Steeped in legend and shrouded in history, Ha Long Bay is arguably Vietnam’s most recognised landscape. Over 1,600 karst limestone peaks pepper the luminous turquoise water creating a panorama as dramatic as its Chinese translation – Dragon Tail Bay. The UNESCO-listed bay also features a wide range of biodiversity, including monkeys, deer and rare squirrels. Whilst there may not be snow, and no chimneys for Santa to descend, a Christmas in Halong Bay is certainly unforgettable, and has become increasingly popular for tourists wishing for a different way to spend the holidays. Here’s what we think you should know.
Northern Vietnam has history, culture, kind-hearted people and a fabulously sophisticated cuisine. Halong Bay is the aqua-blue gem in Northern Vietnam’s crown, and its accessibility from the capital, Hanoi, makes it an easy place to relax for a few days without having to spend time worrying about transportation. Trains, public and private buses and cars will be leaving at multiple times daily during the festive season, but specific times and dates will need to be booked in advance.
However, the region’s increasing popularity as a destination to spend the festive period means than central parts of Halong Bay and neighbouring Cat Ba can be busy, with locals and tourists roaming the streets spreading good cheer to one and all. Whilst the atmosphere is generally convivial and friendly (indeed, one of the main reasons we’d recommend spending Christmas in the area is the awesome atmosphere) it is worth taking extra care of your gadgets and wallets, if for nothing else than you’re likely to have a few drinks and might leave them somewhere, it’s happened to us all.
Although not as cold as winter months in parts of Europe and the USA, northern Vietnam can be deceptively chilly at Christmas time. The coldest months of the year are generally November to February, with temperatures dropping to 10°C. Whilst that may not seem like a big deal (especially if you’re from northern Europe and that is the temperature for 11 months of the year), there are two things that can make this temperature feel very cold.
The first is the humidity; whilst European and American winters can be a lot colder, the moisture in the air in northern Vietnam can feel cloying and uncomfortable, and can make it a lot harder to warm up. Secondly, there is rarely air conditioning or central heating in this region (although places catering to tourists such as hotels and restaurants usually shell out). It’s worth keeping in mind, however, so do remember to take a few jumpers and long pants.
As with everywhere on the planet during the festive period, expect prices to be at their premium. Overnight cruises can go from 250 USD to 800 USD per person per night in a cabin, not including drinks and tips. Our advice is, as always, to book well in advance, and to pack a little extra cash with you just in case. It can be pricey, but so is Christmas everywhere, and this time you don’t need to shell out for an entire Turkey plus all the trimmings! A Halong Bay cruise is definitely one of the things you should have in your lifetime bucket list. If you need a little inspiration as to which luxury cruise to book, look no further! Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org for best advice for your trip this Christmas.