Halong Bay

How to travel to Halong Bay for your best experience
Halong Bay Travel Guide  – What to do, when to visit, and more…
Being confused about how to travel to Halong Bay for your best experience? Read on our guide of wonderful spots, exciting activities, as well as useful tips from pros when traveling to Halong Bay.

Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Vietnam. This 120km-long coastline (literally translated as the “Bay of Descending Dragons”) features hundreds of limestone monoliths varying greatly in size and shape rising from the water, with natural stalactite caves, picturesque islands, and unique fishing villages. If you like walking, then you can also enjoy the craggy bluffs that cover the islands of Halong Bay, and also explore isolated bays and dainty inlets. If you prefer to stay in the thick of things, then you can enjoy seafood barbecues, sea kayaking and a whole host of attractions in the main towns such as forts and other monuments. Researching no more, below is our top recommendation for you on how to travel to Halong Bay for your best experience. To get to Ha Long Bay safely, you can use the Hanoi tours.

Ba Hang fishing village

Ba Hang fishing village

Ba Hang Fishing Village is an attractive destination near Thien Cung Cave, in Halong Bay. Coming here,...

Ba Trai Dao Beach

Ba Trai Dao Beach

Beside Titop beach, Soi Sim beach, Tra Co beach… Three Peach Beaches is also a famous beach of Halong...

Bai Chay Market

Bai Chay Market

Halong Bay’s Bai Chay Night Market is a popular market among tourists and locals due to the wide array...

Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay

Located east of Halong Bay and closed to Chinese border, Bai Tu Long Bay is off the beaten tourist track....

Castaway Island

Castaway Island

Halong Bay is a valuable heritage of Vietnam because of its unique biodiversity, culture and history....

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba island district is an archipelago of 367 islands. Cat Ba is the main island name about 100km²...

Frequently asked questions

I. To visit top tourist attractions

1. Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island is the most popular attraction, also the biggest island in Halong Bay. The island sits around an ancient fisherman’s port and as such has a relaxed atmosphere that makes it the perfect place to spend an afternoon. This is also the spot where many of the boats leave for island trips so it makes a good place to base yourself while you are in Halong Bay. One of the best things to do here is to rent a bicycle and ride to the idyllic countryside just outside the main town.

2. Lan Ha Bay

Lying south and east of Cat Ba Town, Lan Ha Bay have the attraction of numerous white-sand beaches and rich marine life including corals, seals and dolphins. Due to being a fair way from Halong City and not so many tourist boats venturing here, Lan Ha Bay has a more isolated appeal and is perfect for a retreat. Additionally, sailing and kayaking trips here are best organized in Cat Ba Town.

3. Monkey Island

Monkey Island, aka Cat Dua, is a great spot if you are looking to take a boat trip in Halong Bay. There is an idyllic private beach here and you can spend your time topping up your tan on the white sand or go swimming and snorkeling in the azure seas. If you are feeling adventurous, then you can also go sea kayaking here or you can hike across the island as there are a huge number of scenic trails that take you through the lush greenery.

4. Sung Sot Cave

Sung Sot Cave is located at Bon Hon Island and you will need to hike up a steep path to get here, however, it is worth the effort for the views. The inner chamber is known for having a number of stone formations that are said to look like sentries lining up, and there is even a stone in the center of the cave that looks like a general talking to his troops. As the light streams across the water and makes flickering patterns on the inside of the cave, it looks as if the formations are coming to life.

5. Trinh Nu Cave

The Virgin Cave (Hang Trinh Nu) is one of the most famous caves in Halong Bay. It is probably best known for its shrine. Legend claims that a beautiful woman committed suicide in the cave, unable to return home after being forced to marry an old Mandarin. Here her body turned into stone. Another similar legend says this girl escaped from a Mandarin that forced her to marry him because her father could not pay a debt. When fishermen found her body, they buried her here and built a small shrine inside the grotto.

6. Cannon Fort

The Cannon Fort, which was built by the Japanese in WWII with tunnels and gun emplacements – later utilized by the French and Vietnamese during subsequent conflicts, may impress visitors by its “military look” among the peaceful views Cat Ba Town. From the Cannon Fort, you can’t help admiring the stunning panoramas of Cat Ba Island’s jungle-clad hills rolling down to colorful tangles of fishing boats in the harbor, and out to the karst-punctuated sea beyond. The entrance gate is a steep 10-minute walk from Cat Ba Town.

