With the wonderful landscape, Halong Bay is a must-see destination for both Vietnamese and foreign visitors. However, to discover all its beauty- one of the most beautiful bays in the world, visitors should spend many times exploring this amazing place. Halong bay travel guide from A to Z will introduce useful information in detail for visitors to prepare a fascinated trip to discover Halong bay.
- Halong Bay Overview
- The best time to visit Halong Bay
- How to get to Halong Bay
- Most amazing Halong Bay Attractions
- In the center of Halong Bay
- Halong Bay Surroundings
- What to do in Halong?
- What to eat in Halong Bay?
- Where to stay in Halong Bay? Hotel and Homestay in Halong Bay
Halong Bay Overview
Ha Long Bay is a small bay located in the Gulf of Tonkin of Northeast Vietnam. The bay belongs to Ha Long City, Cam Pha City and is a part of Van Don district, Quang Ninh province. Ha Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bai Tu Long Bay to the northeast, and Cat Ba Island to the southwest. Halong Bay was gifted thousands of magnificent islands with an area of about 1,553 km2, including 1,960 islands, most of which are limestone. The core of this bay has an area of 334 km2 with a number of 775 islets. The bay consists of a dense cluster of limestone islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising spectacularly from the ocean. It has been recognized by UNESCO as the world’s natural heritage and one of the seven new natural wonders of the world.
The best time to visit Halong Bay
When is a good time to travel to Halong Bay?
From October to December (Fall) is the peak season and the best time of year to visit Halong Bay thanks to the pleasant weather.
From July to September (Summer) is the low season and has a chance of storms.
However, with some planning, you can have an amazing Halong tour with half of the normal price when booking a cruise in the low season.
How to get to Halong Bay
+ The route from Hanoi ( Hà Nội) to Bac Ninh ( Bắc Ninh) to Halong Bay: 155 km. This is the shortest way from Hanoi to Halong which takes about 3 hours for car driving.
– From Hanoi (Hà Nội) to the fork of Sai Dong (Sài Đồng): 10 km.
– From the fork of Sai Dong (Sài Đồng) to Bac Ninh (Bắc Ninh): 23 km.
– From Bac Ninh (Bắc Ninh) – Pha Lai (Phả Lại) – Chi Linh (Chí Linh) – Dong Trieu (Đông Triều) – Uong Bi (Uông Bí) – Halong (Hạ Long): 122 km.
+The route from Noi Bai airport to Halong Bay: 160 km. Depart from Noi Bai (Nội Bài) then go past Bac Ninh province reaching highway 18, then passing Pha Lai, Sao Do, Dong Trieu, Uong Bi and Halong.
– From Noi Bai (Nội Bài) to Bac Ninh (Bắc Ninh): 32 km.
– From Bac Ninh ( Bắc Ninh) province – Pha Lai (Phả Lại) – Sao Do (Sao Đỏ)- Dong Trieu (Đông Triều )- Uong Bi (Uống Bí)- Halong bay.
+From Hanoi (Hà Nội) to Halong (Hạ Long): Visitors can take some reliable coaches pick-up from My Dinh ( Mỹ Đình) station. The earliest coach is started at 6 A.M and the last one at 5 P.M (takes about 3-4 hours)
+From HCM City ( TP.HCM) to Halong (Hạ Long): Visitors can take some reliable coaches pick-up from Mien Dong ( Miền Đông) station. Some coach brands:
- Hoang Long (Hoàng Long) coach. Tel: 02253920920.
- An Binh (An Bình) coach. Tel: 0907866530.
In HCM city, visitors can take plane/ train to Hai Phong ( Hải Phòng) or Hanoi ( Hà Nội), then take a coach to Halong Bay.
Vehicle/ Moving in Halong
Some taxi brands in Halong Bay for visitors to refer:
- Taxi 886 taxi –Mong Cai (Móng Cái). Tel: +84 33 3886 886.
- Halong (Hạ Long) taxi. Tel: +84 33 362 62 62.
- Hong Gai (Hồng Gai) taxi. Tel: +84 33 384 84 84.
- Mai Linh taxi. Tel: +84 33 3628 628.
