Halong – One of the tourist destinations in the northern region of Vietnam. With its beautiful ‘descending dragon’ Halong Bay, featuring numerous captivating caves and beaches, this is the famous tourist attractions in Halong that many travelers wish to visit. And the travel experiences in Halong below will surely enhance your journey to perfection.
What activities are there in Halong, where to go, what to eat, which hotel to choose? Why should you choose Halong as your holiday destination? What are the travel experiences in Halong, Quang Ninh, to truly enjoy your trip? All of these will be revealed in the comprehensive Halong travel guide provided by DanangPrivateCar.com!
Halong Bay: A UNESCO-Recognized Natural Marvel
Nestled in Quang Ninh province, approximately 180 km away from Hanoi, Halong City stands as the epitome of northern delight for travelers. Boasting a strategic location, modern infrastructure, and a well-connected transportation network, Halong City allures millions of tourists, both domestic and international, each year.
Encompassing an area of 1,553 square kilometers, Halong Bay is adorned with 1,900 limestone islands of diverse shapes and sizes. Acknowledged repeatedly by UNESCO as one of the world’s natural wonders, this bay is an essential destination for travelers, promising awe-inspiring scenic beauty and an unforgettable journey.
Why should you travel to Hạ Long Bay at least once in your lifetime?
Why should you choose Hạ Long as your travel destination? With the three reasons below, I believe everyone would want to pack their bags and go immediately.
- One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World: Being one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Hạ Long Bay is undoubtedly a dream destination for every traveler. Not only domestic tourists but also international visitors are amazed and captivated by the natural beauty here.
- Well-developed facilities and quality services: In recent years, Hạ Long has experienced rapid economic development. The comprehensive and high-quality infrastructure and facilities cater to the needs of tourists, offering a wide range of entertainment, relaxation, and shopping opportunities.
- Numerous interesting and attractive attractions and activities: In Hạ Long, you will have the opportunity to explore, experience, and enjoy various attractions and activities. Travelers often recommend not missing out on fascinating places such as Hạ Long Bay, the Old Quarter, night markets, Tuần Châu Island, and more.
Ideal Time to Visit Halong Bay
Halong Bay is stunning throughout the year, experiencing distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Summer and autumn, from May to October, offer beautiful weather with fewer rains, clear skies, and pleasant sunshine, making it ideal for exploration and sightseeing. Winter and spring, lasting from November to April, bring cold weather, drizzles, and fog. This period is perfect if you seek a serene retreat after hectic days, although warm clothing is essential for your trip during this time.
Travelers often prefer visiting Halong Bay during the summer, especially from April to June. During this period, the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, and there’s minimal impact from storms. Exploring Halong Bay during this time allows you to marvel at the beauty of thousands of limestone karsts, standing majestically like a colossal watercolor painting against the emerald waters.
From June to August, Halong Bay experiences its peak tourist season. It’s an excellent time for relaxation after busy study or work periods. Visiting Halong Bay in August not only offers the best weather but also provides the most attractive prices of the year for luxurious cruises.
In September and October, tropical depressions and storms can cause heavy rainfall, affecting sightseeing activities. If you plan to travel during this time, it’s advisable to limit swimming, beach activities, and water sports for a safe journey.
From November onwards, Halong Bay primarily welcomes foreign visitors. This period offers a private, tranquil paradise, especially when temperatures drop to sub-zero levels in many other countries.
How to get to and move around in Ha Long?
Ha Long is a crucial transportation hub in the Northern region of Vietnam. Therefore, road, water, and rail transportation are all well-developed here. Provinces in the North can reach Ha Long by car or train, while those in the South can fly to Ha Long via air travel. International travelers can fly to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and then take a taxi to Ha Long.
From Hanoi to Ha Long
The journey from Hanoi to Ha Long by car or motorcycle takes about 3 hours via three routes:
- Route 1 (165km): Hanoi – Highway 5B – Dinh Vu Port (Hai Phong) – Hai Phong Highway – Ha Long (the fastest route).
- Route 2 (155km): Hanoi (Highway 5) – Sai Dong Intersection (10km) => Sai Dong (Highway 1) – Bac Ninh (23km) => Bac Ninh (Highway 18) – Pha Lai – Chi Linh – Dong Trieu – Uong Bi – Ha Long (122km).
