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The Song Hong or Red River rises deep in the Yunnan mountains of south-west China to flow 714 miles (1,149km) across Northern Vietnam to discharge into the Gulf of Tonkin. It is an ancient trade route and was the route by which French explorers in the 19th century penetrated Yunnan, eventually reaching Kunming. Hanoi, capital of Vietnam straddles the river and close to its mouth lies Halong Bay, with its dramatic scenery.

Using the Angkor Pandaw in 2015 we set up a remarkable Halong Bay cruise. Connecting Halong Bay through various canals and tributaries to join up with the Red River and to continue upstream to mountainous areas beyond Viet Tri and up the Lo River, one of the main tributaries. There can be no better way to explore Northern Vietnam.

Longer Expeditions

River Cruise itinerary for Halong Bay and Red River River Cruise map for Halong Bay and Red River

Halong Bay and Red River


This 10 night river cruise allows you to pursue the Red River system in Vietnam that flows down from Tonkinese Alps to the countries capital, Hanoi and on to the monumental Halong Bay. This small ship river cruise provides an illuminative insight into North Vietnamese life and culture.

Rivers: Halong Bay & The Red River

Ships: RV Angkor Pandaw

from US$3,384 per person

Save up to 10% and No Single Supplement on selected dates

Combination Cruises

River Cruise itinerary for Halong Bay, Red River & Laos Mekong River Cruise map for Halong Bay, Red River & Laos Mekong

Halong Bay, Red River & Laos Mekong


If you really want to immerse yourself in the rich culture and beautiful surroundings these countries have to offer, why not embark on a 21 night river cruise where you will not only discover Halong Bay, the Red River and Hanoi in Vietnam, but also embark on a cruise on the Mekong in Laos.

Rivers: Halong Bay & The Red River, Mekong River

Ships: RV Angkor Pandaw, RV Champa Pandaw

from US$7,970.40 per person

Save up to 10% and No Single Supplement on selected dates

Halong Bay & The Red River Ships

RV Angkor Pandaw river cruise ship

RV Angkor Pandaw

Sister to the Katha and from the same yard delivered in 2013, the only difference with the Katha is an enclosed air conditioned dining room insi....

River Cruise Stops

Bat Trang

Bat Trang

(literally: ‘bat’ means ‘bowl’ and ‘trang’ means ‘workshop’). Bat Trang is a seven century-old pottery village, located in an area rich in clay.
Duong Lam

Duong Lam

Halong Bay River Cruises provide water access to some of the world’s most magical places, including, the UNESCO-praised village of Duong Lam. Duong Lam is an ancient village formed of 9 smaller villages, namely Mong Phu, Dong Sang, Doai Giap, Cam Thinh, Cam Lam, Phu Khang, Ha Tan, Hung Thinh and Van Mieu in Son Tay city. The ancient city is most well known as the birthplace of two Vietnamese kings but has remained popular with tourists thanks to its adherence to some of the most traditional elements of Vietnamese culture. The preservation of quintessential Vietnam within Duong Lam and its collection of historic buildings many of which are more than 400 years old, make the village somewhat of a living museum, a place to experience a sense of Vietnam's past amongst the beauty of architecture and nature. Entrance to Duong Lam Key facts about Duong Lam Duong Lam is a village formed of 9 smaller villages and is 50km from Hanoi city centre and covers an area of 800 hectares. The two Vietnamese kings born in Duong Lam were King Ngo Quyen and King Phung Hung. Both men led resistance wars against northern invasion and after winning national independence, were crowned kings. Brown onion rice cake and soft green-lentil cake are two traditional dishes of Duong Lam. Mud, clay and wood are the three most abundant building materials within Duong Lam village. What to do in Duong Lam The village of Duong Lam is an attraction in itself and simply walking the streets will immerse you in the culture and history of this ancient Vietnamese village. To make sure you get the most out of your visit, here are 5 of the best things to do in the area. Eat some traditional Vietnamese food cooked and prepared in the traditional way such as brown onion cake and soft green-lentil cake at the local eateries. Visit the temples dedicated to King Ngo Quyen and King Phung Hung. Take a tour of the ancient village to learn about its history of more than 1200 years. Explore Mia Pagoda and the courtyards, rooms and figures that lie within. Step inside an ancient house to see the traditional Vietnamese way of living. Getting to Duong Lam Duong Lam is 50 kilometres and over an hour by car or taxi from Hanoi city centre, making the Red River by far the best way to access the city. Travelling to Duong Lam by boat or river cruise on the Red River, not only takes you right up to the village edge but also minimises your impact on the environment and the traffic surrounding the ancient city. Two of our river cruises that make stops at the village of Duong Lam on the Red River include the Halong Bay and Red River Cruise lasting 10 nights and the Halong Bay, Red River and Laos Mekong cruise lasting 21 nights. Both of these cruises stop right on the edge of Duong Lam Village allowing their passengers to take in the history and culture of Duong Lam village for an afternoon before continuing their journey and exploration.
Halong Bay

