1. The Best Time To Visit Halong Bay
The best time for a trip on Halong Bay is from April to the end of November (the time of summer and fall in Vietnam).
Halong Bay is most beautiful in the summer, but it sometimes has heavy rains or even sea storms. In the fall, the weather is cool and ideal for holiday. The temperature is low in the winter, of course not as cold as that one in the West, but it is completely able to cause you a cold. At the time of spring, it’s usually wet and foggy. That is surely not good for visiting the sites and taking photograph.
2. How to get to Halong Bay
About 170km away from Hanoi capital with 3 – 4 hours go by car, Halong Bay is easily accessible by different means of transportation.
2.1. Shuttle Bus
This type of transfer is available for departing from Hanoi center only. The shuttle bus can be understood as “tourist bus”, leaving Hanoi around 08:00 and return at 12:00 from Halong Bay every day. If your hotel is located in Hanoi Old Quarter, you will be picked up from the hotel. Otherwise, you have to take a taxi to the meeting point. Shuttle bus costs from USD10 to USD30/person/one way.
If you arrive to Noi Bai Airport and want to travel to Halong city, rent a car with a driver. Several companies offer this service at a little less than USD100/one way for private car from Noi Bai to Ha Long.
You can choose service of Halong Express train departs from Gia Lam Railway Station to Ha Long, USD20/single ticket.
From Danang, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City, you can fly either to Hanoi or Hai Phong Airport and get a car transfer to Halong Bay. From other Southeast Asia countries, you also need to fly into one of these two airports to get access to Halong Bay.
You can also travel to Halong Bay on helicopter which takes about 1.5 hour and it is only possible from Hanoi. This service is exclusively run by Northern Vietnam Helicopter Company and it is quite a costly option to reach Halong Bay.
In addition to the usual transportation, tourists from Hanoi also have a new choice for modern and luxury seaplane for travelling Halong Bay. The seaplane with 2 pilot seats, 12 passenger seats and spacious windows, not only saves travel time, but also help you comfortably see the beauty from plane, as well as record memorable moments of Halong Bay from a height of between 150 and 3,000 meters above sea level.
When it comes to accommodation, Halong Bay will not fail visitors in a bit. Although small, Halong Bay has a wide range of hotels and hostels for visitors to pick: from the lux 5 star to the budget one. All are fully furnished, some of international standard and most offer great value for its price. We list below the most outstanding hotels of Halong Bay based on guest reviews and number of years in operation.
|HOTEL NAME||HOTEL ADDRESS||
|Muong Thanh Halong Hotel||No 7, Block 20, Dong Hung Thang, Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province||
+84-33 3 81 24 68
|Royal International Hotel Halong||Bai Chay, Halong City, Vietnam||
+84-33 3 848 777
|Saigon Halong Hotel||Halong road, Baichay ward, Halong city. Quangninh province .Vietnam||
+84-33 3 845845
|Royal Lotus Hotel Halong||A13, Block 1, East of Hung Thang 2, Bai Chay Ward,Halong City, Quang Ninh Province, Viet Nam.||
+84-33 626 9999
|Novotel Hotel Halong Bay||160 Ha Long Road, Bai Chay Ward, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam||
+84-33 3 848 108
|Mithrin Hotel Halong||Hoang Quoc Viet Road, Bai Chay, Ha Long City Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam||
+84-33 3 848090
|Halong Plaza Hotel||8 Halong Road, Bai Chay, Ha Long City Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam||
+84-33 3 845810
Halong Bay is regarded as one of the most beautiful bays in the world and taking a cruise trip is the best way to see the essence of the Bay. The many available cruise trips offer unique experience not only by taking guests to various islets and grottos but also organize a number of activities such as morning Tai Chi in the Bay or kayaking through the caves. We introduce here the best of cruise trips in Halong Bay with detailed description of what each has to offer.
3.2.1. Royal Wings Cruise
Sailing off from Hon Gai, Royal Wings Cruise offers elegant and comfortable accommodation with free wifi access throughout the property. It features a 24-hour front desk, sauna facility and a large rooftop terrace.
