Halong Destination Guide
Halong Bay Cruise ( translated as “descending dragon”) for many tourists is the cherry on the delicious cake, the ultimate experience of staying in Vietnam, a pleasant adventure. At the same time, it is one of the most popular destinations in the country for tourists from different countries. It is worth noting that this bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. No wonder: a mystical, magnificent, incredible place, a gift of nature just will not leave anyone indifferent.
Yes, this bay is really that good, no exaggeration . In total, there are 1007 sites on the UNESCO list for 2014. By the way, by the way, 26 of them are in Russia, but there are seven in Vietnam. Halong Bay is on the list since 1994.
When is the best time to relax in Halong?
The main dominant climate in Halong Bay is tropical and humid. Therefore there are essentially 2 seasons – hot rainy summer and relatively dry cool winter. The coldest but driest months are December and February.
The rainiest months are from June to September, with maximum rainfall in August. Of course, the most favorable periods for tourists to visit Halong Bay are from April to May, and then from September to October.
Of course theoretically, the bay is quite possible to visit at any time of year, and excursions there never cease. But in principle, as in the whole of the northern part of Vietnam here in the winter months, you should be prepared for low temperatures. Frosts in fact do not happen here.
But if you consider the proximity to the ocean and significantly piercing winds, it is difficult to get much pleasure from visiting this area from December to February. Sometimes during this period the night temperature can drop even below 10 degrees, although during the day it stays no lower than plus 20 degrees.
With the advent of the month of March the temperature already begins to level off and become almost decently hot, but the water is not yet warm enough and well heated, so the bathing season is just beginning. But generally speaking, to visit the bay, the weather is already becoming quite favorable.
In April it is already safe to say that the beach.
Where to stay in Halong?
Since the bulk of tourists visiting Halong Bay in the principle of bought trips, the vast majority of them prefer to stay in the cabins of comfortable liners, which deliver them to the place. But if you want, of course, you can choose and hotels in the city of Halong.
It is most convenient to stay in the western part of town in the Baichai area. If you look at a tourist map, it is usually listed as Halong City West. Most hotels in this area are within a 20 minute walk from the marina, which is used for mooring tourist boats.
Visitors can choose to stay in the smaller, family-run hotels located on Vyung Dao, Hau Kang, and An Dao Streets. Room prices here range from an average of $5 to $8, but essentially depend on the floor. That is, the higher the floor, the cheaper the accommodation.
All hotels are quite good – they can be either completely newly built or those buildings that are systematically renovated. Rooms are usually standard and are comfortable rooms with a toilet, shower and good finishing. Also inside such rooms usually have a TV “plasma”, a fan and a split system.
If you certainly come to town for a few days, it is better to choose city hotels. But if you’re planning to devote your vacation to admiring the unforgettable sunsets and sunrises and constantly basking in the warm sand, it’s best to stop.
How to get there?
Halongjitel Bay in Vietnam called the eighth wonder of the world, and in this almost no exaggeration, because the place is very beautiful and picturesque, and as a result of this here come every year a lot of travelers. And if for organized travelers questions of transfer are not vital, as for them all does the agency, for those who travel independently, the information about how to get to Halong will not be superfluous.
The best way to travel to Halong is by bus. Particularly from Hanoi, which is only 170 kilometers to Halong.
Buses Hanoi – Halong there are two types. The first is tourist buses, usually a small minibus, tickets to which can be purchased at travel agencies, which are a lot in the main tourist area of the Vietnamese capital – Old Town. These buses leave from the same tourist area, which is very convenient for those who live nearby. The cost of the ticket as of 2012 began from $ 9-10 (depending on the comfort of the bus), and the travel time is rarely more than 3 hours. In addition, travel agencies can also buy a multimodal ticket, which includes a bus transfer to Zalonga and a ticket to the island of Cat Ba, which is the main resort area of the bay. In this case, the cost of the ticket would be $12 to $13.
Food and Drink
In Vietnam’s Halong Bay, in general, many hotels have their own restaurants. Due to the fact that this resort enjoys great international popularity, in principle, local chefs try hard to satisfy the desires of each visitor.
So when you come to Vietnam on holiday you quite unexpectedly for yourself can try dishes not only Asian, but also American, African, Japanese, European and even Slavic cuisine.