- Route 3 (160km): Hanoi (Noi Bai Airport Road) – Bac Ninh (32km) => National Highway 18A to Pha Lai – Sao Do – Dong Trieu – Uong Bi => Ha Long.
If you prefer a quick and convenient trip with door-to-door service, you can book a private car rental service with drivers in Hanoi from DanangPrivateCar.com. Their professional English-speaking drivers ensure you have the most comfortable journey. Book your private trip from Hanoi to Ha Long today to arrange a detailed schedule.
If you don’t want to worry about the route, you can take a bus. Buses from My Dinh Bus Station and Luong Yen Bus Station to Ha Long typically start their journeys at 6 AM and end around 5 PM. The journey takes about 3-4 hours, with buses arriving at Bai Chay Bus Station in Ha Long. The ticket prices for a seat range from around 100,000 VND per person to 200,000 VND per person for a sleeper seat.
If you enjoy train travel, you can choose the Ha Long Express train from Gia Lam Station. The journey to Ha Long takes approximately 5 hours and costs around 100,000 VND per person one way.
Can you please check out our article on how to travel from Hanoi to Halong?
Moving Around in Ha Long
In Ha Long, you can use taxis, motorbike taxis (xe om), and ride-hailing services like Grabbike and Grabcar. You can also take buses or opt for more freedom by renting a motorbike in Ha Long. If you want to explore Ha Long Bay, you can rent a boat or join organized Ha Long Bay cruises.
Where to Explore in Halong Bay?
Halong Bay not only attracts domestic and international tourists due to its UNESCO-recognized natural heritage but also offers many other beautiful destinations bestowed by nature or modern entertainment areas. A few days in Halong might not be enough to explore everything this city has to offer. Therefore, it’s a frequent destination for many travelers whenever they have the chance for a break. Every visit to Halong brings new changes, making it even more beautiful, offering more exploration opportunities, or simply allowing visitors to relax and enjoy the golden sandy beaches.
Here are some of the most suggested destinations for tourists in Halong:
Bai Chay Area
Designed with an artificial beach located on a 6km-long crescent-shaped island, Bai Chay boasts a beach that’s over 500m long and 100m wide. Due to its proximity to Halong Bay, it attracts a large number of tourists every year.
Benefiting from its fresh climate, well-planned infrastructure, and diverse entertainment services, Bai Chay successfully meets the various needs of different types of tourists.
Particularly, the 214ha Sun World Halong Park, located in Bai Chay, contributes significantly to promoting the development of tourism in the area.
Sun World Halong Park Complex: This extensive, modern, internationally acclaimed amusement park consists of two main areas: the seaside amusement area and the hilltop amusement area, both connected by a unique cable car system called the Queen’s Cable Car.
Sun World Complex offers tourists numerous choices, including Dragon Park with adventurous and thrilling games, the Vịnh Lốc Xoáy water park, Ba Đèo amusement area, designed with a Japanese architectural touch and featuring a Sun Wheel, an artificial beach, and an area dedicated to dining and shopping.
Halong Old Quarter: Known as the “Old Quarter,” this area is, in fact, a newly constructed street designed in a faux antique style, mimicking the ancient architecture of Hoi An and Hanoi Old Quarters. It’s located in Bai Chay and is bustling with restaurants and shops. The unique “old houses” here are ideal spots for young travelers to capture great photos during their Halong trip.
Halong Night Market: Situated on Halong Marine Plaza, the Halong Night Market is the most lively and vibrant night spot in Halong. With over 100 stalls selling various items, including clothes, shoes, souvenirs, and seafood specialties, this night market is a must-visit for both domestic and international tourists on their Halong tours.
Halong Bay, located on the western coast of the Gulf of Tonkin in northeastern Vietnam, covers an area of 1,553 square kilometers, comprising 1,969 islands of various sizes. As the focal point of all Halong tours, Halong Bay boasts stunning natural landscapes with hundreds of small and large limestone islets, many of which have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site and voted as one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
To admire the beauty of the bay, tourists can choose day cruises or overnight cruises on Halong Bay. These tours take visitors to prominent attractions such as Trong Mai Island, Mam Xoi Island, Lu Huong Island, as well as several caves and grottoes featuring magnificent stalactites and stalagmites. Travelers can also visit local fishing villages to learn about the lives and fishing activities of the local residents.
