Halong Travel Guide
About Ha Long
Ha Long is a small bay on the western part of the Gulf of Tonkin in the Northeast Sea of Vietnam. It includes the island waters of Ha Long City, Cam Pha City and part of Van Don Island of Quang Ninh Province.
The islands in Halong Bay are concentrated in two main areas: the Southeast of Bai Tu Long Bay and the southwest of Ha Long Bay. In total of 1969 islands of Ha Long Bay, there are 1921 rocky islands with many islands of 200m high.
The islands in Halong Bay have their own shapes, unlike any islands along Vietnam’s coastline and no islands like any other. There are places where the archipelago gathers into the distance to look at each other. But there are also islands that stand vertically and alternately, forming a route that runs for tens of kilometers like a wall. It is a living world hidden in the legendary stone figures.
In 1994, the core area of Ha Long Bay was recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage. Along with Nha Trang Bay and Lang Co Bay of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is one of the 29 bays rated by the world’s most beautiful bays Club in July 2003. Every year, there are millions of domestic and foreign tourists visiting Ha Long.
Best time to travel
Ha Long is located in the North so there will be a typical climate of 4 seasons. The rainy season in the North usually takes place in the summer season from June to August. The weather cools between September and November and becomes cold after December. Of course, every year, the weather is different. You need to pay attention to the weather news to plan accordingly.
You should travel to Halong around May – Aug. This time the summer weather should be sunny and suitable for swimming. It was also clear that the boat ride on the bay would be better. Going around this time, you should actively monitor the weather to avoid the effects of storms or tropical depressions.
April 30 every year is the annual Carnaval festival held in Ha Long. Only in 2017, the time has been holding back to prepare for some other events.
If you want to go sightseeing Halong less noise, you can go around after December. At this time the North has almost turned to winter and only foreign tourists often come here.
Halong travel guide – How to get there
If using personal vehicles, it only takes you about 3 hours to travel from Hanoi to Halong via the Hanoi – Hai Phong – Ha Long highway system. Please note that this highway prohibits motorbikes. If you want to ride a motorbike from Hanoi – Ha Long, you can go along 1A to Bac Ninh and then turn along QL18 to Uong Bi – Ha Long.
By car: From Hanoi to move to Ha Long, the fastest means is by car. Usually the car to Ha Long will depart from My Dinh bus station with a time of about 4-5 hours if following the old route. However, nowadays many car companies have opened a 9-seat limousine service with spacious and comfortable seats. It takes the Hanoi – Hai Phong highway to shorten travel time to only about 3 hours. You can choose the appropriate option according to your time period.
By train: There are currently 1 train running from Yen Vien station to Halong station. But this train is a market train (only with hard seats) and the travel time is very long (7-8 hours for a distance of about 170km). Moreover, when getting off the station, you have to take a taxi quite far into the city center. Therefore, the plan to take the train to Ha Long is probably only suitable for you who have plenty of time and are curious to try different feelings.
By airplane: If in the central and southern provinces, you can travel to Ha Long by plane to save time. There are 2 airports closest to Ha Long, namely Cat Bi airport in Hai Phong and Van Don airport of Quang Ninh. From these 2 airports, there are many domestic routes every day, depending on the trip plan, you can choose the right airport. If you like to explore some points in Ha Long such as Co To or Quan Lan, you should choose Van Don airport. If you want to combine with discovering Hai Phong and Cat Ba island, you should choose the flight routes to Cat Bi.
How to get around in Ha Long
Ha Long City is also small and most tourists come here has the main purpose of exploring Ha Long Bay. Hence, they travel in the inner city not too much. You can choose a taxi for convenience. In case you want to actively roam, explore every corner of the city, you can rent a motorbike in Ha Long.
Together with Hanoi, Ha Long now has double-decker buses to take tourists to visit the city. Ha Long City Tour route has all 9 stops with the starting point is Sun World Park and passes through the points: Ha Long Market, Fishing Pier, Museum – Library of Quang Ninh, Planning Supply – Trade Fair exhibition of the province, Ha Long Flower Park, Tuan Chau Amusement Park, Royal Lotus Hotel and stop at Vinpearl Ha Long Resort.
As a famous tourist city, taxis are almost extremely popular public services in Ha Long for traveling and moving between locations in the city.
Rent a boat to visit Halong Bay
If you go in a large group, you should actively rent a boat to visit the bay. Usually the boat will also serve your meals on the boat if you need it. Rental rates also vary, ranging from 700.000 VNĐ – 2.000.000 VNĐ (34 USD – 90 USD) for 1 hour of operation. For individual travelers, you can pair the boat for about 150k / 1 guest But the paired boat usually only takes the 4-hour route rather than the 6-8-hour paired train.
