In this post you will find a complete guide about Halong Bay in Vietnam with all the travel tips you need to plan your trip. Have you ever had the feeling of seeing a photo on Instagram or on a computer screen and never forget how impactful that landscape was for you? Well, Halong Bay was one of those places that fascinated me for years, and so having the opportunity to explore this beautiful region had for me a taste that was more than special and magical, like realizing a big dream.
My expectations were super high and believe me, Halong Bay managed to surpass all of them and completely charmed me with its unique beauty and peaceful energy. I had the impression that nothing can prepare us for the striking and striking experience of navigating its emerald waters and rocky cliffs out of sight.
Even so, with this post, I will express in words and images why you should put this destination on your bucket list and share all the tips so that you can make the most of a trip there.
Halong Bay: An introduction
Halong Bay is situated in northern Vietnam and is made up of about 2000 limestone islets that spread out of sight across the bay. These islets formed over 500 million years ago and seem to spring from the emerald green sea, giving the landscape a surrealistic and totally unique tone.
The islands have different shapes, most of which are uninhabited. Some houses beaches, caves, caves and a rich fauna and flora and for its diversity and significance Halong Bay was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 and is considered one of the 7 wonders of nature. But not only that, Halong Bay also has secluded beaches, floating villages and a lot of cultural baggage.
There are many legends to explain the name of Halong Bay, which means “Where the Dragon enters the Ocean.” What we hear reports that the bay got its name because the dragon that lived in the mountains dug with valleys that were filled with seawater throughout the region, leaving only a few pieces of land on the surface that are the islands that are currently visible there.
Filled with mysticism and beauty, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia’s most sought after tourist destinations and enchants with the unique beauty of its scenery as well as the diversity of its attractions. The bay welcomes thousands of visitors each year from all corners of the world to admire its stunning and unique beauty.
It is a must-see attraction on any Vietnam travel itinerary and surprises by its magnitude and breathtaking scenery.
How to get to Halong Bay
Halong Bay is situated 160 km from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam that serves as the gateway to or from most tourists visiting the country. So the most practical way to get to Halong Bay is from Hanoi on a trip that takes about 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours on the new road. Getting to Halong Bay is not difficult anymore.
The most practical and consistent way to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay is through an excursion or cruise package that includes round trip transportation and activities. And most of the agencies that organize the Halong Bay tours, as well as the cruise companies, make the right pick-up from the hotel early in the morning and arrival at the specific departure point.
I confess I am not a big fan of travel packages like this, however, to explore Halong Bay with peace of mind and organization I could attest that this is the best option.
If you prefer to make the transfer yourself, either for savings or because your travel plans do not include leaving Hanoi, you can take the bus or train. There are frequent buses and trains leaving Hanoi, as well as other cities in Vietnam, but the arrivals point is not near the ports from which cruises depart, so you will inevitably have to use another method of transportation to reach the islands or to embark on your cruise.
Private transfers are another way to get to Halong Bay from various cities in Vietnam. With convenience and comfort come the highest price, but depending on your plans, this may be an excellent option. As our travel plan was to go from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh and the public transportation options offered unattractive schedules and very long travel time, we ended up opting for private transfer and we highly recommend Tommy’s service for professionalism, punctuality and flexibility.
Best way to explore Halong Bay
The best way to discover all Ha Long Bay has to offer is undoubtedly by sailing on its waters, especially on overnight walks on the Bay. This is because, the most impressive of the bay is the diversity of landscapes that is configured with islets of different shapes grouped uniquely with each new region explored. On the move, you can see different silhouettes and colors at different times of the day, and thus be enchanted by Halong Bay.
And there are many options for cruise tours, with different budgets and profiles to suit all types of travelers. There are one, two one-night and three-day two-night cruises, and the activities each offers are different and certainly more numerous on long cruises.
The one-day tour is only worthwhile for those who have very little time in Vietnam, after all you will spend at least 5 hours going back and forth to Hanoi and enjoying very little of the bay itself. Moreover, the truth is that the experience is much richer and more enchanting when you sleep and wake up in the bay and by the way, one of the best moments of the trip was waking up and enjoying the fantastic sunrise coloring the landscapes with the most beautiful tones that one can imagine.
When traveling on a cruise, you can optimize your travel time and get to know much more in less time, plus the convenience of having an organized schedule and all the well-planned activities at your disposal. Of course the downside to scheduled group travel is the loss of autonomy, but considering the geography and local transportation options, we consider a cruise to be the best option for exploring Halong Bay.