Here are some of the most visited caves and fishing villages in Halong Bay:
Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave: This famous cave has been open to visitors for a long time and is considered the most impressive cave in Halong Bay. After climbing 100 stone steps, tourists will be rewarded with the sight of stunning stalactites and stalagmites illuminated by colorful lights. The deepest part of the cave is known as the “royal garden,” where visitors can enjoy a crystal-clear pond and a diverse ecosystem.
Wooden Stakes Cave (Hang Đau Go): This is the largest limestone cave in Halong, with an estimated age of 2 million years. The cave features a unique system of limestone formations that sparkle in various colors when reflecting sunlight. The French once called this cave the “cave of wonders.”
Luon Cave (Hang Luon): Located 14km from Bai Chay, Luon Cave is a remarkable attraction situated on Bo Hon Island. Luon Cave was formed in a large circular mountain, creating a tranquil, emerald-green lake inside. The most exciting activity here is kayaking through the cave to admire the magical stalactites of different shapes and sizes, formed over millions of years.
Thien Cung Cave (Dong Thien Cung): Located near Wooden Stakes Cave, Thien Cung Cave is considered the most beautiful cave open to tourists. With an area of nearly 10,000 square meters, the cave is divided into multiple levels and chambers, featuring high, wide walls and ceilings. The beauty inside the cave resembles a heavenly palace, adorned with a variety of sparkling stalactites and stalagmites.
Hon Gai Area
If Bai Chay – Halong Bay is the entertainment center of Quang Ninh province, then Hon Gai City is the heart of the province, where cultural and social landmarks converge, making it an unmissable destination.
Poem Mountain (Nui Bai Tho): Rising over 200 meters, Poem Mountain offers panoramic views of the city. Formerly known as Truyen Dang, it was renamed Poem Mountain when King Le Thanh Tong, deeply moved by its natural beauty, inscribed a poem on its surface during his visit.
Quang Ninh Museum: Inaugurated in 2013, the Quang Ninh Museum features unique architecture inspired by coal – the characteristic mineral of the province. The museum exhibits a wide range of scientifically valuable artifacts, showcasing the province’s characteristics and its development throughout different periods.
Quan Lan Island
Quan Lan Island is located in Bai Tu Long Bay, covering an area of approximately 11 square kilometers. Stretching from the foot of Van Don Mountain to Got Mountain, the island is regarded as one of the few in Halong that preserves its untouched natural beauty.
Tuan Chau Island
Tuan Chau Island is a unique blend of land and limestone in the collection of 1,969 islands in Halong Bay. Halong tours promise to astonish visitors with the breathtaking natural scenery of Tuan Chau Island.
With crystal-clear blue waters surrounded by lush green pine forests and long stretches of white sandy beaches, the refreshing atmosphere has facilitated the island’s development into an ideal luxury resort destination.
Moreover, tourists can enjoy impressive water music performances featuring marine creatures performed by actors. Additionally, the renowned tourist area includes a large outdoor amusement park offering a variety of exciting games.
Apart from immersing in the clear blue waters and strolling on the long white sandy beaches, visitors to Quan Lan also have the opportunity to explore the local cultural and historical heritage through ancient temples on the island.
Here, you’ll encounter miniature replicas of world natural wonders, centrally located in the Tuan Chau Halong Park. You can also meet characters from fairy tales and folklore featured in works produced by Walt Disney.
Co To Island
Co To Island covers an area of about 47.3 square kilometers, consisting of 50 small and large islands. This place is often referred to as the exquisite emerald jewel of Halong. Every year, Co To attracts a large number of domestic and international tourists for leisure travel.
Nature has bestowed Co To with picturesque, poetic, and enchanting landscapes while maintaining a sense of simplicity. The green beaches, white clouds, golden sun, and soft white sand strips will immerse visitors in nature, relieving them of the burdens of the noisy city life.
Yen Tu Mountain
In your Halong tour from Hanoi, omitting Yen Tu Mountain would truly be a regrettable oversight. Since the time of King Tran Nhan Tong, who renounced the throne and donned the saffron robe, Yen Tu has become the spiritual center of Buddhism in Vietnam. He constructed numerous structures on the mountain for meditation, teaching, and propagation purposes.