Enjoying tranquil views of the sea, air-conditioned rooms come with wooden flooring, a wardrobe, minibar, in-room safe and a flat-screen TV. The private bathroom includes hairdryer, slippers, shower facility and free toiletries.
On-board Royal Wings Cruise, guests can indulge in a pampering massage at the spa or enjoy a session of karaoke. Luggage storage, babysitting and laundry/dry cleaning services can be arranged.
The cruise features a restaurant serving an appetising selection of Vietnamese and Western cuisine. Special diet meals can be prepared upon request, while room service options are also available.
3.2.2. Oasis Bay Cruise
Showcasing a spa center and hot tub, Oasis Bay Cruise is located in the Tuan Chau harbor in Halong. Vincom Plaza Halong is 11.3km away.
Each unit has a private bathroom with bathrobes. Towels and bed linen are featured.
Oasis Bay Cruise also includes a sun terrace.
Quang Ninh Museum is 11.3km from Oasis Bay Cruise, and Halong Marine Plaza is 5km from the property. The nearest airport is Cat Bi International Airport, 30.6 km from Oasis Bay Cruise.
3.2.3. Garden Bay Cruise
The Garden Bay cruise was especially designed for cruising Halong bay. Guests will experience caves, islands and floating villages that can only be enjoyed by small cruise ship. The itineraries are for discerning travelers who care about the typical aspects of unique landscapes visited. All sea-view cabins are well-equipped with a seating area, safety deposit box and air conditioning en-suite bathrooms. While on-board, guests can join in a lot of activities including swimming, visiting local fishing villages by kayaking, squid-fishing. Both Vietnamese and international dishes will be served at the restaurant. Onboard barbeque facilities are available.
4. Shopping and price in Halong
Shopping is an essential part for any tourists. From shopping, you can learn more about local culture and society, as well as bring home some nice souvenirs for your friends and family.
4.1. Halong Market
Halong market, located on Bach Dang Street, in the Halong city center, is the largest market in Quang Ninh province. Built in 2003, Halong market has become a popular shopping place for locals and tourists alike. There are a variety of goods sold here.
First floor: pearl, jewelry, embroidered paintings, mother-of-pearl mosaic paintings and electronics. Second floor: footwear, clothing, seafood and marine products. Food and drinks are also sold in small restaurants in the market.
Halong market opens every day from 6.00 a.m and 6.30p.m. The market is often crowded on the weekend.
4.2. Halong Night Market
Night market is near Bai Chay Beach, open every day from 6.00 pm until late night. The market is a group of more than a hundred stalls which sell diverse types of products, such as handicrafts, handmade accessories, clothes, and other dispensable items such as swimwear, lotion, or hat. Tourists tend to come to this place for purchasing unique products of the beach city like necklaces made from seashells, snails, wooden small boats, or T-shirt with images of Halong Bay. Price range is higher than other markets in the city.
4.3. Bai Chay Commercial Center
Located on Vuon Dao Street in Bai Chay Beach area. Bai Chay Commercial Center is one of the largest and most modern shopping center in Halong City. Products here are diverse from regular to deluxe goods.
Like Halong Market, Bai Chay Commercial Center opens every day from 6.00a.m and 6.30p.m
Besides that, there are many shop opened daily along the Bai Chay Road with various type of special high-quality products such as Halong Pearl shop, crocodile leather shop, wooden souvenir shop, coal souvenir shop...
In general, shopping price in Halong is not too expensive for famous destination. You can buy clothes, souvenirs with just a little bit expensive more than other local places in Vietnam. Eating at Halong restaurants is also quite affordable price. However, like many other destinations, you also need to ask about the price before deciding to buy or rent something.
5. Tips for cruising with children in Halong Bay
It is a great experience when your family can spend time travelling together. However, travelling with children can cause some difficulties for parents. Here are some tips that parents should know when joining a cruise in Halong Bay:
- Clothes: make sure that you bring warm clothes in the winter and comfortable clothes in the summer for the children.
