Halong Bay (Ha Long Bay) is a place of outstanding natural beauty in Vietnam and one of the areas most visited by tourists.
Over 1,600 limestone islands off the Vietnam coastline, most of which are uninhabited, are distributed throughout the bay, towering above the surface of the turquoise waters.
Halong Bay’s scenery and impressive range of biodiversity led to it being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, and it has become a must-see destination when traveling northern Vietnam.
This Halong Bay travel guide will help visitors plan their trip, including how to get there and places to see.
How to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay
Most tourists visit Ha Long Bay from Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital. Ha Long Bay is around 110 miles (180 km) from Hanoi, and there are several different transport options in Vietnam for making the journey depending on the traveler’s budget and priorities.
Taking the bus from Hanoi to Ha Long
The bus is one of the most economical ways to get from Hanoi to Ha Long. Coaches are generally modern and comfortable; the journey takes between 2.5 and 3 hours.
Tickets can be purchased online in advance and cost around $5 (USD).
Private taxi from Hanoi to Ha Long
Taxis offer the most convenient way to get from Hanoi to Ha Long. Private minibuses or cars can be hired depending on the number of passengers.
The car or minivan journey takes between 2.5 and 3 hours, and passengers can expect to pay $10 to $15 per person.
Train travel from Hanoi to Halong
The train between Hanoi and Halong is inexpensive, costing just $3.50, but can take up to 7 hours.
For this reason, tourists usually choose to go by bus or taxi rather than the railway.
Taking a seaplane to Halong Bay
Visitors who opt to take a seaplane from Hanoi to Halong Bay can enjoy stunning views across Vietnam. Taking under an hour, it is the fastest way to make the journey.
Traveling by seaplane offers passengers a memorable experience, but it is the most expensive option, costing in the region of $200.
The Best Time to Visit Halong Bay
The weather in Vietnam differs significantly from one part of the country to another. Halong Bay is located in the north of Vietnam, which means that peak season is between October and December when temperatures are pleasant, and rainfall is low.
In January, Halong Bay experiences an average temperature of 63 ºF (17 ºC) with clear skies and sunshine.
To enjoy the area with fewer tourists, June to September is an option for visiting Halong Bay, although there is a greater chance of rain and storms.
Boat Tours in Halong Bay, Vietnam
Many cruises are available offering tourists the opportunity to see all the best places to visit in Halong Bay. As one of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, there is a great deal to experience. Visitors are recommended to allow 2 to 3 days for the trip.
Boats call at many of the islands and islets, stopping off at many of the beaches and providing opportunities for swimming and trekking or simply relaxing on the sand.
Cruises range from 1-day excursions to trips with overnight stays. The following are some of the most recommendable places to visit in Halong Bay.
Cat Ba Island to see floating villages
Cat Ba Island is a popular stop on Halong Bay cruises. At Cat Ba Island, passengers can see traditional floating villages including restaurants and hotels.
Several endangered animal species live on the island; lucky visitors may spot Cat Ba langurs and civet cats.
Bo Hon Island and its famous caves
Sung Sot, Trinh Nu, and Trong Cave are 3 impressive caves on Bo Hon Island. Sung Sot cave is 30 meters high and worth visiting.
Trinh Nu cave contains a shrine to a woman whose body is said to have turned to stone after she took her own life in the cave. The legend has converted the spot into a top attraction.
Like Cat Ba, Bo Hon is home to much wildlife such as deer and monkeys.
Ha Ga Choi, fighting cocks island
For the best photo opportunities when visiting Halong Bay, head to Ha Ga Choi island at sunset. The island is well known as it takes the form of 2 large rocks that resemble cocks fighting.
The sun setting behind the rocks is particularly beautiful.
Where to Stay in Halong Bay
Tourists may stay overnight on a Halong bay boat. Cruises are a good way to see as much of the area as possible in just a couple of days. Boat accommodation can be compared online, and many have dining options.
Alternatively, travelers can stay at a hotel in Halong City. There are several budget and luxury hotels to choose from. If Ha Long is the first stop, a hotel or other accommodation in Vietnam should be booked in advance.
This is because, when applying for a visa for Vietnam, visitors are requested to supply the details of the first few nights’ accommodation. Most foreigners require a Vietnam tourist visa for Ha Long Bay, which can be obtained online.