Halong Bay

At Pandaw, we delight in helping discerning travellers to uncover the most naturally beautiful, historically significant and culturally rich destinations in Asia. Our luxurious river cruises allow intrepid travellers to explore remote and hard to navigate areas that have, for too long, been obscured from view. Our greatest joy is in showing our clients from all around the world the beauty that the continent has to offer by introducing them to stunning experiences, like breathtaking Halong Bay cruises in Vietnam. Join us as we explore this gorgeous bucket list location. Halong Bay The History of Halong Bay Situated in the Gulf of Tonkin, within Quang Ninh Province in the northeast of Vietnam, scenic Halong Bay is made up of 1, 600 islands and islets, combining to make a spectacular view with a stunning seascape of towering limestone pillars bedecked with verdant greenery. Most of the islands are completely uninhabited, unspoiled and unaffected by the presence of humans. A UNESCO World Heritage site, all activities on the bay, including tourism, are strictly regulated and carefully managed to preserve the bay’s incredible natural beauty. But there’s more to this incredible site than just looks (although they do need to be seen in person to be believed). The bay also has a long and fascinating history as well as being steeped in local legend. The product of 500 million years of geological development, Halong Bay has been occupied by various cultures throughout the centuries. Most lived on floating villages, isolated from the outside world. The bay is home to one of Vietnam’s most ancient fishing peoples- the Cai Beo who lived on Cat Ba island. In the feudal 12th century, Halong Bay was one of Vietnam’s first (and most thriving) international commercial ports as well as being instrumental from protecting Vietnam from coastal invaders from the north. In fact, legends tell that the Vietnamese forefathers fought off invaders with such bravery that the gods noticed from the heavens and sent the Mother Dragon and her children to help the ancient Vietnamese people repel the invading forces! Things to See and Do in Halong Bay As well as the stunning natural wonders abundant in Halong Bay, visitors can see the vestiges of the bay’s unique cultures which differ from many found within mainland Vietnam. Architectural sites to visit include Mê Cung and Thiên Long where visitors can still see the remains from mounds of mountain shellfish (Cyclophorus), spring shellfish (Melania), some freshwater mollusc and even some of the primitive labor tools employed by the bay’s ancient inhabitants. If you’re lucky there might even be a chance to enjoy some cocktails on the beach! Cocktail hour on a Halong Bay beach Check out our cruises that give you the chance to see the majesty of Halong Bay Pandaw Cruises unlock the majesty of Halong Bay with not one but two of our cruises. Combine an unforgettable trip to Halong Bay with a visit to the famed Red River which flows from southwest China through to northern Vietnam. Or perhaps you’d prefer to add a visit to Laos Mekong for a travel experience you’ll take with you for the rest of your life? Let Pandaw Cruises unlock Asia’s gems for you Explore the natural and historic wonders of Halong Bay cruises with Pandaw. We are dedicated to bringing you a travel experience you’ll never forget, combining the many wonders of the Asian continent with an unassuming luxury. Our cruise ships are small enough to allow you to explore Asia’s treasures yet offer the highest passenger-to-deck-space ratio of any cruise ships afloat. You’ll find that our crew are completely dedicated to making your trip enjoyable and unforgettable. Let us be your companions as you explore the bounty of Halong Bay.


