Read and learn by heart the following travel guide to Ha Long Bay if you are planning to visit this world heritage site of Vietnam.

General Information

A legendary and unmissable place in Vietnam, Halong Bay overlooks the Gulf of Tonkin, the cities of Halong and Cam Pha, and is part of the Van Don Island district. The bay has an area of ​​1,553 km2 and extends to the southeast of the island of Cat Ba.

Halong Bay Location

Halong Bay Location

The emerald waters are home to 1,969 islands, of which only 989 are named after them. The formation of these islands dates back to 250 or 280 million years ago. Many caves and caves sleep peacefully on these enchanting islands. The whole of this landscape of water and stone is a breathtaking spectacle. Ha Long Bay has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, revealing its secrets to every passing visitor. “Ha Long” means “descent of the dragon” in Vietnamese. According to legend, the Jade Emperor, King of Heaven, once sent the Mother Dragon and her offspring to this land to help the Viet repel invaders. Upon arrival, they spat out thousands of pearls, which turned into islands and islets that spread throughout the bay. Enemy boats entering the bay at this time crashed against the rocks. After the victory, the mother dragon and her children stayed in this bay and gave their names to different places in the bay: Ha Long means the place where the mother dragon descends; Bai Tu Long means the little dragons bow to their mother; Long Vi has the meaning of dragon tail.

With its natural beauty, Halong is a destination not to be missed during your Vietnam tour.

Halong Weather & Best Time to Visit

Located in the north of Vietnam, Halong Bay has a tropical monsoon climate divided into four seasons: hot spring, hot summer, cool autumn, and cold winter. The average annual temperature is 25°C and the temperature fluctuates throughout the year between 13°C and 38°C. June is the hottest month while January is the coldest month of the year. The total annual amount of precipitation is about 1,395 mm. The heaviest rain falls between June and August: the wettest and lowest month in December is about 29 mm.

Best time to visit Halong

Best time to visit Halong

March-April (Spring) and September-October (Autumn) are good times for a Halong Bay cruise due to more pleasant weather conditions. During these months, the pleasant temperature and low rainfall are very conducive to participating in a handful of water activities such as kayaking, BBQ lunch, cruising, etc.

Getting to Halong

By road

Halong Bay is 170 km from Hanoi, 3.5 hours by car. The road is quite good, although traffic can be heavy.

There are many transport companies between Hanoi and Halong. The seats on the bus are not numbered and the driver may make multiple stops along the way to pick up more passengers. Buses can be full and drivers don’t always drive carefully. Halong Bay is also accessible from Haiphong, which is only a 2-hour drive from Hanoi so we recommend hiring a car with an experienced driver.

By boat

From Hai Phong, you can take a speedboat and reach Cat Ba Island in an hour. You will then board a cruise ship for a tour of some of the islands in the bay.

By seaplane

At present, tourists in Hanoi have a new option with modern and luxurious seaplanes over Ha Long Bay offered by Hai Au Aviation, in addition to some normal transportation. (Important Note: Passport required when flying with Hai Au Aviation)

Hai Au Seaplane in Halong bay

Hai Au Seaplane in Halong bay

With 2 pilot seats, 12 passenger seats, and large windows, the seaplanes not only save your travel time but also help you enjoy the beautiful view from the window and create unforgettable moments from 150 to 3,000 meters altitude.

Getting around in Halong

On foot

Some tourist areas of Halong City are easy to explore on foot. There are beautiful walks on the pier and no danger of walking at night.

By taxi

You can get to the city by taxi (eg from Bai Chay to Hon Gai). You can also take motorcycle taxis (xe om).


Getting around Halong by helicopter

Getting around Halong by helicopter

Visitors will experience a new flight service to see Ha Long Bay from above by helicopter. If you are in Ha Long, you can enjoy the Tuan Chau – Halong – Tuan Chau route in 25 minutes by helicopter. The price of this visit is 2,040,000 VND ($82 US). In addition, IDC Travel also offers you several other transfer options from Hanoi to Halong and vice versa by helicopter (with or without a tour of the bay). Please contact us for more details.

