Visitor's Guide to Ha Long Bay
Updated: Apr 15
Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist attractions and there is no doubt about why once you see the gorgeous turquoise water against the limestone rocks. There is something magical about this spot. In fact it is so magical it brings in about 2.58 million tourists a year. It is a famous UNESCO World Heritage site. Majority of the islands within Ha Long Bay are uninhabited. There are floating fishing villages spread out throughout the Bay. One of the many cool things to see when visiting this area along with wild animals, caves, and amazing views.
How long should you visit Ha Long Bay?
Our recommendation: 1 day
Halong Bay is pretty big and gorgeous. We spent a day trip on a cruise to explore the area. That was enough for us to get a feel and see what the area was about. There are many options with cruises. If you are on a budget, one day is good. If you want to relax and not be rushed, maybe a 2-3 day tour is good.
What is there to do?
Depending on what tour you choose, there are many activities. There is hiking, kayaking, viewing caves, and visiting fishing villages. We did a one day tour which included Ti Top Island, Sung Sot Cave, and cruising Halong Bay area.
Ti Top Island: a beautiful, but very busy island. You hike about 400 or maybe more steps up to get a view 110 meters above the bay. There are animals on this island. If you decide to climb for the view, which is highly recommended, you won’t have much time to do anything else. The island is not that big. It has a small beach if you wish not to climb the steps. The main reason they stop there is for the view.
Sung Sot Cave: this cave is a must see! This is Ha Long’s Bay largest cave. This was my second time in a cave and I was blown away by the size of it.
Luon Cave and Lake: Kayak or bamboo boat ride through the limestone rocks. I loved this part of the tour. It was nice to get off the bigger boat and really see the beauty of the rocks up close on a smaller, more intimate boat. It is also cool to see how locals paddle on the bamboo boats. I was fascinated !
Expect crowds at all of these spots. As these spots are not that big and there are many tour groups exploring the Ha Long Bay area.
Suggested Tours for Budget Travelers:
$39 Day tour ( I would pick this one out of the three options) https://www.viator.com/tours/Hanoi/Halong-bay-one-day-tour-with-Dragon-King-Cruise-from-Hanoi/d351-105035P3
$48 Day tour (no transfer to hotel) https://www.viator.com/tours/Hanoi/Halong-Bay-Day-Tour-from-Hanoi-Titop-island-Surprise-Cave-and-Kayaking-tours/d351-141327P3