Ha Long Bay- Quang Ninh, Vietnam


Ha Long Bay, located on the West coast of the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam, is a renowned tourist destination that attracts visitors from around the globe. With its breathtaking beauty, consisting of thousands of limestone islands and nearby attractions, Ha Long Bay is truly a traveler’s dream. Recognized as one of the top 7 natural wonders of the world by UNESCO, this article aims to provide essential information for anyone planning to visit Ha Long Bay and make their trip a memorable experience.

About Ha Long City and Ha Long Bay Vietnam:

Situated approximately 180 kilometers away from Hanoi, Ha Long is a first-class provincial city in Quang Ninh Province and a paradise for tourism in the Northern region of Vietnam. The highlight of Ha Long is, undoubtedly, the awe-inspiring Ha Long Bay, covering an area of 1,553 square kilometers and comprising 1,900 stunning limestone islands in various shapes. It has earned multiple UNESCO recognitions as a natural wonder and has become a must-visit destination for travelers.

When is the Best Time to Visit Ha Long Bay?

Ha Long Bay experiences changing weather patterns throughout the year, each season offering its unique charm. To plan your visit to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, consider the following time periods:

  • April to June: Ideal for a tranquil getaway with warm and mostly sunny weather, perfect for sightseeing and enjoying beautiful beaches.
  • June to August: Peak season with increased tourist numbers, particularly families on summer vacations. Plan in advance to ensure a cost-effective trip.
  • Late November to Tet Holiday: Less crowded compared to the peak season, this period offers a chance to enjoy Ha Long tourism with more private space.

How to Get to Ha Long Vietnam?

Thanks to the well-developed transportation infrastructure, reaching Ha Long from Hanoi is relatively easy. Here are a few options:

  • If you come from outside of Vietnam, it is best to book a flight to Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi capital. It is much closer to Ha Long Bay since it located north of Vietnam. If you booked the flight Ho Chi Minh city already, you will need to get a fly out to Noi Bai airport since taking a bus or car will take more than a day to get to Ha Long City. However, if you want to stay in the south of Vietnam, you can still enjoy other attractions there, I recommend Mui Ne beach, Da lat mountain, Nha Trang beach, and Phu Quoc island, which are all also very charming and extremely breath taking attractions.  
  • By motorbike: Journey through Highway 18, passing Bac Ninh, Chi Linh District, Hai Duong Province, Dong Trieu Town, and Uong Bi City. This adventurous route takes approximately 4-5 hours.
  • By car: Traveling by car is a time-saving option. Follow Ha Noi – Ha Long Highway from the center of Hanoi for a 2-2.5 hour journey.
  • By public transport: Taxis, coaches, trains, or buses are available options. If traveling from southern provinces, consider flying to Cat Bi Airport in Hai Phong or Van Don Airport in Quang Ninh.

Top Attractive Destinations in Ha Long City:

Ha Long City offers an array of fascinating attractions. Here are some notable destinations to explore:

  1. Ha Long Bay: Discover the majestic natural beauty, unique caves, and stunning islands such as Dragon Eye Island, Ti Top Island, Con Coc Island, Ngoc Vung Island, and Sung Sot Cave.
  2. Tuan Chau Island: An island with breathtaking beaches, lush vegetation, and significant archaeological values. Engage in beach activities and visit Tuan Chau Park for an enjoyable experience.
  3. Quang Ninh Museum: A miniature model of the province, showcasing unique architecture and preserving valuable cultural information.
  4. Cua Van Fishing Village: Immerse yourself in the peaceful surroundings and experience the livelihood of local fishermen.
  5. Bai Tho Mountain: An adventure lover’s paradise with an altitude of over 200 meters, providing a panoramic view of Ha Long Bay.
  6. Bai Chay Beach: The largest beach in Ha Long, known for its clear blue water, clean white sandy shore, and picturesque row of trees.
  7. Hon Gai Beach: An invested artificial beach loved by both domestic and foreign tourists, offering an amazing eye opening experience.

What to do in Ha Long Bay:

  1. Explore Ha Long Bay: Embark on a cruise or boat tour to explore the magnificent limestone islands, hidden caves, and emerald waters of Ha Long Bay. Take in the panoramic views and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds you.

  2. Visit Dragon Eye Island: Located in the heart of Ha Long Bay, Dragon Eye Island is a must-see attraction. Take a walk through the lush greenery and witness the stunning Dragon Eye Lake, a natural inland seawater lake formed within a limestone mountain. The island also offers hiking trails, swimming spots, and viewpoints for breathtaking vistas.

