Ha Long Bay Travel Guide – A local insight [2024]

Situated in the Northeast region of Vietnam, within Quang Ninh province and approximately 160 km from the capital city of Hanoi, Halong Bay stands as a breathtaking natural wonder. This bay is an intricate network of fabled islands, boasting over 1,969 islets scattered across its expansive waters. Characterized by two distinct types, Limestone and Slabs, these geological formations contribute to the enchanting scenery that defines Halong Bay. The area is adorned with numerous sandy beaches and caves, featuring a total of about 40 caves and grottos, with 20 of them accessible to tourists.

Beyond Halong Bay, the adjacent Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay are equally renowned for their captivating beauty. Notably, Lan Ha Bay & Cat Ba Island (Hai Phong province) have earned recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site, further enhancing their allure.

Things to know

  • Opt for a cruise experience to truly uncover the beauty of Halong Bay. You can explore Halong Bay on a day cruise or overnight cruise (1 night & 2 nights).. A 2-day, 1-night cruise is recommended to allow ample time for a thorough exploration of the bay. If your schedule permits, extending your stay to 2 nights is highly advisable.
  • When selecting the timing for your Halong Bay cruise, be cautious of the summer months, which can bring unpredictable and potentially disruptive weather conditions, leading to cruise cancellations.
  • The best time to visit Halong Bay is Spring and Autumn (March, April, September, and October) offers the most idyllic conditions for a Halong Bay tour. Expect mild temperatures, clear skies, and ideal activity levels.
  • Explore alternatives such as Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay, which offer equally stunning landscapes.
The beautiful sunset scene on Halong Bay.
The beautiful sunset scene on Halong Bay.

Getting to Halong Bay

Most travelers visit Halong Bay from Hanoi, the capital city and the hub of tourist activities in North Vietnam.

If you travel from other regions in the South (Ho Chi Minh City) or Central area (Da Nang – Hoi An), you can get to Halong Bay by taking flights to Van Don Airport (Quang Ninh Province) or Cat Bi Airport (Hai Phong province)

Airports near Halong Bay

  • Noi Bai Airport (Hanoi Airport): 165km to Halong Bay, 3.5-hour transfer by car
  • Cat Bi Airport (Hai Phong Airport): 40km to Halong Bay, 45 minutes – 1 hour driving time
  • Van Don Airport (50 km from Halong Bay), 1-hour driving time

Van Don Airport (Quang Ninh province)

Bus Transportation from Hanoi to Halong Bay (160km – 2.5 hours):

Shuttle bus and Private car:

  • A most popular mode of transport, taking 2.5 – 3 hours
  • Limousine bus (9 seats, 11 seats, 19 seats & 22 seats). The limousine bus
  • Cruise packages often include a shuttle bus with pick-up and drop-off at hotels in Hanoi Old Quarter and nearby.

Bai Tho Junks offers the limousine bus transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay, with spacious bus, and comfortable seats for a convenient transfer to Halong Bay.

Limousine bus Hanoi - Halong Bay
Limousine bus Hanoi – Halong Bay

The interior seat of limousine bus from Hanoi to Halong Bay


  • Fastest mode of transport, taking just 45 minutes to arrive in Halong Bay.
  • However, requires travel time from Hanoi center to Noi Bai Airport for check-in, and the cost is higher than a standard shuttle bus.
  • Seaplanes in Halong Bay.
Seaplane to Halong Bay
Seaplane to Halong Bay


  • Not recommended for either tourists or locals.
  • Inconvenient and mostly used by locals for transporting goods.

Other ways to reach Halong Bay:

Many tourists visit Halong Bay from Ninh Binh or Hai Phong

  • From Ninh Binh, take a private car or limousine bus for up to 3.5 hours transfer, for a distance of 200km
  • From Hai Phong, take a private car or bus for 45 minutes transfer
  • From Cat Ba Island, take a ferry from Gia Luan Port (Cat Ba Island) to Tuan Chau Island (Halong City) or join a day boat from Lan Ha Bay (Cat Ba Island) to Halong Bay

Weather in Halong Bay

Halong Bay, adorned with nearly 2,000 emerald-rimmed limestone pillars rising from jade-green waters, is a must-visit for countless travelers. Northern Vietnam experiences four distinct seasons, and Halong Bay showcases unique charms in each.