Halong travel guide – Where to stay
Ha Long is considered as one of the tourist destinations with a system of hotels, motels… quite good. Especially in recent years, many investors have expanded and built the system of 4-5 star hotels. Many high-quality hotels have been born. In addition, many businesses, organizations, and individuals have bravely invested in spacious and high-class hotels and motels instead of the trend of investing in small motels and mini-hotels as before.
As Halong travel guide in 2020 average price of a 3-star hotel is about 500.000 – 1.200.000/night (22$ – 52$). While in 4-5 star hotels, you might pay 900.000 – 2.100.000/night (39$ – 91$).
In line with the nationwide trend, the homestay system in Ha Long is also gradually invested and developed by business individuals. In fact, this model usually only has a beautiful design and low cost to target customers who are young groups without too high demand. The price for 1 night is about 500.000VND – 1.000.000VND (22$- 50$)
Cruise on Halong Bay
This is a relatively luxurious accommodation because of its higher costs than inland. You will be wandering to explore the bay and rest on cruise boats with full amenities. However, if you have a need, choose the famous yachts. Although the cost is high, the service experience will be better. Overnight at bays are quite expensive, usually ranging from at least 3 million, including the accommodation fee.
Places to visit in Halong Bay
Below are a list of some sights on Halong Bay as well as other interesting places to visit in Ha Long for your reference:
Caves on Halong Bay
- Thien Cung Cave:
Thien Cung Cave is located southwest of the bay. It is 4 km from the cruise ship port on Dau Go Island and 25 meters above sea level. Through a narrow gap, the cave suddenly opens up to a space above a quadrilateral surface with a length of more than 130 m. The more in the beauty of the cave, the more splendid it is created by the stalactites.
On the east wall of the cave is a huge monumental painting. There are characters from ancient fairy tales, soft lines, flexible and extremely delicate in every detail. All are meticulously polished by the hands of nature.
- Dau Go cave:
Dau Go Cave is one of the most beautiful caves in Vietnam, located on Dau Go Island. The cave has an ancient beauty, pristine and quiet with many stone pillars, pillars, small stalagmites, soaring as if it wants to reach the blue sky… . Due to the wide opening of the cave, the humidity inside the cave is high. Moreover, due to the impact of sunlight, it can immediately see the diverse development of the flora… This is a different feature compared to many other caves on Halong Bay. This cave itself is divided into 3 sections. The first compartment, the stalactite system, has many images that are familiar to life… The second compartment with images of stone islands protruding on the waves is also clearly depicted in this painting. The third compartment is the image of giant stone pillars, which are not rough, rigid, and pretty and soft.
Vung Vieng fishing village
Vung Vieng fishing village is about 25 km from the mainland. From Tuan Chau port, tourists can take a wooden or high-speed boat to the port of Vung Vieng fishing village. And from here, you will continue to wander on the nan boat – a small boat used in the fishing village … After 20 minutes, appears before the eyes is a picture of a simple fishing village, low profile hidden behind the rows Mountain.
Bai Chay Beach
This is an artificial beach located along Ha Long Bay. The sand beach has a length of more than 1000m and 100m wide. This is a beach that attracts a lot of tourists in the travel season. The topographic feature is a low hills running gently toward the sea, lasting more than 2 km. It embraces ancient pine trees, interspersed with separate hotels and villas.
Bai Tho Mountain
Bai Tho Mountain was formerly called Truyen Dang. After 1468, on the occasion of King Le Thanh Tong patrolling the Northeast Sea, he stopped the boat at the foot of the mountain to enjoy the beautiful scenery. He was inspired to carve a piece of poetry on the cliffs, from which people used to call this place Bai Tho mountain. It is an ideal location for you to admire the panoramic view of Halong Bay from above.
Loi Am Pagoda
Loi Am Pagoda in Dai Yen Ward, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh. The temple is located on a large flat land, on the back of the Loi Am mountain range of 503m high, like a plateau. Previously, this land was used for farming, planting rice and making self-consumed brickyard. Now, there is an old brick kiln shape, the field is still in the form of low-lying land with water all year round. Behind the pagoda, there is a fairy well, four seasons of green. Stream from the top of the mountain flows down to the temple divided into two branches.
Old town of Bai Chay (Ha Long)
A fun spot for young people and becomes extremely exciting whenever it gets dark. It is full of culinary space, “hot” dishes that young people love, outdoor music pubs.
Sun World Ha Long Park
Spread over an area of 214ha, Sun World Halong Complex is a world-class amusement park complex consisting of two main areas: The coastal entertainment complex and the Ba Dinh mountain entertainment complex – connected by a unique cable car system.