II. To take a not-on-foot-tour around Halong Bay

1. Cruise tour

First of all, if you wish to see the true beauty of Halong Bay, there is no other better way than taking to the water and signing up for a boat cruise then. While there are a huge number of companies offering the service, it’s quite easy for you to pick a cruise and hop in Halong Bay for an amazing tour. Depending on your request to a tour operator, you can enjoy a buffet meal as part of the cruise, or even stay on the boat overnight gazing stars from the deck and drift off to sleep lulled by the ocean waves for a truly memorable cruising experience.

If you’re looking for a way to see the most untouched, pristine areas of Ha Long as well as the neighbouring bays, a good choice is Orchid Cruise Halong Bay. A 5-star cruise ship with 14 luxury cabins and highly professional staff, Orchid offers to take you along the route less travelled for a chance to enjoy the stunning timeless beauty of the area without crowds or other distractions.

2. Seaplane tour

Despite being rather costly, jumping on a seaplane and flying over Ha Long Bay is one of the most thrilling and scenic activities you can do. Halong Bay is known for its karst formations, and there is no better way to see these than from the air. The seaplane rides in Halong Bay will take you up to a height of 300 meters above the water and you will be rewarded with a beautiful birds-eye view of the bay and of all the peaks in their entirety, while flying over spots of interest like Dau Go Cave, Tuan Chau Island and plenty of other highlights.

III. To enjoy exciting tourist activities

1. Go kayaking

Anyone looking for an adventure at Halong Bay should consider going kayaking. This is kayaking with a twist, however, as the sea here is studded with eerie rising karst formations that jut out of the water. If you want to explore these up close, then you need to get into a kayak and get out on the water, and the conditions in Halong Bay are perfect as the seas are calm and the visibility is excellent. The most common areas for kayaking, also diving are part of 3 Peaches islets, Dark and Light Cave.

2. Go cycling

Halong Bay is well known for its laid back atmosphere and if you prefer to check this out while doing exercise, then you need to rent yourself a bicycle. There are bicycle tours that you can take all over the region, or you can go it alone and explore at your leisure. It’s a great idea to tour Halong Bay by cycling down to the various beaches on Cat Ba Island and enjoy a refreshing swim at the end of a long bike ride.

3. Go hiking

For hiking lovers who wish to hide away, let’s head to Ban Sen Island. This is one of the lesser-visited islands in Halong Bay and is covered with thick forest lands offering breath-taking scenes of pristineness. To get here, you need to take a ferry to Quan Lan from Cai Rong and then you can head off on your hike. It’s advisable to have a guide who can show you the often hidden routes and also regale you with tales of the flora and fauna found on the island.

If your love to the wild nature is greater than anything else, consider going to Cat Ba National Park, a gorgeous national park which boasts 32 different kinds of mammals. Some of these include langurs which are the most endangered primates in the world. You will also find some amazing hiking trails here which include an 18 kilometers climb to the summit of the main peak in the national park.

Another option is Cat Co 3, which is nestled close to Cat Ba Town although the stretch of sand itself is not very large. The cliff-side has a walking trail that will take you to other beaches like Cat Ba 1 and 2 and this is one of the best walks on the island.

4. Go night squid fishing

Nighttime in Halong Bay is perfect for squid fishing and you may experience a time being a fisherman like local. When signing up the activity, you will be provided with a fishing rod and able to take in large shoals of squid which swim around in these waters after darkness falls. Once you have caught the fish, you can also cook and enjoy a barbecue right after on the boat yourself.

IV. To experience a local life

1. Touring the floating villages

The bay’s floating villages draw a lot of attention and are one of the highlights of your trip. Locals have been living in these floating houses for many generations as fishing is still the villagers’ main income. They can live on a floating village cooks, washes, hangs out with friends, and even learns or works in this environment. Some communities offer reasonably priced home-stays to visitors, too.

If you pass by them on your cruise, don’t be surprised if the boat’s on-board chef stops to shop for fresh seafood from one. Visiting these villages is a fascinating and humbling experience. Take your time visiting one or more of the four main floating villages in Halong Bay: Cua Van, Vung Vieng, Cong Dam, and Ba Hang.

2. Shopping at Bai Chay Market

If you want to sample some of the local products in Halong Bay, then one of the best places to do this is at Bai Chay Market. This is a local Vietnamese market where you will find huge heaps of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as plenty of seafood. You can also buy other local items like clothing and textiles, so this is a good spot to visit if you want to stock up on souvenirs.

Tourists often opt in a 3-day 2-night cruising itinerary to discover Halong Bay. This is also our suggestion for first-timers to see this fascinating place in a magical trip. Let’s check it out.