Cai Bau Pagoda
Cai Bau Pagoda is constructed on the foundation of an ancient temple called Phuc Linh Tu, which has stood for over 700 years. With its unique architecture and a strategic location nestled against the mountains, facing the sea (Bai Tu Long Bay), Cai Bau Pagoda is likened to a picturesque landscape painting. Visitors there will experience an extraordinary sense of peace and tranquility.
What to Eat in Halong? Must-Try Delicacies in Halong
Cha Muc – Famous Halong Specialty
The first delicious dish to consider when wondering what to eat in Halong is Cha Muc. Cha Muc is a renowned specialty of Halong’s coastal area. These golden, fragrant squid cakes are meticulously and skillfully prepared. A bite into these cakes offers a delightful crispy texture and a sweet and savory flavor, especially when dipped in chili sauce or sweet and sour fish sauce.
If you want to buy this delicacy as a souvenir during your Halong trip, according to the experiences of many travelers, consider purchasing handmade Cha Muc from local Halong residents such as Ba Kien, Lang Chai, or Hien Nhung. They select the finest squids, blend them in a reasonable ratio, and use traditional recipes for processing. This ensures the Cha Muc is fragrant and crunchy.
Oc Xao Tuong – Delectable Halong Dish
Without betel leaves or cooking oil, people in Halong stir-fry snails with perilla, dried coconut, and lime leaves. The snail dipping sauce is made simply from the same chili sauce used for frying the snails.
Snails are cleaned, placed in a pot, seasoned, and boiled until steaming hot. When the aroma fills the air, they are removed from the heat. Stir-fried snails with sauce are crispy, tender, and slightly spicy, delighting every traveler.
Steamed King Crab Legs
King crab, with its large, meaty legs, is a popular choice in Halong. Although not as flavorful as regular crab meat, king crab meat is tasty and reasonably priced. Steamed king crab legs are a tempting dish many travelers choose to savor in Halong. Apart from steaming, you can also prepare king crab in various ways, such as sour tamarind soup, grilled, or stir-fried with glass noodles.
Halong Geoduck Clam
Geoduck clam is a highly valuable marine worm, with dried geoduck clam fetching a high price of 4-5 million VND per kilogram. When in Quang Ninh, do not miss trying special dishes made from geoduck clam such as crispy fried geoduck clam, grilled geoduck clam, geoduck clam stir-fried with water caltrop, or geoduck clam coated in crispy batter.
When buying dried geoduck clam as a gift, the travel experience of many tourists suggests choosing those with thick bodies and even sizes.
Grilled Oysters – Traditional Quang Ninh Dish
Grilled oysters with spring onion oil is a popular and beloved dish in Quang Ninh. The plump oysters are shucked and grilled on a charcoal stove, then topped with spring onion oil. When you hear the sizzling sound, add a few crushed peanuts, and you have an excellent snack.
horseshoe crab is another seafood delicacy in Halong that you shouldn’t miss. Famous horseshoe crab dishes include raw sea cucumber, stir-fried horseshoe crab with sweet and sour sauce, crispy fried horseshoe crab, steamed sea cucumber, grilled sea cucumber with betel leaves, and sea cucumber coated in crispy batter. Horseshoe crabare similar to sea slugs, so be careful not to confuse the two. Many people believe that to fully enjoy sea cucumber, you should eat both ends.
Cha Ruoi Halong
If you visit Halong in early winter, when the cold north wind blows, you’ll find fishermen going out to catch sandworms. This nutritious and aromatic delicacy is favored by many travelers. Cha Ruoi Halong are fried until golden and fragrant, with a crispy but not dry texture. Enjoying sandworm cakes with fresh herbs and noodles creates an unforgettable experience during your Halong trip.
Tai Long Eep Cake
Tai Long Eep cake is a delicacy of the San Diu people in Halong. The cake is made by mixing 7 parts glutinous rice, 3 parts regular rice, rock sugar, and melted cane sugar until the mixture is well combined. The result is a fragrant and chewy cake.
Halong Seafood Noodles
As a region known for its valuable seafood, Halong offers various dishes prepared with seafood. The rich and flavorful broth combined with tender, succulent crab meat, dried shrimp, and crispy squid cakes creates a delicious seafood noodle soup that captures the taste buds of every traveler.
WHERE TO STAY WHEN TRAVELING TO HALONG BAY?
