Famous for its unique natural scenery amidst the vast ocean, Ha Long Bay tourism has therefore become a beautiful tourist destination that appears constantly on newspapers and social networking sites. Not only that, this place also has a rich cuisine, bringing many interesting experiences for visitors.

Ha Long Bay

Photo: David Smith

What to do when traveling to Ha Long, where to go, what to eat, which hotel to choose? What is the reason for you to choose Ha Long as your vacation destination? What is the experience of traveling to Ha Long Quang Ninh to have fun and relax in style? All will be revealed in the complete Ha Long travel guide below!

General information about Ha Long Bay

The Bay belongs to Ha Long city, Cam Pha city, and a part of the island district of Van Don. The name Ha Long means “descending dragon”. According to local legend, the islands of Ha Long Bay were created by a great dragon from the mountains. When Vietnam had just started to establish, they had to fight against foreign invaders. The gods sent a family of dragons as protectors to assist the Vietnamese in defending their country.

Ha Long bay

The Dragons immediately spewed fire to scorch the enemy, partly spitting out jewels and jade turned into a towering stone wall that made the enemy boat crashed and shattered, stoped the invaders. After the invasion, seeing the peaceful ground, lush trees, the dragons decided not to return to heaven but live in this bay. The position of the mother dragon landed was named Ha Long, the place where the dragon’s children landed was called Bai Tu Long and the place where the dragon’s children wriggled their tails violently was called Bach Long Vy island. However, the name Ha Long or Bai Tu Long only existed during the French colonial period.

The Bay encompasses of nearly 2,000 islands, most of which are limestone and schist. Ha Long bay has been voted many times by UNESCO as a world natural wonder, known as a place that must be visited once in a lifetime.

Why should you visit Ha Long at least one time in your life?

With the 3 reasons below, Vietdreamtravel believe everyone wants to pack their backpack and go to visit this famous tourist destination.

  • One of the 7 natural wonders of the world: in the top 7 natural wonders of the world, certainly, Ha Long Bay is the dream destination of every tourist. Not only domestic tourists, foreign tourists are also very interested and admiring the natural creation here.
  • Many interesting and attractive entertainment, and discovery spots: coming to Ha Long, you will be free to explore, experience, and have fun. Most people’s experience traveling to Ha Long is not to miss attractive places to visit such as: Ha Long Bay, old town, night market, Tuan Chau islands….and experience with a lot of sports activities.
  • The traveling expense is quite cheap. Although Ha Long Bay tourism is very developed, but the cost of a tour here is not too expensive. Whether tourists are in the North or the South, there are many good flights all year round to reach Ha Long Bay. Daily tours that go here also have affordable prices and stable service. Along with that, the culinary source is abundant and diverse, visitors to Ha Long Bay have the opportunity to enjoy many delicious dishes at reasonable prices.

Ha Long trip

What’s the best time to visit Ha Long Bay?

Ha Long’s weather changes every month and is quite distinct in each season, so please carefully review the weather forecast before your trip. Travel time to Ha Long can be divided into the following time periods:

  • April to June is the ideal time to travel to Ha Long. At this time, the weather has almost no rain; sunny and warm; very pleasant, suitable for sightseeing and resting with family and friends.
  • June to August is the peak season of Ha Long, many families combine vacations with children, so the number of tourists flocks, room prices and services also easily increase. This time is summer. Especially in July and August, there are easily tropical depressions and storms, directly affecting tourists’ Ha Long travel schedules.
  • Late November until Tet holiday is the travel time for foreign tourists to Ha Long. Vietnamese tourists mainly choose to come here in the summer, so this time Ha Long is also peaceful and has more private space for you to enjoy.

How to reach Ha Long Bay?

From Hanoi, visitors can travel by many means of transport. In addition to personal cars, there are Limousine cars available to pick you up on request (Phuc Xuyen, Van Don Xanh, Ha Long Travel…) with ticket price of 180,000 – 220,000 VND per person. In addition, you can catch buses at stations in Hanoi city. Passenger car prices are about 150,000 – 200,000 VND per person.

The most ideal direction of travel is Hanoi – Hai Phong, Hai Phong – Ha Long highway. The road is beautiful, but you need to pay attention to signs, drive at the right speed, turn on the signal lights when changing lanes and always wear a seat belt. Travel time is about 2.5 to 3 hours.

flight to Ha Long

Quang Ninh has Van Don airport. So from Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, visitors can travel by air straight to Quang Ninh, then go by road from the airport to Ha Long City, about 50 km. There is a bus from the airport to the city center.
In Ha Long, if you do not have a personal vehicle, you can rent a motorbike for 120,000 – 200,000 VND a day. Tourists traveling in large groups such as families, groups of friends, colleagues… should rent a taxi (Mai Linh, Thanh Hung, Thinh Hung…), book a Grab (bike or car) or private car to Ha Long.

Famous places in Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay possesses majestic and poetic natural beauty with thousands of large and small islands and many unique caves. The bay is also recognized by UNESCO as a world natural wonder, attracting many tourists every year with beautiful destinations such as: 

Tuan Chau Island

Tuan Chau Island

Tuan Chau is an island connected to the mainland by a beautiful straight 2km long concrete road. This place is famous for its long sandy beaches, clear blue sea, and Tuan Chau international seaport – the departure point for sightseeing cruises taking visitors around the entire bay.

The island is regarded as one of the most popular destinations in Ha Long for domestic and international tourists and an indispensable destination of tours. Coming here, travelers can visit and observe special works and services such as the dolphins, sea lion, and seal-performing club, animal circus club, golf court, cultural-sports center, artificial beach, rural market, ornamental fish lake, food court, complex of villas, hotels, amusement parks.

