The name ‘Ha Long Bay’ means ‘the bay where the dragon descends into’, a literature explanation describing thousands of limestone islands and islets scattering on 434 sqkm of greenish water. Halong Bay’s geographical landscape was the result of complex geological processes taking over 500 million years. Inside the caves, researchers found evidence of sea regression and transgression, earth’s movements and down-warping tectonics. Altogether has made a wonder of Vietnam landscape on above and under the ground.
Come to Halong, besides cruising the bay, you mustn’t miss visiting the impressive system of grottos and caves, or kayaking the hidden water cave, or visiting the nearby fishing villages. Here is the complete guide on the top things to do in Halong bay and how to get the most out of your trip to Vietnamese’s World Heritage Bay.
|Best Halong Bay Tours from Hanoi|
|Route||Tuan Chau Pier - Halong Bay|
|Port||Most cruises depart from Tuan Chau Pier (a few from Hon Gai International Port)|
|Cruises Departing||Paradise, Bhaya, Indochina Sails, Golden cruise, Oriental cruise, Secret.|
|Facility||Basic (dining area, sundeck, bathroom)|
|Type of Trips||Private cruise or shared cruise|
|Type of Boats||Classic Wooden Junk|
|Capacity||Up to 40 people/boat|
|Activities||Cave visiting, beach activities, kayaking|
For Halong Bay day cruise, you can visit the bay for 4 hours or 6 hours:
Tuan Chau International Port offers a capacity of harboring more than 1000 ships at a time, depth up to 17 meters and width of 300 to 800 meters. Tuan Chau Island is a great stop for your luxury cruise on Halong Bay.
To reach to Sung Sot Cave, you’ll walk under the foliage of the forest, climb a long stone stair while feeling all excited as if you’re in a game of finding treasure.
The cave covers a total area of 10000 kilometer square with a huge contribution of sparkling stalagmites and stalactites in all sizes and shapes, bringing a mysterious feeling throughout your journey exploring the Sung Sot Cave.
Visitors come to Dau Go Cave must pass 90 stone staircases to reach cave’s entrance. Once inside, you’ll be amazed by a marvelous architecture of a whole world under the ground carved by the hands of nature.
The cave is located in the southwest of Halong Bay, 4 km away from Dau Go Island, measured 10000 square meters in width.
One of the best places for kayaking in Halong Bay must be Luon Cave which is located just 14 km southeast of Tuan Chau Island. The cave is an open air cave, only accessible by boat. To enter Luon Cave visitors must pass through a 100m long arch which is 3m wide.
Passing this arch into a darker side will certainly give you thrills. Once you’ve passed the arch, an eye-opening sight of sheer, grey limestone cliffs on the green lake will welcome you. Do not miss this activity if you have chance to visit Halong Bay!
Watch Ha Long Bay Sunset on The Cruise's Deck
The western sky turning orange and purple, the sun setting down will make whole landscape right out of a water-colored painting. And for that, don’t forget to bring your high-definition camera to capture the nature’s magnificence.
|Route||Lan Ha Bay - Cat Ba Island - Ha Long Bay (2D1N or longer)||Halong Bay - Bai Tu Long Bay (2D1N or longer)||Lan Ha Bay - Ha Long Bay - Bai Tu Long Bay (3D2N or longer)|
|Port||Got Ferry Terminal (Cat Hai, Hai Phong)||Hon Gai International Harbor (Halong City)||Hon Gai International Harbor|
|Cruises Departing||Paloma cruise, Lan Ha Legend cruise, Emerald cruise||Dragon Pearl Junk, White Dolphin cruise, Huong Hai Sealife, Royal Wing, Dragon Legend, Swan Cruise and more||Au Co, White Dolphin cruise, Royal Wing, Dragon Legend, Swan Cruise and more|
|Facility||Hotel Style (Sea-view rooms with private bathrooms, spa, gym)||Hotel Style (Sea-view rooms with private bathrooms, spa, gym)||Hotel Style (Sea-view rooms with private bathrooms, spa, gym)|
|Type of Trips||Private/Shared Cruise||Private/Shared Cruise||Private/Shared Cruise|
|Type of Boats||Classic Wooden Junk / Modern Luxury Cruise||Classic Wooden Junk / Modern Luxury Cruise||Classic Wooden Junk / Modern Luxury Cruise|
|Capacity||1-40 cabins||1-40 cabins||1-40 cabins|
|Activities|| || || |
Cat Ba Island
|>>> Read More:Cat Ba Island Top Things to Do |
Lan Ha Bay
Lan Ha Bay is an equivalent to Halong Bay in beauty and a much better choice for less touristy cruise. Lan Ha Bay is a hidden gem of Vietnam limestone system located in the northern east of Cat Ba island.
Even though the bay has not yet been discovered by many travelers, anyone ever visiting Lan Ha confirms this is one of the most beautiful bays of Vietnam. When autumn comes to the bay, Lan Ha is shining bright with lissom sunlight, cool oceanic breeze.
From here take an overview look towards Van bay gate, your eyes are like drawing a sketch of about 400 limestone islands, delicately arranged in a shape of archwise nature-made embossment.
Bai Tu Long has also become a world heritage together with Halong Bay so there is no reason for you to not expect it to be just as beautiful as Halong.
Lying just 30 kilometers northeast towards the Chinese border, Bai Tu Long promises a great getaway destination, a great return trip to nature.
Compared with 600 cruises on Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long humbles with only 30. Cruising in Bai Tu Long Bay can be very different from doing it on Halong Bay. The routes to Bai Tu Long are longer, with lesser stops for different activities.