When you stop off at Hanoi during your Halong Bay & Red River Cruises, there are plenty of things waiting for you to see and do. It is one of the ancient capitals of the world and its location right on the banks of the Red River couldn’t be better for this French-colonial city. From pretty pagodas and colonial buildings to modern museums and bustling shopping streets, you might be spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding how to spend your stop-off in Hanoi. Here’s our quick guide that should help you decide. What Is Hanoi Famous For? The capital of Vietnam is known as being one of the extremely busy and bustling and for many people, the traffic is the first thing they notice. But there is so much more to Hanoi than being one of the metropolitan centres of Asia. It has a very rich history, largely down to the fact that it was a French colony. The Chinese also colonized it too at times, so you will find plenty of French and Chinese influences around the city as you explore. The city is even the final resting place for the famous Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh and you can even pay your final respects by visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which is often open to the public. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Things To See And Do In Hanoi If you are still planning a day in Hanoi, then you might want to add these attractions and activities to your to-do list. The Temple Of Literature Situated right in the center of Hanoi, the Temple of Literature is a brilliant example of traditional Vietnamese architecture. It is dedicated to the country’s finest scholars and their work. It was originally dedicated to Confucius when it was built in 1070 and became the location of the country’s first university. The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology Another central attraction is the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. There are officially 54 different ethnic groups living in Vietnam and this museum showcases their individual cultures and origins. You’ll be able to see a range of everyday artifacts, including household items and tribal art pieces. There are also some super interesting examples of traditional houses. Hai Ba Trung Temple Hai Ba Trung is a centrally located temple and just a couple of kilometers from the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake. It was originally built in 1142 and ever since then, an annual festival is held at the temple every January. Inside the temple, you will see the two statues of the Trung sisters, who were both proclaimed the queens of Vietnam before being defeated by the Chinese. Street Food Like most Asian cities, Hanoi has some fantastic street food available in its city center. You will find a wide variety of market stalls and stands selling all kinds of local specialities. It’s an affordable way to grab a bite to eat while you are on land. An example of street food you might find in the bustling city of Hanoi Hanoi River Cruises You can experience the city of Hanoi on one of our Pandaw river cruises . We stop off at Hanoi where you can experience the attractions mentioned above as well as an afternoon walking tour of the old quarter and a trip to a traditional coffee shop to learn about Vietnam’s coffee making industry. If you want to experience more rivers on your cruise, take a look at our Halong Bay, Red River & Laos Mekong combination cruise .
Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay

When you take your Halong Bay and Red River cruise, you will get the chance to enjoy a stop-off at Lan Ha Bay. The bay is situated in between a few different islands, although people actually live in the water as well as on land. Traditionally, families live on floating rafts and boats in the bay and in some cases, between two and three generations will occupy the same boat or raft. The Lan Ha Bay area is a beautiful natural landscape and certainly one of the prettiest parts of the whole of Vietnam. Even though it is quite popular with tourists and cruises these days, it never feels too busy and crowded as some prefer to head to the other nearby bays. This means you can still feel like you are in a tranquil paradise when you do arrive in Lan Ha Bay. RV Angkor Pandaw in Lan Ha Bay Things To See In La Han Bay As the cruise ship sails through La Han Bay, you will spot a number of different islands. Here are some of the ones that you will be able to see. Rua Island (Turtle Island) When the ship is sailing through La Han Bay keep your eyes peeled for a large landform that looks like a turtle swimming in the island. That is Rua Island, but many people know it as Turtle Island because of its unique shape. It is completely uninhabited but covered in beautiful greenery. It is often considered a paradise as it looks so perfect. Monkey Island Previously called Cat Dua Island, Monkey Island is just as it sounds - an island covered in monkeys! There are 30 different species that live on the island, and you will probably be able to spot a few of the animals scampering about as the ship goes past. The island is part of the Cat Dua National Trust and all of the monkeys that live on it are protected as a result. Monkeys on Cat Dua Island Nam Cat Island One of the most popular tourist spots in the whole of the Lan Ha Bay, Nam Cat Island is covered in dense forest. The waters around it are always a stunning blue, and they lap onto some tropical sandy beaches. There are a number of small fishing islands dotted along the coast of the Nam Cat Island and if you are lucky you might even see a few of the local fishermen going out on their little fishing boats. Sailing through Lan Ha Bay Cannon Fort During your stop-off, it will be worth heading to Cannon Fort which overlooks the whole of the bay. It’s a great spot to take in the inspiring views and to snap some holiday pictures. Lan Ha Bay is a really popular spot with all of our cruise travellers, as it has to be one of the most naturally beautiful places we stop off in. There is plenty of to see as well, just don’t forget to pack your camera when you do come aboard one of Pandaw’s river cruises ! The best way to experience Lan Ha Bay is through our Halong Bay, Red River & Laos Mekong combination cruise where you can visit a floating fishing house in Lan Ha Bay and explore the Mekong river on the same trip!
Thanh Ha and Water Puppets

Thanh Ha and Water Puppets

The Water Puppets are a tradition which dates back as far as the 11th century, originating in the villages of the Red River Delta. The stories tell the day-to-day life of rural Vietnam with a strong reference to Vietnamese folklore. The puppets are made of lacquered wood, and the performers are in a waist-deep pool hidden behind a screen.
Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas

Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas

The Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas are a must see for anybody with an interest in Vietnamese Buddhist culture. Visited as a stopover during one of our Halong Bay River Cruises , you are sure to experience those feelings of peace and tranquility that the Buddhist religion is famous for when visiting these architecturally stunning temples just north of Vietnam. The Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas The pagodas date back to the 8th and 11th centuries. The Thay Pagoda is dedicated to Tu Dao Hanh, a famous monk rumoured to have lived in the temple, and who (as legend tells it) was known to have mystical powers. Should you visit the temple during the Thay Pagoda festival (28th-31st of March), you will get the opportunity to see some fantastic water puppetry that is created in honor of this patron deity. You will have to climb the 239 steps to reach the Tay Phuong pagoda, which is situated on a hilltop, but your climb will be worth it. The panoramic view of the surrounding countryside area is breathtaking, and you will be able to marvel at the finely sculptured Arhat statues that depict the life of Buddha and his disciples within the temple. The pagodas are located on the mountainous scenery of Sai Son, and the Thay Pagoda is settled in front of the breathtaking Long Thieu lake, so you are bound to feel that serene sense of calm that the Buddhist culture is known for. Both pagodas are remarkable for their carved wooden statues, although your attention may be averted by the finely carved lacquer and gold statues of Buddha that are in celebration of his life. Legend suggests that the Thay Pagoda was built on land in the shape of a dragon. The Sai Son Mountain is reputed to be the dragon's tail, the pagoda's courtyard the upper jaw, the lakeshore the lower jaw, and the three layers of the pagoda itself are rumoured to resemble the dragon's head. You can learn more about the mythology of the area should you catch sight of a tour guide. Outside of the Tay Phuong Pagoda Many monks, nuns, and other tourists visit the area annually. They come for the Thay Pagoda festival with its folk-telling water puppet shows, but they also come for the sightseeing opportunities, the adventurous hiking opportunities, and the charming landscapes that hold clues to history past. They also come to find peace at the tranquility of the lake, and to find opportunities where they can reflect on life and all its mysteries within the mystical surroundings of the two pagodas. On your expedition here, you are bound to find moments of serenity as you walk around the lake and through the time-worn pagodas around Hanoi. You might also experience life-changing moments of reflection. Best way to see the Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas Our Halong Bay and Red River , and the Halong Bay, Red River & Laos Mekong cruises both offer opportunities to visit the Thay and Tay Phuong pagodas. Other key sites are explored along North Vietnam and along the Red River delta, where you can get to see more of the wonders that are found in the local area.
Viet Tri

Viet Tri

One of the things you’ll see if you take a Halong Bay River Cruise is Viet Tri, the capital city of Phú Tho Province in North-East Vietnam. Roughly a quarter of a million people live here and it’s a very pleasant and welcoming city to visitors. Viet Tri is an industrial city and there are lots of important aspects of the Vietnamese economy that are based here. There are chemical and paper production industries here, as well as many other kinds of industrial enterprises. Find out more about Viet Tri and the wider city below. A warm welcome for tourists at Viet Tri History of Phú Tho Province There's a long and storied history linked to Phú Tho Province and it informs the city of Viet Try as it stands today. The province has always been known as the West Gate of Hanoi because of its location and proximity to the capital city of Vietnam. It’s also home to some of the most important natural landscapes and wild open spaces in Vietnam. The Red River and the Da River both connection here and the Xuan Son National Park is one of the most impressive natural areas you’ll find in Vietnam. It covers over 15, 000 hectares of land and many of this is made up of natural forest area. There are some impressive species of animal that have made Xuan Son National Park their home. There are even very rares species found here too, including Tibetan bears, cobras and gray gibbons. The extensive networks of caves found here is also home to a large population of bats. One of the things most commonly associated with this province is tea. It’s a vital part of the economy here because it’s produced in a large quantity and shipped to other countries for sale. Viet Tri There are many attractions that make Viet Tri worth visiting, especially if you’re going through this are as part of a Halong Bay River Cruise. The Hung Temple is one of the most important monuments in this part of Vietnam, and it’s a beautiful piece of architecture. If you get to see it up close and in person, you should make the most of that opportunity. Around the year, there are still festivals and events that happen around the site of the temple. Another key attraction is the Binh Son Pagoda Tower. It’s an imposing structure that is actually 11-stories high and has a terra cotta design. You’ll definitely want to see it when you’re in Viet Tri. It was originally constructed under the Tran Dynasty and is the tallest structure made from terra cotta that still survives to this day, which is pretty impressive. If you’re going to be making the most of a Halong Bay River Cruise anytime soon, be sure to make the most of everything Viet Tri has to offer. It’s a fascinating city and the wider province has a vital and interesting history. You’ll enjoy exploring and learning more about Viet Tri when you’re there.

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