour providers and they’re all offering a relatively similar product across a full spectrum of price points.

Researching all the options can be a daunting task, but there are many travel bloggers who will walk you through this process (I found this Ha Long Bay cruise guide and these tips to choosing a Ha Long Bay Cruise to be particularly useful).

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Bhaya Classic #3

Personally, we were booking from our phones because our Starbucks Wifi had expired and were looking to sail in two days. We picked the cruise that had the best reviews on Trip Advisor and also availability with such short notice.

We paid $389 total ($339 for the cruise + $50 for the bus transfer from Hanoi for two people) for the 2-day-1-night cruise. (This should actually just be called a 1-day cruise, because you’re on the boat for less than 24 hours.) This was on the expensive side of the average price. Since we didn’t have the time or resources to investigate, we erred on the side of caution.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Really though, any ship that will sail you through Ha Long Bay is going to get you these views.

We booked online directly from their website and paid by credit card. We received an email confirmation and no printed tickets were required. Within five minutes, we had finalized our reservation with Bhaya Cruises, finished our coffees and continued on with our day in Hanoi.

Our package included:

  • Transport to and from our Hanoi hotel (as noted above, this was +$50 USD)
  • Private cabin onboard with bathroom, hot shower and balcony
  • 4 meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast, brunch) and limited complimentary non-alcoholic beverages
  • Kayaking or paddle boating at local fishing village
  • Trip to Hang Tien Ong cave with guide
  •  Onboard entertainment (cooking demo, tea ceremony, Tai chi)
Ha Long Bay
Our cruise schedule provided on our first day

Save on Your Bhaya Cruise

If you’re planning a Ha Long Bay cruise, you are in for a treat! Bhaya Cruise has offered us a promo code to share with you. We’re really excited about this because we would love for you to experience the wonders of Ha Long Bay the same way we did.

Use promo code LattesRunways to enjoy 20% off your Bhaya Cruise! This code is applicable on the 2 Day, 1 Night Bhaya Classic packages booked on the Flexible Rate. This code is valid until 20/12/2019.

Hanoi to Tuan Chau Marina

We were scheduled to be picked up from our guesthouse between 8 – 8:15 AM. We arrived in the lobby at 7:58 and our driver was already waiting. We had to settle our bill with the guesthouse, but we were out the door shortly after 8 AM. There was a couple already onboard, we made a few more stops, and were soon on our way.

The transportation was a standard Southeast Asia mini-bus that sat ten people. It wasn’t particularly nice (especially compared to our transportation back to Hanoi the following day), but it was fine. The bus did have wifi, which was great, and bottled waters were provided.

We stopped along the way at a rest stop/high-end mall for 25 minutes (it was a weird spot). There was a restaurant inside where you could order breakfast or coffee table service. We ordered two coffees (an americano and a cappuccino) to go, but ended up drinking them at one of the tables. There was a large restroom with plenty of stalls, and while we didn’t use it, it appeared to be clean.

The ride took almost exactly 3.5 hours of driving, and we pulled into the marina at noon.

Ha Long Bay
Tuan Chau Marina

Bhaya Cruise Reception at Tuan Chau Marina

Our bus dropped us off at the reception area for Bhaya cruises, where we were prompted to check in with their staff. Everyone on our bus was cruising with Bhaya but on one of three different boats (ranging in luxury and duration).

The staff were incredibly helpful and spoke fluent English. Our agent asked what cruise we booked and then quickly pulled up a sheet with our names listed. She first confirmed our dietary restrictions (we noted ourselves as vegetarian on our reservation) and then she gave us our boat assignment, Bhaya Classic #3.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
The arrival area for Bhaya Cruises

If you had luggage, which we did, they took it from you at check in, tagging it with your ship and room number. We were given a key and room number lanyard (as a reminder in case you forgot?)

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
The reception area for Bhaya Cruises

When we stopped inside the reception hall, we were promptly greeted with a welcome beverage of hot tea and a warm towel. The reception area had ample seating, restrooms and a small bar where you could purchase beer, wine and soft drinks. There was also a charging station, which had chords to a variety of phones and devices, which was a nice touch. There was also plenty of seating outside as well. We hung out here for about 30 minutes until they started boarding the ships.

Ha Long Bay Cruise with Bhaya Cruises

Boarding & Welcome

Bhaya Classic #3 boarded last, but only by a time difference of about five minutes. They guided us out to our boat which was about a three minute walk from the reception area. The staff was standing outside the boat cheering welcome greetings as we passed by on the gangway, and I kid you not, they dropped actual rose petals on us as we boarded the boat. Classy AF, right? (I think Vietnam has a thing for rose petals, because they were also spread on our guesthouse bed in Hanoi, too.)