  • Spring (March – April), enjoy pleasant weather, sunny skies, fewer crowds, and ideal conditions for photography.
  • Summer (May – September) brings a lush bay with occasional downpours, reduced prices, refreshing water activities, and a unique stormy spectacle.
  • Autumn (October – November) offers a golden season with sunny days, occasional drizzle, peak season crowds, and festive celebrations.
  • Winter (December – February) brings a cool and misty atmosphere, festive Lunar New Year traditions, and a magical, fairytale-like backdrop for your Halong Bay adventure.
Halong Bay, Nature's Masterpiece
Halong Bay, Nature’s Masterpiece

The best time to visit Halong Bay

For the most breathtaking views of the scenery, it is recommended to plan your visit during warm and sunny weather. Ideal periods to experience these optimal conditions are from March to May and September to November. During these months, you can expect dry and sunny weather, although temperatures may be slightly cooler compared to the peak summer months and not búy with domestic tourists

More details: https://baithojunks.com/best-time-to-visit-halong-bay/

Exciting experience when paddling a bamboo boat on Ha Long Bay
Exciting experience when paddling a bamboo boat on Ha Long Bay

Treasure Junk, Bai Tu Long Bay

Which itinerary to choose

1-day cruise

Embark on a day trip cruise designed to offer a brief yet captivating glimpse of the stunning landscapes of Halong Bay. Day cruises are categorized as either half-day (4 hours or 6 hours) or full-day (8 hours) excursions. Opting for a day cruise is ideal if you have limited time, allowing you to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay and back within a single day; however, we strongly recommend booking an overnight cruise for a more comprehensive experience.

During a day cruise, you can explore renowned attractions in Halong Bay, such as Sung Sot Cave and Titop Island, or engage in activities like kayaking and bamboo boat rides in Luon Cave. Additionally, you have the opportunity to visit floating villages and partake in various activities, with lunch provided on board as part of the day cruise program.

Luon cave , mysterious and pristine beauty
Luon Cave is a mysterious and pristine beauty

2 day 1 night cruise

Embark on the most popular 2-day, 1-night cruise to marvel at the breathtaking natural beauty of Halong Bay within a limited timeframe. This itinerary not only unveils the beauty of thousands of limestone islands and islets but also offers engaging outdoor activities, including wild beach swimming, island kayaking, and exploring a captivating cave within the bay.

Throughout the tour, you’ll enjoy almost 24 hours aboard the cruise, with bus transfers from Hanoi to Halong Bay and back, each transfer lasting approximately 3 hours. The comprehensive package covers four meals, onboard experiences like dining, Tai Chi, sunset parties, cooking classes, and spa treatments, as well as outdoor activities such as kayaking, swimming, island visits, and cave exploration.

3 day 2night cruise

Embark on an ideal 3 day 2 night cruise to explore the beauty of Halong Bay and immerse yourself in the local lifestyle at a leisurely pace. Your journey includes visits to a captivating cave, adventurous kayaking, and an exploration of a pear farm.

Revel in the marvels of nature as you delve into this enchanting experience, spending two unforgettable nights in the majestic bay. As part of the itinerary, cruise operators will arrange a day boat excursion to discover Lan Ha Bay on the second day, seamlessly returning to the main boat in the afternoon.

Where to visit in Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Explore the essence of Halong Bay with the central route, a journey that encapsulates its renowned landmarks and cultural gems.

Embark on a captivating cruise through the enchanting waters of Halong Bay, where an array of limestone karsts and islets stand tall, creating an extraordinary landscape that has gained global recognition. Delve into the depths of Sung Sot Cave, one of the bay’s largest and most impressive caverns, adorned with intricate stalactite and stalagmite formations for a truly mesmerizing experience.

Venture to Titov Island, named in honor of a Russian astronaut, and be treated to panoramic views of Halong Bay from its summit. Ascend the steps to the viewpoint and be greeted with breathtaking vistas of the surrounding karst landscape and glistening waters.

The central route ensures a plethora of water activities for enthusiasts. Glide through hidden lagoons, beaches, and secluded corners of the bay on a kayak, or take a refreshing swim in the immaculate waters. Alternatively, unwind on sandy beaches, soaking in the natural beauty that surrounds you.

A panoramic view of Ha Long Bay from Bai Tho Mountain
A panoramic view of Ha Long Bay from Bai Tho Mountain

Bai Tu Long Bay

Explore the unspoiled wonders of Bai Tu Long Bay, an untouched gem within Halong Bay. This tranquil destination offers a genuine connection with nature, providing a serene escape from the bustling tourist hubs. Sail through crystalline waters enveloped by majestic limestone karsts and emerald islets, immersing yourself in the pristine beauty of Bai Tu Long Bay.

