Halong Bay - Vietnam’s Natural Wonder
if you’re planning a trip to Vietnam you’ve probably heard of Halong Bay as an absolute must, and rightfully so. Located about four and a half hours east of Hanoi, this place is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Situated in the Gulf of Tonkin, Halong Bay spreads over around 150,000 hectares and includes close to 2,000 limestone islands and karsts emerging from pristine waters. Most islands are uninhabited and covered by dense, green foliage, giving the area a feeling of pure serenity. There are countless places to see and explore here and just as many ways to do it. For more details about what to see and do, which cruise to book and how to get to Halong Bay, keep reading! This will serve as a guide that touches on all aspects of your upcoming research. All you need to know about Ha Long Bay can also be found in some of our articles I link to! Let’s get started.
When to visit Halong Bay
The climate in Halong Bay is tropical with two main seasons: a hot, wet summer and a dry, cool winter. Average temperatures range from 15 °C – 25°C.
The best time to visit Halong Bay is from March to May and from September to November. During these months, the weather is largely dry and quite pleasant, especially if you are not used to heat and humidity. At this time, you’ll also find the largest variety of interesting activities available, so if you’re planning on spending a few days in Halong Bay and trying plenty of different things, this is the time to go.
The low season in Halong Bay is from May to September. It can get pretty hot during this time which is why fewer people travel then. If you’re on a budget, you might want to consider these months as you will likely get a good deal from most cruise companies.
Going early in the year, from January to March, will assure you cool weather but you risk having a lot of fog. While this can create a beautiful, eerie atmosphere, you might find that you would have preferred November’s clear blue skies for better views and nicer photos.
July and August should be avoided as they can be quite stormy and rainy. At best you will face a lot of mist and low visibility, and at worst, your cruise or other activities might be canceled (or extremely uncomfortable) due to turbulent weather, strong winds and waves.
How to get to Halong Bay
When you’re planning your trip to Ha Long Bay, there’s a lot to be aware of. It’s a very popular destination for visitors, both local and international, so of course, the scammers are never far. This is why we recommend going to Hai Phong city first, then to Cat Ba island and start your trip from there. You’ll be less likely to fall prey to some kind of trick and have an easier time finding tours and activities you enjoy.
To get to Hai Phong and then Cat Ba, there are several options:
Bus line: Hoang Long Bus/Boat/Bus Combination. (You can book it here!)
Price: 170,000 – 250,000 VND (may fluctuate seasonally)
Duration: 4.5 hours (Hanoi to Cat Ba Town)
From Cat Bi airport – Hai Phong city
Take a taxi (100,000 VND on the meter) or motorbike taxi (80,000 VND) to Ben Binh Harbor from the airport. From there, take either the Hydrofoil or the Hadeco boat. The fastest from Ben Binh is Hoang Yen Hydrofoil.
Price: 180,000 VND
Duration: 45 minutes – 1 hour
For more details on how to get to Ha Long Bay quickly and safely, check out our article dedicated to this topic. There we’ve collected all the latest information about transportation options and costs to help you make the best choice.
Best Luxury Hotel In Halong Bay
Halong Pearl Hotel
Halong Pearl Hotel in Halong Bay has an excellent location. The Location of Halong Pearl Hotel in Halong is right in front of Halong Bay - a World Heritage Site as approved by UNESCO. This hotel offers the best accommodation in the city. As you enter the rooms what would immediately catch your attention is the exquisite interior design.
Royal Lotus Hotel
Royal Lotus Hotel Halong is 5 minutes away from Halong pier and few minutes within walking distance to central business of Halong. The hotel is located on Hung Thang main road with the view of clear bay and the city in perfect harmony with nature. Royal Lotus Hotel Halong is managed by H&K Hospitality.
Halong Plaza Hotel
Ideally located by Halong Bay, a World Natural Heritage Site, Halong Plaza Hotel combines a warm welcome and excellent service to provide the ideal venue for business and leisure travelers. The hotel consists of 200 luxurious, spacious and stylistically furnished rooms. A strong point of the hotel is that all rooms have bay views.
What to see and do in Halong Bay
Whether you want a relaxing trip to enjoy time with your family and friends or prefer the occasional adrenaline rush and exciting outdoor activities, Halong Bay offers something for everyone.
While some cruises offer the chance to relax on spacious decks and take in the amazing views, others will let you take a kayak to explore your surroundings more closely. Tired from all the paddling? Make sure your cruise includes a stop at a quiet beach where you can relax and enjoy the sun. Or maybe you prefer a crazy party with fellow backpackers from around the world? This too can be arranged!
Me Cung Cave is also known by its English name which is Bewitching Grotto. This is one of the most picturesque caves in Halong Bay, which is saying something as there are many other pretty attractions here. The entrance of the cave is through a narrow entrance which you need to squeeze into.Once inside however, the chamber opens up and you will find winding tunnels that are covered in gorgeous stalagmites and stalactites.
There are also fossils in the cave so if you are a fan of spelunking then this is a great spot to explore for an afternoon.
Which Islands to Visit in Ha Long Bay
Halong Bay is home to countless islands, which can make it feel a bit overwhelming to choose which ones you want to include on your trip. Depending on your cruise packages, you will be stopping at some of the most popular islands, but if you feel like you’re missing out, you can always catch a boat on your own to get to the places you really want to see.
Cat Ba Island
The largest island in the area, Cat Ba is where many visitors start their tour of Halong Bay. But there’s a bunch to see on the island itself as well, such as the national park which covers most of the island and some interesting remnants of the Vietnam War. While the main town is nothing special, you can enjoy the pristine nature, untouched jungle and beautiful beaches here. The wonderful and rather quiet Lan Ha Bay can also be reached from Cat Ba, so if you have some extra time, this is something you should add to your itinerary.
Dao Ti Top
If beaches are your thing, this place is for you. Plan a stop here to spend some time on the famed Ti Top beach with its fine white sands and crystal-clear water. Lay out in the sun, sip a cocktail and enjoy the views of the bay and the lush, green landscape surrounding you. And even if beaches are not so much your thing, Dao Ti Top is worth a visit to discover the tropical forests and enjoy delicious local cuisine.
Dau Be Island
Another beautiful destination to include in your itinerary is Dau Be island. It’s known for its stunning landscape and rock formations, complete with lakes and caves. The adventurous traveler will find their joy here while exploring hidden nooks and crannies and leaving the crowds behind.
Ban Mun Island
Another larger island in Halong Bay is Ban Mun Island. Stop here if you are looking for beach less frequented than Ti Top but with equally beautiful tropical greenery and breathtaking landscapes.
Outdoor Activities in Ha Long Bay
With the many wonderful islands and pristine waters, it comes as no surprise that there are tons of activities to take part in while you are exploring Halong Bay. While booking your cruise, be sure to check what they include and pick the one with the things that most interest you. Also, be aware of what is inclusive in the price and what you will have to pay extra to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
The most common activities by far are kayaking, swimming, and beach games. The bay’s gentle waves and countless beaches pretty much make these past-times a must. You can also get tours of the many caves, most notably Hang Sung Sot or Thein Cung. It’s like stepping into another world full of eerie yet enchanting sights and sounds.
Many visitors also enjoy treks on some of the islands’ hills and through the tropical forests. That way you get a great feel for the local flora and fauna and see an unforgettable close-up of Halong Bay that you’d miss if you stayed on the boat. And if you want to end the experience with a thrill, there are great places for some cliff jumping too. Be sure to have a good guide show you where though so you are safe.
If you enjoyed reading this article and would like a trip to Halong Bay, check out our website Dong Travel for offers on tours visit to Halong Bay