Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Lê Ngọc Minh Châu - Updated April 02, 2019

Halong Bay itinerary is extremely attractive to anyone. Like unique and mysterious attractions of several wonders recognized in this world, Halong bay located in Vietnam is inclusive of exceptional landscapes with amazing rock formation, the emerald water, the scenic beauty from unspoilt nature, beautiful limestone islands...You can call it a paradise on the earth.

Without a doubt, it’s tourist’s first and main concern on their holiday in Vietnam. Many of them said that “I come to Vietnam just to see Halong bay”. To each one Halong bay itineraries are different in term of choosing a cruise, decide what to see, what to do, how to book to avoid scams...so they need to understand Halong bay itinerary in details, so you do! I’m going to introduce you all the useful information for a Halong itinerary now.

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a gem of Vietnam

Itinerary for other destinations near Halong Bay 

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You have to know before you go

I. 3 Main things impulse you to go Halong Bay 

Never make a question that Why is Halong Bay because it is an undeniably amazing creation from unspoiled nature in Vietnam. These 5 things are more than your expectation when you are on the step of collecting necessary information to plan a Halong bay itinerary.  

How much of stunning sceneries and interesting activities does Halong bay give you? What do you get from the bay? Should be your questions now. The questions are definitely revealed as below

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Stunning scenery in Halong Bay

1. Admire the beauty of such a big number of islands and islets rising from emerald water with diverse shapes, the distinctiveness of each cave, the quietness of fishing village... on the bay

What they are, a few well-known attractions of this bay:

  • Titop island: Located about 12 km from Tuan Chau port, the place looks beautiful with blue sky, white sands on the beach. Besides enjoying your relaxing time under pure water if you want to see the whole island you can climb up to the middle of nearby mountain

This destination also offers you many services such as fresh water bathing, swimming, life jacket renting, kayaking…

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Sung Sot cave - the most beautiful cave in Halong Bay

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Kayak in Halong Bay

  • Sung Sot cave: Or you can call it Surprising cave, is the most stunning cave on top 1 of Halong Bay. It’s big and decorated with numerous shimmering and fanciful stalactites. Like its name, the cave promises to bring you surprises on your journey of visiting it. Nowadays Sung Sot cave has become a touristy place even many people have to wait for their turn to go inside. Whatever, it is worthy to see and discover!
  • Thien Cung grotto: Like a paradise underground, this is one of the most enchanting places of interest in Halong. To reach a narrow slit of the grotto which is its entry you have to overcome quite high cliffs first. Inside around you don’t be so surprised because of the vivid and splendor beauty of all created stalactites.
  • Vung Vieng area: Or Vung Vieng fishing village was one of the places for the life of fishermen traditional community in Halong bay. This area is assessed to remain its unspoiled beauty. A village gate which is a beautiful giant arch carved by nature welcomes you if visiting here.

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Boating throught caves

The most impressive way to explore the village is rowing bamboo boat or kayaking through karst islands. Especially you will experience some interesting activities such as trying netting fish, watching pearl farm. This is absolutely a great chance for local residents to be uncovered economic by bringing tourists activities of a typical fishing village.

  • Me Cung cave: Visiting Me Cung cave, you will feel like returning to the home of ancient Viet people over about 18000 - 7000 years. The cave is beautiful and mysterious.
  • Luon cave (pass through the cave): Specially attracting anyone, Luồn cave has the shape of a tunnel with the submerged ground. Deep inside the cave is a small lake, so the cave is the connecting passage between the sea and the lake. To enter the lake, you must travel by small boats with oars.
  • “Trong Mai islet”:  Trống Mái islet includes two small rocks with a height of 12m lying face to face. Far away, they look like a chicken couple one cock and one hen.

Halong Kissing Chicken Rock - Glory Lively Nature Symbol which printed on VND 200.000 banknote

Trong Mai islet has been selected as the symbol of Ha Long Bay tourism and was chosen as the symbol of Vietnam’s tourism in 2000. Those visiting Ha Long bay never seem to miss the chance to take beautiful pictures here.

