Avoiding Scams When Booking Cruise on Halong Bay

How to avoid scams and bringdowns when booking tours on Halong Bay? The following information will provide some “tactics” that help you prevent and deal with scams and unexpected situations.

The best way to explore and admire the mind-blowing scenery of Halong Bay is joining the trip on a yacht, this is the reason why many travellers have always chosen to travel by cruise on Halong Bay so far, even when they have just a fraction of time. As a local who precisely knows every “truth”, I am wordlessly proud of my country, however, I also want to share with international travellers some satisfying and disappointing experiences about Halong Bay.

I have visited Halong Bay a few times when I was a little girl. Everything there was totally different. I went on a trip with my family on a small boat of the locals, it was not way too modern but safe, we were allowed to enjoy swimming or sunbathing at some stops during the trip. The movements of small waves in the bay made the boat slightly wiggling. So, to approach Cat Ba Island, we had to switch to another boat. Along with the development of the tourism industry and the service standards for travelers, the type of sightseeing has been turned into overnight cruises on Halong Bay. I am sure that you have heard a load of adorable memories and intriguing experiences when visiting Halong Bay. Following are some facts that you might don’t know about if you have only visited Halong Bay once.

The best way to have a cruise trip on Halong Bay is to research in advance and book tours on the Internet via tourism companies. Why? Here are three reasons:

  • You can rely on the feedback on prestigious online tourism platforms such as TripAdvisor.
  • A fully booked situation does not matter if it is prepared in advance. It is truly missing if you have to change your plan after hours having spent on searching your favorite journey (If I were you, I would definitely feel sad when I have to change my journey).
  • The travel agents bring the best offer for customers because of their close and mutual cooperation with locals and travel companies in Halong bay.

First of all, let’s find out what kind of scams would possibly happen on your cruise trip in Halong Bay!

Some of notorious fraudulent when you book Halong Bay Cruise online

Online booking brings a wide range of benefits on meeting up your demand from budget to luxury, different routines, and sightseeing destinations. By a few clicks on booking websites, you will easily be able to access any information that you need, from itineraries, cabin size, facilities, to anything. Anytime, anywhere, what a convenience!

HOWEVER, the most notorious type of scams are the fraudulent agents. In fact, the number of immoral companies has been increasing and it is hardly noticeable. Also it occurs with other services like accommodations, transportations, and day trips as well. It is obvious that a reliable agent will guarantee the quality of services they advertise with an aim to meet your satisfaction. The different elements like the duration of operation of the yacht, the professional staff and the frequency of the yacht’s maintenance,etc differently bring the quality of different journeys.

DON’T pick up the unreasonable options, as many Halong Bay travel scams come with low-priced tours to allure savers. In most cases, you will receive an ad in your email boxes and there will be a pop-up window that shows a fascinating trip with a large discount in a period of time. If you pay much interest on this promotion, you will be compelled to make a deposit. Then you might be served with low quality, unsafety (amenities, foods, services, etc.), or the extra fee will not be explicitly informed. The “cheap” price you see could involve hidden extra fees or charges.

* My lesson: Remember to choose prestigious companies, reasonable prices, and stay alert with “cheap” promotions. Halong Bay cruise is worth spending, even locals love that type of tourism.

Upon arrival, you book Halong Bay cruise

While some people prefer to book tours or services in advance via their smart devices, some people only believe in what is in front of their eyes. This is the reason why a lot of visitors choose to book a Halong Bay cruise upon arrival. It is actually a good idea when you decide to book a yacht trip on arrival; however, there are some drawbacks with this kind of reservation.

There is a common type of scam without thoroughly searching for information. Imagine that you are at the ticker counter and being uncertain about what kind of Halong cruise will be the best choice. Out of the blue, an offer appears and provides you with an unexpectedly cheap price of 40$ for a day tour with a smiley face, sweet and enthusiastic introduction. You will easily be convinced, decide to pay 40$ and go on a cruise trip.

Cruise and crew will serve you dedicated, many delicious dishes are available on the table, interesting activities are designed within the trip such as exploring caves, floating villages, kayaking on the bay,… it feels like a great trip with proper prices, but in the end, it turns out to be your worst experience when you are charged for each service you use on the ship. Then 40$-trip increases to 340$-trip in a few seconds. At that moment, it’s hard to explain with the boat’s owners when you already used all their services and the seduction about the cruise trip with an economical price all disappeared.

*My lesson: Making sure that you have someone to claim or complain about. You can make a reservation with the tour operations or agents, but be sure that they will not disappear after you pay them.

Bad weather makes the cancellation of your Halong cruise

You should note that the weather is out of our control. To ensure the safety of passengers, when weather conditions are not appropriate to conduct the trips, all the trips will all be canceled according to the notice of Halong Bay Management Board. You should read thoroughly the cancellation policy of the cruise or the agents in order to assure that you will not misunderstand the terms. Legitimate agencies and travel agents will publish their policies on their website and this is where you can have all the information you need.

The proper policy is to charge the services that you already used and refund the remaining. For example, you used transportations, ate a meal, explored caves and then the storm came. Of course, you only have to pay for the services which you used. If the sellers tell you that you will be fully charged because the trip has started for any reason, you could be fooled. I don’t want this situation to happen to you, so be careful where to put your trust. As my previous advice: CHOOSE WISELY!

How to avoid scams for excursions and expeditions on Halong Bay

Checking the quality of the Halong Bay cruise which is chosen by the seller

In order to check the prestige of a tourism company on their website, you should:

  • Looking for their certificates of excellence on TripAdvisor, travel forums, and feedback from other travelers who have experienced their services on other websites for a clear opinion on the quality of cruise services.
  • Checking on prices and reading carefully about the itineraries, the more detailed an itinerary is, the more professional a tour you are going to have.
  • Looking for contacts such as head office address, email, and hotline. The more transparent that information is, the more reliable those companies are.

Requiring the specific guarantees when booking Halong Bay cruise.

Surcharge: in order to make sure your experience on your trip won’t be ruined by other extra fees, let clearly negotiate with travel consultants about included and un-included fees in your tour such as transportation from the airport to the hotel, buses Hanoi-Halong-Hanoi, airplane ticket, Visa arrangements, drinks, tips or beauty services on the boat,… Children policies are also concerned, you should ask about the surcharge for sharing a room with children since different policies with different ages of children are applied.

Refund policies: Cancellation due to bad weather or unexpected situations from customers is an issue that obligates travel agencies to take responsibility in order to find
out a solution for customers. However, a “full refund” does not always happen. Depending on the time of cancellation, refund policies will be applied. You could refer to the policies of one of the most prestigious local tourism companies in terms of Halong Bay cruise.

  • Prior to departing from Hanoi to Halong (haven’t used any services): 100% refund.
  • During the trip (some used services: picking-up, lunch, transportations in destinations, hotels at Halong…): the used services will be charged, the remaining will be returned.
  • The duration of the trip is cut from 2 nights to 1 night, guests will be charged with the fee of 2 nights /1night, plus other used services, the remaining will be returned.

The final price will be confirmed via your email address by your travel consultant. In any case, please contact him/her directly in order to receive emergency assistance.

This post is a popular situation that could happen on your trip. As Vietnameseperson, I have a lot of chances to avoid and re-make my trip if it is not successful. For international travelers, visiting Halong Bay is a long-time prepared plan and maybe it’s a one-time visit, so put these tips in your pocket in order to have a great trip in the future.

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