Day 1: Halong arrival – Lan Ha Bay – Tra Bau Beach

Depart from Hanoi and arrive Halong Bay at noon. Board in a cruise and have lunch. Visit Tra Bau beach and watch the breathtaking scenery along the way. Do kayaking and swimming by the peaceful beach. Get back to the cruise and enjoy gorgeous sunset. Have dinner and join squid fishing at late evening.

Day 2: Viet Hai Village – Ba Trai Dao Beach

Head over Cat Ba island and drop in Viet Hai village in the morning. Take a bicycle tour around the rainforest and meet local farmers until noon. Back to the cruise for lunch while continue moving to Ba Trai Dao beach. Kayaking, swimming are available here. Then return to cruise for dinner.

Day 3: Trinh Nu Caves

Reach toward and on sampan visit Trinh Nu caves. Enjoy the gorgeous cavern with a vast and enclosed lake on the other side. Back to cruise for lunch then return to the harbour for boarding off. Visit Bai Chay market on land at afternoon for your souvenir shopping.

P/s: There are several exciting activities onboard during the trip, such as Tai Chi in the early morning, happy hour at the bar, delicious Vietnamese foods and spa available all day…

If you are a veteran backpacker, please feel free to manage the trip your own and alter it when needed, else, we recommend you join a tour organized by a professional company, that can free you from hassles and keep you safe throughout the journey.

Halong Bay weather overview


As Halong Bay is located in the North of Vietnam, the climate is characterized by four distinct seasons. The rainy season of the North usually takes place during the summer season from June to August, and the weather is gradually cooler from September to November, and it gets cold from December. Let’s see how it breakdown by season, so you can figure out the best time to visit Halong Bay your own.

1. How Halong Bay is in Spring (February-April)

Spring is the start of the wettest season of the year in Halong, of which the temperature ranges from 19 to 24 degrees Celsius. With this type of climate, you are very likely to observe spring drizzle and early morning mist. Also, humidity will start to increase during this time.


During Spring, the gentleness and elegance of Halong Bay are ignited. In this time of love, the blooming orchids flourish in the refreshing air and the growing buds create a majestic new year of nature. The caves in spring are reborn with new mysterious outfits of mist, so they’ll make you feel as if you have found a wonderland! However, there may be days with thick fog that make you barely see things in front of your eyes. But in these foggy days, Halong Bay is very quiet and also looks like a romantic watercolor painting as you can feel the calm of the ocean, the precious air in your lungs, and the hug of the mountains.

Moreover, during springtime, walk on the beach under the shimmering moonlight, your soul will be set free and all your stress will be washed away. When it comes to April, you can say this is one of the most wonderful times of the year!

The best things to do in Halong Bay during Spring
In spring, the weather is cool, so rock climbing, biking, kayaking, or cruising are the ideal activities. If the weather is warm enough, this is the time for you to jump right into the sea! Spring is also the squid season in Halong, so you should spend a night catching squids with Halong fishermen.


Besides, the New Year (Tet) Celebration frequently occurs in February, so Halong Bay is less crowded and you can get a glimpse into Vietnamese Tet culture in the days and weeks leading up to the holiday, when the cities are abuzz with people shopping, buying flowers and plants, and otherwise preparing for the most important holiday of the year.

However, keep in mind that most transportation and tourism services may be out of order. So make sure that you check it carefully to make the most of your trip!

2. How Halong Bay is in Summer (May-July)
During summer in Halong Bay, the weather can be hotter and more humid compared to other months with the temperature ranging from 31–39 degrees Celsius. Rainfall will visit the bay more often, along with the heat and sultriness. Especially in late summer, the weather can quickly turn to long downpours! Also, beware of typhoons, mostly incomes in July.


Nonetheless, Halong at this time is charming with crystal clear sky and emerald water. When sunset falls, the water reflects the peaceful yachts, the sleepy flowers, and the flock of birds returning home. You may delightedly stay up all night as the air begins to cool to watch the moonlight reflecting on the ocean and karst monoliths!

The best things to do in Halong Bay during Summer


Summertime is ideal for a clear view of the bay and outdoor activities like swimming, kayaking, climbing … If having a rainy day, you may consider to go to local markets, buy souvenirs, or join a cooking class. Just make sure you don’t forget to bring sunscreen to have the most fun on the beach or prepare an umbrella on hand to make sure that you won’t catch a cold from sudden rain!

