How to travel in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Halong bay is a must-see destination in Vietnam, so, to help you to plan a tour in Halong, we want to share you all travel guide in Halong bay there. Recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage natural and placed in the list of seven wonder of the world, Ha Long Bay is known for its beautiful beaches and beautiful scenery, historic relics. This is an indispensable destination traveler in their Vietnam tour.  

1.The best time to visit Ha Long Bay

In fact, you can visit Ha Long bay the whole year but local recommend coming in May/ June or September/ October to enjoy the most of the bay: sun, heat, swimming and fewer tourists.

In July/ August: this is the peak tourist. It’s often sunny and warm which is ideal for swimming. But check the weather before leaving because there are maybe typhoons in this season.

From August to October: most of the time, the weather is perfect. 
From November to February: It is winter, temperatures vary between 100 C – 150C, humidity and gray.

From March to May: The first summer season, 25-32 0 C, it is ideal for swimming, the sky is clear.

2. How to get there

halong travel guide

To reach Halong Bay, you can consider your trip from two main starting points:

From Hanoi: Most of travelers go to Halong bay from Hanoi. From Hanoi, you can use:

By train: You can take the train from Ha Noi to Hai Phong and then, go to Halong port.  

By car: It takes around 3 hours to reach to Halong from Hanoi. You can rent a private car and driver to take you to Halong. Or you can use the shuttle bus of the cruise that you stay.

By helicopter: If you want to admire the Halong bay from the sky, you can visit by helicopter. You will depart from Gia Lam airport. Another option that you can take, it’s seaplane of Hai Au aviation. It’s only airline offering direct flights from Hanoi to Halong and seaplane tour in Halong. But it’s expensive.

From Hai Phong: It’s much closer from Hai Phong to the bay. You can go to Hai Phong and then, take cruise from Gia Luan port to visit Cat Ba Island or Ha Long bay. If you don’t want to pass Hanoi, you can access by plane from Ho Chi Minh city and Da Nang city. Hai Phong is particularly suited for joining from Cat Ba ferry and daily hydrofoid connect these two destinations.

Moreover, look at the Vietnam map before deciding how to join Ha Long bay. You can really save time by not go through Hanoi to reach your next step. For example, Ninh Binh (Halong bay on land) is only 4 hours from the Halong port, direct transfer. Similarly, Lang Son, the gateway to the North East region and Cao Bang is also 4 hours drive. The perfect itinerary to see the overview of the magnificent scenery around Hanoi is to link: Hanoi- Mai Chau- Ninh Binh- Halong.

3. Halong Bay

Halong bay is the most famous and the most beautiful bays beside Lan Ha bay and Bai Tu Long bay.

How to visit Halong Bay?

By cruise: 99% of travelers choose an organized cruise from Hanoi (3h30 drive). But you can join the Halong port( Bai Chay) for yourself if you come from another place, for example Hai Phong(2h30 drive) or Ninh Binh( about 4 hours drive).

By helicopter: If you have limited time, you can visit Halong Bay from Hanoi in 1 hour with a flight of 5 minutes over the bay. You can contact The Northern Service Flight Company

Choose a program of 1 or 2 or 3 days?

travel guide halong

The program offers agencies generally cruise 2 days/1 night or 3 days/2 nights. In two days, you will have enough time to enjoy the scenery of the bay. In 3 days, you will have time to reach Cat Ba island and Lan Ha Bay and do activities in the bay such as kayaking, swimming, trekking or cycling on Cat Ba island. So, I advise to choose the short version of 2 days if the weather is not good and 3 days when it’s good to have time to enjoy all the pleasures. In fact, I have not mentioned the one-day program. It takes a lot of time for a round trip Hanoi – Halong Bay and you have limited time to admire the beauty of Halong Bay.

What cruise?
To visit Halong bay, you will have huge proposed cruises !!!

Superior: About 100 – 150 USD for a package of 2 days. In this category, you will have a private bathroom, hot water, air-conditional, meals are correct, comfortable rooms. The advantage of this category is that they have a limited number of cabins, so, it’s more private

Deluxe: 150 -250 USD for 2 days. The difference is primarily due to the comfort of the room, more luxurious.

Super Deluxe: 200 – 300 USD for 2 days. In this category, you will have all the advantages of a 4 star hotel.

Private cruises: The ultimate luxury, perfect for a honeymoon or a group of friend or a family. 
If you decide to choose which cruise, I advise you look well as the route and the proposed activities. All cruises offer kayaking but only some offer you the opportunity to go climbing. Some of junks have an itinerary to Bai Tu Long or Lan Ha Baysuch as: Indochina Junk with its ultra-luxurious private junk( the Princess – 1 cabin) and its small junk (The Prince 2-3 cabins).

4. Cat Ba island and Lan Ha Bay

This beautiful area is also more conducive to activities for the waters. Cat Ba island and Lan Ha bay are less crowded and less dirty, this island offer small beaches and you can enjoy all the advantages of Cat Ba island. You can kayak, climb, trek, sail or cycle. You can also go camping or sleeping in bungalow on the isolated beaches of small islands. If possible, I advise you to avoid this island on weekends when everything is crowed. The Lan Ha Bay is often added into the programs of 3 days 2 nights with visiting Halong Bay. The other solution is to organize a Cat Ba cruise on a private cruise. This option is much expensive but convenient for families with children or a group of friends.

How to visit Cat Ba island and Lan Ha Bay?

You can visit Cat Ba island by a cruise that leaves from Halong Bay by choosing a 3 days 2 nights. They do not all offer the exact same program (climbing, kayaking, cycling…), so compare to choose what suits you best. 
Otherwise, you can decide to join directly Cat Ba for yourself: 
You can go to Ben Binh port ( in Hai Phong province) and then, use hydrofoil to connect to Cat Ba island. 
On Cat Ba island, you can kayak, climb, visit the park national, cruise… 

5. Bai Tu Long bay:

Bai Tu Long bay is smaller than Ha Long bay but beautiful and isolated. You will be much alone and you can swim in the clear. I strongly recommend you to avoid going there on weekends and from June to August if you do not like crowds. This bay is also ready to independent traveler for the more adventurous as many local ferry run to the inhabited islands.

How to get there

For yourself: You can take the bus from Ha Noi to Van Don port then to Bai Tu Long. Check with your hotel or any agency in Hanoi for the information on costs and schedules.

By a cruise: You can visit Bai Tu Long by a cruise in addition of visiting Halong Bay.

6. Some tips:

Don’t take a one day trip from Hanoi. Getting to Halong Bay takes around 4 hours, so going there for just a few hours is only make you wish stay there longer.

Don’t try to go to Halong by bus and catch a last minute cruise. I heard a lot of stories from people trying to save some money and they all ended up in the disastrous way. These people not only spend more money than they have a package in Halong, they also had worse tours.

Don’t go for the cheapest option you can find. There are many travel agencies that will offer you 2 days tours for as low as 45 USD. Don’t be fooled. I heard many terrible stories from both backpackers and luxury travelers who didn’t get any food on their cruise or had to share a room with other people because their agent overbooked the tour. What I am trying to say is pay a bit more to be safe and comfortable.


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