But do not forget that this country also has its own culinary traditions. However, according to experienced travelers, Vietnamese cuisine is quite different from what we are accustomed to Slavic. Here they eat literally everything that runs and moves, in this regard, exotic food, which seems unusual to our tourists, for the natives is quite normal food.
For us, of course, it is surprising, but in Vietnam with great pleasure eat dog meat, which tastes very similar to pork. Chefs can cook it both steamed and fried, grilled or boiled.
In principle, in any restaurant you can try this delicacy. For example, you can visit such a restaurant as “YoLo Beer Club”, which originally specialized in Chinese, Asian and American cuisine. It is located on the island of Tuan Chau.
In the same way, bats are also eaten quite safely in Vietnam. It is quite interesting that the raw.
What to see in Halong?
Halong is a resort town near Hai Phong, which is located on an artificial dam connecting two peninsulas. All in the best tradition – beautiful hotels, luxury homes, stores, cafes, spas, clubs and bars, all in Halong. But above all, tourists come to Halong because of its luxurious nature – comfortable sandy beaches and very warm water! If you are lucky enough to be in Halong, take a day to see the local attractions. There is not much to see here but it is worth it.
Bai Tu Long Bay
Halong Bay where the small town stands is located on the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea. The bay is rich with over three thousand islands, all of them beautiful! Of course it is difficult to visit all of them, but if you rent a boat and walk around some of them, then you will be over the moon impressed. By the way, the name of the bay itself is translated as “the place where the dragon descended into the sea. Sailing on a boat in the bay, you can see the houses of local residents who live in “floating houses” on pontoons (I mean, they do not move throughout the bay, fixed at the shore) – it all seems just incredible! Locals tell us that sometimes, coming down to land, the inhabitants of such houses light-headedness, as during seasickness. Find out how to sail to the island off Tuanchau, which is the most civilized part of the land in the area.
Stone Pillars Grotto (Hang Dau Go cave) read completely
How to have fun?
Halong is a very romantic place! The best time to visit Halong Bay is probably in spring and summer. In autumn and winter, the sea is not very calm and can be even muddy. It is clearer and hotter in summer, but sometimes too hot. And in winter it is not always cool to swim and bathe. But still, it is very, very cool! By the way, the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh City, which is also in this bay, on the shore, voted to ban jet skiing in the bay, to protect the world famous tourist area from possible pollution and preserve the beauty and purity of nature. What a good job!
Well, with nature we have decided. But, as for the entertainment masses, we must admit that their choice here is a bit limited. But do not worry, you will still be able to find a few interesting places to visit. In such a magnificent setting in general, I think everyone must like it. Restaurants and bars in Halong are located in almost all parts of the city. From relatively inexpensive restaurants to the high end and expensive.
Here are a couple of places to visit in the evening in the vicinity.
Blue Note Bar (Cat Ba Island, District 1).
A famous bar with a karaoke room and a good list of drinks. Bar stays open late.
Flightless Bird Cafe (main street of Cat Ba Island)
One of the most popular places among tourists. The bar is open from 6:30 pm. Opt for a spot on the second floor balcony and enjoy a romantic view of the harbor. It’s also a good place to swap… read full story
Halong Bay in Vietnam
Halong Bay, also called Halong Bay, is a bay in the Tonkin Gulf of the South China Sea in northern Vietnam, about 170 kilometers from Hanoi. The bay contains more than 3,000 islands, rocks, cliffs and caves. Its area is about 1500 square kilometers. Halong Bay on the interactive map of Vietnam . Halong is also called the city, which is the capital of Quang Ninh Province, where the bay is located. The city itself does not contain any tourist attractions and is simply a staging ground for self-traveling tourists.
The name of the bay is translated from Vietnamese roughly as “Bay into which the descend (sink) dragons” or “Bay, into which the dragon came down.
In 1994 Halong Bay was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and in 2011 Halong was named one of the “7 New Wonders of the World” and was declared a new natural wonder as one of the most iconic landscapes in Vietnam. The scenery here is truly breathtaking, especially when your pleasure craft will be shuttling between the cliffs. But, to be fair, it’s worth noting that images of the bay from advertising brochures and websites don’t always match reality. Unfortunately, traditional sailing boats with specific easily identifiable sails as in the advertising photos, are not left here. Tourists are taken by large motorboats, and all these traditional boats under sails in the ads are the result of photomontage or staged shooting.
