For many, the seascape of Ha Long Bay is synonymous with Vietnam. Cruises sail emerald green waters among thousands of rugged islands and islets, stopping at spectacular caves through which visitors can wander, viewing impressive, centuries-old formations. Ha Long Bay's mystical beauty has made it a bucket list attraction within the country, but it's still possible to find secluded corners to call your own.
About Halong Bay
Ha Long Bay, in the Gulf of Tonkin, includes some 1,600 islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. The site's outstanding scenic beauty is complemented by its great biological interest.
Named “Hạ Long” in Vietnamese and “Halong” in English, Halong Bay is a famous UNESCO World Heritage site featuring thousands of beautiful limestone karsts, and around 2000 islands and islets. It draws around 2.58 million tourists per year. In 2000 Halong Bay was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2007 it achieved recognition as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
Read more at Unesco site (World heritage convention): https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/672/
Distance between Halong bay and other destinations in Vietnam
|Location||Distance||Estimated travel time|
|Hanoi||170 km (105 miles)||2-3 hours (by bus)|
|Sapa||491 km (305 miles)||7-9 hours (by bus)|
|Da Nang||879 km (546 miles)||4-5 hours (plane + bus)|
|Hoi An||907 km (563 miles)||4-6 hours (plane + bus)|
|Nha Trang||1400 km (869 miles)||6-7 hours (plane + bus)|
|Da Lat||1527 km (948 miles)||6-7 hours (plane + bus)|
|Ho Chi Minh city||1723 km (1070 miles)||6-7 hours (plane + bus)|
Ha Long Weather
Ha Long Bay’s climate can be cool with clear skies from September to September. Mist drifts in from December to March making the bay look all the more mysterious. April and May offer sunshine and a refreshing breeze, while the monsoon season can make visits unpredictable from June to August.
The best time to visit Halong Bay is during the dry season between September and September, as the weather is milder and the visibility is better.
Ha Long Transport
Most visitors to Ha Long Bay opt for a packaged cruise, including transport to and from Hanoi. Independent travellers can take a bus to Ha Long City or Hai Phong and a taxi to the port. It’s also possible to charter a seaplane for a 45-minute ride direct from Noi Bai International Airport. Travelling Ha Long Bay is best by boat. Those looking for a bird's-eye view can book a 15-minute seaplane ride over the bay. In Ha Long City you can hire a taxi to get around town.
From November 2021, Ha Long will open to an unlimited number of vaccinated tourists, who will be able to travel without quarantine requirements. Please check the current travel advisory for updates and application details.
Top things to do in Ha Long Bay
Aside from the natural scenery that commands Halong Bay, other great attractions include the floating fishing villages where the local fishing people can be found going about their daily business
Cruise the bay
Nothing beats spending watching the sun set over the calm waters of Ha Long Bay, and waking up to a serene morning surrounded by karsts. Relaxing on a sun deck surrounded by magnificent panoramas is the highlight of many a trip.
Explore a floating village
Ha Long Bay is not just a UNESCO-listed site, it’s also home to a number of fishing communities who have lived on the water for centuries. Take a boat tour around a floating village for a glimpse of this rare and beautiful way of life.
Paddle out in a kayak
Even if you’re not an experienced kayaker, you can’t miss the chance to navigate your way around Ha Long’s gorgeous seascape. Just before sunset is an ideal time to kayak to see quiet lagoons and fishing boats up close.
Clamber into a cave
Beneath their rocks and jungled exteriors, many of Ha Long’s ancient karsts have been carved out by rain and water currents. Take a look inside these geological wonders on foot — some are a squeeze while others are enormous.
Try your hand at rock climbing
There are countless routes in the bay to keep climbing junkies entertained. Deep water soloing is becoming increasingly popular in beautiful Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay, especially on Butterfly Island.
- Halong Bay is best to be admired during the sunset.
- You should avoid climbing mountains or taking cable cars during foggy and rainy days because the gloomy skies and poor vision will affect your view of Halong Bay. On these days, taking a cruise or an overnight cruise is a wiser choice.
- Prepare suitable items for each activity. For example, you need comfortable clothes, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a pair of sports shoes for doing outdoor activities while it is more hassle-free when enjoying Halong Bay's view from a cruise.
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