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Hanoi to Halong Bay: Is Halong Bay Really Worth Visiting?

Get To Halong Bay from Hanoi

Looking to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay?

I have everything you need in this guide for an easy and safe journey!

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Vietnam’s most popular sights. A stunning collection of 2,000 limestone islands rising up out of the waters off the coast, these karst formations are filled with caves and surrounded by white-sand beaches.

Halong Bay is Vietnam’s most renowned destination for travellers wanting to take a cruise on a traditional wooden junk boat. These are truly remarkable boats that only give you a tiny taste of the majestic beauty that lies ahead.

Halong Bay in North Vietnam is one of the world’s most stunning natural wonders, a photographer’s paradise of emerald waters fringed by limestone karsts and floating islands. Board a comfortable boat for this remarkable cruise, anchored at night to keep you safe from the dangers that lurk in the dark, while illuminated by fairy lights and lanterns.

More useful Vietnam Travel route guides;

How far away is Halong Bay from Hanoi?

Tuan Chau island is located roughly 95 miles northeast of Hanoi (the capital) and 153km from Halong City, where most cruise ships dock and where transfer boats are available.

How long does it take to get from Hanoi to Halong Bay?

The Hanoi-Halong Bay Expressway, which was finished in 2008, is the best road between these two points. Partly because of tourism and partly because Hai Phong is a major seaport, the cities have very good infrastructure.

If you asked someone else, they might tell you about the new bridge that “isn’t as scary or curvy as the Dragon Bridge anymore” or that “they now have plenty of new hotels and bigger buses to keep up with demand.” But if you ask us, we’ll tell you how long it takes to travel;

  • It takes between 2.5 and 3 hours to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay by car or van
  • By bus, it takes between 3.5 and 4.5 hours
  • And by train, it takes 7 hours to get to Halong from Hanoi

Halong Bay

How long do you need in Halong Bay?

Halong Bay is one of the 7 wonders of the world. In Vietnam, many tourists are visiting Halong Bay by cruise ships or junk boats. For most of these visitors, it is easy to have only 1 day on the cruise ship and enjoying the view of Halong Bay landscape.

However, if you have a little bit more time, we strongly recommend spending 2 nights on two (or three) different boats so that you can have enough time to explore the bay and even swim with the thousands of colorful fishes living in this beautiful area.”

For example, there is one tour company that only offers 1 night on the boat. With them, I would be on a bus for most of the day and not get to see much of Halong Bay. This means having less time to relax, sleep and enjoy what deserves to be enjoyed.

If you have time, it’s also worth considering the budget benefits of spending 2 nights on Halong Bay. It costs less than half the price to book a 2-night cruise than it does for a 1-night cruise, due to the number of meals provided and activities included.

If you are on a budget, I highly recommend spending 1 night on the boat. Either way you will see more than enough during your 1-day cruise in Halong Bay. In fact, most of the tourists only spend one night on the boat before taking an early morning longtail boat to Cat Ba Island.

The most important factor when considering how long to stay in Halong Bay is your budget. The average price for a 2 night 3 day cruise with the average boat is around US$200USD, and the time of year in which you travel.

Is Halong Bay worth visiting?

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so. It’s one of the most stunning landscapes on planet Earth. And with 400 or so spectacular limestone islands of varying sizes dotting the mouth of a meandering river, you can find almost any type of paradise island imaginable: from secluded beaches, to luxury-spa style retreats, to small Halong homestays, to former pirate islands and even an island featuring a huge natural cave.

Though development of Halong Bay has been poorly managed, it’s still more than worth visiting. This UNESCO site has to be seen to be believed – no photos or films can do it justice.

If you go to Vietnam, Halong Bay is worth seeing. Every Vietnam travel itinerary should include a visit to Halong.

Things to do in Halong Bay

To help you decide what you want to do on Halong Bay, here is a rough breakdown of all the activities that are available. Note that any visit to the bay is still incomplete without a night or two spent on a boat – be it a luxury junk or a simple fishing boat.

In many ways, visiting Halong Bay is all about the boat trip. Your tour will take you around Cat Ba Island (in Bai Chay District), a popular place for hiking and kayaking. After collecting your group from the dock, the junk departs for an hour-long journey to the heart of Halong Bay.

Here, you’ll get up early and explore by kayak or motorboat through the emerald waters. Kayaking lets you explore caves and remote areas untouched by pollution, but be prepared to splash!

Halong Bay is the jewel of Vietnamese tourism. Here, emerald waters mingle with jagged limestone mountains and turquoise caves that are sure to take your breath away. To help you to decide on the best way to experience Halong Bay we’ve put together a quick guide which will see you step-by-step through the logistics of a typical day thanks to our roving reporter, Orlando.

Halong Bay boasts a rich and varied range of attractions. You can expect to witness a breathtaking rope-swinging performance at Cat Ba National Park, awe-inspiring rock formations atop Hai Pai Peak, explore the depths of ancient caves, indulge in the pleasures of a day spa treatment on board the Halong Paradise Cruise or if you prefer an active day out then you can hike up to the top of Uncle Tom’s Hill and discover the more remote and unspoilt parts of Halong Bay.

Halong Bay is home to over 1,600 islands, many of which are uninhabited and barely explored. Many have yet to be given names. The diversity of the islands — some are forested; others barren rocks — creates a landscape unique in the world. The emerald green waters and dramatic rock formations make Halong Bay one of the most picturesque natural areas in Southeast Asia.

On any given day you can watch the sun rise over emerald waters, take a cooking class on a floating village, try your hand at fishing and even help release baby turtles into the sea.

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hanoi to Halong Bay

You can check out my other Vietnam travel guides here.

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