Halong Location MapGeneral Information

Halong Bay, a mythical and cannot-miss site in some top Vietnam tours, is located in the Gulf of Tonkin and stretches across Ha Long and Cam Pha cities in Quang Ninh province as well as a part of Van Don Island. The bay covers an area of 1,553 square kilometers and acts as a central part of a zone including Bai Tu Long Bay and Cat Ba Island.

This emerald bay is the home to 1,969 islands, of which only 989 have been named. The formation of these islands could be dated back to 250 or 280 million years ago. They contain many limestone karst and unique caves which consist of numerous stalactites and stalagmites.

The whole landscape made of water and caves offers a breathtaking sight. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, Halong Bay has become a must-go attraction to international tourists.

In Vietnamese, Ha Long means “descending dragon”. It is said in our local legends that our country was invaded by foreign enemies. To help Vietnamese people fight the invaders, the God sent a family of dragons to this land. Upon their arrival, they split out thousands of pearls that turned into islands and islets all over the bay. The enemies’ ships entering the bay at that moment could not go inside to the mainland. After the victory, local people named different places in the bay after the dragon family: Ha Long, the place where the mother dragon descended; Bai Tu Long, where the little dragon descended; Long Vi, the tail of the dragon.

Halong Weather

You can travel to Halong any time a year. The average annual temperature is 23 degrees Celsius, the highest is from June to August and the lowest is from December to February.

The best time to visit Halong is between October and April when there is less rain than summertime. You can enjoy the dry atmosphere with mysterious scenes of majestic bays shrouded by mist. In summers, Halong is affected by typhoons and cruises have to alter their itineraries sometimes. If you visit Halong Bay during this period, you can meet a lot of domestic tourists; on the contrary, winter is the peak season of international tourism here.

Weather in Halong - Halong Travel Guide
Weather in Halong

Getting to Halong

By road

Halong Bay is 170 km from Hanoi, which is a 3.5-hour drive. The road is pretty good, although the traffic may be dense sometimes.

Make sure you buy bus tickets from reputable brands in My Dinh and Giap Bat Bus Station or on vexere.com. There are many transport companies between Hanoi and Halong. The bus seats are not numbered and the driver can stop several times to take more passengers on the road. Sometimes buses are more than full and bus drivers do not always drive very carefully

Halong Bay can also be reached from Hai Phong which is only a 2-hour drive from Hanoi.

By boat

From Hai Phong, you can take a fast boat and reach Cat Ba Island in one hour. You will then embark on a cruise ship through some islands of the Bay.

By seaplane

Seaplane over Halong Bay - Halong Travel Guide
Seaplane over Halong Bay

Currently, besides some normal means of transport, tourists from Hanoi also have a new option with modern and luxury seaplanes over Halong Bay offered by Hai Au Aviation. (Important note: Passport required while travel with Hai Au Aviation)

With 2 seats for pilots, 12 seats for passengers and spacious windows, the seaplanes not only save your time traveling but also help you to enjoy the beautiful view from the window and create memorable moments from 150 to 3,000 meters above the sea level.

Getting around Halong

  • On foot: In some tourist areas of Halong City, you can easily explore them on foot. There are beautiful walks on the pier and there is no danger to walk at night.
  • By taxi: You can travel by taxi in the city (eg. from Bai Chay to Hon Gai). You can also take motorbike taxis (xe om).
  • Cruise trip: A cruise to Halong Bay will provide you a glimpse of the beauty of this area. There are different types of cruises, from budget to luxury.