Discover the enchanting Thien Canh Son Cave, a showcase of nature’s artistry with its breathtaking stalactite and stalagmite formations. Dive into the local way of life at Vung Vieng Fishing Village, where amiable fishermen share their unique bond with the sea. Take time to unwind on pristine beaches or embark on a tranquil cruise through secluded bays, reveling in the untouched splendor that surrounds you.

For the adventurous souls, hidden lagoons, caves, and coves await exploration in the off-the-beaten-path corners of Cong Dam and Cong Do. Join the Treasure Junk on Bai Tu Long Bay and experience the tranquility of Halong Bay’s routes to Bai Tu Long. Immerse yourself in its cultural richness, creating memories that will last a lifetime!

Bai Tu Long Bay

Lan Ha  Bay

Lan Ha Bay, situated to the south of Halong Bay and within Hai Phong province, offers a serene escape into unspoiled natural beauty. Allow the tranquil waters of Lan Ha Bay to sway you gently as you immerse yourself in the enchanting symphony of limestone mountains and lush islands.

Discover pristine beaches and enigmatic coves in the secluded paradises of Lan Ha Bay, where time seems to stand still, and tranquility prevails.

Embark on kayaking adventures to explore the mysterious lagoons and caves of Lan Ha Bay. Glide through narrow passageways, marvel at stunning rock formations, and submerge yourself in the hidden wonders of this ethereal paradise.

Take a leisurely bamboo boat ride to Bright Cave, a serene journey to explore an 80-meter-long cave and be captivated by a charming lagoon surrounded by limestone karsts. Row through the tranquil waters and let the beauty of Lan Ha Bay unfold before you.

Experience on Halong Bay


Kayaking is the best outdoor experience in Halong Bay. Many tour operators provide the opportunity to engage in kayaking directly from the boat. Experiencing the freedom to paddle at your leisure, taking refreshing swims in the vibrant turquoise waters, and discovering colorful fish is truly unparalleled. This immersive activity allows you to intimately connect with the towering limestone cliffs, gaining a unique perspective on their immense scale. It’s a remarkable encounter with one of nature’s captivating wonders!

kayaking in Bai Tu Long Bay
kayaking in Bai Tu Long Bay
kayaking in Vinh Lan Ha Bay
kayaking in Vinh Lan Ha Bay

Island Visit

Navigate through one of the numerous islands via boat, pausing only to unwind on the quaint, secluded beaches or observe the playful monkeys. Most of these islands remain uninhabited, creating an authentic deserted island ambiance. Titop Island is one of the islands that you can explore for beach and hiking to the top for a panoramic view of Halong Bay

Take stunning photos of Ha Long Bay from Bai Tho Mountain
Take stunning photos of Ha Long Bay from Bai Tho Mountain

Cave exploring

Among the limestone formations, numerous astonishing caves await exploration. The majority of these caverns boast impressive dimensions and feature both stalagmites and stalactites as Sung Sot Cave, Thien Cung Cave, Thien Canh Son Cave

Moreover, certain caves are exclusively reachable by water (Luon Cave, Bright Cave) providing adventurers with the chance to kayak beneath limestone arches and venture into concealed realms beyond. Most cruise packages incorporate kayaking and cave exploration.


Exploring the Titop Islands or Hon Co Island (Bai Tu Long Bay) offers a fantastic opportunity for hiking, an exhilarating activity. The trails provide the chance to ascend to elevated vantage points, allowing you to enjoy breathtaking panoramic vistas of the bay.

Pearl Farm

For many years, local communities have sustained themselves through the cultivation of pearls from the ocean. Embark on a visit to a Halong Bay pearl farm, where the captivating process of pearl harvesting unfolds before your eyes—an extraordinary and immersive experience. The most visited pearl farm is in Vung Vieng floating village and Halong Pearl

paddling a kayak to visit the pearl farm
paddling a kayak to visit the pearl farm

Floating village

Exploring a vibrant floating village in Ha Long Bay is an essential experience for any traveler’s agenda. For generations, fishermen have inhabited these enchanting floating communities, coexisting harmoniously with the water. Witness, fishermen humming tunes while drifting on the serene waters, and lively, colorful houses gently swaying to the rhythm of the nature. There are some floating village in Halong Bay: Cua Van floating village, Vung Vieng floating village, Cai Beo floating village (Cat Ba island)


Biking has gained immense popularity as a means of discovering the islands. Cat Ba Island, for instance, offers a variety of cycling trails that wind through dense forests, vibrant green rice paddies, and stunning expansive coastal paths. It’s a fantastic way to explore the land and immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings.

