Halong Bay is a tourist destination that you should enjoy even just for once in a lifetime because of its natural landscapes. Usually, you will have to spend a decent amount of money to travel to Halong. However, with my packaging experience, you can enjoy a Halong trip at a reasonable cost that featuring boating trip around Halong Bay, hiking at Bai Tho mountains, shopping at Hon Gai market, wandering at Halong night market, enjoying the view of Halong from Bai Chay bridge, or having a great time on Tuan Chau island.
Halong Tour Experience
Halong is about 177 km far from Hanoi, you can get to Hanoi by using airway, I usually check Vietjet (https://www.traveloka.com/vi-vn/vietjet-air) or Vietnam Airlines (https://www.traveloka.com/vi-vn/vietnam-airline) for the best ticket, then you can get to Halong by catching the bus at Luong Yen or at My Dinh bus station, there will be buses available every 4 hours so you do not need to worry if you miss a bus.
Phuc Xuyen, Kumho Viet Thanh, and Hoang Long have lots of rides each day.
The ride to Cam Pha at My Dinh or Luong Yen station (the best buses services in this station are Hoang Long and Khumbu Viet Thanh, brand new 45 seats bus that departing every 15 minutes with Hoang Long Busses and 30 minutes with Khumbo Viet Thanh’s busses).
Busses to Mong Cai (Ka Long) runs all night with bunked beds, and it will travel through Halong:
Ka Long – My Dinh Trip tel are:
Hoàng Phương 0982844799.
Duy Quân 01222 395395
Bus route from Hanoi to the southern provinces: You should pick the first The Sinh tourist (64 Tran Nhat Dat, Hanoi, tel 04.39290394).
If you only want to travel around Halong Bay you can go on a 2-day trip. First, catching a bus to Halong early in the morning around 7am. Around 11:30 you turn to the 3-way intersection that goes into the Tuan Chau Tourist Park and get to the Tuan Chau Tourist Port by motorbike taxi aka xe om. Have lunch at nearby restaurants, and don’t worry because the price is not too expensive.
Early in the afternoon, get to the harbor to buy scenic tickets and ask about the ship to visit the Bay. You will need to buy separate tickets for sightseeing and for boat trip the cost is around 100,000 – 150,000 VND per person if you want to travel with other people. If you are traveling with a group or family, it is advisable to rent a private boat, with the price range between 1,500,000 VND – 1,700,000 VND/ 4-6 hours (price might be higher in travel season from May to August).
Note that if you go to Halong without visiting the Bay, then you can go to Bai Chay to book your room first, then go to Tuan Chau Tourism Port, the distance from Bai Chay to Tuan Chau is around 15 km. On Tuan Chau Island there are much less choices of hotels than Bai Chay.
Tuan Chau Port
There are two types of tickets to visit Halong Bay in a day, a 4-hour ticket and a 6-hour ticket. In which, a 4-hours ticket featuring sightseeing at Thien Cung Cave, Dau Go, Trong Mai Island, drifting around the Bay in short distance. With 6-hours ticket, you will visit: Thien Cung Cave, Trong Mai Island, Titov Beach, wander around the bay with further distance.
Trong Mai Island
The beauty of Ga Choi Island – Trong Mai Island, one of Halong Ba best features.
If you are not tired after the bus from Hanoi, you should go to hiking at Bai Tho mountain on the afternoon of the first day, then visit the Bay early in the second day’s morning with 6-hours ticket.Take the bus in the afternoon to leaves for Hanoi. Bai Tho Mountain is located on Hon Gai, close to the beach near Bai Chay Bridge. From the top of the mountain, you can see the panorama view of Halong City and part of Halong Bay. This destination has not been included in many tours.
If you are a student and want to travel to Halong at an extremely low cost: You should spend the night at the inn near Long Tien Temple area (around the pagoda there are some cheap motels, 150,000 VND per night for 2 people with the quality of the hostel or below). When taking the bus to Halong, tell the bus guide that you will stop at Long Toong, from this intersection to Long Tien Temple will cost about 15,000 VND on motorbike taxi. There are 2 delicious and affordable place to eat near Long Tien Temple, right on the opposite of the cinema. If you are in Hon Gai, you should hike Bai Tho, near Long Tien Temple. One downside is that it is inconvenient that you have to cross Bai Chay Bridge on bus when going to Bai Chay Tourist area (ticket will cost 10,000 VND/pass), and take around 15-20 minutes.
In addition, the motel near Long Tien Temple is also very convenient for you to travel to Quan Lan. Since from Long Tien Temple to Hon Gai port is 400 m apart, there is a boat port to Quan Lan Island, if you travel to Halong, you can take a night at the inn in the area, and travel to Quan Lan Island on the next morning.