- Others: you also should bring some medicine in case your children are not fine.
5.2. Safety on board
- The safety on board is very important, especially for children, parents should:
- Always take notice of the children, keep them in your sight.
- Make sure that children do not climb on the handrail or the railing on boat. Children are not allowed to stand on the bow.
- Ask the staffs on board to show you the life vests for children.
5.3. Activities on board
- Children can join the activities on board like: cave visiting, kayaking, swimming or fishing village but they need their parents’ attention. Before each activity, children need to be told in advance about the safety so that they are more careful to follow the instructions.
- Children also need to be well- equipped with life vests during all the activities.
- The role of the tour guide and staffs on board
- Take care more, playing and chatting with them.
- Ask the parents if the children need to have dinner early as they need to go to bed earlier than adults.
- Check with the parents if the menu for adults is also suitable with children; otherwise, the alternative food should be prepared.
- Prepare some games for children.
6. Kayaking in Halong Bay - Things to know
Halong Bay attracts thousands of passengers every month. Nearly five hundred cruises run every day and hundreds of passengers stay on board every night.
Halong Bay is famous for its natural beauty and thousands of limestone islands and islets.When you are on board, you admire the majestic beauty of the Bay but when you GET closer to the limestone islands, discover the beauty yourself, you admire its nature. But… how to get closer? The best way is joining kayaking activity.
6.1. Kayak in Halong Bay?
This is a small, relatively narrow, human-powered boat primarily designed to be manually propelled by means of a double blade paddle.
6.2. How to use a kayak?
Kayaking is generally assumed to be very safe in these calm waters of Halong Bay but there is still some areas and warning that you should avoid and listen to the tour guide. Kayaking is not difficult; however, to enjoy it completely, you need some tip:
6.3. Preparation do not skip this stage
- Suitable clothes: T-shirt and short, swimming suit in the summer; warm clothes in the winter; wet shoes, hat, sunglasses
- Necessary things: Water, sun cream, dry bag, camera, insect repellent
- Life vests
6.4. Medical box and food (for the long duration)
- Follow your tour guide: it is very important
- Listen to the route, time and rules
- Learn how to use the kayak even it is not your first time kayaking, wear the life vest and use the dry bag
- Strictly follow the leader (tour guide) about the moving rules
- Check with your tour guide the weather, tide and wind strength to have the best and safest route.
- Keep a suitable distance with the others, not too far, keep in sight with the others
- Keep away from the places which have strong flow, against the wind; take advantage of the wind strength and flow.
6.5. What about the children?
- Follow the tour guide and their parents
- Sit still in the kayak, do not move in front of or behind
- Wear the life vest
- Wear the hat and sun cream
6.6. Handle unexpected situations
- Adjust the speed of the whole group if any of the member is out of sight
- In case the kayak capsizes, passengers need to swim a bit, and then take the water out of the kayak with the help of the tour guide. He will catch thekayak; take the water out by putting your kayak on his in the T- shape. After that, he will put the kayak back into the water; keep it still so that passengers can be on the kayak again.
- If there is an expected storm, find the safest place in the sheltered areas, beaches… to avoid the storm. In case passengers are in the middle of the sea and cannot find a safe place, passengers need to be gathered to make a raft
- If you are not sure about the route you are going, you should keep in touch with the others and paddle around the mountain, you will not be lost. Passengers should know for sure the route, search on the map.
- It is better if passengers have mobile phone, radio or any means of communication (often for professional kayakers)
7. Tips for safe dining of seafood in Halong
Halong, known as the world heritage city with thousands of caves and grottos, is also famous for its abundance of nutritious and delicious varieties of seafood like crab, prawn, fish, or sea-snail. Gourmets who come to Halong can hardy resist the taste of fresh seafood without the worry of gaining weight. However, there is always risk of food poisoning hidden in seafood. Below are some safety tips to avoid trouble with dining in Halong.