On-Board Activities

On various cruises, you can partake in the following activities and services:

  • Morning Taichi: Embrace the tranquility of dawn on the cruise’s upper deck, where you can engage in spiritual practices such as Tai Chi or yoga while witnessing the sun ascend over the enchanting landscape.
  • Cooking class: Delve into the art of Vietnamese cuisine by joining a cooking class led by the onboard chef. This hands-on experience allows you to savor local ingredients and acquire valuable culinary skills, making it an ideal opportunity to bring a taste of Vietnam home with you.
  • Sunset Party: Enjoy the best moment of the day with cocktails and some snacks, watching the sunset over Halong Bay from the sundeck of a cruising boat.
  • Spa & Massage Services: For those seeking relaxation after a day filled with kayaking and exploration, select upscale cruises offer spa and wellness facilities to rejuvenate your body and mind.
  • Sun-soaked Decks: Bask in the sun on the open decks, where, depending on the cruise’s destination, you may also have the chance to unwind and swim on sandy beaches nestled among the islands.
  • Nigh-squid fishing: The fishing excursion typically begins around 08:30, following dinner. The crew will provide fishing rods, baits, and lights, and guide you in the process of catching squid. Patience is key during this engaging activity.

Food on Halong Bay Cruise

Indulge in a culinary adventure while cruising through Halong Bay. Your cruise package includes a delightful array of meals, with 4 meals for a 2-day, 1-night cruise, and 7 meals for a 3-day, 2-night cruise. The chefs skillfully blend Vietnamese and Western flavors and cooking techniques, offering a surprising and delightful gastronomic journey. Savor the finest locally caught seafood, meats, and seasonally fresh produce. Whether you opt for a set menu or buffet, it would be a nice experience with Vietnamese food.

Upon request, we offer a personalized menu crafted to accommodate various dietary preferences, including vegan and gluten-free options…

Check out the Menu of Bai Tho Junks here 

Where to stay in Halong Bay

On a cruise

Explore the captivating islets and magical grottos of Halong Bay effortlessly by embarking on a cruise, providing an intimate encounter with its attractions. Cruise operators present all-inclusive packages that encompass transportation, meals, and attraction fees, streamlining your travel expenses and saving time on transfers between accommodations and points of interest.

Choose from a variety of cruise options, ranging from day trips to extended 5-day adventures. Customize your cruise experience for an unforgettable journey through the stunning bays of Halong and Lan Ha Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay. Immerse yourself in the best of both worlds aboard a luxurious 5-star cruise, discovering the enchanting landscapes of these picturesque locations.

At a hotel

Halong City boasts a diverse range of accommodation options designed to cater to the varied preferences of travelers. Guests have the opportunity to experience opulent stays at renowned hotels such as Vinpearl Resort & Spa Halong, Novotel Halong, Watson Premium, and Citadines Halong….

Alternatively, they can revel in the inviting comfort of charming guesthouses or immerse themselves in the local culture through authentic homestays. Budget-conscious visitors can opt for hostels. It is recommended to consider the proximity to attractions for a convenient and enjoyable stay.

Additionally, many accommodations offer breathtaking views of the bay, allowing guests to delight in the beauty of Halong directly from their lodgings.

On Cat Ba island

Numerous islands provide lodging options in Halong Bay, and among them, Cat Ba Island stands out as a compelling choice. This destination boasts an extensive array of accommodations, including hotels, hostels, and resorts.

Cat Ba island.
Cat Ba island.

Opting to stay here not only grants you access to diverse lodging options but also allows you to take advantage of the island’s ample size, offering a plethora of activities to engage in. Whether you’re interested in organizing a boat trip or savoring freshly caught seafood at local restaurants, Cat Ba Island provides convenient access to pier facilities, scooter rentals, and proximity to attractions like Cat Ba National Park.

1 thoughts on “Ha Long Bay Travel Guide – A local insight [2024]

  1. Tom Roose says:

    Hello! We were wondering if you still have availability for a cruise starting from 08/04, for 2 nights (2 person). And what the prices are?

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