Where to Stay in Halong

As a developed tourist destination, you can easily find an accommodation in the city as well as in other islands. Some recommendations for your Halong trip:

Wyndham Legend Halong - Halong Travel Guide
Wyndham Legend Halong
  • Wyndham Legend Halong

Address: 12 Ha Long, Bai Chay

  • Vinpearl Resort & Spa Halong

Address: Reu Island, Bai Chay

  • Starcity Halong Bay Hotel

Address: Ha Long Road, Bai Chay

  • Royal Lotus Halong

Address: Unit A13, Lot 1, Dong Hung Thang 2 Urban Area, Halong Marine Boulevard, Bai Chay

  • City Bay Palace Halong

Address: 156 Le Thanh Tong Street, Hon Gai Ward

What to See in Halong

1. Beautiful Bays

Halong Bay - Halong Travel Guide
Halong Bay
Halong Bay

Halong Bay has long been a popular spot for any tour to Vietnam. You can discover the magical beauty of this legendary bay with its amazing islands, islets, caves, and beaches. A cruise to the bay will give visitors an impression that they enter a legendary and surreal world. The caves here are in different and unusual shapes and sizes, which ignite your interest and pique your imagination.

Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay extends from the north-west of Halong Bay to Chinese border. This bay will satisfy all tourists, no matter how different their tastes are. Nature lovers can wander through pristine forests or lie on the wild sand while limestone mountains are always an interesting challenge for climbers and thrill seekers. Those who want to soak up the authentic and local life can discover some fishing villages, meet the pearl oyster farmers; and finally, history and culture lovers can explore ancient temples, communal houses and the traces of the old port which can be dated back to 700 years ago.

Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay is located to the southeast of Halong Bay. This beautiful bay is the smallest on the entire zone. It is suitable for those who want to escape from the touristy Halong Bay and the bustling suburb of Cat Ba. You can do many things here: relax on the quiet little beaches, stroll by boat or kayak around these limestone islands or dive into the sublime water to conquer the underwater water. A stay of at least half a day in this bay is recommended.

2. Pristine Islands

Titov Island - Halong Travel Guide
Titov Island

Thousands of islands, islets, and rocks of different sizes form a spectacular complex in the bay. Tourists are amazed by the mixture of colors from the contrast between the green scenery and the grayish color of rocks.

Titov Island

Located about 8 km to the southeast of the pier, the island is dedicated to the Russian astronaut Titov following his visit accompanied by President Ho Chi Minh in 1962. This island offers a breathtaking view and has a charming white sand beach in a crescent-moon shape. It is a must for those who want to swim in the sublime waters and admire the view of a tranquil beach.

Soi Sim Island

As a small island located in the west of Halong Bay, Soi Sim is still a tourist attraction thanks to its pristine beauty. In the island, there is a primeval forest with many kinds of plants, many of which are rare and endemic.

Tuan Chau Island

Tuan Chau Island is accessible by land via a 2 km road. This island is famous for its white sand beaches and sumptuous accommodations overlooking the bay. Tuan Chau Island is the main destination for national tourists thanks to excellent services and entertainment.

Cong Do Island

25 km from Bai Chay Harbor, Cong Do Island attracts many international tourists. This place is the home to several species such as shrimp, crab, fish, squid and aquatic plants. Especially, a 300-meter-wide coral reef in Cong Do is a heaven for those who love snorkeling and scuba diving.

Bo Hon Island

14 km from Halong coast, this island is one of the largest and most wonderful islands in the bay. From this island, you will have access to a network of famous caves here: Surprise Cave (Hang Sung Sot), Virgin Cave, Luon Cave, etc. A diverse fauna and flora system is also a highlight of Bo Hon Island.

Ngoc Vung Island

Ngoc Vung Island belongs to the Van Don District, between two small islands namely Hon Net and Phuong Hoang. This island is famous for its many untouched beaches, attracting a large number of visitors every year. Come to Ngoc Vung Island, you also have an opportunity to visit archaeological and cultural relics to understand the priceless history of the province.

Co To Island

This island is a tranquil and unspoiled destination for beach lovers. Tourists can enjoy swimming here all day, not to mention other extraordinary attractions to see such as a lighthouse on the highest mountain of Co To Island, natural forests and fishing village.

