About this blog: Halong bay is a must visit destination in the North of Vietnam for a nature lover. It is one of the most intriguing spots in Asia. You can either make a day trip from Hanoi or book a junk ship turned into luxury cruise for few night stay in Halong Bay. In this blog, we tell you our experience of traveling to Halong Bay and spending a few nights on a cruise ship and compare that with a day trip from Hanoi.

Halong Bay Junk Boat

If you meander through the Tonkin Bay dotted with islets and caves along the north east shoreline of Vietnam, you will come across a mysterious Bay where the proverbial dragons sleep. Since antiquity.

Halong Bay is home to the ancient dragons who came down on Earth to fight for the Vietnamese people against the invaders. At the advent of the dawn, when you face the dazzling moon swiping away the ethereal landscape of Halong Bay, you know the old people and their folklore is true. The numerous limestone karsts of the Halong Bay are not just lifeless stones. They tell a story of once a landmass connecting with distant parts of South East Asia. Rain and flood and constant murmur of tectonic places along the Pacific ridge paved way for the aggressive south China sea to claim a large chunk of mainland.

That is how Halong Bay was formed. A tale of water and stones at war. The many limestone karsts raising their head against the apparently calm sea houses endangered species like Cat Ba Langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus), the Cat Ba Tiger Gecko (Goniurosaurus Catbaensis), and the Asian Small-clawed Otter.

The emerald still water, the many islands safeguarding Halong Bay’s ancient secret, intricate caving system, the lofty limestones- all of these contribute to make Halong bay a natural wonder of the world and a UNESCO heritage site.

Things you should know before going to Halong:

Cruise is the best way to discover Halong Bay. At least 2 days and 1 night are needed to enjoy the bay. If you have the opportunity to spend 2 nights, don’t miss the chance. If you decide to travel by cruise around Halong Bay you must select the season carefully as the mid-year months bring an unstable climate that could be the reason for cruise cancellation. 

Bai Tu Long Cove and Lan Ha Sound are two choices for Halong Bay, which are similarly attractive yet less visited.

If you have dietary limitations make certain to tell your cruise administrator somewhat early and again when you are on the ship.

Smart packing! The weather conditions can be truly unpredictable around here so bring things suitable for rain and shine. 

There is practically no telephone reception in the Halong Bay region so be ready to be detached however long your excursion would last.

Take no gadgets with you when you go kayaking except if they are waterproof. You will get wet thus will your belongings.

Best time to visit to Visit Halong Bay

The best time to travel to Halong Bay is spring (March and April) and fall (September and October). The weather conditions are cool and you can enjoy the best season.

The summertime stays from May to early September when the bay is warm to swim under the blue sky. But on certain days there will be light downpours and, unexpectedly, a startling storm that could cancel your voyage. 

The winter time of year in Halong Bay lasts from November to March, leading to chilly weather, particularly in January and February; not the perfect time for swimming. During this period, fog and strong rain are also present. So, try to avoid the season.

Also read: How to spend three days at the Fansipan Mountains of Sa Pa, Vietnam

What to See in Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay has the most beautiful scenery in the world with thousands of islands and floating villages! It can be enjoyed on the land, but the cruise is best. Choose a package that includes a cruise with activities. When you visit Ha Long Bay, some of the things you can expect to do are as follows:

Kayaking in Ha Long Narrows

Kayank is one of the best activities to do in Halong Bay. With Kayank you can reach to the places where the cruise cannot reach. It is a wonderful experience to sail on the water with no waves and little current. There isn’t anything better than having the opportunity to paddle where you please, taking a dip in the cool turquoise waters, and spotting various colourful fishes. This is a great way to get very close to the limestone cliffs overshadowing you. It will give you an idea of how huge they are. One of the most beautiful miracles of nature!

Scenic flight over the bay 

Taking a scenic flight over Halong Bay is the coolest way to see how magnificent this UNSECO sight is. You can choose the option if you want to visit the bay in a short time or if your budget suits you can combine it with the cruise package.

