— Au Co Cruises: A Luxurious Choice in Halong Bay —

Located in the Gulf of Tonkin in Northern Vietnam is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay.

Halong Bay Map

Map of Halong, Bai Tu Long, and Lan Ha Bays

Experience Luxury

Having the option of taking a day trip, a one-night cruise, or a two-night cruise, we opted for a two-night cruise with one of the most luxurious cruise companies available- Au Co Cruises.

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

The Au Co II anchored in Halong Bay

Au Co, in operation since 2012, and part of the Bhaya Cruise family, has a pair of twin ships each boasting 32 spacious cabins. For our 3-day/2-night cruise, we boarded the Au Co II and basked in ultimate luxury as we cruised the waters of Halong, Lan Ha, and Bai Tu Long Bays.

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay

We enjoyed the luxury of an executive cabin on the Au Co II

With deluxe cabins, executive cabins, and two types of suites, there are a variety of room types to suit every taste. All are beautifully designed with natural hardwood floors and handcrafted mosaic furniture.

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay

Executive Cabin Interior

An individually-controlled air-conditioner/heater and en-suite bathroom complete with bathrobes and deluxe amenities ensure complete comfort during your journey.

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay

Beautiful en-suite bathroom

Throughout the ship, elements of Vietnamese culture are reflected in the interior design, featuring both traditional and contemporary décor.

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay

Elegant décor can be found throughout the ship

No matter the cabin type, each of the 32 cabins on-board the Au Co cruise ship comes with its very own private balcony or terrace. It’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the views!

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

Every room on board the ship has its own balcony/terrace

For ultimate relaxation, enjoy a rejuvenating massage at the on-board spa. A private jacuzzi is also available on the back of the ship for couples to enjoy at their leisure.

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

Enjoy a massage in the on-board spa

Enjoy the Scenery

Halong Bay contains some of Vietnam’s most stunning landscapes, including over 1,600 (mostly uninhabited) limestone islands jutting from the turquoise waters. Cruising the open waters is an attraction in and of itself. Trust us when we say that this is definitely a region you do not want to miss on your next visit to Vietnam.

Halong Bay Vietnam

Picture perfect backdrop

Though simply cruising its waterways isn’t enough! You’ve got to get out and explore more of what this region has to offer, and Au Co’s itinerary provides plenty of opportunities to do just that!

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

Kayaking in the calm waters of Halong Bay

While anchored in some of the less-crowded bay areas, we were able to hop in a kayak, paddle around, and explore at water level!

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

So grateful that we had wonderful weather in November

Explore the Surroundings

Another fun activity during our cruise included a stop at Surprise Cave at Bo Hon Island. The name comes from the feeling you’ll encounter after climbing a few stairs to reach the small entrance of the cave. SURPRISE… it’s HUGE! Though it doesn’t look like much from the outside, it is absolutely massive on the inside!

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay, Vietnam

Surprise Cave on Bo Hon Island

Unfortunately due to rough waters in the open sea, we weren’t able to make it to Cat Ba Island to visit the national park and organic farm, as originally written into our itinerary. Without skipping a beat, the crew had an alternative option for us, and diverted us to the nearby Vung Vieng floating fishing village in Bai Tu Long Bay.

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay, Vietnam

Vung Vieng floating fishing village in Bai Tu Long Bay

On-Board Activities

Once back on-board the boat, interested passengers had the unique opportunity to tour the engine room and meet with the captain on the bridge, something you’re not able to do on most commercial cruise ships.

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

Visiting with the captain on the bridge

Other on-board activities included a cooking lesson, fruit carving demonstration, morning Tai Chi lessons, and a traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony.

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

Impressive cooking demonstration

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

Morning Thai Chi lessons

For our final evening on the ship, we were treated to an expansive and delicious feast on the top deck. Every meal we had while on-board the Au Co II was outstanding, but this one topped them all. With BBQ’d meats, grilled seafood, sushi, sauteed veggies, fresh fruit, and dessert, we were left full and completely satisfied!

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

Elaborate BBQ for our final dinner on-board

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

Incredible selection of food

Incredible Beauty

The ship was luxurious, the meals were outstanding, the crew was friendly and personable, but the real ‘star of the show’ so to speak, was the surrounding landscape! From sunrise to sunset, I didn’t want to put down my camera.

Sunrise in Halong Bay Vietnam

Wake early to experience beautiful sunrises such as this

Spectacular limestone karst formations, majestic pillars, natural arches, and hidden caves all make Halong and its surrounding bays ripe for exploration!