Closest islands to the shore / View photo in 3D
Almost all of Halong Bay’s islands are rocky, many of them are funny little rock formations. There are thousands of caves of various shapes and sizes filled with stalactites and stalagmites and small waterfalls in the rocks. The most popular caves are equipped under the tourist attractions with the illumination of colorful lamps, which makes them look like underground palaces.
For tourists, the bay is mostly interesting not as a tourist resort for long-term accommodation, but as an excursion destination for a short period of time. Most often, tourists visit the bay as part of a tour for 1-2 days, and sometimes do not even stay here, limiting themselves to a day tour. And meanwhile, it is quite possible to stay in a hotel on the island of Cat Ba (Cat Ba ) or on the coast and spend a few days here.
But before you decide to go to Halong, you should be warned about the numerous incidents, as a result of which tourists die. This happens because of the low level of safety on the old recreational boats. Many of the tourist recreational boats have long outlived their age as fishing boats, and are now living a second life after being remodeled and repaired. The last incident (at the time of writing) in February 2011 killed twelve tourists, including from Russia.
Halong weather, tourist seasons
Halong, Floating Village / View photos in 3D
The climate in the bay is tropical, humid, with two seasons: hot rainy summers and dry cold winters. The coldest and driest months are December-February. The rainiest months are June through September, with maximum rainfall in August. Well, the most favorable tourist months are April-May and September-October.
Theoretically, the bay can be visited at any time of the year, and excursions there never stop. But, as in general in the northern part of Vietnam, in the winter months, you should be prepared for low temperatures. Of course, there is no frost here, but given the proximity to the ocean and piercing winds, the great pleasure of being here from December to February inclusive, you are unlikely to experience. Sometimes the nighttime temperature can drop to 10 degrees, though the daytime temperature stays around 20 degrees or higher.
From March onwards the temperature starts to improve and it gets quite hot, although the water may not yet be warm enough and the bathing season is just starting to open. Although, in general, to visit the bay weather is already quite favorable. In April, it is already safe to talk about the beach season in Halong.
In June and September, the weather is very hot, but there can be heavy rains, which, fortunately, most often not protracted.
The end of the beach season can be seen as early as November.
Seasons in Halong by month, when to go
* Best time to visit; acceptable time to visit; not recommended time to visit
Halong weather and forecast for the near future:
How to get to Halong
Alien Cave, Halong / View photo in 3D
Most often tourists get to Halong as part of a tour (see about tours and their costs below), which, of course, is much easier than traveling on your own. But to get to Halong on your own and on a budget is possible. And once you get to Halong and settle in the hotel, you can buy a boat tour of the islands, caves and other attractions. Halong day trip excursions leave for the sea in the morning (last boat at 1pm), so when planning your itinerary, keep this in mind if you don’t want to waste a day on a useless hotel stay.
In our opinion, an independent trip to Halong makes sense only if you want to stay in Halong for a few days and see the city itself, sunbathe on the beach, maybe visit a national park. If you are planning to visit Halong just for the excursion by boat, special financial gain and pleasure from a separate trip you will not get. It can cost you even more than a group tour from Hanoi, especially considering the possible unforeseen cab expenses, unreasonably high prices for the tour on the spot with bad bargaining on your part, etc.
The best starting point for both a guided tour and an independent trip to Halong is Hanoi. About how to get to Hanoi here. . If you want to visit Halong from Ho Chi Minh City or other cities, you can take a flight to Hai Phong. You can try to take a transfer directly from Hanoi airport to Halong, but it’s better to take care of this in advance, for example by arranging it with the hotel you book in Halong.
From Hanoi to Halong by bus
The easiest way to get a tour bus, most often minibuses. They are convenient because a ticket for them can be purchased at any travel agency on the streets in the tourist area of Hanoi, they also leave from the tourist area or include a transfer-collection of passengers from hotels to the place of departure of the big bus. To Halong the tourist bus costs from $10 (2013) and travels about 3 hours. There are also composite routes in one ticket to Cat Ba Island (Cat Ba ), consisting of a trip to Halong, then a boat ride to Cat Ba and from the pier to the resort area on the island. Cost from $12.
