A guide to Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam

A spectacular seascape of some 1,600 limestone islands and islets towering from emerald water, Ha Long Bay is also an outstanding example of earth's history. Those limestone pillars are covered by lush green of tropical plants and boast amazing karst grottoes, caves and caverns. The Bay was first recorded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 thanks to its exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. In 2000, it had the honour of being recognised the second time for its significant geomorphic features, as a billon-year-living proof of Earth's formation.

Ha Long Bay is located in Quang Ninh Province, northeast Vietnam, just 180 km east of Hanoi; surrounded by Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba Island, Tuan Chau Island and Ha Long City. While Ha Long Bay is not a large area, it packs some 1,600 limestone islands and islets into its 1,553 km2. Limestone towers, green islands and islets boast karst caves, caverns and grottoes, many hidden and still waiting to be discovered. Some islands are completely hollow. Framing the islands are gorgeous beaches, the emerald sea lapping gently on the soft, white sand.

Many travelers are unaware that Ha Long Bay actually has an immense value to the world because of its rare concentration of biodiversity, culture and history. Hence, this unique is exactly what makes Ha Long Bay a magical destination where travellers can have the chance to get up close and personal with the beating heart of Vietnam.

According to the Sino-Vietnamese, “Ha” means descending and “Long” means dragon. Therefore, Ha Long Bay literally means "the bay of the descending dragon", a fusion of ancient mythology and Vietnamese history. Same as Vietnam and Viet Nam, Halong is more popular through word of mouth due to a perception that has been existed for a long term while Ha Long is still an official name of the Bay.

Cruising the green islands is the only way to truly experience Ha Long Bay. On a wooden junk or cruise vessel, you can take in the picture-perfect serenity of the area from balcony, sun deck and the front of the boat in complete luxury. Watch the sun rise and set over the Bay, all pink and orange and plump, and breathe the fresh air - tangy with salt - deep into your lungs, recharging your soul.


Ha Long Bay is 103 miles (165 kilometers) from Hanoi (formerly known as Thang Long, “Ascending Dragon.”) It’s accessible by bus, taxi, motorbikes, ferry, hydrofoil, and private tour companies. You can also take a Ha Long Bay transfer directly from the airport. To cut the journey from up to four hours down to about 45 minutes, consider a helicopter or seaplane. A tour company from Hanoi is highly recommended, as most people at Ha Long Bay will be on tourist boats anyway.


Most visitors take an overnight boat tour of Ha Long Bay to experience at least one sunset and one ethereal sunrise. You can stay closest to the water and the limestone islets as well as do activities such as kayaking, swimming, and visiting fabulous caves.

To get off the beaten path, we recommend taking a seaplane, which are run by Hai Au Aviation. At the moment, cruising in Ha Long Bay is limited to just five routes, but flying with seaplanes, you get to view the whole bay and admire its grandness and the amazing formations of the islets.


The best time to go is from March to May or September to November, which is generally a good time to visit Vietnam to avoid the extreme heat. Vietnamese summers bring monsoons, and winter can be cloudy and cool (50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit).


Islands: Tuan Chau, Ti Top, Cong Do, Soi Sim, Bo Hon, Rang Dua, Reu

Beaches: Tuan Chau, Bai Chay, Titop, Ban Chan, Ba Trai Dao, Soi Sim, Ngoc Vung

Karst grottoes: Sung Sot, Luon, Trong, Tien Ong, Thien Cung, Dau Go, Trinh Nu, Thien Canh Son

Floating villages: Cua Van, Vung Vieng, Cap La, Ba Hang, Cong Dam

Onshore sights: Ha Long City with Night Market, Quang Ninh Museum, Dragon Park (Ha Long Park), Bai Tho Mountain, Bai Chay Bridge

Nearby sights: Bai Tu Long Bay (Ngoc Vung and Quan Lan Island), Lan Ha Bay (Cat Ba Island), Co To District.


>> Top 5 things to do in Halong

On-board: cruising, enjoying food and drink, spa and wellness treatments, cooking demonstration, Vietnamese tea ceremony, Vietnamese wine tasting, BBQ, Tai Chi sessions, reading, sunbathing, sightseeing, watching the sunrise and set, squid fishing, taking photos, movie nights.

Off-board: visiting islands, visiting caves, kayaking, getting up close with the locals, fishing village excursion, swimming, dining on beach, photos, enjoying food and drink, spa and wellness treatments, BBQ, sunbathing.


Welcome to Viet Center Tourist | Travel agency in Vietnam

An inbound tour operator specializing in providing tour packages in VietnamLaos and Cambodia

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