- Thanh Hung (Thành Hưng) taxi. Tel: +84 33. 3659659.
- Thinh Hung (Thịnh Hưng) taxi. Tel: +84 33. 3616161.
- Sao Mai (Sao Mai) taxi. Tel: +84 33. 3822822.
- Dong Bac (Đông Bắc) taxi. Tel: +84 33. 3828282.
- Quang Ninh (Quảng Ninh) taxi. Tel: +84 33. 3656656.
- Bai Chay (Bãi Cháy) taxi. Tel: +84 33. 3646464.
Visitors can take cruises at two ports including Tuan Chau international ports and Hon Gai Vinashine port.
– Tuan Chau international ports. Tel: +84 33.3842134.
– Hon Gai Vinashine port. Tel: +84 33.3628234.
The ticket fees are different based on their types: the price of day cruise per hour from VND 250,000 (US $12 – standard class) to VND 600,000 (US $28 – Class 1). For the overnight cruise including transfer, accommodation services per 2 days 1 night: from VND 700,000 (US $35 – 1-star) to VND 5,000,000 (US $250 – 2-star).
Most amazing Halong Bay Attractions
In the center of Halong Bay
Thien Cung (Thiên Cung) Cave
Just a few short kilometers to the north of another Halong Bay attraction- Dau Go ( Đầu Gỗ) islet- is Thien Cung ( Thiên Cung) Cave, yet another of Halong’s legend-laden grottoes. This is where finding a good cruise guide comes in handy; while in Thien Cung, quiz them about the “Dragon King’s Palace” and find out all about the myth surrounding this cave.
Dau Go (Đầu Gỗ) Cave
This place is located in the island range of Dau Go ( Đầu Gỗ), about 300 m from Thien Cung Cave. Dau Go ( Đầu Gỗ) is a beautiful and wide cave with old features. The cave has a diversified flora and fauna. Because the gate of the cave is wide so the humidity is high, along with the affection of sunshine which makes the plants developed. This is a significant difference with other caves in Halong.
Me Cung (Mê Cung) Cave
It is located on the height of 25 meters on Lom Bo ( Lờm Bò) islet which is 2 km to the Southwest of Ti Top ( Ti Tốp) islet. From a distance, the cave gate looks like a large house roof. The cave has a complicated structure with levels, parts spreading in the cave. From the top of the cave, we can see a small lake named Me Cung ( Mê Cung) lake.
Male and Female Cave, Trinh Nu (Trinh Nữ) Cave
Male and Female Cave, Trinh Nu (Trinh Nữ) Cave are located in the two wings of a small mountain in the east of Bo Hon islets, more than 3km from the Southeast of Sung Sot Cave. These two caves are located about 700 meters from each other. From this one, we can see the gate of the other. Both caves are very wonderful with beautiful stalactites and scenery. These caves have not only beautiful scenery but also is famous for the legend of a sad love story.
Soi Sim Islets
Soi Sim islets are located in the west of Halong Bay, 12 km from Bai Chay port and 700 meters from Titop Island. There is a primeval forest with a diversified fauna on the island. Locals said that the island is named as Soi Sim because there is a lot of rose myrtle are grown on the island.
Ti Top (Ti Tốp) Islets
Unlike many other tourist destinations on Ha Long Bay, in addition to the beautiful natural scenery, Ti Top island also owns a beautiful beach, called Ti Top beach. The beach on the island takes the shape of a half-moon crescent encompassing half of the island. A bit small though it might be, it wins kudos for its quiet and airy atmosphere, its clean white sand and clear waters, as well as its alluring landscape.
Luon (Luồn) Cave
Ha Long is proud of the huge cave system, each cave has its own beauty and the story attached to it. One of the typical caves is Luon cave located in the northeast of Bo Hon ( Bờ Hòn) islet. It’s about 14 kilometers to the south from Bai Chay ( Bãi Cháy) beach. Here you can see the stalactites were built for millions of years in various shapes and sizes.