When traveling to Halong Bay, you have various options for accommodation depending on your budget and preferences. Here are some common types of places to stay that you can consider when traveling to Halong Bay:
- Homestays: Homestays are a popular choice for those who want to experience local life. You can share a house with a local family and immerse yourself in their culture and lifestyle.
- Hostels: Hostels are suitable for budget travelers. They often provide shared dormitories at affordable prices, offering a great opportunity to meet and socialize with fellow travelers.
- 2-4 Star Hotels: Halong Bay offers many quality hotels ranging from 2 to 4 stars. These hotels come with modern amenities and excellent customer service. They are a common choice for travelers seeking a comfortable and convenient experience.
- Villas and Resorts: If you prefer luxury and privacy, villas and resorts are excellent options. These accommodations often feature high-end facilities, including private pools, restaurants, spas, and various entertainment activities.
- Booking Websites: You can use booking websites such as Booking.com, Agoda, or Airbnb to find accommodations that suit your needs. On these websites, you can compare prices, read reviews from previous guests, and choose a place to stay based on your budget and user ratings.
Detailed Itinerary Suggestions for Halong Bay Travel.
To fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty and stunning landscapes of Halong Bay, consider the following detailed itineraries for a memorable trip!
One-Day Halong Bay Tour
- 8:30 AM: Depart for Halong Bay.
- 12:00 PM: Explore Halong Bay by tourist boat and enjoy lunch on board. During the cruise, visit attractions such as Thiencung Cave, Stone Dog Islet, Lu Huong Islet, Fighting Cock Islet, and Cua Van Fishing Village.
- 4:30 PM: Return to the harbor, concluding the 4-hour cruise. Depart for Hanoi.
Two Days and One Night Halong Bay Itinerary
Day 1: Check-In, Explore Tuanchau Island
- Morning: Travel to Halong Bay, check in at the hotel.
- Afternoon: Explore Tuanchau Island with various exciting activities.
- Evening: Enjoy dinner on a boat or explore the night market and old town in Halong.
Day 2: Explore Halong Bay
- Morning: Take a boat trip to explore Halong Bay.
- Afternoon: Check out from the hotel and depart for your next destination.
Three Days and Two Nights Halong Bay Itinerary
Day 1: Check-In, Halong Bay Exploration
- Morning: Travel to Halong Bay, check in at the hotel.
- Afternoon: Take a boat trip to explore Halong Bay.
- Evening: Explore Halong Bay at night.
Day 2: Explore Tuanchau Island, Relax at Bai Chay Beach
- Morning: Enjoy activities on Tuanchau Island.
- Afternoon: Relax and swim at Bai Chay Beach.
- Evening: Shop at the night market and explore the old town in Halong.
Day 3: Visit the Fish Market in the Early Morning, Check-Out
- Morning: Visit the Halong Fish Market, buy local seafood products as souvenirs.
- Noon: Check out from the hotel and bid farewell to Halong.
What to Prepare for Halong Bay Travel?
Based on my experience in Halong Bay, here are some essential items you should consider packing:
- Sunscreen: Sunscreen is a must-have item, especially for outdoor activities in Halong Bay. Most of the attractions are outdoors, and frequent movement is necessary. Forgetting sunscreen might result in sunburn after a few days of exploration.
- Sunglasses, Hat, Flip-Flops: Halong Bay can be quite sunny and hot during the summer. It’s advisable to bring sunglasses, a hat, and comfortable flip-flops to facilitate your movements and enjoyment.
- Swimwear: Visiting Halong Bay without experiencing its beaches is a significant missed opportunity. Remember to pack a few sets of swimwear that you like.
- Personal Documents: Anywhere you travel, personal documents are essential. They will assist you in tasks such as renting a room, hiring a vehicle, and more. Ensure you have your ID, passport, or any necessary travel documents.
- Electronic Devices: Of course, electronic devices such as cameras, laptops, and smartphones are indispensable for any trip. Halong Bay offers numerous picturesque spots perfect for photography, so make sure your devices are fully charged to capture those incredible moments.
Ha Long Bay is a tourist destination that attracts millions of tourists every year. To prepare best for this trip, you can refer to the travel experiences in Ha Long Bay shared by DanangPrivateCar.com here. Wishing you and your family an interesting and impressive journey at Ha Long Bay! And don’t forget to choose our transportation services for the best travel experience.