From the moment we set foot in Vietnam, the feeling of anxiety to get to Halong Bay soon and know that wonder has grown in us. After all, Halong Bay is known as one of the most amazing places in the country – as representative as traditional Vietnamese conical hats or even rice fields.
Once we get to know the coast of Thailand, we see that any rock formation from deep in the water can already delight and thrill, so now imagine thousands of them forming a natural surreal maze that we wondered if this could even exist on planet Earth. For many travelers, Halong Bay is a must stop for those visiting Vietnam. Then we will make your life easier by giving you all the information you need to explore the best of this amazing scenario.
Learn more about Halong Bay
Halong Bay is one of the best known bays in the world. It is made up of some 2,000 overgrown limestone islets spread over about 120 kilometers of coastline, lapped by an eye-filling emerald sea. Most of the islands are not inhabited nor do they suffer from any kind of human intervention. Some hide beaches, caves and caves, as well as small floating fishing villages. The site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, encouraging greater environmental preservation.
The name of the bay means something like “The Dragon Who Has Come Down” and has a curious legend behind it. Local people say that a long time ago the Chinese invaded in an attempt to conquer the territory. During this time, the villagers prayed to their Gods, who promised to send help from the heavens: a family of dragons to protect the region from enemies. The dragon mother would then have released countless pearls and jades from her mouth to contain the invaders. These stones turned into mountains, and at the sight of the wonder, the mother of the dragons decided not to return to the sky, staying with her family in Halong Bay.
The tale may vary slightly depending on the narrator, but Vietnamese in the area will be delighted (and proud) to speak of this legendary story. When we were told this story, we had some doubts in understanding and we used a search on the internet to be able to detail more here.
How to get to Halong Bay
The best way to reach Halong Bay with peace of mind and security is from Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. The city is about 160 km from Halong Bay, which takes an average of 3.5 hours. Dozens of companies undertake varied excursions, which generally include a round trip transfer between the capital and the bay.
To explore the region, you can:
Make a return trip from Hanoi: the departure point is away from the city, so it will take you an average of 8 hours a day on this transfer to Halong Bay alone – which will make your day extremely busy. So we don’t recommend this option at all! If you are one of those “root travelers”, we recommend you to:
– Sleeping 1 or 2 nights aboard: Spending the night in Halong Bay on a traditional Vietnamese / Chinese ship, known as the Junk, is the most common way of getting to know the region and that’s how we explore Halong Bay.
– Staying on dry land: There are options to stay close to where the boats depart (Halong City) and even on an island called Cat Ba, within the bay itself.
How to choose the best cruise?
As we have said, most travelers choose to get to know the place by sleeping one or more nights on the traditional Halong Bay cruises. In general, boats include round-trip transfers from Hanoi, all out-meal drinks, private en suite rooms and several stops along the promenade to learn about the bay’s special features such as caves, beaches and lookouts. Choosing the cruise, preferably in advance, is the most delicate time when planning a trip to Halong Bay. In your research, you will find that the prices and services are varied, and the challenge is precisely to find a compromise between price and quality.
Although it may seem expensive, your experience in Halong Bay will be totally tied to the experience with the cruise, as you will enjoy much of the ride within it. That’s why it’s important to stay tuned and get it right. Do a lot of research and read the reviews of those who have already used the service, so as not to have any setbacks. One of the champions of choice for tourists and what we used to explore Halong Bay was the Glory Legend Cruise. The price may be salty, but it was worth it for the comfort and activities during the tour. If you want more info about luxury Halong cruises, just check here!