Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay, also known as Hạ Long Bay, is a world-renowned destination and one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist attractions. Each year, over 6 million visitors embark on wooden junks to explore the bay’s wonders. Let’s Discover Vietnam discover together!

Recognizing its exceptional value, Ha Long Bay was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Since then, it has become a must-visit destination for travelers worldwide, residing at the pinnacle of their bucket lists.

Ha Long Bay from above
Ha Long Bay from above

What sets Halong Bay apart is its collection of more than 2,000 limestone islands and islets emerging from the glistening waters. These formations vary from majestic karsts with intricate caves to picturesque tiny islets embraced by white-sand beaches.

To embark on your Halong Bay adventure, you’ll start from Ha Noi, the capital city of Vietnam. However, planning your journey from Ha Noi to Ha Long Bay can be overwhelming. This comprehensive guide aims to equip you with the knowledge to tackle Ha Long Bay like a pro and ensure an unforgettable experience. It covers three main aspects:

  • Ha Noi to Halong Bay day tours: Great if you have limited time and are traveling on a budget
  • Halong Bay overnight cruises: The best way to see the bay, provided you have the time and funds
  • Halong Bay DIY trips from Ha Noi: Explore various transportation options such as bus, train, van, or car for a self-guided adventure.
Traditional style cruise in Ha Long Bay
Traditional style cruise in Ha Long Bay

Where is Ha Long Bay?

This is a breathtaking destination, situated along the northern coast of Vietnam. It falls within Quảng Ninh Province, sharing its border with China. The bustling city nearest to Ha Long Bay is Ha Long City (Thành phố Hạ Long).

The majority of boat tours and cruises commence from the Ha Long Bay cruise port, also referred to as Tuan Chau Gateway. This port is conveniently located on Tuần Châu Island, a mere 13 kilometers or a 20-minute drive from Ha Long City via a land bridge.

The heart of Halong Bay, where boats navigate through the majestic karsts, providing ample opportunities for capturing stunning photographs, lies approximately 20 kilometers offshore from the port.

Ha Long Bay - Vietnam
Ha Long Bay – Vietnam

How far away is Ha Long Bay from Ha Noi?

Located approximately 153 kilometers (95 miles) from Hanoi, the vibrant capital city of Vietnam, Tuan Chau Island serves as the gateway to the magnificent Halong Bay.

How long does it take to get from Ha Noi to Ha Long Bay?

The bustling capital city of Hanoi and the enchanting Ha Long Bay are easily accessible thanks to the modern and efficient 5B Highway, widely recognized as one of Vietnam’s top-quality roads. This well-developed region benefits from excellent infrastructure, thanks in part to the thriving tourism industry and the presence of Hai Phong, the main seaport in Northern Vietnam.

If you’re traveling by car or van, the journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay usually takes about 2.5 to 3 hours on average. This includes a convenient restroom break halfway through, resulting in a total travel time of approximately 3.5 hours. Taking a bus typically ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 hours, while the train ride takes around 7 hours to reach the captivating Halong Bay from Hanoi.

The turquoise color of sea water in Ha Long Bay
The turquoise color of sea water in Ha Long Bay

How long do you need in Ha Long Bay?

When planning a trip to Halong Bay, most people opt for a stay of either 1 or 2 nights. If you have the time and flexibility in your budget, Let’s Discover Vietnam highly recommends staying for 2 nights. This was the choice we made during our first visit to Vietnam.

By staying for 2 nights, you’ll have a full day dedicated to cruising the bay, allowing you to immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery without the need for bus or car travel. This day in between provides a wonderful opportunity to unwind and fully appreciate the landscape.

Furthermore, a longer stay means your junk boat can venture deeper into the bay. As you sail further away, the surroundings become more pristine and stunning, as the pollution decreases. It’s truly a remarkable experience to witness the increasing beauty the further you go.

Can you visit Ha Long Bay as a day trip from Ha Noi

Certainly, you can visit Ha Long Bay on a day trip from Hanoi. Opting for a day trip is a suitable choice if you have limited time or are mindful of your expenses. However, it’s important to note that a significant portion of your day will be dedicated to traveling in a car. Unfortunately, you will miss the opportunity to wake up amidst the stunning karsts, which was personally the most memorable aspect of our Ha Long Bay experience.

Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay

Is Bai Tu Long Bay the same as Ha Long Bay?

Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay are neighboring bays that offer distinct experiences. When you examine the map, you’ll notice that Bai Tu Long Bay wraps around the northern coastline of Vietnam, located northeast of Ha Long Bay. A third bay, Lan Ha Bay, can be found to the west of Ha Long Bay, nestled beside the forested Cat Ba Island.

In recent times, Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay have gained popularity as alternative destinations to Halong Bay. All three bays boast the striking presence of karst formations and captivating caves, yet each possesses its own unique charm.

Bai Tu Long Bay often has stricter regulations on the number of boats allowed, resulting in a more serene and tranquil atmosphere. It is also comparatively more remote and less affected by pollution. Lan Ha Bay attracts a specific crowd, particularly backpackers and budget travelers, and offers additional activities on Cat Ba Island.

Many Ha Long Bay cruises incorporate a visit to Bai Tu Long Bay as part of their itinerary. Alternatively, Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island can be explored separately, with access from Hai Phong. For further information, refer to the section on Ha Long Bay alternatives.

How to visit Halong Bay from Hanoi

The main attraction that draws people to Halong Bay is the opportunity to cruise among the magnificent karsts on a traditional junk boat.

To embark on a junk boat experience, you’ll need to book a tour. This can be done in advance online or in person in Hanoi or Ha Long. There is a wide range of tour operators available, varying in quality and price. Let’s Discover Vietnam will provide more details on this later, but for now, it’s important to know that the majority of Ha Long Bay cruises include transfers between your hotel in Hanoi and Halong Bay. This transportation is either included in the package price or can be arranged upon booking.

In other words, if you choose to book a tour package – which we highly recommend – your transportation to Halong Bay will be taken care of automatically. There are two main tour options to consider, depending on your budget and time constraints:

  • Halong Bay day tour from Hanoi
  • Halong Bay overnight cruise from Hanoi, with options for 1 or 2 nights.

However, there are circumstances where you might prefer to travel independently from Hanoi to Halong Bay. This could be the case if:

  • You prefer a private transfer instead of the standard transfer provided in the tour package (in this situation, you can arrange a private car with a driver).
  • Your tour package offers transportation as an optional add-on, and you are looking for a more affordable alternative.
  • You are on a tight budget and wish to organize your cruise in the most cost-effective way possible (in this case, you can consider using a limousine bus, public bus, or train).
  • You plan to stay in Ha Long City.
  • You want to visit Sun World Park and experience the cable car before exploring Ha Long Bay.
Sunsent in Ha Long Bay
Sunsent in Ha Long Bay

Recommended Ha Long Bay day tours

I’ve taken care of the research and compiled a list of reputable day tours to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. These tours offer well-planned itineraries, have received excellent reviews, and are operated by reputable companies. Additionally, all tours provide an English-speaking guide to ensure a smooth experience.

Here’s the top choice: Halong Bay Cruise Day Tour

Inclusions: Kayaking, short hike, lunch on the water, sunset drink on the boat

Travelers love: Attentive staff, great organization, excellent food

Price: Starting from $56 per person

This Vietnam Tonkin Travel tour is highly regarded, boasting over 500 customer reviews and a five-star rating. The full-day tour begins with convenient hotel pick-up from Hanoi Old Quarter. Transportation to the marina is provided by bus, but you also have the option to arrange your own transportation and meet the group at the pier. If you choose this option, the cost of the van transfer (approximately $20) will be deducted from the overall price.

Once on board the air-conditioned junk, you’ll embark on a scenic cruise through both Ha Long and Lan Ha Bays, accompanied by a delectable seafood lunch. The tour includes visits to Ha Long Surprise Cave and Titop Island for breathtaking views. Exciting activities such as kayaking (included in the price), swimming, a gentle trek on Cat Ba Island, and a Vietnamese cooking demonstration are also part of the itinerary.

As the day comes to an end, you’ll witness a mesmerizing sunset on the boat before heading back to Hanoi. With transfers included and a price tag of under $60 per person, this tour offers exceptional value for money.

Let’s travel Vietnam and find more information details below

Enjoy your moment – Fun with vacation – Back inner soul

W: letsdiscovervietnam.com

E: letsdiscovervietnam@gmail.com

L: HCMC, Vietnam

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