Still unsure if you wanna book Halong Bay tours? Look no further. This post aims to be your definite guide on how to get the best out of Vietnam’s top attraction. You are welcome. 😀
The thing you need to know about Halong Bay is that is it a marvel of nature, an evident that the earth is in a constant state of change. This movement, called the plate motion or tectonic shift, is responsible for creating the nearly 2000 limestone islets beauty we see today.
If we tell you that 500 million years ago Halong Bay was deep down in the sea, you wouldn’t have believed us. But it was! And 250 million years ago it began to surface to shallow water due to the plate motions that cause mountains to rise. The present landscape of sea islands was formed around 7 to 8 thousand years ago under the impact of the tropical wet climate.
Halong Bay is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1994. And in case you didn’t know, it is also one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature (google it and you’ll see). During the voting campaign in which 500 million international votes were casted over a period of 4 years, Halong Bay constantly came in at the top of the table.
There are a few ways to get to Halong Bay. By air, the closest city to fly into is Haiphong at the Cat Bi International Airport. You will then need to spend another 2.5 hours by car or taxi to get to the Ha Long City which will be the closest launching point to get to Halong Bay.
As for public bus or train from Hanoi to Ha Long City, there are numerous options operating at multiple trips throughout the day.
However, it is really not recommended that you do an independent trip to this nature’s marvel. This is because the booking mechanics is highly unorganized. There are rules and regulations pertaining to book Halong Bay tours, set by the government, that sometimes even the locals have problems catching up with. Also quite rampant are tourist-orientedrip-offss and scams. Add to the fact that there are very few signs (none in some places) in English at the ports.
How do you tour Halong Bay in 1 day, 2 days and 3days? We have a few recommendations.
One day tour in Halong Bay:
Let us start by saying that you are not doing this Wonder of the World justice by going on a short day trip. There are nearly 2000 islands covering 1,553 kilometer square. Even the core of the bay area spans 334 kilometer squares with its highest density of island at close to 800. With so much covering such a large space, please, try not to tour Halong Bay in a day.
Now, if you really do insist, there is only 2 ways.
Fly in and fly out:
Board a seaplane from Hanoi, spend 30 minutes to fly to Halong Bay, enjoy a 15 minutes planned sightseeing flight of the bay, land on a port and wait for the next flight back. This plan is expensive. The cost of the flight itself can be more than a 2 days 1 night tour onboard a boat.
Fly in, go onboard a boat and fly out:
Fly in from Hanoi, go onboard a cruise ship in Halong Bay, have lunch, cruise around the bay and fly back. The problem with this plan is that firstly, private tour like this cost a bomb. Next, you won’t see much on such a rushed trip as the prettier side of Halong Bay is deeper into the channel.
Two days tour in Halong:
Walking around the Old Quarters of Hanoi, you will see that the number 1 tour recommendation is to the Halong Bay. And they all come in various packages and prices. Want a party theme to the Halong Bay? They have that. Only $40 for a 2 days 1 night all-meals all-attractions package? They have that too. There are so many package tours that you will lose count. The range in standards is wide though. Some are comfortable, some downright luxurious but most travel agencies are actually only resellers, motivated in squeezing very bit out of your pocket.
You start a 2-day tour with a 4 hours, 180km, ride in a luxury van from Hanoi to Halong City. After checking in and a safety brief, if the weather permit, lunch will be served outdoor so you can feast and savor the limestone monolithic islands. After lunch, kayak will be arranged for you to explore the Vung Dang area. Alternatively, you can swim or simply laze around at the white sandy beach of Cong Dam. The evening can be spent in the seawater pool, fitness room, spa and massages, long chats with fellow tourists over dinner, movies, wine on the sun-deck and appreciation of the stars if you are blessed with a clear sky.
Day 2 starts with Tai Chi in the morning follow by breakfast in the fresh air. Then it’s to the Thien Canh Son Cave for exploration. After checking out of your cabin, you will be served another buffet on the way back to the harbor. Before heading back to Hanoi, you will be brought to the Yen Duc village to learn some Vietnamese culture and traditions and be presented with a water puppet show.
Three days tour in Halong:
For a 3 days 2 night Halong Bay cruise, you can’t go wrong with a 5-star ship.
A longer trip means you can afford to see and do more than those who spend only 1 night in the bay. Explore the less beaten path of Lan Ha Bay, tour the Vung Vieng fishing village on a rowboat, take a bike or walking excursion to see the Cat Ba National park and if you like, try your hand in cooking a Vietnamese dish onboard.
If you do a search for ‘Vietnam’ on Google, you will find images of Halong Bay on top. This is because it is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam. If there is only 1 thing to take away from this blog, it is this: whatever you do, never ever miss the chance of visiting this spectacular seascape.