3. How Halong Bay is in Fall (August-October)

The weather of Halong Bay in Fall is sunny, windy, and the temperature is moderate, lowers two to three degrees in comparison to the previous month. In the middle and late fall, when the weather is consistently cool and is less rainy, The sky is clear, and the wind is gentle. These months may be the most pleasant time of the year for Halong Bay.

Standing atop the mountains, watching the sailing boats gradually appear with the rising sun, or enjoy the sundown giving way for the majestic night, you may realize that joy is best found in the simplest moments.

The best things to do in Halong Bay during Fall

When the rainy season is over, it means that outdoor activities are coming back to town! Apart from swimming at the beach, you shouldn’t forget to experience exciting activities such as kayaking, mountain climbing, and on a side note, if you are into squid fishing, mark these months in your calendar because you have the best chance to catch big squids.

4. How Halong Bay is in Winter (November-January)

As summer and fall go by, The temperature of Halong Bay in Winter is around 13-20 degrees Celsius, which is very pleasant for relaxing at Western travelers’ taste. There is sunlight during the day but mostly you will see fog and drizzle in the morning and late afternoon.

In contrast with the insane number of people buzzing to the bay in summer, Halong Bay in winter is less busy and touristy. If the sky in summer is an energetic teenager, it looks more mature and thoughtful in winter since it has grown up. The highlights of the Bay are the limestone cliffs, the meek fog, and the boats going back and forth unendingly.

The best things to do in Halong Bay during Winter

During wintertime in Halong Bay, as the weather gets colder, it’s more for lying in the sun than swimming. However, if you’re willing to brave the chilly water, a very refreshing dip awaits! If you were on a cruise touring Halong Bay, there are lots of activities to do, on and off the ship, including watching the sunset and sunrise over the bay, waking up early for a Tai Chi session on the deck of your boat, or sleeping in and enjoying a lazy breakfast.

Winter is also considered to be a fantastic time for leisure travel. So don’t hesitate to come here, experience the sheer beauty of this amazing bay, immerse yourself in hot tubs, and get ready to be wonderstruck!

How to get to Halong Bay, in which way and which vehicle, may you wonder? Let’s examine several popular modes of transportation you possibly employ to fulfill your dream trip as suggested below.

1. Shuttle bus/ Minivan to Halong Bay

Taking a public bus from Hanoi to Halong Bay can be comfortable since many of the bus owners offer cushy reclining leather seats as well as air-conditioning. However, you need to get yourself to the Hanoi Gialam Bus Station first, which is 5km+ away from the center, then buy a ticket to Baichay Terminal (Halong City).

The ride normally takes a couple of hours and the fare is rather affordable. But keep in mind that more than likely the driver would not speak English well, so you may be forced to use your body language; and also, don’t forget to bring with you some cash in VND, as neither USD nor credit card is accepted. This vehicle is best suited if you are an adventurous (solo) traveler and wish to experience what a local commuter does in his routine.

Besides, less commonish but most preferred by tourists, is taking a minivan to Halong Bay. This type of transportation is more private and luxury, since it accommodates no more than 12 passengers and has a nonstop route, started from the center. The fare, luckily, almost stays the same.

Duration: 3.5 hours
Cost: from $10 (~VND250K)

2. Train to Halong Bay

To Halong Bay from Yen Vien Train Station can also be an interesting option since it is confident and punctuation, yet it costs the least. However, it takes longer and again, you are required to travel independently (across 10km+ from downtown) to get to the station and buy yourself a ticket in VND, but this time, English can be barely used. If you are a budget traveler, especially with family, and have spare time to enjoy sightseeing along the route, this is perfect!
Duration: 6.5 hours
Cost: from $5 (~VND120K)

3. Flight to Halong Bay

Catching a seaplane flight that lands to Tuan Chau Marina, a gateway to Halong Bay, is no longer a privileged permission to the rich. Now, that option is accessible to practically everyone. It is fast (of course), convenient, and ultimate luxury with bonus bird’s eye views allowing you to witness Halong from an exclusive perspective.

If you find no problem in reaching the Noibai Airport first (30km+ from Hanoi central), and paying a greater amount to have a seat in those private planes, then don’t hesitate to book one. It might be your once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the best choice to enjoy Halong without being exhausted from a long day trip.
Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: from $180 (~VND4mil)

Throughout this article, we wish you to have an idea of how to travel to Halong Bay for your best experience. In case you are looking for your own travel agent, who can offer a wonderful and hassle-free trip to Halong Bay, please feel free to let us know. We always commit our best to make it your once-in-a-lifetime journey.

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