A Halong Bay junk cruise: Forget the pictures you've seen of graceful Vietnamese traditional boats. You won't be sailing on those. A modern junk cruise takes place on a double-decked tourist boat, big enough to accommodate about 46 passengers. A typical junk cruise includes a stop at one of Halong Bay's caves, such as Thien Cung Cave (Fascinating Cave); a Vietnamese lunch; a visit to a traditional fishing village; and several hours of scenic cruising. Some cruise lines also offer kayaking excursions.
Since January 1, 2016, junk boats no longer leave from Bai Chay. You'll have to take a taxi or transfer to Tuan Chau International Passenger Port, about a 20-minute ride from Bai Chay. The facility is modern, with a cafe, WiFi and restrooms.
While you can pick up a junk cruise when you reach the port, we highly recommend either booking a private tour ahead of time or doing a ship's tour.
Hanoi: Vietnam's capital is a trek from the Halong Bay port, but well worth the time. Top tourist attractions include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, the Ho Chi Minh Museum, the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature and much more. Besides offering tours, most ships also provide an on-your-own option that allows you to freely explore or meet up with a private tour guide. For more, read the Hanoi port profile.