2 days in Ha Long Bay is plenty of time to see the famous limestone karsts and immerse yourself in the surroundings. We chose a 2 day 1 night Ha Long Bay Boat Cruise, and we’re super glad we did.
We had ummed and ahhed over whether to splash out on a Ha Long Bay cruise, but the experience just wouldn’t have been the same from the shore. If you’re planning on visiting Ha Long Bay during your Vietnam travels, we strongly recommend booking a 2-day boat cruise too.
Here is our exact 2-day itinerary for our Ha Long Bay trip, if you’re still undecided!
Psst! Make sure you save this post for later!
2 Days in Ha Long Bay
How to get to Ha Long Bay
If you’re booking a cruise around Ha Long Bay, many offer a minibus transfer to and from Hanoi. Many will only pick up from the Old Quarter though, so bear this in mind when booking your accommodation in Hanoi. All of the hotels we’ve included in this blog post are located within this area!
If you aren’t taking a cruise, there is a public bus. This takes three hours. A taxi takes about two to two and a half hours.
Getting to Ha Long Bay via air travel
There is a small airport about a 20-minute drive from Ha Long Bay. Cat Bi International Airport flies mainly domestic, but it also has flights to and from neighbouring countries.
Cat Bi Airport is also confusingly sometimes called Haiphong airport, so bear this in mind to avoid having a last-minute panic like we did. The airport itself, although an international one, is very small. Don’t rush through security, as delays are common and there isn’t much to do once you are through and into the gates.
Ha Long Bay Cruise Activities
Kayak around the limestone karsts
We did a 2-day 1-night cruise during our time in Ha Long Bay, which included all of our activities. We aren’t really ‘cruise people’, which is why we chose a shorter duration. You could do 2 or even 3 nights on our boat, and others go for longer.
Once we had boarded the ship and eaten lunch, we moored up in a beautiful bay to go kayaking. We’d never tried kayaking before and weren’t sure how well we’d do. Thankfully, it was pretty easy to get the hang of, and neither of us went overboard!
The whole place was so quiet, even though we weren’t the only boat around. We spent about 45 minutes paddling through limestone arches and exploring tiny empty beaches. We loved it.
In the evening, there was a welcome party for all the guests. We spent some time getting to know some of the other people on board and then tried our hands at squid fishing.
Using a really basic bamboo stick, some string, and a lure, we hopefully bobbed our lines around in the water beneath a really bright spotlight. We tried for about 15 minutes before getting bored and wandering back towards the bar. I don’t think anyone successfully caught a squid that night!
Bamboo Boat around Cat Ba National Park
The next morning, we hopped into traditional bamboo rowboats to explore Cat Ba National Park.
The National Park is famous for being used for the setting of Skull Island in one of the King Kong films. The scenery was utterly breathtaking and completely silent. It was crazy. It really felt like all the noise had just been sucked out of the bay.
We were lucky enough to spot some monkeys high up on one of the cliff faces before we headed back to the cruise to pack up and head back to shore.
Where to stay in Ha Long Bay
Doris Cruise 5*
We pushed the boat out (pardon the pun) for the Ha Long Bay leg of our Vietnam trip. Doris Cruise really lived up to our 5* expectations, from the service to the decor and food. It was a total highlight of our trip, and one we’d thoroughly recommend to everyone.
Diamond Luxury Hotel
If a cruise isn’t your thing, but you still want those home comforts, why not try Diamond Luxury Hotel? The front sea view rooms offer dreamy views out towards Ha Long Bay, giving you a prime spot to watch the sunset.
Cat Ba Family Hotel 2*
Because we love ourselves a good budget option, take a look at this one. Set on the beachfront, with a restaurant and airport shuttle, it’s a great choice if you’re penny-pinching.
Ha Long Bay 2 Day Cruise Itinerary
There are countless options out there for spending a weekend in Ha Long Bay. Whether you’re after time on the sea, or you’d prefer to keep your feet on solid ground, there is something for you.
A lot of people asked us if we noticed a lot of pollution and rubbish. Being completely honest, the main port where all of the cruise ships dock and unload from was bad for that. However, once we were out beyond the main bay, we saw very little at all.
If you elect to take a cruise around Ha Long Bay, choose one (like we did) that takes you out a little further, as that is where the water is less crowded and much cleaner.
If you’re heading to Vietnam, check out our complete 10 day North to South travel itinerary!
Have you been to Ha Long Bay? Did you take a cruise, or stay on land?