Sung Sot (Sửng Sốt) Cave
Of all of Halong’s caves, Sung Sot cave is the largest, perhaps the most renowned, and likely the most visited of all. Sung Sot Cave is located on Bo Hon ( Bồ Hòn) Islet, a close neighbor of several other famous attractions such as Ti Top (Ti Tốp) Islet, Bo Nau ( Bồ Nâu) Grotto, Me Cung ( Mê Cung) Cave, and Luon ( Luồn) Cave. The entire cave is bestrewn with stalactites and stalagmites, which serve as endless material for the legend and ‘lore of the area.
Chay (Cháy) Beach
Bai Chay is an ideal tourist place along the banks of the Halong Bay, suitable for relaxing and bathing. This place is windy all year round, the average annual temperature is about 20°C.
Tuan Chau (Tuần Châu) Islets
Tuan Chau is one of the top Halong Bay attractions for those looking to enjoy some recreational activities and beachside resorts.The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is one of the island’s most important features, built-in honor of the man himself who used to visit Tuan Chau on his holidays.
Cua Van (Cửa Vạn) Fishing Village
At Cua Van fishing village, visitors not only have a chance to enjoy peaceful beauty and tranquil atmosphere but also learn about the unique customs in the daily life of fishermen.
Halong Bay Surroundings
Quan Lan (Quan Lạn) Islets
Quan Lan ( Quan Lạn) islet is also called Cao Lo ( Cao Lộ) islet located in Bai Tu Long ( Bái Tử Long) Bay in Van Don ( Vân Đồn) district. Traveling to Quan Lan in summer, we cannot miss relaxing on the beaches including Son Hao and Chan Tien…For overnight on the island, we can choose the homestay or hotels close to the beach and join interesting activities with the locals such as fishing…
Ngoc Vung (Ngọc Vừng) Islets
Ngoc Vung ( Ngọc Vừng) is a beautiful islet with the square of 30 km located in Bai Tu Long bay which is 45 km from Cam Pha ( Cẩm Phả) commune and 35km from Tuan Chau ( Tuần Châu) international marina. The pearl here is very famous for its beauty. From the distance, at night on the boats, we can see the light of pearls due to the countless pearl oysters.
Dragon Eyes (Mắt Rồng) Islets
Mat Rong in Vietnamese means the dragon’s eye. The island lies among the majestic mountains with an area of about 30 hectares. The attraction of Mat Rong is in its primitive character. If visitors are afforded to make a trip by seaplane, visitors will be able to admire the entire Halong Bay from above and will see why this island has got its name.
Bai Tho (Bài Thơ) Mountain
Bai Tho mountain is the area of limestone mountains located in Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province. From different angles, the mountains look like a hunting tiger, lion or flying dragon. From the top of Bai Tho (168m) – the highest mountain in Halong, visitors will have a wonderful panoramic view of Halong city.
Quang Ninh (Quảng Ninh) Museum
Quang Ninh Museum is a unique architecture. The museum is designed in a modern style in the total black which looks like a minor from afar. Go inside, visitors will be immersed in a large space. With the three-floors, the museum will give visitors a complete view of the nature and people in Quang Ninh. The museum opens every day from 8 am to 5 pm. Entrance fee is VND 30,000 (US $1.3) per adult and VND 15,000 (US $0.7) per student and VND 10,000 (US $0.9) per children.
Dragon Park Entertainment
This is the first theme park in Asia that is managed by Spanish brand Parques Reunidos, which manages about 60 parks in 14 countries in the world. With an area of 40 hectares, Dragon Park was designed to provide visitors with unforgettable moments.
Ba Vang (Ba Vàng) pagoda
The pagoda is situated in Thanh Dang ( Thành Đẳng) Mountain, at a height of 340 m from sea level, in a beautiful position of Uong Bi City, Quang Ninh Province. Ba Vang Pagoda also has another name of Bao Quang Tu ( Bảo Quang Tự) and has the largest sanctum in Vietnam. In order to develop the value of this Buddhist sacred land, Ba Vang Pagoda was continuously invested and embellished.
Yen Tu ‘s ( Yên Tử) National Relic
The Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape is located on the Dong Trieu range, at the intersection of two provinces: Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) and Bac Giang ( Bắc Giang). The heritage site is mostly situated in a mountainous region which is about 600m above sea level. With its peak at 1,068m above sea level, Yen Tu ( Yên Tử) is famous for its beautiful natural landscape and cultural heritage called the ancestral land of Truc Lam ( Trúc Lâm)Zen Buddhism in Vietnam.
