Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay translates to “Bay of Descending Dragons”, referring to the local legend of its creation by a gem-spewing dragon. Take one look at its stunning collection of over 2000 monolithic limestone mountains rising from calm water, and its likeness to its namesake is undeniable. Halong Bay is a jaw-dropping natural marvel which has inspired international visitors for decades, and has earned its rightful place on travellers’ bucket lists. If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, it would be remiss not to include this iconic destination in your itinerary.
No visitor to Halong Bay should ever miss the opportunity to enjoy a sunrise or sunset over the bay – both easily done on board a traditional junk boat cruise. Most overnight cruises will visit its most famous attractions, including Surprise Cave and Bai Tu Long Bay.
Some cruises visit Cua Van Floating Village and a pearl farm, depending on weather and water conditions. Longer tours will stop off at Cat Ba Island, the perfect place to stretch your legs with a cycling or rock climbing adventure.
How to get there:
By Plane: As of 2014, it’s possible to take one-of-a-kind seaplane flights from Hanoi to Halong Bay, landing directly in the water. Including time to do some aerial sightseeing, it takes only about 45 minutes from the airport in Hanoi.
By Bus: Buses to Halong Bay from Hanoi leave from My Dinh Bus Station, arriving in Bai Chay. Total travel time is between three and a half and four hours. If you book a Halong cruise, this transfer is generally included in your tour package and pick up from your hotel.