On a boat

You can choose to discover Ha Long Bay by boat. There are many classes of boats, from the simplest to the most luxurious.

>>> Check our best cruises in Halong Bay here.

Where to Stay in Halong

Travel routes in Ha Long Bay

We recommend some sightseeing routes to Ha Long Bay:

  • Route 1: Tuan Chau International Marina – Center for Scenic Park Conservation (Thien Cung grotto – Dau Go cave – Cho Da islet – Ba Hang cave – Dinh Huong islet – Trong Mai islet (Ga Choi islet))
  • Route 2: Tuan Chau International Marina – Center for Park Cave Conservation (Soi Sim island – Titop island – Sung Sot cave – Bo Nau cave – Luon cave – Ho Dong Tien cave – Trong cave – Trinh Nu cave -Me Cung cave)
  • Route 3: Tuan Chau International Marina – Center for Sea Culture Conservation (Cua Van Floating Cultural Center – Bamboo wood – Tien Ong cave – Du Lagoon – Ho Ba Ham – Ba Men temple)
  • Route 4: Tuan Chau International Marina – Center for Sea Recreation Development Conservation (Co cave – Thay cave – Cong Do island area – Cap La cave – Cong Do lagoon ecosystem – Xep islet park – Vung Vieng area)
  • Route 5: Tuan Chau International Marina – Gia Luan Harbor (Cat Ba – Hai Phong) (Thien Cung grotto – Dau Go cave – Cho Da islet – Ba Hang cave – Dinh Huong islet – Trong Mai islet (Ga Choi islet))

Must-do activities in Halong Bay

Cruise in the bay with 1 night on board a junk

Halong Bay Cruise

Halong Bay Cruise

In order to fully enjoy the impressive beauty of the unique karst seascapes, it is unthinkable not to sail Ha Long Bay on a junk with an overnight stay on board. If sailing in its emerald waters through its thousands of strangely shaped islands and islets is a magical spectacle, admiring the sunset and its sunrise from your cabin or the upper deck is another, make your stopover in this jewel will sublimate it.

Discovery of the magnificent caves

The limestone formations of Halong Bay are home to a considerable number of cavities and caves. Once home to pirates, these caves are now open to the public to admire beautiful geological formations such as the famous Grotte de la Surprise, where stalactites and stalagmites admirably adorn this immense rock cavity. The light perfectly highlights the amazing masterpieces of Mother Nature in each cave.

Kayaking in the bay

Snorkeling and Kayaking in Halong Bay

Snorkeling and Kayaking in Halong Bay

Kayaking in Ha Long Bay is an opportunity to go to places inaccessible by boat, where the virgin nature reveals all its splendor. You will surely be greeted by the chirping of birds and the cries of monkeys that reign in these natural sanctuaries.

Swimming in its emerald waters

What could be more enjoyable than enjoying a good swim in the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay? You can jump into the water from your junk or, if your schedule allows, from one of the many beaches in Ha Long Bay.

Taichi class at sunrise

Take part in a tai chi class at sunrise on the top deck of your cruise ship. A gentle muscle awakening to start the day off right. It is also an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of Ha Long Bay since the first rays of the sun gradually reveal the surprising shapes of the limestone peaks.

Visit a fishing village

For centuries, Ha Long Bay has been inhabited by fishing communities that settled on floating villages that moved from generation to generation. This is an opportunity to discover a totally fascinating and unique marine universe, punctuated by the sea and its whims. You will discover the very particular daily life of its inhabitants, their traditions, their fishing techniques and even the floating schools that some schoolchildren join by boat.