  3. Discover Sung Sot Cave: Known as the “Surprising Cave,” Sung Sot Cave is one of the most popular and magnificent caves in Ha Long Bay. Marvel at the intricate rock formations, stalagmites, and stalactites as you explore the cavernous chambers.

  4. Relax at Ti Top Island: Ti Top Island is a pristine island with a beautiful sandy beach, ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and water activities. Climb to the top of the island for a panoramic view of Ha Long Bay.

  5. Experience Cua Van Fishing Village: Take a trip to Cua Van Fishing Village, a charming floating village where you can learn about the traditional way of life of the local fishermen. Enjoy a boat ride, interact with the friendly villagers, and witness their unique floating houses.

  6. Enjoy Water Sports: Ha Long Bay offers various water sports activities, including kayaking, jet skiing, and paddleboarding. Engage in these thrilling adventures to make your visit even more memorable.

Food to Try in Ha Long Bay:

No trip to Ha Long Bay is complete without savoring the local cuisine. Here are some delectable dishes to try:

  1. Grilled Chopped Squid: Indulge in the deliciousness of grilled chopped squid, a famous specialty of Ha Long. The squid is hand-pounded and grilled to perfection, resulting in a flavorful and tender seafood delight.

  2. Stir-fried Snails with Soy Sauce: Sample the unique flavors of stir-fried snails with soy sauce, a popular dish in Ha Long. The snails are stir-fried with saw leaves, desiccated coconut, and lime leaves, creating a delightful combination of textures and tastes.

  3. Peanut-Worm Delicacy: Dare to try the exotic peanut-worm, a highly valued sea worm found in Ha Long Bay. It can be prepared in various ways, such as frying, boiling, or grilling, and offers a unique and memorable culinary experience.

  4. Grilled Oysters: Indulge in the succulent flavors of grilled oysters, a local favorite. The oysters are grilled on a charcoal stove with scallion oil, giving them a delightful smoky aroma and taste.

  5. Seafood Vermicelli: Ha Long is renowned for its seafood, and seafood vermicelli is a must-try dish. Enjoy a bowl of vermicelli noodles with a rich seafood broth, complemented by grilled chopped squid, dried shrimp, and other seafood delights.

Where to Stay in Ha Long Bay

Ha Long City offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Here are some popular choices for where to stay in Ha Long Bay:

  1. Luxury Resorts: If you’re looking for a luxurious and indulgent stay, there are several high-end resorts in Ha Long Bay. These resorts offer world-class facilities, stunning views, and exceptional service. Some renowned luxury resorts in the area include Vinpearl Resort & Spa, Paradise Suites Hotel, and Premier Village Ha Long Bay.

  2. Boutique Hotels: For a more intimate and personalized experience, consider staying at one of the boutique hotels in Ha Long Bay. These smaller-scale accommodations often have unique designs, stylish interiors, and attentive staff. Examples of boutique hotels in the area include La Vela Premium Cruise, La Belle Vie Halong Villa, and Rosa Boutique Cruise.

  3. Mid-Range Hotels: Ha Long City also has a wide selection of mid-range hotels that offer comfortable rooms and good amenities at a reasonable price. These hotels are suitable for travelers seeking a balance between quality and affordability. Some recommended mid-range hotels include Novotel Ha Long Bay, Halong Plaza Hotel, and Royal Lotus Hotel Halong.

  4. Budget Guesthouses and Hostels: For budget-conscious travelers or backpackers, there are guesthouses and hostels available in Ha Long City. These options provide affordable accommodation and often have communal areas where you can socialize with fellow travelers. Examples of budget guesthouses and hostels include Halong Cheers Hostel, Halong Bay Homestay, and Golden Sun Suites Hotel.

  5. Cruise Ships: Another unique option for accommodation in Ha Long Bay is to stay on a cruise ship. These overnight cruises allow you to explore the bay while enjoying onboard amenities and services. Many cruise ships offer various cabin types, from standard to luxurious, catering to different budgets and preferences. Some popular cruise operators include Bhaya Cruises, Paradise Cruises, and Indochina Junk.

When choosing where to stay in Ha Long Bay, consider factors such as location, amenities, price, and the overall experience you’re seeking. It’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure availability and secure the best deals.

