Port report: Halong Bay


Who goes there: Azamara Club Cruises, Avalon Waterways, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises, Uniworld, Viking River Cruises, Windstar Cruises.


Cruisers like: Hanoi is about three hours away by road. The city is growing fast, but the ancient bones are still there and the buttercup-yellow painted houses echo French colonial times. It is a good place to buy original art and photography, silk, clothing, lacquer and other handcrafts. The French heritage has imparted great style to all handmade goods – including the food, especially bakery items.

In picturesque UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay, take a boat tour to visit caves and grottoes on the islands, including the Hospital Cave, a secret, bomb-proof clinic used during the American War. Or take a ferry to Cat Ba National Park.


Don’t miss: Take the opportunity to cruise around the multitude of steep limestone karst islands in the bay. On a fine day there is hardly a more spectacular place for photography. In Hanoi, make sure to visit the water puppet theatre near the lake to enjoy a show.


Getting around: Many cruise ships moor off Halong city and will then tender you to the Bai Chay Tourist Wharf. At the pier, you will be able to rent a junk for about US$60 for four hours. There regular buses to Hanoi, or negotiate for a private car or taxi, which will cost about US$85.


Best for: Families, food lovers, shoppers, photographers.