Seafood tasting

Fish lovers rejoice, Halong Bay waters offer you a real feast. Crabs, shrimps, clams, squids, etc … prepared in the Vietnamese way will amaze your taste buds. And what a pleasure to taste them as you cruise through the limestone wonders of Halong Bay.

Places to visit in Halong

Beautiful Bays

Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Halong Bay has long become an essential stopover for any trip to Vietnam. You will experience the magical beauty of this legendary bay. Its islands, islets, caves and beaches are part of the discovery routes of the famous Halong Bay. The landscapes are formed and transformed as you enter the Bay. A cruise in the bay gives the visitor the impression of entering a legendary world, frozen in the immobility of stone. The shapes of these islets emerging from the waves sometimes take on human or animal shapes and enrich the mystery of the bay.

Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay stretches northwest from Halong Bay to the Chinese border. Considered the daughter of Halong Bay, she has what her mother and sister (Lan Ha Bay) do not have. Bai Tu Long Bay will satisfy every tourist with every taste. Nature lovers can walk in the forests or lie on the wild beaches of the bay while the limestone rocks remain an interesting challenge for climbers and thrill seekers. Those who want to immerse themselves in the authentic and local life can discover the fishing villages, meet the pearl oyster breeders; and finally history and culture lovers will discover the ancient temples, the century-old communal houses and the traces of the ancient port dating back 700 years.

Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay is located off Cat Ba Island, southeast of Halong Bay. This pretty bay is the smallest in all of Halong Bay. It’s for those who want to get away from the touristy Halong Bay and the bustling suburb of Cat Ba. Lie down on the small quiet beaches, take a rowboat or kayak trip around these tree-lined limestone islets, or dive into the sublime waters to contemplate the underwater wonders! Staying at least half a day in this bay is ideal.

Pristine Islands

Thousands of islands, islets, and rocks of different sizes form a permanent frame in the bay. You will be amazed by the mixture of colors resulting from the contrast between the abundant vegetation and the greyish color of the rock. The sugar loaves make the bay a marvelous and unique beauty in the world.

Titov Island

Halong view from Titov mountains

Halong view from Titov mountains

Located about 8 km southeast of the pier, the island is dedicated to Russian astronaut Titov following his visit accompanied by President Ho Chi Minh in 1962. This island offers a beautiful view of the bay and has a charming white sand beach in the shape of a crescent moon. It is a must-see place for those who want to admire a magnificent view of a large part of the bay while bathing in the emerald water.

Soi Sim Island

Soi Sim, a small island nestled west of Halong Bay, is always a tourist attraction thanks to its pristine beauty. The cool weather, the peaceful and calm atmosphere, the small but beautiful beaches that have not yet been explored by man, make Soisim a suitable place for nature-loving visitors.

Tuan Chau Island



Located in Halong Bay, Tuan Chau Island is accessible by land via a 2 km road. This island is known for its white sand beaches and sumptuous bungalows overlooking the bay. Tuan Chau Island is the main destination for domestic and international tourists thanks to improved transportation, tourist services and entertainment.

Cong Do Island

Located southeast of Halong Bay in Bai Tu Long Bay, 25 km from Bai Chay Port, Cong Do Island attracts many international tourists every year. This island has many winding valleys and is home to a diversity of sea creatures and giant coral reefs. Cong Do is not only a tourist attraction but also a place of great scientific value.

Bo Hon Island

Located 14 km from the coast of Halong, this island is one of the most beautiful and largest islands in the bay. There are vertical cliffs resembling large walls, which create a beautiful wash. From this island, you will have access to a network of famous caves in the bay: Cave of Surprises (Sung Sot), Caves of the Virgin and Man (Trinh Nu and Trong), Luon Cave… Fauna and flora of this island is very diverse: chamois, monkeys, stags, fig trees, orchids.

Ngoc Vung Island

Ngoc Vung Island is ranked in the list of the most beautiful islands in Halong Bay. Located about 34 km from the center of Ha Long, Ngoc Vung Island belongs to Van Don District, between two small islands of Hon Net and Phuong Hoang. This island is known for its many beautiful beaches, attracting a large number of visitors every year. At Ngoc Vung Island, you will also have the opportunity to visit the archaeological remains, cultural relics, priceless history of Quang Ninh province.

Co To Island

Co To Island

Co To Island

Co To Island is located on the eastern side of Van Don Island, which has beautiful, lonely, dreamlike beaches. Co To Island has been heavily exploited for tourism, followed by the construction of many restaurants and hotels of international standards. However, resort tourism has long been established on the island. It has always been preferred by tourists because it allows you to be close and in harmony with nature.

Unique Islets

Cockfight Islet (Ga Choi)

Cockfight Islet

Cockfight Islet

Although the name of this islet is combat, it literally looks like two birds kissing. You can see that this rock has appeared on all Halong tourist catalogs. It was discovered in the early days of the bay and has withstood all the years of erosion.

So far, the shape of Trong Mai islet has changed significantly, but two large volumes of rock face each other, creating a double perspective, whether fighting or giving love. They are still there and have trusted each other for millions of years.

Dog Island

This 8-meter-high rock has the particularity of resembling a dog. It has its back to the sea and is said to have sat for millions of years watching the boats ferrying tourists out to sea.

Xep island

Xep islet is a huge square piece of stone, composed of several layers, which looks like an Egyptian pyramid built in the middle of Bai Tu Long bay.

Dinh Huong Islet

Dinh Huong Islet is one of the attractions in Halong Bay, it is on the way to Thien Cung Cave and Titop Beach. This islet consists of a single large stone in the shape of an incense burner, the four points of which are only visible at low tide.

Human Head Islet (Dau Nguoi)

Human Head Islet (Dau Nguoi)

Human Head Islet (Dau Nguoi)

From a distance, one can see a 25-meter island, reminiscent of a huge Egyptian head with a big nose. Its chin is close to the surface of the sea. Many people associate it with the image of the Egyptian Sphinx.

Amazing Caves

For millions of years, earth movements and erosion have given rise to numerous caves considered as gallery-museums dedicated to nature. You will be able to admire different forms of stalactites and stalagmites highlighted by plays of light which create a magical atmosphere in these mythical places.

Each cave has its legend. In many caves in Halong Bay, one can find prehistoric remains testifying to the ancient civilizations that lived in Halong Bay millions of years ago. Remnants of the Vietnamese people’s war of independence still exist at some sites.

Cave of Surprises (Hang Sung Sot)

Cave of Surprise (Hang Sung Sot)

Cave of Surprise (Hang Sung Sot)

Located on Bo Hon Island, this cave is the largest cave in Halong Bay. Surprised by its magical beauty, the first French people who visited it named it the Cave of Surprises (Sung Sot).

The Surprise Cave consists of two main chambers. The first, similar to a theater hall, has many stalactites suspended from the ceiling. From a narrow passage, it leads to the second bedroom, where a stream of natural light illuminates the surfaces of a space spacious enough to accommodate thousands of people.

The 10,000 square meters of Sung Sot Cave contains thousands of stalactites and stalagmites and is threaded through a 500-meter paved passage.

Cave of the Heavenly Palace (Hang Thien Cung)

Hang Thien Cung

Hang Thien Cung

It takes some effort to get to Thien Cung Cave, as you have to cross a cliff surrounded by forests. However, once you see the cave, you will understand why it is called “Heavenly Palace”. The place is a real paradise on earth with its bewitching beauty thanks to the many colorful stalactites. There is also a giant picture that depicts characters from heroic tales on the wall of the cave, which makes you feel like you are visiting a unique art museum.

Luon Cave

Luon Cave features a large rounded lake of mirror-smooth clear blue water. The lake is surrounded by steep limestone cliffs and covered with trees. Fossil snail shells can still be found there, testifying to a deep valley, an ancient human habitat.
A visit by boat or kayak to this original cavern is a must for the majority of tourists.

Labyrinth Cave (Dong Me Cung)

Me Cung Cave, also called Labyrinth Cave, is located 25m above sea level on Lom Bo Island. It is about 2 km southwest of Titop Island. Located in Halong Bay, a protected world natural heritage, Me Cung has a complex structure, including many compartments and a corridor of about 100m. From a distance, the entrance to the cave looks like a house roof carved deep into the slopes of the island. Inside the cave, visitors feel like they are in a grand royal palace.

Buddha Cave (Hang Tien Ong)

This cave officially welcomed visitors in 2010, much later than the other caves. It is therefore not one of the most popular destinations in Ha Long Bay. However, it attracts attention due to its archaeological value and its magnificent interior decoration. Inside the cave, you can see stone artifacts dating from 10,000 to 2,000 BC and learn interesting historical information from your guide. Archaeologists have discovered fossilized animal bones, pottery shards, seashells and ancient tools at Tien Ong, indicating that the cave was inhabited around 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Thay’s Cave

Its name, which can literally be translated as Master’s Cave, is said to have been named because of the stalactites and stalagmites inside which apparently resemble a desk and bookshelves. The floor of the cave is covered in sand, another very unusual feature of caves in this region, as they tend to have uneven rocky floors that have eroded over time. Thay’s Cave is about 30 meters wide and 150 meters long. Approaching the end of the passage, you will discover a small lake, formed by the runoff that descends from the mountain above.

Cave of Wonders (Hang Dau Go)

Cave of Wonders (Hang Dau Go)

Cave of Wonders (Hang Dau Go)

This cave was nicknamed the Grotte des Merveilles by the French at the beginning of the 20th century. It is also known as Dau Go Cave. This name comes from a folk story dating back to the Resistance War against the Yuan-Mongols in the 13th century. On the eve of a decisive battle, Vietnamese General Tran Hung Dao, a national hero of Vietnam, prepared several sharp spears to be thrown along the Bach Dang River to destroy the boats of the invaders. Several pieces of these lances would still be present in the cave and this is the origin of the name of the cave.

Virgin Cave (Hang Trinh Nu)

Nestled in the Bo Hon Islands and about 3 kilometers from the Cave of Surprises, it attracts the curious with the poetic silhouette of a young woman with long hair looking out to sea. What she sees is the Trong Cave or Homme opposite, where the statue of her man stands, according to legend. Many visitors come here to gaze at beautiful stalactite formations while listening to a moving folk tale. Inseparable, the Cave of the Virgin and the Cave of Man represents a legendary temple of young lovers.

Tunnel Cave (Dong Hang Hanh)

The Tunnel Cave is the longest cave in Halong Bay, hence its nickname of Tunnel given by the French. With its 1300m long, it crosses the Quang Hanh mountain to the sea. The Hang Hanh cave is of great beauty. Through a meander of stones, a small boat leads you inside, lit by a torch, which gives the stalactites magical colors.

Tranquil Villages

Cua Van Floating Village

Cua Van Fishing Village

Cua Van Fishing Village

Known as one of the most beautiful villages in the world, this ancient village will seduce you with its pure atmosphere and preserved customs. Found in Hung Thang district, it originated from two small ancient villages, Giang Vong and Truc Vong. Beyond a town in the middle of the sea, Cua Van and the islets that surround it are an integral part of the attractions of Halong Bay.

Exchanging with the fishermen or tasting on their barge dishes full of flavors of the sea, fishing for fish and squid at night, so many moments as rich as pleasant await you there.

Vung Vieng Floating Village

Vung Vieng is a large floating village whose inhabitants have lived in the northeast for many years. Located 1-hour cruise from Hon Gai Port, Vung Vieng is the second largest fishing village in Ha Long Bay, after Cua Van. With unique features in scenery, customs and tourism services, Vung Vieng is attracting more and more domestic and international tourists with a new kind of tourism: the travel experience.