Au Co Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam

The landscape of Halong Bay is quite impressive

We’re so glad we opted for the 2-night cruise. Although we were slightly disappointed that our ship docked in the same bay both nights, and on a few occasions we were alongside countless other boats, having 2 full days to explore allowed us a few opportunities to cruise away from the crowds and experience temporary solitude. Though the 2-night cruise provided by Au Co is the longest cruise available in Halong Bay, truth be told, we would’ve actually preferred a 3-night cruise to allow more time for just relaxing and taking in the sights.

Halong Bay Vietnam

View of Halong Bay as seen from Ti Top Island

Although it’s advertised as a 3-day cruise, you don’t board the ship until about noon on the first day and you’re back on land by 11 am on the third day. Having one more day to explore would allow for more relaxation time between activities (kayaking, cave, fishing village, cooking demonstration, meals, etc. etc.). The activities both on and off the ship were great, and we wouldn’t want to cut any of them out. We’d just prefer more time to sit on our balcony and read or lounge on the sundeck up top, all while enjoying the surrounding beauty. So, obviously we feel that if you’re going to make the trip to Halong Bay (3 hours by shuttle bus from Hanoi), which we definitely recommend, you should absolutely opt for the 2-night cruise with Au Co! It’s an experience of a lifetime you won’t soon forget!

We’d like to thank Au Co Cruises for providing us with a discounted cruise fare in exchange for our review. As always, all opinions are our own and are an accurate reflection of the experiences we had.


22 Comments:

  1. I loved Halong Bay, but the boat I went on was nowhere near as lux as your was. We fully intend returning and doing a couple of days in this amazing area of Vietnam.

    • There are definitely different levels of luxury when it comes to selecting a ship for Halong Bay. We knew we didn’t want to end up on one of the booze-cruises, so we opted for something a little more up-scale. This’ll probably be our only visit to Halong, so we wanted to do it right the first time! :)

  2. We are researching the options for a Halong Bay cruise right now, so I was most curious to read your assessment of the itinerary and extra activities. We can’t wait to visit Vietnam. Thanks for the great summary!

    • Ooh fun! You’ll love Halong Bay! So, yes prepare yourself for LOTS of other boats, but again if you opt for the longer cruise, you’ll have a few opportunities for a little seclusion the further away you get from Halong. Hoping you have good weather like we did, though I hear the fog and mist can add a unique element as well!

  3. Wow, this is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the beauty of Halong Bay. My husband wants to visit Vietnam and this would be a must-do! Thanks.

    • For starters, you should DEFINITELY visit Vietnam. We have completely fallen in love with this country. The scenery is spectacular and the people are among the friendliest we have met from our travels around the world. And no visit to Vietnam is complete without a trip to Halong Bay!

  4. What a way to explore Vietnam! I love cruises, even if they do get you with the board at noon and disembark at noon piece. The struggle is real haha! Love the pictures!

    • Ha ha! Yea, they were very efficient with the disembarkation and boarding process! As we were leaving, they were getting the ship ready for the next set of passengers. It was a great time nonetheless!

  5. This is much more my style than the cruises I’ve been on. I think I might just have to give cruising another shot with one like this.

    • We LOVE cruising! Ocean cruising, river cruising, sailing, etc.! There’s certainly no one kind of cruise. This cruise was great, because you were up close to the scenery and there was plenty of additional exploring built in. So yes, you should definitely give cruising another shot! :)

  6. Wow! Those rooms are luxurious for a cruise. They are huge. Surprise Cave sounds beautiful. We love exploring the world underground. The whole thing sounds like a great fit for my family.

  7. Looks like you had a fantastic time. The cabin looks beautiful, the surroundings are stunning and the food – Wow!

  8. Woah, talk about cruising in style! This boat looks very luxurious, I love that you had your own private balcony as well. We spent a month in Vietnam and never made it to Halong Bay (I got really sick), so we’ll definitely have to come back and will consider this cruise for sure.

    Cheers!

    • Oh no! That stinks that you got sick. That’s one of my biggest fears traveling- getting too sick to enjoy what you traveled all that way to see/do! No fun! Well, you will definitely need to go back to Vietnam so that you too can experience the beautiful Halong Bay!

  9. I love seeing the photos of your boat and hearing more about your trip. I always had on my list the tour of Halong Bay, but I never realized it could be done on such big boats. I don’t know what I expected, but probably broken down, little scary boats! Ha ha!

  10. I went on a 1-day cruise of Halong Bay back in 2007, but now I want to go back and do an overnight trip! Au Co Cruises look super luxurious, especially that BBQ feast. My husband and I are planning a trip to Vietnam in 2016, so we will add this to our list of ideas :)

    • Overnight is a must… and again, we recommend 2 nights so you can escape the crowds a little bit! Glad to hear you’re going back for another visit to Vietnam. We had such an amazing time, I know we’ll be back again someday soon!

  11. Yes, Halong Bay is a best ocean in the world where you must visit when you come to Vietnam.

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