Quang Ninh Museum
Inspired by coal, the whole structure of Quang Ninh Museum is covered by black tempered glass as a giant mirror reflecting the image of the world’s natural heritage of Ha Long Bay. Visitors will have interesting experiences about the nature, history, and culture of Quang Ninh through modern and attractive display spaces. Currently, Quang Ninh Museum is an attractive tourist destination not to be missed by visitors. Quang Ninh Museum is open to visitors every day of the week (except Monday).
Tuan Chau tourist area
Tuan Chau is an island ward in Ha Long City, Quang Ninh, Vietnam. This is a long-lived island located on Ha Long Bay but only 2 km from the mainland. Previously, the island was a high-class state-owned resort now becoming a luxurious and modern resort.
Dragon Eye Island
Located on the southern edge of Halong Bay, Bai Dong is the island waters adjacent to Bai Tu Long. There is a natural white sand beach, stretching for 3, 4 hundred meters. Especially the unique landscape of the beautiful circular shape located in the middle of the mountain. That is why Bai Dong island is also transmitted by the people about this wonderful Dragon Eye island. Currently, this area has not been put into tourism. You can only come here based on the directions of local people.
Interesting things to do in Halong
Participate in Ha Long Carnaval Festival
Carnaval Ha Long is an art choir unique about beauty, culture, tourism and people of Quang Ninh. With vibrant music performances, attractive dances, brilliant fireworks display of the coastal city of the festival
Carnaval Ha Long will bring visitors unforgettable experiences. Not only to see and enjoy but also to immerse themselves in the stream of people drunk in the bustling dance of the street festival.
Carnaval Ha Long is usually held on the occasion of April 30 and May 1 every year. This activity has been waiting and attracting the participation of numerous tourists inside and outside the province.
Overnight on Halong Bay
Instead of having to look for both a hotel and rest, transportation, sightseeing, now, thanks to the tourist fleets in Ha Long, the resort combined with experience and sightseeing becomes easy and convenient more than ever. The yacht offers both accommodation with excellent quality and extremely reasonable sightseeing itinerary. It will satisfy the requirements of even the most demanding customers. The only thing you need to prepare is money.
Kayak Sailing Boat
One of the most popular forms of tourism, especially international tourists is kayaking. In 2000, Ha Long Bay was named one of the top 25 kayaking destinations in the world by National Geographic Adventures magazine. Being leisurely watching the cloudy sky, Ha Long landscape, wriggling into caves… will bring a new feeling for you.
See Halong Bay from above
You can experience the white foam flying in the scenic Ha Long Bay when the plane takes off and lands at Tuan Chau pier on a 25-minute flight on Ha Long Bay. If possible, you will see a very different Ha Long, a Ha Long from above. It is the angle you can only see through photos taken from flycam.
Sea climbing is considered to be the most natural sport of all types of climbing. Because to play this game, no belts, no ropes, hooks, or mattresses are needed. Just a pair of climbing shoes, cliffs, and the protection of the blue sea. A means of getting there is kayaking to the climbing point.
With outstanding terrain features, Ha Long Bay gradually becomes one of the first destinations for lovers of this mountain climbing sport. And thanks to Halong Bay, climbing in the sea is becoming popular in Vietnam.
Experience the Queen’s Cable Car
From the Queen’s cable car, you can enjoy the view of Ha Long from many different angles. Another place that you can see from the cable car is Bai Chay Bridge. It is one of the quite famous bridges in Quang Ninh as well as in the North.
Halong Travel Guide – What to eat
Ha Long Fried Squid (Cha muc)
Ha Long fried squid are famous throughout the three regions. It has been considered as the culinary brand of Quang Ninh province. Squid used to make rolls is large, fresh cuttlefish caught in Halong sea.
Squid after processing is put into a mortar and crushed, then seasoned with pepper and fish sauce. After, it is squeezed into small pieces and drop in a frying pan to cook golden brown on both sides. From the moment they were put into the frying pan, fresh patties gave off a charming aroma. Crunchy and sweet squid rolls are served with a tasty piece of meat roll and the sweetness of the spicy sauce. This will leave an unforgettable impression in the hearts of customers.
Oysters will be grilled on the charcoal stove as soon as a customer orders it, so it is always hot. It is dotted with lemon salt and simple chili that is very delicious. You can also ask to grill oysters with onion or chili to change the taste.
To make dishes from horseshoe crab, you always have to take a pair of them. People can make many dishes such as soup, salad, grilled, hotpot … If once enjoyed, visitors will forever remember the delicious taste of this sea produce.
