Mysterious waters and myriads of islets and limestone formations create the spectacular seascapes of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Halong, which means “descending dragon”, refers to legendary creatures sent down from the heavens to guard against invaders approaching from the sea. To protect the Vietnamese, the dragons belched out clusters of jewels to create an impenetrable barrier, which has since turned into over 2,000 beautiful limestone islets today dotting the bay.
This three-day/two-night cruise named “Jewels of Halong Bay” includes all attractions of the shorter 1-Night circuit, but adding a wonderful relaxed second day to different areas of Halong Bay and to experience other utter highlights.
We arrive at Cua Van, one of the last remaining floating fishing villages in Halong Bay, and which some fishermen still use as a base for their fishing and aquacultural activities. With a small bamboo boat rowed by locals, we have a look at the floating structures in this calm and secluded area to gain some insight into village life. If you prefer to be more active, borrow a kayak (complimentary for 2-night cruises) and paddle around by yourself. This is the perfect way to freely move about and explore this part of the bay. The fishing village also hosts the Cua Van Cultural Center, operated by local residents to preserve and introduce visitors to the village’s history and culture. On display are many archaeological artifacts and photographs depicting life in Cua Van.
By tender, we transfer to the nearby Tien Ong cave. The cave shows evidence of human civilization dating back to 10,000 – 8,000 BC. Fossil evidence also proves that the cave was part of the mainland continent ages ago before Halong Bay became the marine wonder it is today. Tien Ong cave reaches a depth of 50 metres and covers a total area of roughly 1,000 square metres. Follow our guide as we loop though and learn interesting details about this cavern.
After returning to the boat, we sail to the overnight mooring area. During this the magical “blue hour”, Halong Bay reveals its magnificent beauty. Unwind on the sun deck with your favourite drink and be fully present in this moment. As we sail along, you may like to join our cooking class by our chef. You are welcome to practice these easy, but very tasty classic Vietnamese recipes for yourself – then cook them for your loved ones back at home.
After a bit of downtime, dinner is served. Passengers aboard Heritage Line’s luxurious Violet can choose from international or local favourites from a multi-course à la carte menu.
After dinner, our on-board guide offers an intriguing presentation about the bay’s unique and fascinating insights. Alternatively, give yourself a try at squid fishing together with our staff – always an entertaining experience. While away the rest of the evening and treasure this special moment amidst the magical landscapes before falling into a restful slumber in the middle of Halong Bay where, once upon a time, sparkling jewels cascaded from heavenly dragons.
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
With an astonishing area of 10,000 square meters, Sung Sot is comprised of two chambers. The outer chamber welcomes visitors with stalactites acting as chandeliers hanging from the 30-metre (98 ft) high ceiling. A connecting 3-metre (10 ft) wide path then opens onto the inner chamber, known as the grand “opera house”. This magnificent room features a clear pond, plentiful plant-life, splendid stalagmites, stalactites and rock formations formed over millions of years, and the chorus of birds singing, water flowing and sometimes, monkeys frolicking.
Back aboard, you can relax on the sun deck or in the air-conditioned dining area with a tasty “cafe sua da” before having the opportunity to explore the marine landscape on your own via kayak. The cliffs stretch vertically out of the water and you feel a sense of freedom while meandering through this green medley of water and tree-topped islets.
The ship continues the journey to a floating pearl farm. We learn how the various kinds of pearls cultivated here are grown, harvested and processed. Watch as a skilled technician uses precision tools to carefully and gently open an oyster before implanting a seed and returning it into the water. The odds of success are low and the fascinating process requires several years, but if mother nature gives her blessing, the oyster then produces a gorgeous round gemstone. After the visit, we leisurely sail back to the mothership, where you have time for sunbathing, a relaxing spa treatment or, of course, the must-watch “blue hour”.
Enjoy your dinner aboard, and afterwards, join our crew once again in catching squid, which we are happy to prepare for you fresh as a late night snack. Our bar is open late and eager to serve a drink of your choice as you relax on a lounger and enjoy the serenity of Halong Bay before retiring for the night.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
For early risers, tea, coffee and pastries are available in the dining room. Once again, a Tai Chi class offered on the sun deck to awaken your mind and muscles. In the morning, we set sail to the small Ti Top Island. Formerly named Cat Nang, the island received a name change after former president Ho Chi Minh and the second man to orbit the Earth, Russian astronaut ‘German Titov’, toured Halong Bay together in 1962. Since the cosmonaut was so fascinated with this picturesque islet, Uncle Ho would rename the spectacle Ti Top Island to honour Titov and as a gesture of friendship between their two countries.
Once arriving at Ti Top, you can go for a refreshing morning swim on a sandy beach beneath towering rock formations. If you prefer to be a bit more active, climb 400 stone steps (which takes about 20 minutes) to the island’s top and be rewarded with stunning, panoramic views over the bay. There is also a viewing platform about half-way up with great vistas framed by lush greenery – perfect for photos.
Back on board, you can take a shower and freshen up. Now is the time to enjoy the final moments of sailing as we head back to the harbour while breakfast is served. Until we reach the pier, relax on the sun deck or in the dining room while savouring the last views of this iconic site.
