Halong Bay (Descending Dragon Appears) has become such a touring sensation that one could not mention Vietnam without including Halong in their itinerary. Nevertheless, for people unfamiliar with Vietnam or landing here for the first time, there are still many questions to answer.
Where is Ha Long Bay, and how should you get there? This beginner guide will discuss these urgent inquiries in full detail.
Where is Ha Long Bay?
Halong Bay is a popular tourist attraction in Quang Ninh Province, sitting on the Gulf of Tonkin's northwest coast near Halong City (Hong Gai) - about 164 kilometers/102 miles from Hanoi.
Where is Ha Long Bay?
The region covers 43,400 ha with 1600+ limestone islets and islands (mostly unaffected and uninhabited by humans), forming spectacular seascapes of towing limestone cliffs.
Read more: Exploring the Beauty of World Natural Heritage: How Long To Stay in Ha Long Bay?
Map of Ha Long Bay
Halong Bay lies in northeastern Vietnam from N20°43' to N21°09' and E106°55' to E107°37'. On the official map, it is 107.183389 degrees (longitude) and 20.927719 (latitude), with 150 to 3000 meters of altitude above sea level.
Distinguished by sea invasion, the stretch begins at Quang Yen town, spiraling down Halong City and Cam Pha towards Van Don District. Lan Ha Bay bordered Halong Bay on the southeast and south; meanwhile, Halong City encloses the north, and Bai Tu Long Bay embraces the west. There is a 75 mi/120-kilometer-long coastline approaching the bay.
On another note, the area titled a World Heritage Site by UNESCO incorporates about 168 square miles and 775 islets, whose core zones are delimited by nearly 69 points:
These protected areas are narrowed among Cai Dam petrol store, Quang Hanh ward, and Cam Pha city.
Read more: Where to book Halong Bay cruise? The best choice not to be missed
Tourist or shutter buses are widely favored by foreigners and locals alike, varying from tight-budget options to more luxurious ones.
Three types of buses are available:
Paradise Vietnam offers full-fledged luxury shuttle buses (Limousines with 7-9 seats or 15 seats) with all you could ask for: Free Wi-Fi, mineral water, air conditioner, ambient lighting, etc., surpassing other regular luxury buses.
Read More: Explore the Magic of Halong Bay Day Cruise
Though local buses are by no means as convenient or comfortable as their shuttle counterparts, the low pricing is a great competitive edge, suitable for travelers on tight budgets. All tickets can be purchased at ticket offices near the bus stations; there is no need for advanced reservations.
Extra note for Halong tourists from Hanoi: since 60% of buses depart from the My Dinh Station, you will have many more options regarding price ranges and bus operators.
Families, friends, or business travelers that prefer a comfortable yet private transfer will suit this option best.
You may book private car services through travel agencies or cruise providers. Another viable option is to take private taxis. But regardless of your preference, the car will pick up your team and drop everyone at the agreed-upon location.
While this method is convenient and straightforward, be mindful that it does not come cheap; in fact, private cars are the priciest transportation option on the list.
You can get to Halong Bay by Seaplane
Want a quick trip while still enjoying aerial bay views? Then there is no better choice than to take seaplanes, one of the fastest transfers towards Halong Bay.
Seaplant trips can be reserved via seaplanes.vn. You may also contact your cruise provider to confirm whether it offers any package with seaplane flights included.
Jump on a train if you are a budget-saving tourist or backpacker with lots of free time to spare: with less than 4 USD/80,000 VND per ticket, it is undoubtedly the most affordable option. And while sitting on the train, breathtaking scenery on both sides of the road will also unfold to give you quite an unforgettable sightseeing experience.
In recent years, many railways to Halong Bay have been reopened to cater to more tourist demands. However, note that once arriving in Halong, you must still take extra transportation to your cruise port or hotel.
This is an obvious choice for independent backpackers or adventure travelers - while also delivering ample chances to admire the road's beautiful scenery. (Still, take a step back and find other options if you lack confidence in your physical strength).
Better yet, you do not even have to invest in a personal motorbike; many companies and brands offer renting services at a very low cost (usually only 100,000 to 150,000 VND a day). Contact nearby rental centers or get some help from your cruise provider/travel agency to settle on the best decision.
You can visit some neighboring islands
This biosphere reserve prides itself on 23 different mammal types - including rare, endangered species like golden-headed langurs. Furthermore, 70 bird types and 1000+ plants have also been fully documented, 160 of which deliver excellent medicinal value.
To visit these animals and plants, you can take on hiking trails, one of which is a route of 18 kilometers that leads straight to the mountain peak. On another note, exploring Cat Ba in organized tours is still a safer choice than self-initiated hiring. With professional help and insightful guidance, you will have ample chances to explore Cat Ba's true natural beauty through its gorgeous marine notch caves, small streams, limestone islands/forests, and cascading waterfalls.
Sung Sot Cave has been considered the most attractive Halong Bay destinations to date, with 59 karstic foot caves uncovered and officially listed. The sheer size of Sung Sot (covering 12,000+ ha) makes it quite a sight to see amidst the center of Bo Hon Island.
