We went on the 2 day/1 night Imperial Junk cruise booked through Halong Bay Tours. We were trying to decide between just the one day trip and having one full day in Hanoi or the 2 day/1 night trip with only a morning in Hanoi and were very glad that we went for the 2 day/1 night option as it would have been too rushed to enjoy the day trip, and Hanoi is not that nice.
A couple of words of warning;
-The bay is super smoggy, so you may need to reset your expectations
-You are taken twice to forced shopping, once on the drive there and once on the way back. It’s the exact same place that you stop both times, and you are dropped off on one side of a huge shopping complex and are made to walk through and are picked up on the other side 30 minutes later with no option of staying on the bus, and there are not even any good food options.
-You will be charged $1 for every outside drink you consume on the boat, and $10 for every bottle of alcohol.
Overall, we would recommend this tour – it was professionally run, the guide spoke good English, the boat was a little worn but everything was nice enough, and we didn’t feel the need to pay more for any upgrades. We paid $95 online but saw 2 day/1 night Halong Bay tours advertised for $45 while walking through town, so that will be a better way to book. We arrived around midnight the night before the tour departed so it was worth it to us to pay the extra for the peace of mind and convenience, but there’s no need to book in advance. In terms of schedule, we were told we would be picked up between 8:00 and 8:30, and we were on the bus by 8:31. We were supposed to be back in Hanoi between 4:30 and 5:00, but we were dropped off closer to 5:20 on the corner by our hotel rather than in front of it, so if you are disoriented upon arrival as we were, be sure to ask the way to your hotel before the bus drives away.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC