A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Gulf of Tonkin, Halong Bay is renowned for its spectacular scenery. One of the most popular tourist attractions in northern Vietnam, Halong Bay is known for its sparkling emerald waters, more than 1,600 towering limestone islands and islets, caves, and traditional floating villages.
The most popular way to visit Halong Bay is on a combination guided tour and boat cruise. Those with limited time can visit on a day tour from Hanoi, which typically includes a few hours cruising Halong Bay, stops at a handful of islands and caves, swimming or kayaking, and a seafood lunch. For a more in-depth experience, opt for an overnight or multi-day cruise, spending at least one night aboard a traditional junk boat or a luxury ship, enjoying onboard activities like a cooking class or squid fishing. Not only will you be able to experience at least one magical sunset and sunrise, but you can head to attractions such as Cat Ba Island or Thien Canh Son cave.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Halong Bay is ideal for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and adventure travelers.
- Don’t forget your camera; there are plenty of photo-worthy opportunities.
- Bring swimwear and sun protection if you plan to enjoy the water.
- Sturdy footwear is a must to hike and climb up to viewpoints.
- Full-day tours from Hanoi usually last around 12 hours.
How to Get There
Located 103 miles (165 kilometers) east of Hanoi, Halong Bay is easiest to visit as part of a tour that includes transport. Otherwise, it’s accessible by car, bus, motorbike, and ferry. The fastest (and most expensive) way to get there is by helicopter or seaplane.
When to Get There
The best time to visit Halong Bay is from March to May and from September to November. Summers are the monsoon season and can see a lot of storms, which can impact a cruise. Winters can be cold, foggy, and drizzly, which can limit visibility.
Halong Bay Highlights
Halong Bay offers numerous attractions, including deserted islets, caves, and villages. Some of the more popular attractions include: Sung Sot Cave (also known as Surprise Cave) and Thien Cung Cave; the floating villages of Cua Van, Cong Dam, Ba Hang, and Vong Vieng; and Cat Ba National Park and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, home to plentiful wildlife, including the golden-headed langur (Vietnam’s most endangered primate).