2. Coming to Halong, here are some outstanding services and activities are offered

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

High speed boat

  • High speed boat: Getting on a high speed boat for your discovery of majestic Halong bay is suited for those who love thrilling feeling.
  • A breathtaking trip to overlook Halong bay by Seaplane - it’s expensive but a spectacular experience in your life. This type of tour was launch in 2014 only by Hai Au aviation. You can book this service with 5-star Au Co cruise, it takes you about 45 mins from Hanoi to Halong but you need to come to Noi Bai airport from Hanoi centre which also takes you 45 extra mins.
  • With fishermen experiencing service, you’ll throw away a noisy city to immerse yourself on a quiet local life in Vung Vieng fishing village which is mentioned above.
  • Services of kayakings, rowing boats: How wonderful it is if you have a chance of contemplating the bay while doing kayak. Additionally, Halong bay is opted by National Geographic Adventure as one of the top 25 ideally tourist destinations to the world.
  • Overnight on board: To overnight in Halong bay, it’s easy to join in a cruise. All the cruise ships have private comfortable cabins which are not different from a mini hotel on land.

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

A breath taking view from the seaplane

When the night falls, that the atmosphere seems to be colder, the volume of sounds decreased, opening the window it will be your relaxing time to observe majestic mountains from away, sky, nightly scenery of the bay.

3. Seafood is a very important key in your Halong bay itinerary

Shrimps, crabs, snails, oysters, cockles, squids… are all the best dishes to try in Halong. Here it’s always enough seafood with reasonable price to welcome you.

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

"Mu ni" crabs in Halong Bay

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Steamed "Claw shirmp" with green chili sauce

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Grilled fresh from the ocecan squid

II. Best Time To Visit Halong Bay Vietnam

How about Vietnamese weather? The climate differentiates according to 2 main seasons (winter and summer) specifically in Northern Vietnam. It is rainy, and hot, cool in the summer and little autumn from April to Oct. While in the winter, it’s cold with little rain from Nov or Dec to March. You can’t make sure 100% about the weather, it’s more exact when your tour date nearly comes.

Halong bay still looks awesome regardless of cold or sunny weather year round. In fact the nicer time is from April to Oct or Nov when it’s warm. But this point of time the typhoon may occur to run your trip. All the cruises are canceled to secure everyone’s safety. From Nov to Feb or March temperature is between 15-20 degrees celsius but this is tourist season.

>>> See more in Best Time To Go To Halong Bay

III. How To Get To Halong Bay - How To Book With Reasonable Price

Firstly, you need to remember that you will start from Tuần Châu port, the busiest one which is Halong bay’s embarkation point. Known as its neighbor the Bai Tu Long bay has its own Hòn Gai port.

Here are your guidelines:

1. The first option: private transportation from Hanoi to Halong or from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay

If you don’t mind spending a larger amount of money which is higher than usual prices in practical, taking a private transportation service to get the best convenient is highly recommended.

From Hanoi to Halong or Ninh Binh to Halong and vice versa you can book a private car with 4, 7, 9, 16, 29...seats. Price is from 2.300.000 VND/way from Hanoi to Halong, driving on a highway only takes about 2.5 hours to get to Halong. With this kind of service you are guaranteed to be picked-up on time, transferred faster than other tourist shuttle bus

How to book: Since you are hard to contact drivers or transport company it’s better to book it through travel agency, hotel staffs, sales person from a cruise company

2. The second choice: Shuttle Bus from Hanoi

From Hanoi to Halong with the cruise company you booked with. It is one of the best way to experience Halong bay with well-designed itinerary for 1 day, 2 days, 3 days or 4 days cruises.

They usually organize to pick up in the Old quarter of Hanoi centre on a shuttle bus with big size, 29 seats for example. Price is from 10- 15 USD/way and depending on each company it is included or excluded in tour price. A tour guide will follow you.

How to book: So just inform your cruise supplier about your requirement on pick-up service, normally they ask you actively. Or book it through travel agency

3. The third option: Public transportation from Hanoi to Halong

To save your cost, sometime you are willing to use any service as long as it’s cheaper. Well from Hanoi starting from Gia Lâm Terminal, Lương Yên Terminal, or Mỹ Đình station you can catch a local bus. Price is just 120.000- 150.000 VND/way but they will stop you near Bai Chay bridge from there you have to take cab to get to Tuần Châu port.

This way is not convenient and not anytime the service is good since they will stop on the way to pick other guests up. It takes from 3- 4 hours transferring.

How to come:

  • Gia Lâm station: No.9, Ngo Gia Kham Str, Long Bien Dist, Hanoi
  • Mỹ Đình station: 20 Pham Hung Street, My Dinh 2, Nam Tu Liem, Ha Noi city

How to book:

  • Come and buy ticket directly
  • Book through their website 

4. The fourth option: By train, it takes time but safe

From Hanoi to Halong by train takes you 6 hours, price is about US $5/ticket. When you come to Halong train station you then have to take a taxi to get to Halong bay.