A cheaper option is to take an intercity bus. These buses leave from bus stations in Hanoi Long Bien, Gia Lam Station, My Dinh or Luong Yen to Halong City. Buses leave every 15-30 minutes and cost about 50,000 VND. The buses are very slow, making many stops, so don’t expect to get there in less than 5 hours. In Halong, the buses arrive at Bai Chay Bus Station.
There is also a composite bus to Catba Island from Luong Yen Station for VND210,000 (2013).
Wherever you depart from Hanoi, if you are going to take a boat cruise, your final destination should be the pier in Halong, where you can purchase a tour and set sail immediately upon arrival. Therefore, check with the carrier before buying tickets where the bus will take you, otherwise you will have to spend more money for a cab to get to the marina. The bulk of tourist buses and vans go to the pier. Don’t forget the last boat of your cruise departs at about 1 PM, so if you arrive later, you’ll either have to go back or spend the night in Halong.
Unfortunately, there is no train from Hanoi to Halong despite the presence of the railroad. You need to get there via Haiphong.
Every day there are 4 passenger trains between Hanoi and Haiphong. The travel time is about 2 hours. Departure from Hanoi main railway station or Hanoi Long Bien station. It is better not to buy tickets from intermediaries, but directly at the station. There is no great need to book tickets in advance as they are always available. Just arrive at the station, buy the ticket and go.
From Hai Phong you can take a ferry or boat to Halong or take a ferry or speedboat to Catba Island for VND150,000.
The program of almost any tour to Halong is fairly standard and includes lunch (plus dinner and breakfast for multi-day tours); boat rides between the rocks; a stop at a floating village where you will be offered a boat ride or kayak through the caves; disembarkation on one of the islands where you walk through the caves.
Multi-day tours, as mentioned above, additionally include an overnight stay on a boat or in a hotel and a richer program. As for the day tour from Hanoi, unfortunately, half of the tour time will be spent collecting tourists in Hanoi, the bus ride and waiting at the pier, and the boat ride itself at most will take more than 4 hours. Therefore, it is highly recommended to buy a two-day tour, and stop at a one-day tour only if there is not enough time.
Excursions in the bay from Halong
The queue at the ticket office at the pier
If you have made your own way to Halong or Catba Island, you can easily buy a boat tour on the spot. The cost of a one-day excursion with stops at the main caves bought at the marina ticket office starts at VND 80,000 ($4). The tour usually includes lunch.
It is possible to buy a cruise for 2-3 days. These cruises may include an overnight stay on the boat or in a hotel on the island. Meals are usually included. Cruises cost from $35.
In general, the cost of a cruise when purchased locally varies greatly depending on the class of the boat and the greed of the tour reseller and your ability to haggle. Don’t be surprised if you share a cabin with someone who bought an excursion twice as expensive, or worse, cheaper. The cure for overpayment – buying tickets at the berth ticket office, well, or as a last resort, in a serious travel agency. Bailiffs in the tourist areas and on the pier – just resellers who will offer you a tour at three prices. So when you arrive in Halong, go straight to the ticket office. The only reason you can refuse to buy tickets at the ticket office – at times a long line. But be sure, despite all the assurances that you will be organized special unique tour, you will get exactly the same as when buying at the ticket office.
Bay tours from Hanoi
If you purchase a tour from Hanoi, you can choose a one-day excursion or a 2-3 day cruise. This option will in most cases be much better than a self-guided trip both in price and time. But it is not really worth taking a 3-day cruise, it is quite monotonous and almost no different than a 2-day cruise.
Approximate cost of tours from Hanoi (2018):
- One-day tour – from $40.
- Two-day tour (“romantic night on the boat”) – from $85.
- Three-day tour (two nights) – from $140.
Halong hotels, where to stay
You can stay in Halong or on Catba Island. For a longer stay is much more interesting is the island of Catba. The island is very beautiful, has several beaches, a national reserve, and a developed tourist area. However, there is a disadvantage – to get to the hotel area from the pier is quite far.
It is not so interesting to stay in Halong, because there is almost nothing to do in the city. Most cruises around the bay are organized from here, so it is worth a stop in Halong just to spend the night. The best place to stay is near Bai Chai Beach. Another great place is the island of Tuan Chau, connected to the mainland by a bridge. The island has an excellent beach and several hotels, most of which are obscenely expensive.
You can find and book accommodation in Halong on these sites or through the search form:
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