Halong Bay is one of the most beautiful places on earth and a must-see if visiting Vietnam tours. Situated in the Northwest west of the country in Ninh Binh district it is a 600 square mile paradise. A UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its significant scientific importance and geological beauty, it has, in recent, years become a magnet for people searching for peace, tranquility and something special. Its name means Bay of Descending Dragons and as normal in Vietnamese culture it is steeped in myth and legend. The bay itself was formed over millions of years as the sea cut out the softer rock and left the limestone karsts, that form the 1960 islands.
It is a remarkable land and seascape and home to thousands of species of rare flora and fauna. The largest island here is Cat Ba. More than half its land mass is given over to the Cat Ba National Park. It is home to the Cat Ba Langur, one of the rarest mammals in the world. Hundreds of cruise boats ply their trade in the bay and this has become easily the most popular way of seeing what the bay has to offer. The boats slip gently round the area taking in important caves and islands. Popular activities include kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, barbecues and sun bathing.
The Noi Bai International Airport is situated about 20 miles to the north of Hanoi. Most flights to the north arrive here and from here it is possible to make your way out to the bay by various other forms of transport. Cat Ba International Airport in Haiphong is about two and a half hours away from Ha Long city by road. Again buses and taxis are available here. Vietnam Airlines customer service: +84 (0) 20 3263 2062 Vietjet customer service: +84 (0) 1900 1886
There is no train route to Halong Bay.
Buses run from Hanoi and most tour companies, who book the cruises, will collect you from your Hanoi Airport in the morning for the four hour ride out to the bay.
There really is only one way to get around the bay and that is to book one of the luxury tour boats that operate here. It is a fascinating way to spend a few days. The boats are modern. Luxurious and crewed by professional dedicated people. The food on board is excellent.