To arrive at Sung Sot, be prepared for quite a tiring trip through steep trails. But once you have a closer look at its inner views, all the exhaustion will be worth it: Sung Sot wows all curious eyes with two giant chambers that tower up to 30 m.
The inner chamber is recognized for a broad array of rock shapes that resemble sentries, with one in the middle that looks strikingly like a mighty captain throwing orders at his comrades.
Professional cruise guides from Paradise Vietnam will gladly share with you all the legends behind these formations (dwarves, demons, and dragons are all involved), letting your imagination soar high.
There is no doubt about how wide and spacious these chamber caves are; taking beautiful photos while wandering around with your partners or other tourists has never been so comfortable. And as the lighting flutters across the waters to make wavering patterns, it is as if these rocks spring to life!
Named after Gherman Titov, a Russian cosmonaut visiting Halong around 1962, Titop Island already takes all breath away with its stunning sight of surrounding water and imposing limestone, shrouded in dense rainforest and peeking off the water's surface.
This mesmerizing view alone - and the beautiful beaches under the base - is enough to cement Titop's position as a "must-see" destination in every Halong Bay itinerary. Plus, the calming azure water and perfect white sands make this beach ideal for tons of recreational fun, such as snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, and water sports of similar nature.
If desired, you can take 427 climbing steps to the top pavilion of the mountain, where the gorgeous overview of other bays surrounding Halong (ex: Bai Tu Long bay; Lan Ha bay and Ba Ham lake) will be revealed in full force.
Situated in Halong Bay's southwest and 4 km from Dau Go Port, Thien Cung Cave is a huge area of over 10 thousand square meters. With its complex interior, expert guides from professional cruise providers like Paradise Vietnam will certainly be of great help; do not forget to ask them about how the legends of Dragon King come through!
Another reason behind Thien Cung's heightened popularity is the beautiful network of stalactites and stalagmites in numerous forms and shapes; remember to bring your camera, since these stunning colors will serve as a wonderful picture backdrop.
On another note, as the entrances are perched right in the mountain's middle, you might need to hike a little. While that seems exhausting, be confident that the dazzling view of the bay from Thien Cung's mouth will be more than worth it.
Monkey/ Cat Dua Island, unfortunately, can only be accessed from tourist boats. In compensation, you will be rightfully rewarded with tons of outdoor activities (access to private beaches included). Soak yourself under the sun while sipping coconut water, or jump onto your kayak to go snorkeling within Halong's turquoise water; all is up to you!
And, of course, as the name suggests, thousands of playful monkeys frolic all through the rocky islands, exchanging playful interactions with tourists and locals alike.
The lush sunset view also serves as the magnet that draws travelers to Monkey Island, to the point that almost every tourist boat stops here to admire the transcendent beauty that Mother Nature bestows on Halong Bay. A dragon descends indeed!
Enjoy a delicious Canapé party with a glass of wine or cocktail
Though winter and summer tend to attract many tourists, the best time for a Ha Long Bay visit turns out to be spring (March-April) and autumn (September-October).
The weather and temperature are pleasantly dry with very few typhoons, resulting in much fewer risks for your trip. Plus, early booking can get you promotions or even free upgrades to a much better hotel room.
Lunching on Floating Villages
But if you do not mind peak season/crowded areas or unexpected weather:
Read more: Where to Halong bay cruises leave from? Departure Ports 2023
Prepare all the necessary items before your Ha Long Bay trip. For starters, do not forget your ID card and passports - since all hotels and boats will require this to allow you to stay.
Avoid large suitcases at all costs, as cruise cabins are usually quite small and unlikely to have much room for excessive storage. Plus, since most cruises provide water and meals, you may consider taking additional drinks and snacks for the trip.
The farther you get off the bay, the more WiFi troubles there will be. Hence, do not panic or blame your sim cards when the connection fails; just sit down and enjoy the beautiful views in the caves and fishing villages without Internet for a little while.
All the gorgeous caverns and rock shapes in Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, Ga Choi Islet, and more definitely need to be fully captured. Phone camera aside, it would be much better to have a quality shoot-and-point camera (such as a blogging cam) or up your game with a professional, mirrorless camera.
Read More: Embark on an Unforgettable 3 Day Halong Bay Cruise
As one of the seven natural wonders in the World Heritage list, Halong is famous for its towering limestone cliffs/limestone islands, mature karst landscape above sea level, and intricate cave networks with various rock formations.
Ha Long City in Quang Ninh Province; cruises often leave for mature landscape in Ha Long Bay from here.
102 miles or 164 kilometers.
Where is Ha Long Bay? Our inclusive guide has enclosed all there is to know about this spectacular seascape, including its location, transportation availability, and recommended attractions to drop by for a memorable touring experience.
Contact website Paradise Vietnam if you want a world-leading cruise trip to Halong Bay and the northern part of Vietnam, in which all your needs are professionally handled.
Read More: A Magical Journey - Halong Bay Cruise 2 Days 1 Night Excursion
A:Unit 903, 9th Floor, Gelex Tower, No. 52 Le Dai Hanh St., Hai Ba Trung Dist., Hanoi, Vietnam Hanoi, Viet Nam
T: +84 24 3941 6666
Hotline: +84 906099606
A: Tuan Chau Island, Halong, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
T: +84203 384 2368