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Halong Bay Travel Guide

Ha Long Bay is situated off the coast of Halong City, 170 km east of Hanoi.  One of Vietnam’s greatest natural wonders, Ha Long Bay was included as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994 and is one of Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations, both for the magnificent views of the bay and the relaxing boat trips.

According to the legend, Ha Long Bay was formed when a dragon descended down into the sea to help the Vietnamese fight against invaders and spat out thousands of pearls, which formed thousand of stone islands with great walls to block the invaders boats.

What to Do ?

The highlight of trips to Ha Long Bay is the time spent on the boat in the bay, and most boat trips include stops at one of the floating villages, visits to the more popular caves and look-out points, and swimming, but can also be arranged to include kayaking in the bay.

A trip to Ha Long Bay can also be combined with a trip to the largest island in the area, Cat Ba, which offers beaches, hiking, and a national park, as well as a developed tourism industry with hotels and resorts, restaurants and bars.  Also nearby Ha Long City is the Tuan Chau island, which is being developed into a recreation complex with aquarium, circus, golf and resorts, and is becoming increasingly popular for Vietnamese tourists.

When to Go ?

It is possible to visit Ha Long Bay year-round, with the best time to visit from October through April, although during the winter months of December, January and February, the weather can be cool and overcast with low visibility.  During the summer months from May to September, temperatures rise and storms are more likely during the rainy season.

How To Get There ?

Halong City is about 170 kilometers northeast of Hanoi, or a three to four hours drive.
Most tourists book tours in Hanoi which include transportation to Ha Long Bay, as well as accommodation (on the boat or in a hotel), tour guide and meals.

For those who wish to travel independently, there are regular bus services from Hanoi, with minibuses depart daily every 15 minutes from Kim Mã Bus Station.  Once in Ha Long City, you can either take one of the ferries to the islands or rent a boat for a cruise of the bay.

Travel Tips

There are many tour operators who offer overnight trips to Ha Long Bay for bargain prices, but beware that you often get what you pay for.  In return for higher priced tours, the quality of the boat, accommodation, transportation, food, and tour guides also increase.  Some questions to ask before booking the tour is how many people will be in the car and on the boat, whether rooms have A/C, how many meals are served on the boat, and how much time is spent on the boat, so you know what to expect in advance.

If you are interested in kayaking, again you should clarify how much time is actually spent kayaking so that you can make sure the tour meets your expectation.

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