Cost for a trip to Ha Long Bay:

The cost of visiting Ha Long Bay can vary depending on several factors, such as the duration of your stay, accommodation choices, transportation, activities, and personal preferences. In my opinion, it is very affordable if you plan on visiting Vietnam, it is a must see location. Here’s a general estimate to give you an idea of the expenses involved:

  1. Transportation:

    • Flights: The cost of international or domestic flights to reach Hanoi, Vietnam, will depend on your location and the time of booking.
    • Transfer from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay: You can choose between bus transfers (around $10-20 USD per person) or private transfers (around $100-150 USD for a car).
  2. Accommodation:

    • Ha Long Bay offers a range of accommodation options, from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts. The prices can vary greatly depending on the location, amenities, and the time of year.
    • Budget options: $20-50 USD per night
    • Mid-range options: $70-150 USD per night
    • Luxury options: $200 USD and above per night
  3. Cruise or boat tour:

    • The most popular way to explore Ha Long Bay is by booking a cruise or boat tour. The prices will depend on the duration, type of cruise (day trip or overnight), the level of luxury, and inclusions.
    • Day trips: $30-70 USD per person
    • Overnight cruises: $100-500 USD per person
  4. Activities:

    • Entrance fees to attractions and activities within Ha Long Bay may be included in your cruise package or may require separate payment.
    • Visiting caves: $3-5 USD per person
    • Kayaking or swimming: Often included in the cruise package
    • Fishing village visits: $5-10 USD per person
  5. Food:

    • The cost of meals will depend on your dining preferences. Ha Long Bay offers a variety of options, from local street food stalls to upscale restaurants.
    • Budget options: $5-10 USD per meal
    • Mid-range options: $15-30 USD per meal
    • High-end options: $50 USD and above per meal
  6. Miscellaneous expenses:

    • Souvenirs, drinks, and additional activities not included in the package will add to your expenses. It’s good to have some extra cash on hand for these.

Overall, a rough estimate for a 2-3 day trip to Ha Long Bay, including transportation, accommodation, meals, and activities, could range from $300 to $1500 USD per person. Keep in mind that these estimates are subject to change, and it’s advisable to research and compare prices from different providers to find the best deals that suit your budget and preferences.

Is it worth visit Ha Long Bay?

I am absolutely recommend anyone visiting Ha Long Bay, especially you will be in Vietnam with other attractions such as Hoi An town, Da Nang beach, Saigon city, Sapa, Phu Quoc… Halong Bay specifically is a breathtaking natural beauty, magnificent limestone karsts, and emerald-green waters, Ha Long Bay offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers. It’s no wonder that it has been recognized as one of the top natural wonders of the world.

Exploring the bay on a cruise or boat tour allows you to witness the awe-inspiring scenery up close, navigating through the labyrinth of islands and caves. The towering limestone formations create a surreal landscape that will leave you in awe. Whether you’re kayaking through hidden lagoons, swimming in crystal-clear waters, or simply soaking in the panoramic views, Ha Long Bay offers a sense of tranquility and serenity that is hard to find elsewhere.

Apart from its natural beauty, Ha Long Bay also offers a range of activities and attractions. You can visit floating fishing villages to learn about the local way of life, explore stunning caves like Sung Sot Cave, or relax on pristine beaches such as Bai Chay or Tuan Chau. Additionally, there are opportunities for adventure sports like rock climbing and hiking, allowing you to further immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings.

Food lovers will also appreciate the culinary delights of Ha Long Bay. The region is known for its fresh seafood, and you can indulge in a variety of delicious dishes like grilled chopped squid, stir-fried snails with soy sauce, and seafood vermicelli. Exploring the local cuisine is a treat for your taste buds and a chance to savor the flavors of the sea.

When it comes to accommodations, Ha Long Bay offers a wide range of options to suit different budgets and preferences. From luxury resorts with stunning ocean views to budget-friendly hotels and guesthouses, there is something for everyone. Staying in Ha Long City or on one of the nearby islands allows you to wake up to the breathtaking scenery and make the most of your time in the area.

In terms of the best time to visit, Ha Long Bay can be enjoyed year-round. Each season has its own charm, whether it’s the sunny days of summer, the cooler temperatures of spring and autumn, or the misty and ethereal landscapes of winter. It’s advisable to check the weather forecast and plan your visit accordingly to make the most of your experience.

In conclusion, a visit to Ha Long Bay is a must for any traveler seeking natural beauty, adventure, and cultural exploration. Its picturesque landscapes, limestone formations, and serene waters create a truly magical atmosphere. From cruising through the bay to exploring hidden caves and indulging in delicious seafood, Ha Long Bay offers a unique and memorable experience that will leave you with lifelong memories. So pack your bags, embark on an adventure, and discover the wonders of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.

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