The flights begin from the water in Halong City by seaplane and last for 25 minutes. Taking off from the water and landing alone is an extraordinary experience, but the real attraction is obviously when you fly over the islands and rocks. Take pictures during the trip with a mobile and camera, so you can catch this exceptional experience.

Also read: Complete guide to visit Sa Pa in 3 days!

Floating Villages of Ha Long Bay

Visiting the beautiful floating villages in Ha Long Bay is a must-do in any traveller’s bucket! The fishermen have lived in these enchanting villages for ages, as one with the water. See youngsters playing and sprinkling, fishermen whistling tunes when floating along the calm waters, and beautiful houses weaving all over to the beat of the sea. There is even a floating school for the kids!

Explore Cat Ba

Cat Ba Island in the east of Lan Ha Bay is heaven for outdoor adventure lovers and explorers. It has a national park covered in thick green vegetation which is home to some astounding wildlife including the last 65 golden-headed langurs. As a result of the varied territory, there is a fabulous ion of adventure sports on offer. The peaceful waters make this the ideal spot for directed kayaking around the islands or snorkelling in the bay searching for the plenty of sea species inhabiting the waters. Climbing in many different ways is possible thanks to the rocky caves and jagged cliffs. There are treks across the thick forests with opportunities to detect the wildlife living there. Cannon Fort on the islands offers one of the most amazing viewpoints of the island, particularly at the time of sunrise and sunset.

Explore the Caves

There are many incredible caves to discover within the limestone formations. Most of them have stalagmites and stalactites.

One of the most well-known is Hang Sung Sot. The magnificent chambers of the cave are studded with extraordinary rock formations. Ray of the Sun that comes through the roof lights up the designs of the rocks. A particularly surprising rock formation is also buried very deep within the cavern. There is a large fertility symbol lit up by red lights in the heart of the chamber. 

Hang Dau Go or Wooden Stake Cave is another fantastic cave. This cavern is situated at the highest point of a 90-stage climb. As you enter the cavern an entirely different world opens up before your eyes. This cavern takes its name from the epic struggle between Vietnam and Mongolia that once occurred here. The Vietnamese used wooden stakes to sink the boats of their enemies, consequently the name.

The stalactites and stalagmites of Thien Cung Cave, also known as Heavenly Palace Cave, also draw a lot of visitors. The rock formations make a natural model whose surface changes from smooth undulating planes to jagged spikes.

Halong Pearl Farm 

One more remarkable attraction of Halong is the Halong Pearl Farm where you can see the unbelievable dedication and creativity that goes into making a single pearl. Local people have lived off the ocean by cultivating pearls for thousands of years. Traditional Vietnamese techniques are utilized paired with Japanese innovation to deliver the best quality pearl jewellery. Visit the working pearl farm situated close to Vung Vieng village and see how the specialists harvest the pearls.


Scuba Diving is a relatively new activity in Ha Long Bay; however, some companies offer the opportunity to dive far beneath into the underwater world of the bay. You can observe vibrant corals and stunning marine life by submerging yourself in the stunning jade-coloured water. A marvellous way to see what lies underneath the limestone towers.

Visit Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay

Nearly everybody knows Halong Bay, but do you have any idea that there are two different bays close to Halong-  Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay are more modest than Halong Bay, but just as beautiful. Yet, the best thing about these two Halong Bay alternatives is that far fewer boats come here and therefore fewer tourists. So you won’t have to worry so much about having to share a beach or cave with a lot of other tourists.

Since the two bays are a little further from Hanoi, you will be out and about longer. You will see similar scenes and take part in similar activities like visiting floating fishing villages, caves exploring and kayaking all alone.

On-Board Activities on Halong Cruise

Your cruise might have these activities on board:

Yoga or Tai Chi: Start your day on the cruise’s top deck by learning the spiritual practices of yoga or Tai Chi while you watch the sun rise over this magical landscape.

Spa and massage- the more top-of-the-line cruises offer spa and wellness toward the finish of an active day of exploring and kayaking.

Cooking Class – Figure out how to cook a few Vietnamese classics with the onboard chef, permitting you to taste local ingredients and methods. Because Vietnamese food is among the best in Asia, this is a great way to acquire skills that you can use at home.