Cong Dam Floating Village

Cong Dam Floating Village

Cong Dam Floating Village

The beauty of the majestic mountains, the welcome of the inhabitants of Cong Dam are attractive points of the village. This is an area of ​​the open-air geological museum that includes a rocky park. Mountain ranges formed from rocks are perfectly natural.

The region is home to many coral reefs, underwater caves and lakes in the limestone mountains. It is also the region with many large beaches, white sand, clear water.

Cong Dam Floating Village is a small village which retains almost all the traditional fishing culture. You will be satisfied when you chat with the inhabitants of the village, hearing them recount memorable memories of floating life.

Ba Hang Floating Village

Located in Hung Thang Commune, Ha Long City, Ba Hang Floating Village is a floating village of about 50 families. The name is called Ba Hang because when the tide rises and falls, some caves appear at the same time, then the boat can pass through the cave. It is quite similar to Tam Coc, Ninh Binh. You can navigate on your own at the foot of rocky mountains created over thousands of years of history. Or you can book cruises to Halong Bay to go around the fishing village which is very interesting. At low tide, 3 caves will appear fully accessible to visitors who wish to discover them.

Cap La Fishing Village

This is a floating village between Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay. 80 families live from fishing. Most children only study until secondary school and stay home to help their parents with housework and fishing.

Each house has its own generator to produce electricity. It is a great place for kayaking around the beautiful islands, swimming in a beach with crystal clear waters.

Halong Bay Cruise

Halong Bay is one of the most attractive sites in Vietnam. The best way to enjoy the beauty of the bay is to participate in the overnight program on a junk. This is why a hundred junks have been built to meet a large number of customer requests. The quality and service are varied and you have the choice between different programs. Here are the cruises most booked by tourists:

Hanoi - Halong Bay Cruise 2 Days 1 Night

Hanoi – Halong Bay Cruise

Destination: Bai Tu Long Bay, Thien Canh Son Cave, Vung Vieng Fishing Village

Destination: Tung Sau area, Titov Beach, Surprise Cave

Destination: Surprise Cave, Titov Beach

Destination: Bai Tu Long Bay, Thien Canh Son Cave

Destination: Halong Bay, Tien Ong Cave, Cua Van Fishing Village

Food to eat in Halong

Cha Muc Ha Long (Halong grilled Chopped Squid)

Cha Muc Ha Long(Halong grilled Chopped Squid)

Halong grilled Chopped Squid

Halong chopped squid is famously from the province of Quang Ninh and is regarded as one of Vietnam’s top regional specialties. It is made by hand grinding squid meat and then frying it over medium heat until it turns a beautiful golden brown.

Prawn and Lobster

Steamed lobster

Steamed lobster

Both prawns and lobster can be prepared in a variety of ways, but steaming with lemongrass, beer, or vodka is probably the most popular in Halong Bay. This cooking method not only speeds up the cooking process but also eliminates the fishy odor, allowing you to enjoy the natural flavor more fully.

Fresh oyster

Grilled oyster

Grilled oyster

Daily, fresh oysters are caught, washed, and grilled over charcoal before being seasoned with salt, pepper, lemon, or grilled onions. They’re sometimes served raw with a slice of lemon, which is so delightful!

Sam (Horseshoe crab)

Sam (Horseshoe crab)

Sam (Horseshoe crab)

Horseshoe Crab, known as Sam in Vietnam, prefers shallow ocean water, so Halong Bay is an ideal habitat for them. It can be prepared in a variety of ways and will undoubtedly leave you with an unforgettable taste.

Don’t miss a thing of this natural gem by booking a trip to Halong Bay! Feel free to contact us now for more information.

Top Halong Tours

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors.

  • Plan your tailor - made trip with a local expert
  • security Book securely with money-back guarantee
  • Travel stress-free with local 24/7 support
Create My Trip