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Dropping rose petals on boarding cruisers

We had five minutes to stop by our rooms before heading to the restaurant area for a safety briefing. Our bags were placed right outside our room doors as promised and we got our first glimpse at our room. By the time we made it upstairs for the safety briefly (15 minutes and your standard safety reminders), we had started to sail.

Ha Long Bay

The Stateroom & Boat

The room was really nice. It had been recently remodeled and it definitely showed. The room was modern and very spacious, with a large, comfortable bed, bathroom and (hot) shower. Each room had a balcony with a table and two chairs, which was small, but a perk I wasn’t expecting! There was a mini bar with beer, soda and water for purchase, and two small bottled waters on the nightstand which were included with compliments.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

We found everything in our room to be very clean and in perfect working condition. The only thing worth noting in the room was that while the shower offered both hot water and good pressure, it did seem to only provide enough hot water for one shower at a time. I showered at night and made it through a comfortable shower before I noticed the hot water starting to taper out. Kenny showered in the morning and had a similar experience, so plan accordingly.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Enjoying the view on our cute, little balcony

The boat itself was in equally good condition. There were four levels: the lower two levels were staterooms, the third level was the dining room and bar as well as outside patio seating, and the fourth level was an open-air sundeck with tables and lounge chairs.

Sailing Through Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is absolutely breathtaking. I wish our cruise had fewer activities and shorter meals so I could have spent all my time on the balcony watching the islets and islands pass us by. The landscape is just surreal.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

Our first day was a bit misty, which was a really cool way to experience it. We felt completely lost in the maze of limestone. Our second day was sunny, which was also beautiful because you could see islands all the way to the horizon. So don’t let the forecast impact whether or not you take this journey!

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

I highly recommend you spend all of your free time (if you do all the activities, it’s not that much) on your balcony or on the sundeck.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
That Sun Deck Life

Activities on & off the Boat

The activities onboard will keep you busy almost non-stop for the 24 hours you’re on the boat. It’s a full 24 hours, so if you’re looking to have a more relaxing time, you may want to choose a longer trip or opt out of some of the activities.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

Below is a quick recap & review of the activities offered on the cruise, all of which are included in the cruise price.

Local Fishing Village Excursion:

Around 3 PM on our first afternoon, we arrived at a harbor of a local fishing village. This was my favorite activity of the cruise, so if you’re looking for things to cut, don’t pick this.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Sailing into the cove of the local fishing villiage

You’ll journey around the cove on your choice of water craft. You can either kayak (two people per kayak) or ride a paddle boat with about six people, paddled by a local villager.  We really wanted to kayak, but it was pretty chilly  so we opted for the paddle boat. You will row past some of the fishing boats and then through the floating village. There’s a few locals living here, but most of the people are out on the water fishing.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Houses of the local fishing village

A few local ladies in boats filled with snacks and drinks, rowed right up to the paddle boats to sell things to the tourists. We tried saying no, but she didn’t really leave, so we decided to buy a couple beers.

We asked how much a Hanoi beer was (sold in the city for about 30,000 VND and on the boat for 65,000 VND) and she quoted us 50,000 VND. Kenny said 20,000, she said 30,000 and they ultimately settled on 2 beers for 50,000 VND.

The lady in front of us took advantage of our bartering skills, and decided to buy two as well. The lady seemed content with our purchase and paddled away. So be sure to bring some cash with you for this, as well as a little bit to tip your paddler.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Cheers to the Vietnamese lady who sold us our Hanoi beer on our paddle boat

The tour guides gave us a short presentation on the dock before we headed back to the ship, so be sure you listen for that! While the boating was fun, this narrative was my favorite part. They shared information about the small fishing communities, their origin, and the impact the government has had on them, both good and bad.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

Hang Tien Ong Cave Excursion

The other off-boat excursion is a visit through the Hang Tien Ong cave. The cave isn’t particularly breath taking or large, but it is cool to be able to see inside one of the islets. Our guide gave a detailed tour and talked through the caves history, as well as some general history about Ha Long Bay. Similar to the fishing village, I found the discussion to be more memorable than the activity itself.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

Cooking Demonstration

To be honest, I thought this sounded lame. But we had docked at this point and we didn’t really have anything else to do, so we decided to check it out. I’m so glad we did because I seriously loved it!

