Ha Long Bay – One Of The New 7 Wonders Of Nature
Ha Long Bay is considered as a must-see attraction in Vietnam, and we highly recommend adding it to any South East Asia itinerary.
In 1994, Ha Long was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It’s easy to see why. The area is surrounded by natural limestone and forest formations, caves…and grottoes along with beautiful hidden and pristine sandy beaches for you to explore. It is estimated that Ha Long Bay is home to some 1,600 limestone islands and islets and covers an area…area of more than 1,500 square km or 600 square miles!
These days, more and more visitors from all over the world come to visit Ha Long Bay. The information below will be essential for the first time to this natural wonder.
I. Time to visit
While it is possible to visit Ha Long Bay year-round, it’s wise to take note of the weather in Vietnam when booking your trip to have the best holiday possible.
Ha Long Bay is located in the North of Vietnam and can experience tropical monsoon-type weather. Ha Long Bay has four distinct seasons: Spring, Sumer, Autumn, and Winter. However, for trip planning, it is most important to know about the rainy season vs. dry season, May to September (hot, short-duration heavy rain), and the dry season is from October to April (cold, little rainfall). It is important to note that the rain may not affect your trip to Ha Long Bay as rain in the north typically only lasts for a short duration. However, in the case of very bad weather, cruises can be cancelled to ensure the safety of their guests.
- Spring (February, March, April) and Autumn (September, October, November) is considered the best time to visit Ha Long Bay since the sea is calm and the water is fresh blue.
- Winter (December, January) a busy time with tourists from all over the world traveling during their Christmas and New Year’s holiday. Although this is the coldest time of the year and you are not allowed to swim, there is little risk of rain as you are in the dry season.
- Summer (May – September) –it’s summertime and also the peak period for local tourists. Although you may see the Bay crowded during the weekend, Ha Long Bay is quiet during the weekdays and is a perfect time for tourists to visit. If you travel to Ha Long Bay in these months, you will have the chance to enjoy azure-blue water and relax on white-sand beaches in splendid seclusion. In addition to great weather and fewer crowds, taking a trip to Ha Long Bay during this time of year often means you can get a better deal on tours.
II. Type of tour
Ha Long Bay receives more than 6 million tourists each year an is considered as a popular destination not only in Vietnam but also in Southeast Asia.
There are 3 main types of tours to Ha Long Bay:
- One day trip (8 hours)
- Two days one night trip staying on a cruise
- Three days trip (2 nights staying on cruise or 1 night on cruise and 1 night on island)
One day trip is a round trip in 8 hours starting and ending the port city of Ha Noi. If you are limited on time, this is a good option so as not to miss this top experience in Vietnam. However, you may not fully enjoy the beauty of the landscape and the fresh air in the bay with such a short excursion. The one day trip includes about 2-3 hours of transfer time from and to Hanoi, thus, the most popular option is a 2-day trip.
2/3 Day Cruises Two and three-day cruises around Ha Long Bay offer the perfect escape from the city. We’ve heard from our clients that the longer they are able to stay out on the water, the better their experience is in the end. Normally 2/3 days cruise tour will start from Hanoi, where a bus or limousine will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the pier where you will begin the most breathtaking trip in the North of Vietnam. Aboard your cruise, you will have the chance to enjoy delicious seafood, local meals while watching the marvelous limestone rocks and grottoes stretching for as far as the eye can see. Activities on the cruise, are mostly centered around relaxation, discovering secluded islets, visiting floating villages by sampan bamboo boat, swimming in the calm, blue waters of the bay, and , for the more adventurous, even kayaking. As the waters are typically calm in Ha Long Bay, a kayak trip is not challenging and is a great way to explore the area. Normally, this activity is included in most of the cruise itinerary. However, some cruises require it as a surcharge, so this is definitely something to keep an eye out for before booking your trip. If you book your tour with us, rest assured, kayaking is always included in our tours.
III. Routes In Ha Long Bay
Depending on the duration and tour type, Ha Long Bay cruise itineraries can vary with different routes and places to see. In an effort to manage tourism in a sustainable way, the Ha Long Bay management has developed three distinct routes that cruise ships can utilize.
1. Route 1 – Highlights Include: Tien Ong cave, Cua Van fishing floating village, Three peach islands (an ideal place to kayak or swim), Viet Hai village (on Cat Ba island), Coc Cheo islet, Maze cave
2. Route 2 – Highlights Include: Vung Vieng Fishing floating village, Tung Sau pearl farm, finger islet, Kong Skull Island, Dau Be island, Thien Canh Son
3. Route 3 – Highlights Include: Titiv beach, ho Ba Ham islet, Surprise cave, Trinh nu cave, Luon cave, Cong Do island
Besides the routes, Ha Long Bay is actually divided into three bays which can confuse travelers when choosing a tour. The three main bays of Ha Long Bay are: Ha Long Bay (the most common bay), Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long bay.
Ha Long Bay – the most common bay
This bay is known as “descending dragon” which name comes from a Vietnamese folk tale. This bay is the most common route in the bay and includes Surprise cave, Vung Vieng village, and Titov island.
All of the one-day cruises will begin here, as will the 2/3-day cruise tours. This is why, in peak season, the bay seems very busy and is sometimes not what travelers are expecting to see.
Lan Ha Bay
Lan Ha Bay is located in the east of Cat Ba Island. and is about 70 square kilometers in area (or 27 square miles), of which most is under the jurisdiction of Cat Ba National Park. This is a gulf-shaped bay with 400 large islands which create a picturesque view that many dream of when they think of a visit to Ha Long Bay.
Bai Tu Long Bay
This bay includes lesser-known attractions, such as, Thay cave, Vung Vieng fishing village, Thien Canh Son cave, Ban Chan beach and Ang Du ara. Don’t miss Bai Tu Long if you are seeking a peaceful escape where tourists are few and far between.
So there you have it! Our best suggestions and tips for planning a trip to Ha Long Bay that fits with your travel preferences and style. Interested in learning more? Click here to contact us today and one of our representatives will be happy to talk to you about a custom trip to Ha Long Bay!