Ha Long Bay Vietnam

Ha Long Bay: Paradise in Vietnam

Many people think that the southern islands off the coast of Thailand are splendid but what people do not know is that Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is probably as scenic and as beautiful as any one of the Thailand islands- in simple words, it is absolutely magnificent.

Ha Long Bay is located in North Vietnam about 4 hours east of Hanoi. It is frequently listed as one the natural wonders of the world. The name “Ha Long” is believed to have originated after a strange creature that was seen in the waters centuries ago-whether true or not- the only fact is that Ha Long Bay is more like paradise rather a den for any dragon. Ha Long Bay is actually an archipelago of many small islands, many of which are inhabited. Some of these islands can be accessed by motorbike, bus, or ferry. The entire area is a UNESCO World heritage site that is very popular for tourists.

To get there

The majority of visitors first fly into Hanoi. To get to ha long bay one can take a bus, taxi, rent a car or a seaplane. By road, it takes about 4 hours and costs anywhere from $10-$20, depending on your form of transport. One can also take a seaplane. The benefit of the seaplane is that it takes only 30 minutes and offers scenic views of the bay and its green waters before landing at the Tuan Chau Island Marina.

There are some organized tours in a shuttle bus from Hanoi available but it is best to speak to your hotel staff before you book anything.

When to visit

Even though Ha Long bay can be visited any time, bad weather is not uncommon and can ruin your trip. The best time to visit is between March and July. One should avoid the months of Sept through November when bad weather and rain are common. The fog and mist often ruin visibility. Finally always find out beforehand when the local Vietnamese holidays are- it is not a good idea to visit during the local holidays as the place is crowded and like Disney land, you will be standing in long lines forever.

Rocks in Ha Long Bay

How long should you plan the trip?

You only need a day or two to see the splendor of Ha Long bay. What you really should see is the sunset and that should do it.

Booking a cruise

The only way to see the wonders of Ha Long Bay and the adjacent islands is to go on a cruise. The wonders of Ha long Bay in recent years have been spoilt by a few unscrupulous cruise operators and touts. These touts are commonly located along the pier and it is best to avoid them. If you did not pre-book your tour, take a local Vietnamese with you when you book a tour. They can be of enormous help and further the price stated will be lower than if you did the booking yourself. In general, if the price of a tour is too good to be true, then you should avoid

The first thing you need to know is that there are day cruises which take you around the Ha Long bay and some islands. You can swim, snorkel, and have a decent meal. These daytime cruises last 4-6 hours. Then there are nighttime cruises for 1-3 days. These cruises again take you around the islands, stay in a fancy hotel, eat a decent meal and see the gorgeous sunsets. A one-day cruise is all that you need. However, before you jump and book your cruises, find out the size of the boat. Preferably you want to go in a medium-sized boat so there is less congestion.

Never ever come to Ha Long Bay without a pre-booked tour- the price will be much higher and the tour in most cases will not be complete.

The best way to get a cruise is to book through your hotel in Hanoi. Most hotels offer decent tours and arrange everything from your transport to Ha Long bay and back. But always ask questions and get several quotes from different touring agencies in Hanoi. Make sure that the tour is inclusive. There are some tour operators that offer you a relatively cheap price for the boat ride and then add extras for everything on the trip and this can get to be expensive. So go with an inclusive trip. The bonus is on you to ask if the transportation, food, entrance to the islands, snorkeling, and all other activities are covered before you rush to Ha Long Bay.

Beach in Ha Long Bay

What you will see

Some of the islands that your tour will take you to include Cat Ba which has a national park and is the home of the endangered feline. Unfortunately, most of these felines have been eaten by the locals and very few are left. Quan Lan is another island with some basic infrastructure but a very pretty beach. Both Van Don and Dan Be island offer a place to see the hidden lagoons, coves, swim, snorkel and explore the deep grottoes. Bo Hon Island is most well known for its shrine. The scenery is breathtaking in some places. The sunsets from anyone of the islands are magnificent.


In just the past decade, Ha Long Bay has become messy in some locations. The mass arrival of tourists has resulted in junk everywhere and the waters along the once pristine bay are heavily polluted. Piles of plastic and other rubbish are a common sight. Many of the places are not safe to enter because of the polluted waters. The government has taken steps to clean the waters and everyone is encouraged not to throw garbage in the waters.

You will come across divers who sell pearls but for a novice, it is hard to tell if they are real or fake. The pearl industry has been ruined due to over farming.

Fishing In Ha Long Bay


The cost for the day cruise can vary from $20-$100. The nighttime cruise varies from $80-$250 per night. Remember almost everyone the islands has an entrance fee and so you must make sure that your tour has the fee included. If you get a tout offering you a cruise for $10, then you may be better off flushing your money down the toilet because the experience will be very similar.


The one thing you should take with you is your camera because it is unlikely that you will ever come across such a pretty place again in your lifetime. You really do not need to take anything else with you because everything else is available when you get to Ha Long Bay. If you are on a cruise, the organizers will also supply the gear for water activities. The best way to enjoy Ha Long Bay is to stay in one of the hotels located along the pier and take a day or night cruise. One to two days is ample to view the scenery and the exotic landscape

Ha Long Bay Vietnam