Long Tien Temple
Two days & one night sleeping on Ha Long Bay
With those 2 days and 1 night sleeping on the cruise on Halong Bay will give you much more activities, and especially, you will get to spend a night on the Bay. Mostly foreigners will choose these types of tours and domestic tourists usually choose to stay in the hotel (Mainly because domestic tourists believe that the quality of cruise service is not good enough and it is very risky to sleep on the cruise). But I do believe the main reason is because the tour price is high, because the cruise will not be able to operate without the Management authorization. These types of tours usually cost around $90 – $110/night for a 3-star and $170 – $400/night for a 4 or 5-star. And if you wonder which one you should pick, it is really just depended on your budget.
Usually, the Tour included:
Day 1: Travel from Ha Noi – Ha Long in about 4 hours, you will be at Halong around 12:30. You will board the ship and visit Halong Bay right away. Lunch will be served on the cruise after you settle down. Around 14:00, you visit Titov beach or Sung Sot cave, and Kayak at the end of the day (or Kayak early in the morning on the 2nd day).
Day 2: Kayaking, then breakfast, the cruise will take you back to Port by a different path (through Ga Choi Island). You can have lunch on boat or at the restaurants in Bai Chay. And there will be a drive back to Hanoi in the afternoon.
There are lots of service providers for Kayaking around the Bay, depending on tourism companies. With 3-day tours Halong often combine to Cat Ba always on the 2nd, and the 3rd back to Halong – Hanoi.
Place to stay in Halong?
Halong Bay is divided into two zones: Hon Gai and Bai Chay, they are connected by the Bai Chay bridge. The main tourist area is Bai Chay, with its long coastline and tourist ports. And Hon Gai is the administrative center. It is easier to move and eat aroud Bai Chay. Motels and hotels are mainly located in Vuon Dao district, prices are ranged from 250,000 – 350,000 VND/night,and it will be increased in the summer. There also many restaurants around the area that you can choose. some small eateries near the Post Office 3-junction have really delicious meals at a reasonable price. My advice is to choose the special dish Pork Squid.
For more advices about places to stay in Halong, you can refer to the link belows:
Or visit this link to search for nearby hotels and motels in the area:
Where to go in Halong?
Thien Cung Cave, Dau Go: You can start by sailing to Dau Go Island, then walking up the steps to the mountaintop, and exploring the cave, my advice is to visit both caves. In these caves, there are many beautiful animals’ stalactites. Visiting Halong Night Market by night is also advised, getting those small and beautiful souvenirs.
Halong Night Market
You can also visit the central area, rent a horse cart at Post Office 3-Junction to ride around the area. If you want go to Bai Chay Bridge at night, you should visit at the early hours for safety. In addition, if you choose to stay in Hon Gai area, you might be far from the tourist center, but close to Halong city, then you can enjoy the food and learn about the life of Halong people. On this side of Halong you can visit Long Tien Pagoda, enjoy the Crispy Pastry Cake, the food here is much cheaper than the tourism area. You can take the bus to move between the two areas, the Hon Gai area would be more suitable if you are a student.
Combining Cat Ba and Halong tourism
If you can visit both destinations, it will be a pefect trip. Take the Tuan Chau Ferry to travel from Catba to Halong, the ferry runs at fixed timeframe, so you must take that into account. You can have some fun at Tuan Chau resort on the second day then move to Cat Ba on the last trip of the day. When arrive at Gia Luan Wharf in Cat Ba, you need to rent motorbike taxi or taxi to get to the center of the town. Stay a night at Cat Ba, then go to the beach and visit Fish Market on the second day. Then catch one of Hoang Long bus to ride back to Hanoi in the afternoon (including Hoang Long highspeed train ticket) at late 15:00.
How much it cost to travel around Halong
The price of Halong tour tickets has increased to 120,000 VND/ticket from 6:30 to 18:30 (tickets to the bay, not including ticket to visit island, cave, etc…)
The cost of visiting one of the tourist destinations that has been invested by the government: Soi Sim, Ti-Top Island, Cua Van floating culture center … ranged from 30,000 to 50,000 VND per visitor.
The price of a one night stay on a Halong Bay tour is 320,000 VND. Two nights stay on a tour on Halong Bay is 470,000 VND and a 3-night stay is 520,000 VND. Children between 7 and 15 years old; and Elderly from 70 and above, disability or poverty people will receive a 50% discount. For people who contributed to the national liberation struggle, children under 7 years old will receive free ticket.
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