An otherworldly landscape of limestone towers jutting from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, Halong Bay is one of the most jaw-dropping tourist attractions of Southeast Asia. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and featured among the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World in 2012, it is guaranteed to impress even the most experienced traveller.
Countless cruise liners shuttle between the main attractions of the bay, their decks full of camera-wielding tourists, but with an area of 1,600 square kilometres Halong Bay is able to accommodate all of them. Better still, the neighbouring bays of Bai Tu Long and Lan Ha are as impressive but receive just a trickle of tourists compared to Halong Bay, offering a quieter alternative for those wishing to avoid crowds.
Geologists estimate that the area took over 500 million years to form, but according to traditional lore the rocky formations were created by dragons rescuing Vietnam from a foreign invasion. Whatever the truth, Halong Bay is a bliss to explore, a delightful location for a wide range of outdoor activities.
Top Activities in Halong Bay
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Halong Bay known for?
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Vietnam, renowned for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. It’s an incredibly popular tourist destination, known for its spectacular beauty and great opportunities for kayaking, swimming, rock climbing, and cave exploring.
What is the best time of year to visit Halong Bay?
The months between April and October (22°C – 31°C) are generally considered the best time of year to visit Halong Bay. The weather during these months is usually sunny and warm, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as kayaking and swimming. Additionally, the seas are generally calmer during this period so you can enjoy your boat trips more comfortably.
If you’re looking for cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, the winter months from November to March may be better suited for your visit. However, be aware that some attractions may have reduced hours or days of operation due to lower visitor numbers during this season.
How can I get to Halong Bay?
The most convenient way to get to Halong Bay is to take a direct shuttle bus from Hanoi which takes about 3-4 hours depending on the traffic conditions. You can also take a train from Hanoi but it takes longer as you will have to switch trains at Hai Phong City.
Alternatively, you can fly to nearby airports such as Cat Bi International Airport (Hai Phong) or Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi) and then transfer to Halong Bay.
What is the best way to get around Halong Bay?
The best way to get around Halong Bay is by boat, as it allows you to experience the stunning scenery of limestone karsts and islets.
Kayaking is also a great option for those seeking a more adventurous experience. Seaplane or helicopter tours provide a unique perspective, while renting a car or motorbike can allow you to explore nearby attractions.
Another great option is to book a tour which includes transport between the attractions as well as guides! Regardless of your mode of transportation, take your time to soak up the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What should I pack for my trip?
When packing for your trip to Halong Bay, make sure to bring comfortable clothes and shoes suitable for walking around.
Sunscreen is essential especially if you plan on spending several hours out in the sun and don’t forget your swimsuit so you can enjoy swimming in the bay!
Additionally, it’s recommended that you carry a light jacket or cardigan as temperatures in the evening may be cooler than during the day.
Are there any activities I can do in Halong Bay?
There are plenty of activities you can do during your visit to Halong Bay, including kayaking, swimming, rock climbing, and cave exploring.
You can also join a cruise and explore the vast bay while seeing some of its most famous limestone karsts such as Luon Cave, Sung Sot Cave, and various other Halong Bay caves.
Additionally, visitors could also learn more about the local culture and history of the area.
Are there any safety tips to follow when visiting Halong Bay?
Yes, it’s important to follow certain safety tips when visiting Halong Bay. Make sure you always wear a life vest when kayaking or swimming in the bay, and be mindful of the currents which can be unpredictable.
It’s also important to follow park guidelines when exploring the caves and never attempt to climb them without proper safety equipment.
Lastly, make sure you stay hydrated and use sunscreen if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors.
Are there any restaurants in Halong Bay?
Yes, there are several restaurants located in and around Halong Bay where you can enjoy some delicious local cuisine such as seafood dishes like grilled fish, clams, and squid.
Additionally, there is also a variety of international cuisine available for visitors including Italian and French food. Many restaurants also offer stunning views of the bay so you can enjoy your meal with a picturesque backdrop!
Are there any other attractions near Halong Bay?
Yes, there are plenty of other attractions near Halong Bay that you can explore during your visit such as South Cat Ba Island with its lush jungles and beautiful beaches; Cat Ba National Park which is home to various wildlife species including macaques, flying foxes, and deer; and the Bai Tu Long National Park with its stunning vistas.
Additionally, you can also take a boat trip to nearby islands like Ngoc Vung Island or Co To Island for some beachside relaxation.