What to do in Halong?
Overnight on yacht
The yachts in Halong look like small hotels with separately fully-furnished rooms with luxury services such as spa, restaurant, and bar…It is quite interesting that you relax in your own room and enjoy the wonderful landscape through the windows. That sounds interesting!
It is a pity if you visit Halong without doing kayak. It is a wonderful experience when riding a small kayak and enjoys the marvelous natural beauty. In Halong, there are many places offering kayak service (at the ports or on the islands), the kayaking fee is from VND 100,000 (US$5) to VND 200,000 (US$10) per hour depending on the capacity (1 to 3 seats).
Admire Halong Bay on Seaplane
Instead of having to sit 3-4 hours in the car from Hanoi to Halong and sightseeing on the ships and boats running around the bay, with the Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft EX seaplane, it just takes 30 minutes for tourists to enjoy this panoramic world natural heritage from above. The large windows of the seaplane allow passengers to comfortably record the memorable moments while flying over many famous landmarks.
Experience Mountain- climbing
Halong is not only attracted by its stunning landscape, but also by diversified terrains which are perfect for mountain climbers. If you are mountain climbers, it is sure that the steep cliffs and fabulous mountains will give you a magnificent experience.
What to eat in Halong Bay?
From Halong travel guide, what to eat in Halong?
Horseshoe crab ( Sam biển)
The meat of Sam ( Horseshoe Crab) can be processed into a lot of different foods, such as pudding crab, crab salad, sweet and sour crab legs, crab sauté with peppers and lemongrass, fried eggs and crab, steamed crabs, fried crab, fried crab’s cartilage, stir-fried crab and glass noodle. The endless menu of the horseshoe crab is always awaiting the visitors in Halong, and it is always fresher than you can get anywhere else!
Mussel porridge, a delicious dish of Halong people which combines the aroma of rice, the sweetness of mussels, and the gentle scent of herbs. The rice is cooked into a tender, silky broth of mussels that’s full of goodies.
Banh cuon (Vietnam stuffed pancake) with squid sausages
Meat stuffed pancake with mushrooms, fungus, and onion, served with famous grilled squid sausages, all create an unforgettable taste.
Xoi (steamed glutinous rice) with squid sausages
Cha Muc is the most famous food of Quang Ninh. The main ingredient of Cha Muc, of course, is squid. The crunchy and delicate texture of this specific variety of squid, and the juicy flavor and attractive aroma of this dish goes perfectly well with Xôi (boiled rice, sticky rice) or Bánh Cuốn (a type of thin, steamed rice cake). This beautiful piece of culinary mastery is sold at many stores and stalls around the city and especially at Halong Market.
Sa Sung( Sá Sùng)
This is probably the most expensive seafood dishes in Halong and almost only in Quan Lan ( Quan Lạn) Island. Sa sung is a marine worms type, live beneath the sand in a long time, like a clean environment and oxygen-rich seawater. Halong people use sa sung to cook many good foods as grilled with chili salt, fried with garlic or pineapple, roasted and served with chili, lettuce or crunchy fried….
Quang Yen fermented pork roll
Speaking of fermented pork roll people often think of Thanh Hoa, but there is another place which is Quang Yen was also famous for this food. Quang Yen fermented pork roll is bigger than Thanh Hoa. The ingredients that make up this dish are the same, but the secret of processing is different. Pork skin is cut into a thin string, mixed with fried rice, peanut,… and seasoned.
Where to stay in Halong Bay? Hotel and Homestay in Halong Bay
Alex (Hai Ninh) Hotel
++Address: 28-A Anh Dao (Anh Đào) street, Bai Chay (Bãi Cháy) ward, Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province.
Van Nam Hotel
++Address: 31 Vuon Dao ( Vườn Đào) street, Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province.
Saigon Halong Hotel
++Address: 168 Halong street, Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province.
Palace Ha Long Hotel
++Address: 20 Hoang Quoc Viet (Hoàng Quốc Việt) street, Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province.
Novotel Ha Long Hotel
++Address: 160 Halong street, Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province.