Located in the northeast of Vietnam , in the Gulf of Tonkin lies UNESCO World Heritage Site Halong Bay. With its signature emerald waters and towering limestone islands, Halong Bay is undoubtedly Vietnam’s most popular natural tourist attraction. In 2017 alone, the region welcomed almost 7 million visitors. Late last year, Vietnam opened the Van Don International Airport specifically for travellers wanting to visit Halong Bay.
And when it comes to ticking off a travel bucket list within Asia, one of the most popular on people’s list is doing a luxury cruise in Halong Bay.
There are many companies that offer this cruise along Halong Bay it can be overwhelming to choose which one to go for.
One of the luxury cruise liners that caught our eye is the Au Co Luxury Cruise and here are the reasons why:
1.) You Get to Visit all 3 Bays in one Cruise
Most companies offer a day-cruise in Halong Bay and this is a pity because there are 2 other bays in the Gulf of Tonkin that are worth visiting. Bai Tu Long Bay, for instance, lies east of Halong Bay and sits close to the China-Vietnam border is known to have calmer and clearer waters as it’s not as heavily cruised like Halong Bay. Lan Ha Bay, which is the furthest among the 3 bays has an isolated and serene appeal where swimming and kayaking are excellent.
The Au Co is the only cruise company that allows its passengers to visit all 3 Bays as it is currently the longest continuous overnight cruise in the Gulf of Tonkin.
2.) You Get to Support Sustainable Tourism
To many travellers, going on sustainable tourism and giving back to the local community are deal-breakers when it comes to choosing tours.
Au Co supports local livelihood, for instance , the Viet Hai Village , where they help build a community farm that supports and provides livelihood opportunities to local villagers. As part of the Bhaya Company, Au Co also supports “Save the Langur” Campaign, which aims to raise awareness and funds to protect the endangered Cat Ba Langur, which is listed in the world’s top 25 most endangered primates.One of the beaches that passengers of Au Co gets to visit, Trinh Nu Beach, has its own caretaker to ensure the cleanliness and well-being of the place.
It’s a relief to know that as tourism in Halong Bay gets more and more popular each year, companies like The Au Co are doing everything they can to ensure that the we leave the environment much better than how we found it.
3.) You Get to Experience Authentic Vietnamese Culture
Some people are lucky to be able to visit Vietnam and its main cities Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang, Hanoi, etc and stay longer than a week. But to many, their first and only touch of Vietnam is limited to Halong Bay and surrounds. It is therefore essential that if one is visiting Vietnam this way that they get to experience as authentic a Vietnamese culture as possible.
A Vietnamese tea ceremony, Ethnic Dance Show, and a Vietnamese MasterChef show are just some of the activities in Au Co that passengers can engage in.
4.) You Can Take Part in Meaningful Land Activities
One of the ‘dilemmas’ of overnight cruise passengers are the limited (and mostly overpriced) options for its land activities. Au Co, true to its advocacies allow its passengers to take part in meaningful activities that give back to local community.
Visiting community farms and meeting locals from the community are just some of the ways passengers can get a very immersive and transformational experience.
5.) The On-Board Luxuries
The Au Co is a steel vessel that provides first class facilities to its passengers. They have everything that one can expect from a luxury hotel – from a ‘proper’ restaurant, to the spa, jacuzzi, and even a library. Guests will surely find themselves wishing that the Au Co offered a cruise longer than it’s 3-day, 2-night itinerary.