Located in the Gulf of Tonkin in Northern Vietnam is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay.
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, 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.
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.
An individually-controlled air-conditioner/heater and en-suite bathroom complete with bathrobes and deluxe amenities ensure complete comfort during your journey.
Throughout the ship, elements of Vietnamese culture are reflected in the interior design, featuring both traditional and contemporary décor.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
Other on-board activities included a cooking lesson, fruit carving demonstration, morning Tai Chi lessons, and a traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony.
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!
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.
Spectacular limestone karst formations, majestic pillars, natural arches, and hidden caves all make Halong and its surrounding bays ripe for exploration!
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.
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.