3. Unusual Islets

Dinh Lu Huong Islet - Halong Travel Guide
Dinh Lu Huong Islet
  • Fighting-Cock Islet (Hon Ga Choi): The name derives from the shape of two cock-like rocks that emerge from the water.
  • Stone Dog Islet (Hon Cho Da): This 8-meter-high rock looks like a dog with the head turning to the sea. This is regarded as an iconic image of the bay.
  • Dau Nguoi Islet: This islet is similar to the head of the Egyptian Sphinx.
  • Thien Nga Islet: It looks like a pair of swans.
  • Islet Xep: It is said that it looks like an Egyptian pyramid.
  • Dinh Lu Huong Islet: or the Incense Burner Islet. This islet consists of a large stone that has the shape of an incense burner.

4. Amazing Caves

Sung Sot Cave - Halong Travel Guide
Sung Sot Cave

For millions of years, movements of the earth and erosion have given birth to many caves here which are considered as a masterpiece dedicated to nature. We can admire different forms of stalactites and stalagmites which are backed by modern lighting system inside the caves.

Each cave has its legend. In many caves in Halong Bay, you can find prehistoric remains that belonged s to the ancient civilizations living here millions of years ago. Remnants of Vietnamese people’s war are still visible on some sites.

Surprise Cave (Hang Sung Sot)

This is the largest cave of Halong Bay. This cave was discovered by the French in 1901 and given the name “Grotte des Surprises” since they were amazingly surprised by its beauty. Sung Sot Cave was open to the public since 1993. Its marvelous 30-meter-high ceiling is the highlight of Halong Bay.

Heavenly Palace Cave (Dong Thien Cung)

4 km from Dau Go Island, this recently discovered cave is famous for its splendor four pillars of stalagmites carved which hold the “roof of paradise”. Exploring this cave’s craggy cliffs is not easy. Going The farther you go, the more surprised you will be about the beautiful formation of stalactites.

Luon Cave

Luon Cave has a special shape: It is a circular mountainous arc with a blue lake at the middle. A visit by boat or kayak around this cave is a must for every tourist. Taking a boat ride to Luon Cave, you can admire craggy cliffs, sparkling stalactites and crystal-clear water.

Maze Cave (Dong Me Cung)

Me Cung Cave is located 25 m above the sea level on Lom Bo Island. It is about 2 km to the southwest of Titov Island. Me Cung Cave has a complex structure, including many compartments and a corridor of about 100m. Looking from afar, the entrance to the cave looks like a roof of a house which was dug deep into the island’s slopes. When entering the interior, visitors feel like they are in a large and sumptuous royal palace.

Tien Ong Cave

Open to the public since 2010, Tien Ong Cave can be considered as a magnificent museum built by the Earth. Although being less popular than Surprise Cave and Heavenly Palace Cave, the stalactite system inside the Tien Ong Cave is quite amazing. It is 5 meters above the sea level, 50 meters deep, covers an area of 1000 square meters and contains two large chambers. In addition to tourism, the cave of Tien Ong also attracts the attention of archeological experts who love to explore a cradle of ancient Vietnamese people.

Thay Cave

The reason for its name is that the stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave resemble a desk and shelves. The entrance of the cave is right on water’s edge, which is very unusual compared to other caves in Halong Bay. Its floor is covered by sand, which is another unusual feature of this cave (other caves’ floors are covered by rocks that are eroded over time). Thay Cave is about 30 meters wide and 150 meters long.

Driftwood Cave (Dau Go Cave)

This name comes from a popular history dating from the war against the Mongol invaders in the 13th century. Vietnamese General Tran Hung Dao, our national hero, prepared several ironwood stakes here to be planted along the Bach Dang River. The invaders’ boats were immediately destroyed thanks to Tran Hung Dao’s strategy. Dau Go Cave consists of three chambers in which you can see stalactites and stalagmites in various shapes.

Virgin Cave (Hang Trinh Nu)

Located near Dau Go Cave, this cave is associated with a legend about a beautiful woman who was in love with a poor fisherman. However, her father forced her to marry a rich officer to pay off his debt, but she refused. She left her home, sailed to the sea to find her lover. Unfortunately, they could not find each other and after desperately waiting for her lover, she turned into rock. Inside the cave, you can see a temple which is dedicated to the faithful woman.

