For those of you whom haven’t had the chance to spend Christmas outside the western world, Vietnam can be a bit of a surprise, especially if you’ve been doing some kind of tradition that’s been passed on from your great-grandparents’ generation to your generation. Doing something completely outside your comfort zone might seem unconventional and unthinkable at the same time. Yet again, could be interesting for those who are looking to have a different experience of the worldwide holiday season.
Since a lot of people get days off (even weeks off) from work during the Christmas season, a lot of people, especially from Europe and the US, travel all the way to this part of the world to experience a whole new way of living. Many of these travelers choose to travel to Vietnam to see the unfamiliar culture, learn the thousand-years-old history that shaped this country, see a new perspective of how people go about their everyday lives, meet new faces, create memories, and ultimately, relax and enjoy the holidays far away from home.
Spending Christmas in Hanoi and Halong Bay is something that a lot of people should consider doing at least once in their lifetime. Why? It’s because northern Vietnam has a lot of things to offer from an enormous variety of dishes that you won’t see anywhere else in the world, thousands of years of history, the pumping streets that make up the old quarter, the myths and wonders waiting to be rediscovered in Halong Bay, and of course, meeting some of the best people you’ll encounter in your life. Bring all of those factors together and add the holiday vibes to it; and you’ll have the ultimate experience of Vietnam. But before anything else, it’s best to prepare everything before your trip and know exactly what you're signing up for.
Knowing the Basics
Getting around Hanoi could be frustrating sometimes, actually, most of the time as a lot of the streets look similar to each other. But fret not, there are some hacks to this. One good hack is to use the free Wi-Fi connection provided by the Vietnamese government around the Old Quarter and access Google Maps. For sure, even if you’re the type of person who gets lost a lot even when you have a live map at the palm of your hands, you’ll still find your way around. No doubt. Just be sure that you use other resources as well like asking the local people, as they’re mostly outside anyway and are more than willing to help you out with directions.
Another point that you should remember when traveling from Hanoi to Halong Bay
during the holiday season is the fact that there’s going to be heaps of people everywhere, both locals and tourists roaming around the city streets. So prepare well and keep an eye on your belongings, especially your gadgets; your smartphones, your cameras, and other valuables that you dare not to lose during your trip.
Weather wise, Hanoi can get cold during the months of November, December, January, and can even last up to March or April, depending on the year. But for sure, Christmas time should be around 20°C or less. For Europeans, yes we understand that this temperature might be considered as summer in your respective countries. But again, in Vietnam, this number can be chilly because of the humidity. And so it’s safe to pack some light jackets or sweaters to keep you warm when walking outside. It even gets colder when you get to Halong Bay as you’ll be cruising along open air by the ocean. Even if you don’t get cold at all, it’s best to prepare than complain about it later on.
Where to Stay in Hanoi?
Hanoi has thousands of accommodations to offer ranging from Airbnb homes, privately-owned and managed homestays, boutique hotels, and the usual luxury five-star properties and city resorts. Depending on your travel style and the group of people you’re traveling with, there’s never a shortage of rooms available for a good night’s sleep in Hanoi.
For first timers in the city, it’s always advisable to stay inside the Old Quarter, the French Quarter, or just a few hundred feet away from these two major areas. Besides, the prices are not that high anyway as compared to other neighboring destinations such as Manila, Hong Kong, Beijing, or even Ho Chi Minh City. Staying in central Hanoi is not as expensive as people might think or imagine.
Which Halong Bay Christmas cruise to take?
Here comes the difficult part, choosing the right Halong Bay cruise for you and your travel buddies. Again, depending on your travel style and the people you’re traveling with, your Halong Bay cruise should suit not only your budget, but also your expectations and what you want to experience at the end of your trip. As there are more than about 500 cruise companies that operate across Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Cat Ba Island, choosing one cruise to go with may seem stressful and excruciating.
But to make it easier and more convenient for you, we’re listing down some options that you might want to consider when booking your Halong Bay cruise. If you just want something simple and direct, the usual 2D1N overnight cruise on a traditional wooden junk is best for you. Check out Bhaya Classic Cruises
for these kinds of Halong Bay cruise accommodations. For those who prefer staying longer on the bay, spending more time in the middle of nowhere, and basically see more of what Halong Bay has to offer, the 3D2N itinerary of Au Co Cruises
is for you. During this wonderful time of the year, Au Co Cruise is running a special festive cruise
which offers Christmas onboard games and activities, BBQ on the sundeck and more extra benefits.
And for those travelers who want to travel in complete privacy and want to go about their itinerary as they want, then the Bhaya Legend Cruises
is for you.
How much do we spend on a cruise?
As this is the most-awaited holiday of the year, expect the prices to be at its premium. Overnight cruises can go from US$250 up to US$800 per person per night in a cabin. And these prices do not even include drinks and tips. So make sure you’ll have extra money when you book your Halong Bay cruises. Yes, it can be very pricey, but from our experience, it’s worth every penny. A Halong Bay cruise is definitely one of the things you should have in your lifetime bucket list.
Where do we stay on Christmas and New Year Eve?
And now the dilemma we’ve all been waiting for, where do we stay on Christmas and New Year eve? Honestly, this question can only be answered by you. Yes, you. If you want to spend your Christmas eve quietly with a small group of people surrounded by towering karst limestone formations while having some bottles of fine wines and the soothing winter breeze from the ocean, then a Halong Bay cruise would be your best bet. But if you’re more the party type of person and would love to be surrounded by smiles and greetings from mostly strangers right in the center of Vietnam’s socialist capital, complete with Christmas lights and probably thousands of people walking around Hoan Kiem Lake, then staying in Hanoi would probably best for you. Again, the choice is yours to make. So make sure you choose the one that fits your taste. But either way, we’re almost 110% sure that you’ll have one of the best nights of your life.