5. The fifth option: Getting to Tuan Chau from Cat Ba island

Find the Gia Luan station from Cat Ba to buy your ticket for a ferry from 80.000 VND

Duration: about 45 mins

Daily departure time: 09:00, 11:30, 15:00, 16:00

>>> For more detail: HANOI TO HALONG | Best Way To Go To Halong Bay 2018

IV. Halong Bay Itinerary - What to do in Halong Bay

Visiting Ha Long, it would be great if you sleep overnight in the Bay. The overnight cruises depart from the ports of Halong city, there are many types of cruise ships ranging from budget to expensive ones, you can book a group tour with private or a charter cruise. The boats are all provided by private businesses with qualified serves for tourists.

Here are 3 best itineraries in Halong Bay:

1. One Day Cruise

One day cruise in Halong bay has from 4 to 8 hours with many tour routes.

If you join in a huge cruise ship going around the world such as Celebrity Millennium or Costa Victoria they will dock in Quang Ninh Province at Cai Lan Harbor, Tuan Chau or Hon Gai. From there, taking a day cruise to explore Halong is your best choice within a short time

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Take a cruise on Halong Bay

1 day itinerary is mostly organized as below:

Part 1: Pick you up from Hanoi, heading to Halong bay at about 11:30 am. Check in at cruise office, wait to embark

Part 2: Enjoying your lunch with traditional Vietnamese food while the ship passing many beautiful rocks, limestone islands.

On the main parts, you are offered to visit Thiên Cung cave or Sửng Sốt cave, Vung Viêng village, Luồn cave, kayaking,..you’ll see 2 to 3 destinations in the bay.

Part 3:  You may end your trip earliest from 05:30 pm

>>> See more: Halong Bay Cruises

2. Two Days One Night Cruise

To fully experience Halong bay, 2 days 1 night is the first choice and suited for many tourists. Cruise into the heart of Halong Bay, enjoy fishing and kayaking at Trong Cave, and head to Titov island for hiking and swimming. Head back to Hanoi the following day.

This is a typical 2 days 1 night cruise in Halong bay

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Halong Bay Map

Day 1: From Hanoi to Halong

Pick up at your hotel from 08:00. Arrive in Halong at 11:30 am then embark at 12:00. After that, you will check in your cabin, enjoy welcome drink with Vietnamese food, seafood…Visit pearl farm village then do kayaking, come back to main ship to have a sunset tea time. In the evening, you can play games, try squid fishing, karaoke...

Day 2: Halong bay

Beginning a new day with doing Tai Chi on the top deck, feel the fresh air. Have a breakfast with served coffee or tea.

Then starting to visit Sửng Sốt cave, one of the best cave in Halong.

Join in cooking demonstration with cruise’s chef.  Prepare traditional Vietnamese dishes and then enjoy lunch on board before heading back to the harbor. Depart for Hanoi.

Price for 2 days 2 night cruise on 3 star boat is from US $130/pax  

3. Three Days Cruise

To explore more places of Halong bay, 3 days 2 nights itinerary will offer you day 1 and day 2 as in the 2 days 1 night itinerary. On the third day depending on each cruise, you have chance to see Titop island, Drum cave, Cua Van floating village…

I suggest you should choose one of the itineraries if it includes Sửng Sốt cave, Titop island, Luồn cave, or Pearl farm fishing village

Price for a 3 star cruise in Halong 3 days 2 nights from US $230/pax

Halong Bay Itinerary - BEST Itinerary to Halong Bay

Kayak in Halong Bay

V. Tips for Halong Bay Itinerary - Best way to see Halong Bay

Before you go, you should check the weather because when the storm is about to start, all ships cannot go to the sea. When boarding, you should bring light luggage

Guests can choose to stay overnight on the bay from 2 days 1 night, 3 days 2 nights. The longer you use the service, the more preferential prices you will get. Vessels often have incentive programs for children.

There are many cruise lines from 1 *, 2 *, 3 * to 5 *.  A 3 * standard ship is reasonable, because it is suitable for money with beautiful furniture, comfortable and cozy, visitors should book in advance to match with prior plan.

From Halong bay, you can catch a ferry at Tuan Chau harbor to head to Cat Ba island which is a large island in the neighboring Lan Ha Bay. Cát Bà island is very famous for its beautiful sandy beach, also many attractions around.

Are you ready to go on a Halong Bay trip?

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