The department representative said the prices were also subject to change to suit “market practices” but operators would have to apply for changes and gain approval well in advance before they could be advertised.

The prices quoted are for the off-peak season and may be subject to an increase of up to 30% during tourist peaks, such as weekends, public holidays and the winter tourist season, November to March.

“Operators were required to post peak season prices on their tour boats and advertise them in the media to comply with new rules to end over-pricing,” a department official explained.

Tour prices (VAT included) for boat tours without accommodation vary with the class or level of boat.

• Level five boats cost from US$12 to US$14 per hour;

• Level four US$14 to US$19;

• Level three US$19 to US$24;

• Level two US$24 to US$28.

On smaller boats prices are calculated by routes:

• Route one through the harbour to visit various landscape viewpoints US$4.80 per person;

• Route two around the harbor to the park and caves US$7.20 per person.

Other small boat routes are priced at US$14.40 per person. They include:

• Route three through the harbour, out to sea and the cultural conservation centre;

• Route four, the harbour and the sea entertainment centre;

• Route five, the harbour and Gia Luan Station.

For larger boats that offer accommodation the rates for sightseeing tours on Halong Bay are calculated by the number of people on the boat and are given as per person for a stay of up to 24 hours.

For standard boats: level one costs US$240, level two US$96 to US$168, level three US$57.6 to US$96, level four US$33.60 to US$57.60.

The department said the price list would help to combat losses in revenue and to prevent overcharging of tourists. Earlier, the local People’s Committee requested that all boat tour operators post prices in the media.

Halong Bay is located in Quang Ninh province, 160 km east of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. It is considered the most popular sightseeing destination in the northern provinces and was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and the world’s New 7 Wonders of Nature in April 2012 by New Open World Corporation, an associate of the New 7 Wonders Foundation.

By Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit - TTR Weekly - January 23, 2013