7.1. Avoid eating raw seafood in general
Raw seafood or unprocessed seafood may contain the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria which is harmful for the digestive system. Moreover, the bacteria can live under high temperature (more than 80oC). Although sushi and sashimi is very tempting, try not to eat too much, esepecially from the dubious dining places.
7.2. Never eat raw crab
Inside unprocessed Halong crab is a very dangerous parasitic bacteria named lung fluke that may mess up your respiratory system with symptoms like lead to severe cough, coughing up blood, or even cerebral paralysis. It is highly recommended that crabs have to be fully cooked for at least 20-30 minutes.
7.3. Seafood shopping tips
Buying your own seafood in a market to bring back to your hotel and ask the chefs to cook for you is a very enjoyable experience. However, remember to choose ones which are still alive and fresh, because dead sea-animals, especially one that has shells, contain much higher level of bacteria or poisons.
7.4. Avoid drinking excessive beer while eating seafood
Scientists say drinking beer while eating seafood increases the probability of having gout or arthritis disease. Therefore, it is recommended that you limit your alcohol consumption when being served seafood.
7.5. Avoid having fruits/tea after having seafood
The reason is that the acid inside sour fruits may negatively affect the process of absorbing protein from seafood into your body. Besides, tannin from fruits may react with calcium and protein from seafood to stimulate your digestive system that leads to stomach-ache and vomiting. Same thing happens if you drink tea after a seafood meal.
8. Useful Vietnamese phrase and vocabulary for tourists to Halong
Tourists coming to Vietnam might find the language of this country very interesting or rather strange in term of pronunciation, provincial accent, and spelling. The reason might lie inside a comprehensive system of carets that make works with the same spelling varying with different pronunciation, not to mention meanings. In order to make your trip to Halong specifically, and Vietnam in general become more exciting, this article will show you some basic tourism phrases and vocabulary.
8.1. Essential Vietnamese phrase to use in Halong
- Xin chào (cin chow, cin in incinerate): Hello or Hi
- Cảm ơn (calm on,): Thank you
- Không (kh-o-ng, ng like in sing): No, Thanks!
- Bao nhiêu tiền (bow nieu tien): How much is this?
- Đắt quá (dut wa, dut like in Dutch): Too expensive!
- Tôi nghỉ tại (toi ng-i tie): My hotel address is…
- Tôi muốn (toi moo-unt): I want to have…
- Đẹp quá (dep wa, depth without th): So beautiful!
- Bạn khỏe không? (barn kh-o-air kh-o-ng): How are you?
- Bạn tốt quá! (barn tot wa): It’s nice of you
- Không sao (kh-o-ng siao): No problem or It’s ok.
- Bạn chỉ đường giúp (ban chi duong jup): Can you show me the way to…?
- Tôi muốn xem (toi moo-unt x-em, em in embark): I want to see…
- Tôi muốn đi (toi moo-unt dee): I want to go to…
- Không m-our (kh-o-ng m-our, our in tour): I don’t want to buy it.
- Tôi hút thuốc nhé (toi hoot thuoc nhe): Can I smoke here?
- Em ơi (iem oi): Hey buddy! I’m calling you!, Hey missy! (friendly tongue)
- Tôi không biết bơi (toi kh-o-ng bet boi): I don’t know how to swim
- Cứu tôi với (kyu toi voi): Somebody help me!
- Ôi dời ơi (oi zoi oi): Oh My God!
- Ngon quá (ng-on wa): It’s so tasty!
- Nguy hiểm quá (nuya him wa): It’s too dangerous!
8.2. Essential vocabulary
- Đảo (n): isle, island
- Vịnh (n): gulf, bay
- Du thuyền (n): yacht
- Thạch nhũ (n): stalactite, stalagmite
- Cảng (n): port, harbour
- Nước (n): water, country
- Hang (n): cave, den, hole, burrow
- Hải sản (n): sea-foods
- Biển (n): sea
- Tàu (n): ship
- Khách sạn (n): hotel
- Lễ tân (n): receptionist
- Làng chài (n): fishing-village