Recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay, located in North Vietnam, receives millions of international tourists each year. With stunning beaches, majestic islands, splendid caves and a wide range of amazing activities, the destination must be in the bucket list of every visitor.
Regarding the concern of tourists over how to reach Halong Bay, we would love to share everything you need, from different means of transportations, durations, fares, availability to their pros and cons, in this article!
You are sure to be offered a wide range of options when it comes to transportations. Here is a feature comparison table so that you can have a general look into each type.
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|Coach||Shuttle Bus||Private car||Train||
|Time taken||4 – 5 hrs||2.5 – 3.5 hrs||3 hrs||5 – 7 hrs||45 – 60 min|
|Cost||US$4 –8/person||US$8 – 10/person||US$45 – 60/way||US$4 – 15/person||US$100 – 450/person/way|
first – 6 am
last – 9 pm
first – 5 am
last – 9 pm
|24/7||5 am or 7 am||9 am or 2 pm|
With the distance of 170 km from Hanoi, travelling by coach is considered the most popular means of transportation among local people. There are now more than 20 local coach operators whose vehicles range from 29 to 45-seater coaches. Travelling by coach takes usually 4 -5 hours. You can choose your suitable pick-up points among
My Dinh Bus Station: 20 Pham Hung Street, My Dinh, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi
Ticket Price: 100.000 VND
Gia Lam Bus Station: No.9, Ngo Gia Kham Street, Long Bien District, Hanoi
Ticket Price: 120.000 VND
From Gia Lam Bus Station there are 3 routes to Halong City: Gia Lam - Tien Yen, Gia Lam - Bai Chay, Gia Lam - Cam Pha.
Giap Bat Bus Station, etc. for your best convenience. Passengers are free to drop off at Halong city, Bai Chay beach or Tuan Chau, etc. The coach fare, therefore, is subject to various factors such as coach types, pick-up and drop-off points.
Travelling by coach is preferred by Vietnamese people because of its affordability and flexibility. This means of transportation provides eager travellers with an amazing opportunity to authentically experience as the local at a cheap price.
It is never easy to find the right coach in such a large bus station.
Moving to the bus station may put you to inconvenience since many tourists usually stay at the Old Quarter.
Besides, passengers are required to contact in advance or directly go to the ticket office to purchase a ticket. However, neither service providers such as drivers nor ticket salesmen at the bus station speak foreign languages. Language barrier pose an enormous challenge which should be seriously considered. Miscommunication may result in unexpected problems for you.
What is more, as the fare is rather low, the quality of the journey is not guaranteed. It is not recommended especially to those travelling with children because too many passengers can be crammed into one coach. The driver may also stop multiple times during the route to pick up more passengers.
Booking a ticket for local coach is quiet easy. Go to the website vexere.com, enter your departure and arrival city and your desired day of departure. The website will display a fully detailed schedule of the day from all providers.
As there’re many coach providers and it can cause you confusion, take time to research the quality of the coach. A useful tip is reading the reviews and looking at the satisfaction ratings of the providers.
Another booking options is buy the ticket directly at the bus station. However, it’s best to book in advance, especially during holiday season or there won’t be any ticket left once you get to the bus station.
Shuttle buses are usually smaller and of higher quality than local public buses, including Ford Transits and Limousine Buses which have from 9 to 16 seats.
Shuttle bus doesn’t pick up travellers along the way so it takes shorter time from Hanoi to Halong Bay, around 2 hours. However, it will stop about 15-20 minutes to break on the way.
Shuttle buses also tend to have more services and amenities compared to local buses, including Wi-Fi and bottled water. More importantly, there likely won’t be a severe language barrier.
The ticket price is around 10 - 20 USD/ one way. The departure time is usually at 7:30 am to 8:30 pm.
No worries about miscommunication since they have drivers with a sufficient command of English! Also, Wi-Fi access and phone charger plugs are available to ensure your convenience.
Another plus is that service providers are willing to offer free pick-up at your accommodation. There is no need to carry your backpack or heavy luggage to bus stations in the city. Just drop a message of your address and the driver will be there on time!
Shuttle bus tickets are easily booked via websites or phone call. Another possible way is to directly contact local tourist agency at the Old Quarter for further information.
What is more, some service providers also allow convenient online payment via Master, Visa, Paypal, American Express or Western Union cards…
The shuttle bus fare is a little higher than that of local coach due to the better service. Travelling by shuttle bus is faster than by coach. However, spending about 3 to 4 hours on moving is can be an issue for visitors with limited amount of time.