Sautéed snails with soy sauce
With many types of snails and different ways of processing, if you come to Halong do not miss the opportunity to enjoy stir-fried dishes. When eating, diners can dip in the sweet and sour fish sauce. The snails does not get sick, but crunchy, very spicy.
Ngan Wine – A special wine of Ha Long
To make this wine, people wash “ngan” (a type of clam) and bare through boiling water for about half a minute. Tthen take out to cool then gently peel, take the intestine into a cup or mug, pour in white wine, mix and splinter with alcohol. Depending on who drinks, pour more or less alcohol. The wine mixed properly has a light red color. It has the sweet taste of clam, the spicy taste of the wine and the characteristic aroma.
Ha Long Itinerary and Travel Expense
For your convenience in the process of exploring Ha Long, I suggests some schedules. Depending on the actual situation and your own goals, you can adjust accordingly.
Itinerary 1: Hanoi – Ha Long – Hanoi
Day 1: Hanoi – Ha Long
You can go from the early morning. It is only about 3 hours to get there. Check-in and then start going out. If you go in a large group, rent a private ship, eat and drink on the train.
Afternoon visit the bay schedule, there are some schedules as below:
Route 1 (4h): Tourist Port – Thien Cung – Dau Go – Dinh Huong – Ga Choi – Ba Hang.
Route 2 (6h): Tourist ship port – Dinh Huong – Ga Choi – Sung Sot – Ti Top.
Route 3 (8h): Tourist Port – Thien Cung – Dau Go – Sung Sot – Ti Top – Hang Luon.
Route 4 (8h): Tourist ship port – Sung Sot – Ti Top – Cua Van fishing village – Ba Trai Dao.
Route 5 (10h): Tourist Port – Sung Sot – Ti Top – Bai Tu Long Bay.
Evening return to Ha Long City to rest. (If you choose to rest on the bay, the boat will take you to the area to rest). Have dinner and explore Ha Long City
Day 2: Ha Long – Hanoi
On this day, if your family has young children (or even older children) you can go to Sun World Ha Long. This entertainment complex has quite a lot of games. You can go round the sun, the Queen’s cable car to admire the panorama of Ha Long from above. If you have time, you can visit Quang Ninh Museum to learn more about this land.
Itinerary 2: Hanoi – Ha Long – Cat Ba – Hanoi
This schedule lasts for about 3 days is sufficient. Depending on personal conditions that you can extend the time in Ha Long or Cat Ba.
Day 1: Hanoi – Ha Long
From Hanoi, take a high-class limousine bus to Ha Long. From early morning, you will be in Ha Long City at around noon. After checking in and packing, you will visit Halong Bay. There are many bay tours that you can pair. If you have a large group of candles, you should actively rent a boat to be more convenient. After exploring the bay, return to the hotel to rest for the next day.
Day 2: Ha Long – Cat Ba
From Ha Long, you take a high-speed train to Cat Ba. There are 2 terminals, Gia Luan and Ben Beo. The trip to Ben Beo will be closer to the center of Cat Ba Island. In some cases, there are a number of cruise ships that can travel from Ha Long to Cat Ba. ou can find a way to go this route, you can save time without having to return to the shore.
There are some schedules you can go on a day like Lan Ha Bay, Viet Hai ancient village, Lien Minh Commune, Cat Ba National Park. In the evening, you can rent a hotel in Cat Ba to rest. If you travel in the tourist season (summertime) you should book in advance. Cat Ba is usually very crowded on this occasion.
Day 3: Cat Ba – Hai Phong – Hanoi
On the last day, if you do not stay in Cat Ba, you can return to Hanoi by buying the ticket package of Hoang Long. Or you can buy high-speed train tickets back to Hai Phong. Then catch the bus from Hai Phong back to Hanoi.
If you ride a motorbike, you take the ferry back to Cat Hai. From Cat Hai now has a bridge connecting to Hai Phong, you go straight to Hai Phong and from there back to Hanoi.
Ha Long Travel Expense
Moving from Hanoi to Ha Long: 240.000 VND/person/round-trip
Moving from HCM tới Ha Long: 52.00.000 VND/person/round-trip
Vehicles used in Ha Long: 100.000 VND/day
Homestay: 500.000 VND/day
Motels/ 1 and 2 star Hotels: 150.000 VND/night
3-star hotels: 500.000 VND/night
4-5 star hotels and resorts: 900.000 VND – 1.500.000 VND/night
- Food and Entertainments: 1.000.000 VND/day
Hope this Halong Travel Guide can help to you have the most unforgettable trip. Remember to share or comment right below the interesting things during the trip. Check our Vietnam Travel Guide to look for other interesting places for your future trip.