Ha Long

Ha Long Bay – a gemstone of Vietnam

Ha Long 1

Photo by Thảo Thu Nguyễn

GENERAL INFORMATION 

Hạ Long Bay (meaning in Vietnamese “descending dragon bay”) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam.

Halong Bay is located on the Western side Northeastern Vietnam. The town of Halong is situated on the coast to the North of the bay. The journey from Hanoi to Halong takes approximately 3.5 hours.

Halong Bay is formed by Cat Ba island to the South, Ngoc Hung and Van Canh islands to the East and the Vietnamese coastline to the North and West. The bay covers a total area of 1,553 square kilometers (600 square miles). Occupying the heart of the bay between Ha Long town and Cat Ba island, the central World Heritage area stretches for 434 square kilometers (167 square miles).

The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes. Ha Long Bay is the centre of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long Bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà Island to the southwest. These larger zones share similar geological, geographical, geomorphologic, climate and cultural characteristics.

BEST TIME TO VISIT 

Ha Long 2

Photo by Nguyễn Thu Thảo

Ha Long Bay’s climate is humid and tropical season with a hot, humid summer and dry, cold winter. In there receives temperature varies from 15ºC to 25ºC and the annual rainfall is between 2000mm and 2200mm.

Ha Long bay has typical diurnal tide system. As the bay is situated in the northern part of the country, it can get colder in the fall and winter, and though you won’t see extremes such as blizzards, it’s still a lousy place to be when it gets cold. If you travel Halong from August to November, there may be infrequent typhoons and your cruise may be cancelled. In that case be sure to contact your agent for alternative solutions and in many cases, choose to stay one or two nights in a hotel on the mainland and the next day you may continue the cruise with sunshine.

The best time of year to visit Ha Long Bay is during the spring or fall, especially from March to May with constant sunshine:

  • March  April + May: Temperature: ~ 20°F-22°F; Sometimes have light rain; Clear with blue sky
  • June + July + Aug:  Temperature: ~ 26°F-28°F with strong Sun; Carefully with Typhoon; Some days have strong but quick rain 
  • Sept + Oct + Nov: Best time to enjoy Halong with cool temperature: ~ 26°F-28°F
  • Dec + Jan + Feb: Temperature: 18°F~20°F; Cold with strong wind; Some day is misty and rainy

HA LONG ATTRACTIONS

Undoubtedly Ha Long Bay’s greatest attraction is its natural scenery. The towering limestone outcrops jutting skywards from the emerald-blue waters. The sheer numbers and size of the islands, islets and karsts within the bay serve to humble even the most jaded traveler.

Swimming, kayaking, hiking and of course photography are favorite pastimes for visitors to Halong Bay – one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Vietnam. Abundant fresh local seafood is another delight.

Bai Tu Long Bay

Ha Long 3

Photo by: Nguyen Thu Huong

Lying in the northeast of Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay is the lesser known neighbour of the famous site. Boasting hundreds of its own formations, Bai Tu Long Bay easily win every tourist’s heart for its unique and crystalized beauty.

Caves, grottoes, beaches and islands are among the top Ha Long Bay attractions, and Bai Tu Long Bay has plenty of each without the crowded tourists every time around the year like many other places. Highlights of the area include Thien Canh Son Cave, Vung Vieng floating village, Ban Chan Beach, and Cong Do area.

Vung Vieng Fishing village

About 24 km from the mainland, Vung Vieng fishing village is situated in the center of Bai Tu Long Bay. The village owns a pleasant, peaceful location with charming scenery. It is also home to keep the typical cultural characteristics of fishermen inextricably living with the sea. More than 160 fishermen living on Vung Vieng fishing village of fishermen community on Ha Long Bay clearly reflected the traditional features of fishing village on the sea.

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island is the largest island in Ha Long Bay and is home to plenty of hotels, restaurants, and bars. Just about every tour company in Hanoi offers daily trips to the island, attracting travellers looking to enjoy a day of sightseeing during their holiday. Located off the coast of Hai Phong City, its beaches (named Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 2) are great for sunbathing and swimming during the summer months. If you’re not a fan of crowds on the beach, you can charter a speedboat or rent a kayak to Monkey Island and Lan Ha Bay, where the beaches are cleaner and quieter.

Tuan Chau Island

This island is a perfect destination for slow pace travelers who enjoy nature and calmness. As a newly-developed tourist attraction, Tuan Chau still keeps its authenticity without the hustle and bustle of the city center. One highlight of the Island is the artificial Tuan Chau beach. Stretching over 1 km in length, Tuan Chau Beach is one of the favourite spot for tourists with sunshine and clear water.

Sung Sot Cave 

Sung Sot Cave is one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Halong Bay. Located in Bo Hon Island, Sung Sot Ca

The combination of environment, weather, geology and geomorphology has brought the land a high biodiversity with a variety of stunning landscapes including green forests, beautiful islands and majestic caves. Especially, undergoing over 20 million years of Karst revolution, many picturesque caves were formed in Halong Bay. Nowadays, these caves become ideal attractions in Halong welcoming both domestic and international tourists visiting. Along with Thien Cung Cave and Dau Go Cave, Sung Sot Cave is one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Ha Long.

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HOW TO GET THERE

The bay is approximately 35 km (21 miles) Northeast of the port city of Hai Phong and approximately 170 km (105 miles) by road from the capital Hanoi. Most of traveler choose driving to Halong Bay from Hanoi and it takes about 3.5 hours to get there. Traveler could either choose the Shuttle Bus of the Cruise or use the Private Car/Van to get Halong Bay. 

Way to Ha Long Bay by road

By road way is the most popular and also the best way to get to Ha Long Bay as the highway in good condition and reasonable cost. Tourists can hire a private car with driver from Hanoi or Hai Phong to Halong bay. Another way is taking a shuttle bus which is much less expensive than hiring a private car. From Hanoi, it takes about 4 hours for one way. In the near future, the project of Hanoi – Halong Highway and Yen Vien – Ha Long Railway will be completed and reduce the time of transferring from Hanoi to Halong to one hour and a half.

To book a ticket online, go to https://vexere.com/en-US, put Hanoi as your location and Halong for the destination.

Note: There are fewer choice of bus providers online comparing to number of providers in the station. Many providers still prefer in-person selling. 

Depending on where your cruise ports, you should pick the nearest bus stop to the port. 

Most of the buses will stop at the city center in Quang Ninh then you will have to take a taxi to the port.

If you choose to go with premium bus or limousine options, they will have more drop off stops that closer to the port locations. 

Get to Ha Long Bay by airlines

Seaplane is the only option if you want to fly from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay and this is also the fastest way to travel from Halong and also the most expensive way. 

Just taking only 45 minutes to travel from Hanoi to Halong by seaplane, you will get an amazing view of Halong bay from above which a normal transfer or cruise cannot provide.

Hai Au Aviation is the only service provider in Halong Bay with the cost of around $400/person/round trip.

 

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