Halong Bay Travel Guide From A To Z

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 time to explore 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

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 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.

 

Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s most stunning attractions. Photo: @100.pixels
Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s most stunning attractions. Photo: @100.pixels

 

The best time to visit to Halong Bay

 

When is the 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 cruise in the low season.

 

Halong Bay is an attractive tourist attraction all year around. Photo: @travel_fotoworld
Halong Bay is an attractive tourist attraction all year around. Photo: @travel_fotoworld

 

How to get to Halong Bay

Car/ Motorbike

+ 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.

Coach

+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.

Airplane/ Train

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: 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.

 

Thien Cung is one of the most marvelous caves in Halong Bay. Photo: @mimimi_o30
Thien Cung is one of the most marvelous caves in Halong Bay. Photo: @mimimi_o30

 

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 caves with the old features. The cave has a diversified flora and fauna. Because the gate of cave is wide so the humidity is high, along with the affection of sunshine which make the plants developed. This is the significant difference with other caves in Halong.

 

The beauty of Dau Go Cave is so impressive that a French author called it as Grotte des Merveilles. Photo: @zeaawatin_
The beauty of Dau Go Cave is so impressive that a French author called it as Grotte des Merveilles. Photo: @zeaawatin_

 

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 as 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 about a sad love story.

 

Soi Sim Islets

Soi Sim islets is 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 are 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.
The beach area is not large but quiet, airy and very clean. Photo: @theinthusiast
The beach area is not large but quiet, airy and very clean. Photo: @theinthusiast

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 honour of the man himself who used to visit Tuan Chau on his holidays.

 

Tuan Chau island is a newly developed tourist zone just outside Halong City. Photo: Lê Hà Trúc
Tuan Chau island is a newly developed tourist zone just outside Halong City. Photo: Lê Hà Trúc

 

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 daily life of fishermen.

 

Cua Van fishing village is one of the most popular destinations in Halong Bay. Photo: news.zing.vn
Cua Van fishing village is one of the most popular destinations in Halong Bay. Photo: news.zing.vn

 

 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…

 

The island is famous for its beautiful beach which attracts tourists not only for fresh air, clean water but also the pure and primeval forests. Photo: @makeupbongxinh
The island is famous for its beautiful beach which attracts tourists not only for fresh air, clean water but also the pure and primeval forests. Photo: @makeupbongxinh

 

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 afford 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.

 

If you make a trip by seaplane, you will be able to admire dragon's eyes from above. Photo : Drangon Eye Island
If you make a trip by seaplane, you will be able to admire dragon’s eyes from above. Photo : Drangon Eye Island

 

Bai Tho (Bài Thơ) Mountain

Bai Tho mountain is the area of limestone mountains lcated 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, visitor will have a wonderful panoramic view of Halong city..

 

From Bai Tho mountain, you can get a breathtaking view of Halong Bay. Photo: @discoverysurprise
From Bai Tho mountain, you can get a breathtaking view of Halong Bay. Photo: @discoverysurprise

 

Quang Ninh (Quảng Ninh) Museum

Quang Ninh museum is an unique architecture. The museum is designed in a modern style in the total black which look like a minor from afar. Go inside, visitors will be immersed into the 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 everyday for 8am to 5pm. 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.

 

The museum is designed in a modern style in the total black which look like a minor from afar. Photo: @tuan.achitecture
The museum is designed in a modern style in the total black which look like a minor from afar. Photo: @tuan.achitecture

 

 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 area of 40 hectares, Dragon Park was designed to provide visitors with unforgettable moments.

 

Games are designed to suit people of many ages including children, teenagers, and adults. Photo: @newbie.traveller
Games are designed to suit people of many ages including children, teenagers, and adults. Photo: @newbie.traveller

 

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 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 scared 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 on 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 anscestral 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 full-furnished rooms with luxury services such as, spa, restaurant and bar…It is quite interesting that you relax at your own room and enjoy the wonderful landscape through the windows. That sounds interesting!

 

 In the evening, you can go up the dock to join great activities of the yacht or just enjoy the beautiful sky at night. Photo: @tkn219
In the evening, you can go up the dock to join great activities of the yacht or just enjoy the beautiful sky at night. Photo: @tkn219

 

Kayaking

It is a pity if you visit Halong without doing kayak. It is a wonderful experience when riding a small kayak and enjoy the marvelous natural beauty.  In Halong, there are many places offering kayak service (at the ports or on the islands), the kayak fee is from VND 100,000 (US$5) to VND 200,000 (US$10) per hour depending on the capacity (1 to 3 seats).

 

It is a pity if you visit Halong without doing kayak. Photo: news.zing.vn
It is a pity if you visit Halong without doing kayak. Photo: news.zing.vn

 

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.

 

 The feeling when the seaplane takes off and lands on the water is also special, creating an exciting feature for each itinerar. Photo: @ch_forever19
The feeling when the seaplane takes off and lands on the water is also special, creating an exciting feature for each itinerar. Photo: @ch_forever19

 

Experience Mountain- climbing

Halong is not only attracted by its stunning landscape, but also by diversified terrains which is 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 horseshoe crab is always awaiting the visitors in Halong, and it is always fresher than you can get anywhere else!

 

Mussel porridge

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.

 

Mussels porridge is very healthy and nutritious for all people, young or old. Photo: @tunluvfood
Mussels porridge is very healthy and nutritious for all people, young or old. Photo: @tunluvfood

 

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.

 

Banh cuon (Vietnam stuffed pancake) with squid sausages is the speciality in Halong: @keomut925
Banh cuon (Vietnam stuffed pancake) with squid sausages is the speciality in Halong: @keomut925

 

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 flavour 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 clean environment and oxygen-rich seawater. Halong people use sa sung to cook many good food 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 where 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 are cut into thin string, mixed with fried rice, peanut,… and seasoned.

 

Where to stay in Halong Bay? Hotel and Homestay in Halong Bay

Hotel in Halong

 

Alex (Hai Ninh) Hotel

++Address: 28-A Anh Dao (Anh Đào) street, Bai Chay (Bãi Cháy) ward, Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province.

 

Alex (Hai Ninh) Hotel- Halong travel guide. Photo: Collection
Alex (Hai Ninh) Hotel- Halong travel guide. Photo: Collection

 

Van Nam Hotel

++Address:  31 Vuon Dao ( Vườn Đào) street,  Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province.

 

Van Nam Hotel- Halong travel guide. Photo: Collection
Van Nam Hotel- Halong travel guide. Photo: Collection

 

Saigon Halong Hotel

++Address: 168 Halong street,  Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province.

 

Saigon Halong Hotel - Halong travel guide. Photo: Collection
Saigon Halong Hotel – Halong travel guide. Photo: Collection

 

 Palace Ha Long Hotel

++Address: 20 Hoang Quoc Viet (Hoàng Quốc Việt) street, Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province.

 

 Palace Halong Hotel - Halong travel guide. Photo: Collection
Palace Halong Hotel – Halong travel guide. Photo: Collection

 

 Novotel Ha Long Hotel

++Address: 160 Halong street, Halong city, Quang Ninh ( Quảng Ninh) province.

 

Novotel Hạ Long Hotel - Halong travel guide. Photo: Collection
Novotel Hạ Long Hotel – Halong travel guide. Photo: Collection