The ship’s chef came out and taught us how to make spring rolls and dipping sauce. Everyone took turns rolling their own spring rolls, which is actually not as easy as it looks. Then there was a friendly competition for who could roll the best spring roll, which was cheesy but really fun. (Pro Tip: the winner got a sweet apron presented to them at breakfast the next day, so it’s worth giving it shot!)

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Making carrot flowers during the cooking demo

At the end, everyone got to eat spring rolls (they even brought out some vegetarian spring rolls for us, too), have a glass of coconut rice wine and learn how to say cheers in Vietnamese.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Making Spring Rolls

NOTE: The cooking demonstration starts 30 minutes into happy hour and goes until the end of happy hour. So be sure to pay attention to the time if you want to enjoy happy hour pricing. The bar and the demonstration are in the same room, though, so you can easily grab drinks during the demo without missing anything.

Squid Fishing

We didn’t really participate in the squid finishing, because fishing makes me sad. We did walk by, though, and it seemed like a lot of people were fishing but not a lot of people were catching squid.

The squid are attracted to light, so depending on how light the night is will depend on how much they watch to swim up to the bright lights on the boat. Other moon phases might have yielded a more productive squid hunt. The squid you catch are said to be about a foot long and if you catch some, they’ll cook them up for you in the morning.

Tai Chi

I loved the idea of sunrise Tai Chi on the sundeck. It was scheduled to start at 6:15 AM, and breakfast was at 6:45 anyway, so I didn’t mind waking up a little earlier.

I was disappointed right off the bat when he said we’d be doing Tai Chi inside the restaurant (the tables were pushed to the side) instead of on the sundeck because it was too cold (65°F). I should have called it then and just watched the sunrise over the bay. This is one thing I wished I’d skipped.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
The sunrise I missed while I was inside doing Tai Chi

Aside from that, Tai Chi was fine but not great. The instructor didn’t talk us through any of the moves, and we just watched and followed along. I wished he’d provided more information so I understood more about the flow and what we were supposed to be accomplishing through the movements.

Food & Beverages

We found the food on the cruise to be plentiful and delicious. Lunch, breakfast and brunch were buffet style and dinner was table service. Meals included a balance of Western and Asian cuisine and the desserts were delicious.

Ha Long bay with Bhaya Cruises
Salad Course

Upon booking, we requested vegetarian meals. For the buffet meals, we could help ourselves to what we wanted from the buffet and also received a separate vegetarian main entree. For the table service dinner, they brought us our full vegetarian meal plates along with everyone else.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

Coffee and tea were included and available throughout the whole cruise and juice and water was provided with breakfast. All other beverages (soft and hard) were available for purchase at the bar or from a server.

Drinks on the ship were pretty pricy relative to Hanoi. As mentioned above, the cheapest beer on the boat was 65,000 VND ($2.87 USD) and a soda was 55,000 VND ($2.43 UDS). In Hanoi, you could find the same beer for 15,000 VND. Cocktails started at 100,000 VND+ and bottles of wine could put you back more than 1,000,000 VND (~$45 USD).

There was happy hour from 5 – 6:30 PM (as noted above, this overlaps with the cooking demo) which got you buy-one-get-one on a list of select drinks and cocktails. They will add any bar purchases during the cruise to your room bill, and you can pay it all at check out on your last day.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

Return to Hanoi

We disembarked at approximately 10:45 AM the next day and were pointed right to our assigned van. Our return trip was pretty similar to our outbound trip, except in a nicer van. The van on the return trip had very cushy, reclining seats, USB charging ports, bottled water and free wifi. Again, we stopped halfway at a rest area/shopping mall where you could pick up snacks and use the bathroom.

Closing Thoughts

If you made it this far, thank you! I had so much to say about this trip because I absolutely loved this experience. We love having the chance to explore from the water, whether it’s cruising down the Nile or the renting a pedal boat in Prague. The scenery sailing through Ha Long Bay though, simply can’t be beat.

If this falls within your price range for Ha Long Bay, I’d highly recommend sailing with Bhaya! It’s not the cheapest option, but we received a very luxury experience at below luxury pricing. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and will absolutely be back to Ha Long Bay, and will likely sail with Bhaya again!

If this falls within your price range for Ha Long Bay, I’d highly recommend sailing with Bhaya! It’s not the cheapest option, but we received a very luxury experience at below luxury pricing. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and will absolutely be back to Ha Long Bay, and will likely sail with Bhaya again!

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

And I repeat: Plan a trip to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay at your earliest convenience.

Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises
Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises

Next Up: Getting From Hanoi to Hue By Train