You’ll find the formations inside are shaped in many shapes such as a lotus flower, a baby elephant, seals, etc. Thien Canh Son Cave is indeed smaller to Dau Go Cave but sure doesn’t have as many visitors. In beauty, the cave doesn’t lack anything in terms of structure.
Things you can do at Ban Chan Beach: swimming, kayaking, beach barbecue…
The marine ecosystem of the park is home to many genetic samples of rare animals and plants species recorded in the Red Book.
Bai Tu Long’s geological structure consists of many rocky islands such as Ba Mun, Big Tra Ngo, Small Tra Ngo, Sau Nam, Dong Ma, Hon Chinh, Lo Ho.
Cong Do is considered the most beautiful island in Bai Tu Long Bay with many natural lakes which are home to many aquatic lives.
The island is primitive, surrounded by limestone cliffs and thick forests.
You can visit the two other beaches on the island as well – Son Hao Beach and Minh Chau Beach.
Tai Chi Class- physical movements designed for relaxation, balance and health - on the sundeck of the boat while enjoying the panoramic views of the bay in early morning.
Happy Hour with “Buy One Get One Free”: You will have 30% discount off the special drinks menu including cocktails, mocktail and mixed drinks (from 16.30 pm to 19.00 pm.).
Local fishing communities have been living in Halong Bay for generations, preserving their native way of life with the main income coming from fishing and a bit from tourism. A trip to visit these villages will give you a more insightful into the local life of Vietnamese people in this region. And since you are at a fish farm, why not buy some seafood which is fresher and cheaper?
No private tour which sometimes means you would have to wait at the port until the ship gathers enough guests to leave. In peak season, this can be done quickly but you might feel little overcrowded. Budget tours to Ha Long bay are rather way below average with mediocre services and food. Mid-range cruises offer full day tour with cost $70 and an overnight tour $120-$150 and up. Activities on bay are same with luxury cruises but food and services are a bit pale in comparison.
Luxury cruises: $400 for a luxury overnight tour on the bay
Luxury cruises are indeed “movable hotels” which have everything stuffed inside one ship. Some even have the quality of a five-star hotel. You can expect a lot in the cruise amenities with modern LDC TV, DVD player, mini bar, air- conditioner, in house phone, bath tub, Jacuzzi…. With extremely luxury cruise operators, extra services like massage, spa or cooking class and Tai Chi class are also available.
Note: Regardless the level, most cruises offer packages that includes transfers from and to Hanoi.
We recommend you to spend at least 2 days for Ha Long with one night spent on the bay. By taking a two-day tour, you will truly enjoy your time here plus have chance to admire the sights of sunset and sunrise on the bay.
With Bai Tu Long as a new rising destination, 2-day itinerary to Halong can be quite varied with a lot of alternative activities such as kayaking, swimming, caving for the first day. Night is spent on the bay if weather allows.
For the second day, Tuan Chau Island and Titov Island are often the choices. Few companies even have tour to Bai Tu Long bay, Lan Ha Bay or to fishing villages.
Our Halong Bay 2-Day Cruises feature on-boat activities such as TaiChi Class, Cooking class. We also design cruise to Bai Tu Long Bay and other area.
*Quick Tip: Booking cruise with Asianway Travel will help you save 20% compared to other tour operators. Book to save now!
|See Our best Halong Bay Cruise:
Halong - Cat Ba Island - Lan Ha Bay - Au Co Cruise 3 Days
Around Halong Bay
Bai Chay Beach: a decent artificial beach, 100m wide and 500m long
Things to do in Halong City:
Hanoi is located 165 kilometers from Halong Bay which means it can take you 3.5 to 4 hours of traveling, except for the new highway via which you only need little more than 2 hours. Some cruise buses use this express way and charge extra fee, some still use the old highway with travel time 4 hours. If you take a private car, you may request to use the new highway and pay the toll fee ($15/one way).
*Cruise shuttle bus/mini bus
The easiest to travel to Halong bay is to book a cruise tour that offer two-way transfer (which is always available in our cruise itineraries). You can ask your cruise operator to arrange transfer on the new highway and pay extra transfer fee.
The shuttle buses from cruise operators are often comfortable and high-class. With this options, you don't have to worry about the transferring from and to Halong city and Halong bay.
Bus from Hanoi to Quang Ninh are available at major bus terminals like My Dinh and Gia Lam. The price for one way ticket is around 100,000 - 200,000 VND (US$5 - 10). Normally, most of coaches will stop at a terminal near Bai Chay Bridge. From there, you can catch a taxi to Tuan Chau Marina. However there are risks with this option like being overcharged or bad driving...
Hai Au Aviation launched its new style of Halong tour back in 2014, making it now one of your options to get to Halong Bay. Vietnam Seaplane Tour can take you from Hanoi to Halong Bay in only 45 mintues, offering a panoramic view of the bay for 15 minutes. If you have generous budget, this is something you might want to try, costing USD$175 one way.
FROM HAI PHONG
New highway from Dinh Vu Port to Halong has been completed as of 2018, making the travel time from Hai Phong to Tuan Chau Pier only 45 minutes for the distance of 75 kilometers.
*Coach and Bus
You can catch bus to Quang Ninh at Lac Long Terminal, located at No.22, Cu Chinh Lan Street, Hong Bang District, Hai Phong City. There're few routes available with prices ranging from 50,000VND to 100,000VND.
Ferries from Hai Phong to Halong Bay are available at Ben Binh Terminal. Some cruises offering Halong - Cat Ba - Lan Ha also take guests from Got Ferry Terminal in Cat Hai. The ferries will take you to Cat Ba or Cai Vieng fishing village.
Are you ready for your best trip to Halong Bay, Vietnam?! Contact us for even more insights and advice!
>>> Love another type of cruising? See Mekong Cruise to Vietnam and Cambodia - 8 Days