Pelican Cave (Bo Nau Cave)

Covering an area of 200 square meters, Bo Nau Caves features three stones at its entrance. The name Bo Nau is associated with the fact that pelicans often live here. You can discover various stalactites and stalagmites in the cave.

5. Tranquil Villages

Vung Vieng Fishing Village - Halong Travel Guide
Vung Vieng Fishing Village
Cua Van Fishing Village

At Cua Van, visitors can admire magnificent karsts and limestone islands of Ha Long Bay, capture some photos of its colorful raft houses and take a close look into the daily life of local fishermen. Cua Van is home to more than 170 households that depend mainly on fishing for their livelihood. Apart from fishing, many families also offer homestays and participate in environmental awareness campaigns. In 2015, it was recognized as the world’s most charming village by famous American online newspaper Huffington Post.

Vung Vieng Fishing Village

Located about 24 km from the mainland, the fishing village Vung Vieng Fishing Village is in the center of Bai Tu Long Bay. Tourists will surely be fascinated by the beauty of the boats, fishing nets in front of local people’s houses, hospitable fishermen and smiley children here. Vung Vieng Fishing Village has become one of the most fascinating tourist attractions of Bai Tu Long thanks to its wonderful natural landscapes. With imposing mountains and wonderful caves, tourists can have an opportunity to sunbathe on the sandy beaches, participate in fishing activities and savor delicious seafood.

Cong Dam Fishing Village

Cong Dam Fishing Village is located far from the mainland, thus compared to other fishing villages, the number of visitors coming here is not very high. As a result, the landscape remains primitive and quiet. This village has many majestic karst mountains and colorful coral reefs. Kayaking, rowing and fishing with the fishermen are thrilling experiences you cannot miss when visiting the village.

Ba Hang Fishing Village

Ba Hang is a small floating village, with about 50 households, located near the cave of Thien Cung Cave. Local villagers here are the first inhabitants of Halong Bay who have been living on the sea for several generations. They have created a diverse culture and unique customs. In the peaceful atmosphere of Ba Hang, tourists will be greeted with fresh seafood and performances of folk songs.

Cap La Fishing Village

Cap La is a small fishing village which is located between Bai Tu Long and Halong Bay. There are 80 families with more than 200 people living here. Fishing is their main livelihood, children go to school until 12, and then stop to work as a fisherman. There is no national electricity system here. People must use the electricity generators.

Things to Do in Halong

Halong Bay Cruise

Bhaya Cruise - Halong Travel Guide
Bhaya Cruise

The best way to enjoy the beauty of the bay is to participate in a night program on a junk. That’s why a hundred junks have been established to meet a large number of customer requests. The quality and service are guaranteed and there are different programs to choose from. Here are the most popular cruises to our UNESCO Heritage site:

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

Activities on Halong Bay Cruise

Each junk offers you a different program followed by different activities, but in general, you will have a welcome meal and then arrive at caves, beaches or villages for fishing or kayaking. In the evening, you will participate in the Vietnamese cooking class, go fishing at night, enjoy a cocktail on board, etc. When you get up early the next morning, you can take a taichi lesson on the sundeck and continue your visit to the site.

Day trip

You can take a day trip to Halong Bay if you are lack of time. Here are some popular routes around the bay:

  • Route 1: Halong Harbor – Thien Cung Cave – Dau Go Cave – Dinh Lu Huong Islet – Fighting Cock Islet (4 hours)
  • Route 2: Halong Harbor – Thien Cung Cave – Dau Go Cave – Dinh Lu Huong Islet – Fighting Cock Islet – Sung Sot Cave – Titov Beach (6 hours)
  • Route 3: Halong Harbor – Tam Cung – Sung Sot Cave – Titov Beach (6 hours)
  • Route 4: Halong Harbor – Me Cung – Sung Sot Cave – Cua Van Fishing Village – Ba Ham Lake (8 hours)