The last stop, Bai Chay Bus Station, is around the centre of Halong City. It is not difficult at all for you to find your accommodation from here.
There’re 2 websites you can book a ticket online are: vexere.com and travelertick.com. Book right via website or call them to book a shuttle bus. Or you can go straight to their office to book a ticket.
Besides the above mentioned public vehicles, hiring a private car is a viable option especially for tourists with high demand for privacy. If you don’t want to share the trip with strangers, this is the best choice for you.
The cost for renting varies and depends on size, brand and status. You can contact local agency for further advice. Normally, it costs around $70 - 100 for a round trip.
This is a good selection if you go in a big group. Pick up and drop off depends on your request, there’s no need to go far.
Local drivers who are clear about the route get you straight to the destination. They are also willing to help you with heavy luggage.
You are also free to travel the way you want, as the service is available 24/7.
Generally, the hiring cost is rather high, around $70 - 100 for a round trip..
AZ Local Trip provides private car for the best price.
It’s a little adventurous to go by train from Hanoi to Halong Bay. It can take up to 7 hours on the train but the tickets are rather cheap, about VND 70.000.
Spectacular View: First and foremost, reaching Halong Bay by train from Hanoi beyond doubt affords the picturesque scenery during the route. As a fortunate passenger, I was delighted to have a fresh cup of tea while gazing in through a wide window. Mountainous terrains, grassy rice paddy fields, tall palm trees, peaceful villages. Just make it an integral part of your own journey and gain more insight into urban and rural lifestyle of the North Vietnam.
Heavy traffic avoidance: At the second glance, taking a train enables visitors to avoid busy tourist traffic. Due to the insufficient amount of time in Vietnam, not so many people resort to going on a railway travel. As a result, you will not have to worry over being cramped.
Vietnamese lifestyles: Besides, why not offer yourselves a unique opportunity to attempt a traditional vintage yet excellent vehicle? It can become an unforgettable moment when you indulge yourselves in a romantic adventure, just like in the old-but-gold Vietnamese movies.
Safety: What’s more, it is common knowledge that travelling by train is considerably safe compared to other means of transportation.
Duration: The first drawback to mention must be the long duration. It takes up to 7 hours to get to Halong Bay from Hanoi by train, let alone the time to travel from your accommodation to the train station. This is certainly a minus in case you can only spend several days in Vietnam.
Availability: Another disadvantage to be taken into consideration is that the schedule is not consistent. You may need to check with the station multiple times to ensure no cancellation.
Inconvenience: The railway stations from Hanoi is a little far from the city centre. You need to take a bus or a taxi to reach there. The last stop is Halong Railway Station, which is not really near the city centre. Getting to your accommodation may cause unexpected inconvenience.
The terminal at Ha Long City is near the Bai Chay bus station and about 5 km away from the harbour. Expect train delays and cancellations without notice. Hard sleeper only, $10 USD one way.(not recommend this transport)
You can either choose to depart from Gia Lam Railway Station or from Yen Vien Railway Station. Both will take you to Halong Railway Station.
Yen Vien Railway Station – Halong Railway Station
This is a regular railway train of Vietnam, not specifically designed for foreign tourists. Unfortunately, the route has been reduced to Friday only ever since April 2018. The train number is Vietnam Railways 51501. In case your schedule does not match the timetable, you may want to select the second option.
Departure time: 04:55 a.m
Arrival time: 11:34 a.m
Ticket price is US$3/person/hard seat
Gia Lam Railway Station – Halong Railway Station
Train Halong Express primarily aims at tourists. It also takes a shorter amount of time to travel from Gia Lam Station as well. The train from Gia Lam Railway Station offers customers with a lot of attractive entertaining activities such as bar service and entertainment programmes such as commercials, funny comedy clips, movies and music.
Foreigners use special tickets with sign and regulation, sold at $15. A group of more than 15 people can get a US10 ticket/person.
International visitors to Vietnam with generous budget should give it a try. It is definitely an exhilarating experience to get the magnificent view of North Vietnam from hundreds of metres above the land.
Taking a seaplane flight from Noi Bai Airport to Halong City is only 45 minutes. The flight can be extended with an additional 15-minute scenic tour over the bay, which allows you to enjoy a bird’s eye view of up to 300m high above the sea level of thousands of limestone karsts and the beautiful jade green waters.
It is not time-consuming at all as you can get to Halong in less than 1 hour.
A seaplane or helicopter trip to Halong Bay is sure to cost a fortune.
There is only 1 company provides this service which is Hai Au Aviation.