Sunbathing – Enjoy sunbathing on the open decks.  Depending upon which islands the cruise is visiting, there will be a choice to relax and swim on sandy sea shores.

Food and Drink

Halong Bay is well known for its delicious fish all caught locally in clean waters. Fresh catches of succulent monkfish, luscious shrimp, and oysters are used to make daily feasts. Big lobsters can be found in many restaurants, their red, hard shells loaded with sweet meat. 

A Halong Bay speciality that draws in many tourists is squid sausage. Local squid is ready and fried into little crispy pieces and served on a bed of new plate of mixed greens with a little dish of sweet and tangy peppered fish sauce.

A unique dining experience in Halong Bay is enjoying a dinner in the openings of a cave sitting overlooking the wonderful bay.

Some special dishes –

Ngan: This is a mollusc found in the Halong Bay region. It seems to be a large shellfish and is delightful when cooked in wine or soup.

Tu Hai: Tu Hai is an uncommon and extraordinary kind of shellfish that can be eaten in many ways; steamed, baked, and in soup or salad.

Gat Gu: This is a cake produced using rice flour and cold rice. It’s soft and presented with a unique sauce made using fish sauce, chicken fat, chilly and onion. 

Sa Sung: Sa Sung is one more sort of fish, known in English as ‘Sandworm’. Frequently sautéed with celery and leek, the sandworm is crunchy and has a practically rich flavour.

How to go to Halong Bay

1. Plane – Estimated time 30 – 45 minutes

Tourists from Hanoi who choose to go by luxurious means have the choice to take a seaplane to Halong Bay with Hai Au Aviation. The seaplane seats 12 travellers and the time is something like 30 minutes, with the choice of adding an extra 15 minutes for an aerial tour through Halong Bay. Costs can go from around $45 to $150. To book a seaplane you should visit seaplanes. vn or book tickets utilizing this telephone number: 096 296 0689.

2.  Private Bus – Duration 3 – 4 hours

A Private Bus from Hanoi to Bai Chay Bus stop in Halong, take around 3 or 4 hours. You can take a bus from My Dinh bus stop consistently from 06:00 to 17:00, and the expense is around USD 10. Once in Bai Chay, you should take public transport to Tuan Chau Marina. On the other hand, you can take a taxi for a quicker journey.

3. Motorbike – Assessed time 3 hours.

Choice A (Shortest): Hanoi – Bac Ninh – Halong Bay through QL1A (150km)

Leave from Hanoi to QL1A to Bac Ninh, then take the QL18 to Pha Lai, Sao Do and then Halong Bay

Choice B: Hanoi – Hai Duong – Halong through QL18 (160km)

Leave from Hanoi, follow the QL5 to Hai Duong City, then, from Sao Do take QL18 to Pha Lai, Dong Trieu, Uong Bi and Halong.

Where to Stay in Halong bay

There are two main options in Halong Bay. You can take an overnight cruise or stay on one of the greater islands like Cat Ba.

If you decide to take a cruise, search Google and go through other traveller’s reviews so you can know about it properly. The experience on a luxury or mid-range cruise is much more pleasant and satisfying than on a budget cruise.

On Cat Ba Island there are many choices accessible for different budgets. You can get a bed in a dormitory for as little as USD 2.50 or get a comfortable hotel with included breakfast for around USD 15.

What to Pack for a trip to Halong Bay

For your tour to Halong Bay, you must smartly pack and be ready. Your travel document, such as a passport or ID card, is the most important item you’ll need because any hotels or boats you stay on will require this to let you stay.

Depending upon the season you should pack garments according to weather conditions and don’t forget to take a waterproof jacket also. Try to pack comfortable shoes as you might be visiting caves, as well as some swimwear as you might go kayaking. Sunscreen is a must, as the Sun can be very strong.

Try not to carry heavy luggage as the boat cabins on cruise won’t fit multiple bags. You should also bring any drinks or snacks you want during your trip because cruises only provide meals.

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