There is 1 question that has always been asked by the travelers visiting Vietnam “Is Ha Long Bay Worth Visiting?” Well, you will have your answers at the end of the article.
- Vietnam Overview
- Vietnam Chapter 1 – Sapa
- Vietnam Chapter 2 – Halong Bay
- Vietnam Chapter 3 – Cat Ba Island
- Vietnam Chapter 4 – Hoi An
- Vietnam Chapter 5 – Da Nang and Ba Na Hills
There is a lot to tell about Ha Long Bay and I have tried to summarize that information in a single blog. Do read it till the end and I hope that you will like the detail of information I have tried to put in.
With more than 1600 Limestone Karts and Islets, Ha Long Bay was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. The Halong Bay also known as the Bay of Descending Dragon is expanded approximately over 1500 sqkm.
These limestones have gone through countless years of transformation, have seen capricious environments, and has turned into a mesmerizing site.
Located in the North-East part of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is a fascinating site known for its pristine turquoise water, scattered islands, and majestic caves.
Things to do in Ha Long Bay
Some places are popular for a reason and Vietnam’s top attraction & the tourism hub, Halong Bay is absolutely one of them.
Kayaking in Halong Bay is one of the most famous activity. Paddling through the crystal-clear waters around the fascinating karsts is a different experience in itself.
Almost all the mid-range and high-range Halong Bay cruises offers an hour of kayaking and is included in their package. If you are an adventure junkie, you can go for kayak-only trips organized by a few operators.
2. Titop Island
Visit Titop Island if you want to experience the enthralling 360-degree views of Ha Long Bay. The combination of beach and a mountain makes it a unique place and thus attracts many tourists.
If you have ever searched for a picture of Halong Bay, there are high chances that the picture was taken from the summit of Titop mountain.
Activities on Titop Island
With a height of 110 meters, Titop mountain peak can be reached by climbing 450 steep steps. The observation deck at the top of the mountain reveals the 360-degree panoramic views of Halong Bay which are breathtaking.
Though the climb is steep, the views are worth the effort. You can spend an hour or so at the summit, enjoy the impressive views and take the photographs of the mighty Ha Long Bay.
Titop Island welcomes you with a crescent moon shaped beach which is known for its beautiful turquoise water and tranquil views.
After a steep climb of Titop mountain, you can immerse yourself in the refreshing and calm waters of this beach. The beach is perfect for activities like sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, etc.
3. Limestone Caves
There are approximately 59 limestone caves till date and out of all Sung Sot cave located on Bo Hon Island is the most famous one. There is a small deck at the bottom of the Island from where you have to take approximately 100 steps to reach the entry point of Sung Sot Cave.
It may look like a small and dark cave, but don’t judge a book by its cover. You will be surprised by seeing this enormously huge cave from inside. This cave is comprising of 2 chambers, first one is 30 meters high and narrow passage leads to a second chamber so large that it can accommodate thousands of people at a time. The entire cave is covered with stalagmites of varied shapes and sizes.
Other famous caves in Halong Bay are Dau Go Cave, Luon Grotto Cave, Thien Cung Cave, etc.
Best Way to Explore Ha Long Bay
The best way to explore Ha Long Bay is through Cruise. Many people (including myself) prefer to travel independently instead of being with an organized tour but Ha Long Bay is one such place that cannot be experienced independently. You must book an organized Halong Bay Cruise tour to enjoy it completely.
There are various cruise options in terms of duration and type which you can book as per your convenience and enjoy the enthralling and charming beauty of the magnificent Ha Long Bay.
Duration of Halong Bay Cruises
Whether you have ample of time to visit each place or if you are short of time and want to visit famous places only, the choice is yours. There are many cruise operators offering multi-duration Halong Bay cruises for everyone to enjoy at their own pace.
– 3D2N Cruise
This 3-day and 2-night Halong Bay cruise offer you everything at a slow pace giving you enough time to enjoy each place. Below are the generalized itinerary/activities involved in these cruises (It may change based on the type of cruise):
- Luon Cave for Kayaking
- Private Beach for Swimming
- Pearl Farm
- Titop Island
- Cua Van Floating Village
- Sung Sot Cave etc
- Cooking Classes
– 2D1N Cruise
These 2-day and 1-night Halong Bay cruises are the most preferred ones. They are neither too short nor too long and gives you enough time to explore Ha Long Bay. Following the generalized activities included:
- Luon Cave for Kayaking
- Titop Island
- Sung Sot Cave
- Cooking Classes
– Day Cruise
If you are out of time but still want to explore the charismatic beauty of Halong Bay, do as many locals do and visit Halong on a day cruise. These cruises are usually cheaper than the other 2 but don’t give enough time to spend at locations. It includes the following:
- Titop Island
- Sung Sot Caves
Types of Halong Bay Cruises
Your experience depends very much on the type of cruise you choose. The type of Halong Bay cruise will decide whether you will have a relaxing and memorable experience, or a tiresome journey ruined by uncomfortable cruise and a bucket-load of people in it. So, choose wisely—
– Luxury Cruise
Halong Bay offers some elegant and luxury cruises that are nothing less than lavishing hotels floating on water. You can expect higher quality meals and amenities onboard. Luxury cruises to Halong Bay cost approximately $300 to $350 and give you an experience of the five-star property.
– Mid-Range Cruise
Mid-range Halong Bay Cruise is the most preferred option by tourists as this is neither too luxurious that it can burn a hole in your pocket nor too budgeted to give you a bad experience. Some good midrange cruises offer a cozy cabin, English speaking guides, and decent food on board. The average cost of a midrange cruise is approximately $100 to $150
– Budgeted Cruise
There are many budgeted cruises as well which are rustic in condition and offer very few amenities. You can book a budgeted cruise from $50 to $70 approximately.
Cruise Booking Tips
- Check whether transfers between Hanoi and Halong are included or not. Prefer the ones which have transfers included.
- Check whether the rates are priced by cabin or by a person (in case of night stay)
- Check activities included
- Compare prices and activities
- Check reviews before booking any cruise
- Check if they have an English speaking guide
- For vegetarians, check if they have vegetarian food options
Alternative to Ha Long Bay
There is a cheaper alternative to Ha Long Bay, i.e. Cat Ba Island. Budget backpackers can consider this option and reach Cat Ba via ferry from Halong. You can book a day trip of Lan Ha Bay and Ha Long Bay from here.
How to Reach Halong Bay
You can easily get private buses from Hanoi to Halong which takes approximately 3 hours to reach. Many cruise operators include transport to and from Hanoi which is the best option for you to enjoy the trip.
Best Time to Visit Halong Bay
The best time to visit and experience Halong Bay is November & December as the water is crystal clear and seas is calmer during this time.
Most tour operators have an English speaking guide, so language won’t be a problem while visiting Ha Long Bay.
So this was my experience while exploring Ha Long Bay and I think it is definitely worth a visit. Please share it with your friends you are planning a trip to Vietnam. Checkout the other chapters from my Vietnam Series.