Accommodation; daily (group) shore-excursions, sightseeing and transfers during the cruise; English speaking tour guiding on-and offshore; entertainment/activities during the cruise as mentioned in the program; welcome drink, brewed coffee, tea and mineral water; meals as mentioned in the program; passenger liability insurance; internet on the ship (subject to cellular network signal); complimentary usage of ship facilities (exclusive of spa treatments); port or anchorage fees; taxes.
Admission (entrance) fee for Halong Bay or Lan Ha Bay; crew and guide gratuities; visa fees; shuttle bus or private transfers; personal expenses; other beverages than those stated under inclusions; medical services.
A truely memorable trip around Halong Bay with Sammie and the crew of Violet Junk. We had a lovely room at sea level with a little balcony at the bow by the captain. The weather was kind to us and we were lucky enough to share the boat with just 2 other couples. We were 3 different nationalities and a variety ages, this added to the fun of our 3 days on the Violet. The day side trips to the caves and river people were extremely worth while. Cameras and walking shoes are advisable as there is a 400 step mountain to climb and uneven stones when walking around the caves. On the last day canoes were provided and a beach swim after the mountain climb. The food was great and good variety. We travelled when it was starting to get uncomfortably hot but the up side was there were less tourists on the whole South East Asian trip, a real “6 of one and 1/2 dozen of the other”situation. Having travelled Europe in the tourist season last year, I think the hotter weather far preferable.
Truly special part of our adventure. We were driven to Halong Bay by the private driver we had in Halong whose smiling face greeted us as we came off the luxury junk 3 days later. Xam (Sam manager of the boat)greeted us with a smile and his polite professional manner all trip was a delight. We were blessed to be checked into the Phoenix suite. The views of the bay from the balcony and windows were jaw dropping. The food was delicious. Silver service. As we stayed 2 nights we benefited from the fun of the cooking lessons both nights. Also found the Tai Chi a peaceful experience at 7am. On top of the boat surrounded by the bay. For all the talk I’ve seen of how crowded Halong Bay is we found peace and relaxation on board the Violet.
The service on the day boat was top notch also. Loved the tours of the caves. First day with Xam and second day with ‘Bobby’. Third day Xam travelled over to Ti Top island with us where we walked up the 400 steps to take in the view.
The weather wasn’t as kind as we are normally blessed with and the staff went out of their way to ensure we enjoyed the best of times. On the Violet the staff were mindful of making it a great experience yet regarded the guests privacy as highly important too. The Phoenix suite was fitted out beautifully and we were very comfortable on board.
Nice touch was the Manager of the company waiting as we disembarked to ask how our trip was. Greeted my husband by name as I’d dashed off to the loo before the return trip to Hanoi. I will treasure this experience of Halong Bay as one that we will never be able to replicate.
We booked this through our UK based tour operator who told us that it was the only junk available on the night we wanted to spend in Halong Bay but that it would be more expensive than the one they had originally quoted for. We agreed to pay the supplement because seeing Halong Bay was a definite “must do”. I am so glad it worked out that way. This is a beautiful boat with the most amazing staff. I was unwell when we arrived on board (due, I think, to a dodgy meal the previous evening – so nothing at all to do with the Violet or Halong Bay). Sammy, the manager, the staff and the chef looked after me so very, very well and made sure that I was still able to enjoy the trip. I will remember their kindness forever. I wasn’t able to eat much while on board but my husband reported that the food was excellent and I saw that it was plentiful and beautifully presented. We were in a junior suite (Mountain) which was supremely comfortable and spacious with a good bathroom and a balcony on which there were two sun beds. All safety issues were addressed openly and clearly.
Highlight of our holiday in Vietnam. Thanks to Sammy and the rest of the crew for making it so.
Wow! We absolutely loved our time on this boat. I went with my husband and two teenage children. You feel really privileged. Top quality all the way. The scenery is breathtaking and yes there are a lot of other tourist boats but it didn’t takeaway the sheer beauty of your surroundings. The trips out are fun and educational and we joined in the morning tai chi and cooking class and although we only did the one night trip it felt like a proper time away. The comfort on the boat is amazing and lovely service. We were in the lower cabins but I’d go for the higher ones if you can as the little outside deck is close to the captain and his staff so no privacy. Nothing could beat the cocktail at the front of the boat watching the sunset. Gorgeous. The only thing I think they could improve is that when we arrived we got this freebie non alcoholic welcome drink. Surely given what we paid, a glass of fizz for the adults would set the tone better?!
The two nights on Violet would have to be the highlight of my three weeks in Vietnam. From the first introduction (which included some nerve wracking instructions ) to the final sad farewell everything was excellent. All staff were particularly polite and friendly. I had the Moon room which was so comfortable and spacious. Hard at times to believe that you were on a boat. The meals were all very good -a blend of Vietnamese and Western. The wine list was also quite extensive and not overly expensive.
Day trips were well planned. Many of the other passengers stayed only the one night. I would recommend doing the two nights. Again thank you so much for a wonderful ending to my stay in Vietnam.