Dau Go Grotto

Dau Go GrottoAnother interesting place worth exploring in Halong Bay is Dau Go Grotto (Driftwood). The name of the island comes from the historical story of the resistance war against the Mongo aggressors. In a decisive battle, Tran Hung Dao was given an order to prepare many sharp bamboo stakes to be planted on the riverbed of the Bach Dang River. They were stored in the grotto where the remaining wooden pieces were found.
The cave is situated on Driftwood Island, next to Thien Cung cave. Dau Go cave is known as “Cave of Wonders”. The cave has a large entrance, shape with a jellyfish, receives a lot of natural lights. This is the reason why stalactites and stalagmites are covered with a layer of green moss. Deep inside the cave, you can see numerous imagines in the rock formations carved by nature like an ancient, majestic, and unique architectural complex.

Thien Cung Grotto

Thien Cung GrottoThien Cung Grotto is one of the most beautiful grottos and a must-see place in Halong bay for all travelers who stop by even just for a few days. Thien Cung cave is located on a south-west island of the bay, 4km from the wharf outside of Ha Long city. While Dau Go Grotto (on the same island) brings a magnificent beauty and honorable history, travelers visiting Thien Cung Grotto will feel being in a heavenly world. After entering a narrow gate, covered by a thick forest outside, the magnificent grotto’s 130-meter long girth opens up. From the base to the top of the cave, numerous strange images appear in the stone: birds, fish, blooms, and even scenes of human life. On the northern wall of the grotto, you can see many fairies dancing and singing in honor of the wedding. Under the tremendously high roof, stalactites form a natural stone curtain. And the wind blowing through the stones produces the sound of a beating drum.

To finish a voyage through Thien Cung Grotto, you have to pass a thin way with dazzling stalactites, and at the existing door, you’ll be enchanted by the overview beauty of Ha Long Bay and Ha Long City.

Cua Van Fishing Village

Cua Van Fishing VillageCua Van fishing village is located in a calm sea on Ha Long Bay, surrounded by rocky mountains. This area is an ideal location for anchoring. The village is the home of many generations of fishing families living on small floating houses. Currently, there are more than 300 households living on pristine but spacious and clean floating houses.

The village is only accessible via boat. Cua Van fishing village is a must-see attraction in Ha Long Bay and many travelers visit the village as part of their exploration of the bay.

When admire from a distance, Cua Van fishing village brings a realistic and extremely beautiful view with the spectacular “background” of mountains and forests.  Coming here, you will discover exciting activities such as fishing, squid fishing, boating… and enjoy delicious seafood right on the boat.

Vung Vieng Fishing Village

Vung Vieng Fishing VillageVung Vieng Fishing Village located in the off the beaten track Bai Tu Long bay, about 20km from Tuan Chau Marina to the South-east. It’s a floating village, very small as it is only inhabited by 50 families.

When you come here, you will have the opportunity to feel immense peace and quiet as compare with other fishing village, this is the less tourist one. The daily activities of the local villagers are closely linked with water and fishing activities. Most of them work as fishermen or do aquaculture. But few of them sell souvenirs and snacks to tourists passing by.

Coming to visit the village, you can relax on the pristine beach located on the mountainside of the fishing village while enjoying peaceful time, or experience a day as a fisherman catching fish with the locals. After the fishing trip, you can also enjoy the delicious, fresh taste of seafood that you have just collected yourself.

Titov Island
Titov Island

This beautiful island is located in the Cat Nang channel. The previous name of this island was Cat Nang. On January 22nd, 1962, President Ho Chi Minh along with the Russian astronaut Gherman Stepanovich Titov, visited Ha Long Bay and the island. To commemorate this special event, as well as to express the lasting friendship among Vietnamese and Russians, President Ho Chi Minh proposed to name the island as “Ti Top”. It’s a lovely rest stop for cruises in Ha Long Bay. The small island is well-known for the beautiful scene with calm air, white sand, and blue water. On the island, 170m-long stairways to the top of the mountain for sightseeing for a wide beach along with service shops were renovated to serve tourists in the most convenient way. It is definitely an interesting place for sightseeing and relaxation.

Virgin & Male Grottoes

Virgin & Male GrottoesVirgin (Trinh Nu) Grotto is situated on Bo Hon Island, in the system comprised of the Sung Sot Grotto, Dong Tien Lake, and about 15 kilometers far from Bai Chay beach.
When visiting the island, you can see in the middle of grotto a stone statue of a lying-girl with long hair looking to the ocean. The second one is male (Trong) grotto, with his face turns into the Virgin grotto, with numerous stalagmites and stalactites creating many skillful carving shapes on the wall.

There was a love story about the girl statue in the grottos. It is said that the beautiful girl and a young fisherman in a village fell in love. While he was heading off far away to the ocean for fishing, she was compelled to get married to a rich administrator of the fishing zone. She had refused then got angry and exiled, by the administrator, to a wild island where she suffered from hunger and exhaustion. She turned to stone. Her lover rowed his boat in search of her. However, a tempest destroyed his boat and he floated to a nearby island. His final exhaustion and turned to stone. For local people, the Virgin & Male Grottoes represent romantic love.

Sung Sot Grotto

Sung Sot GrottoThis is the widest and the most beautiful grotto in Ha Long Bay. The save as many rocky islands with unique shapes that is nowhere to be found. The road to Sung Sot grotto or the Cave of Surprises is hidden under the forest canopy. You have to climb up around a hundred stone steps to reach the entrance of the cave.
The cave is about 10,000 m² wide with thousands of stalagmites and stalactites. In the cave, there is a system of paved walkways along the entrance to the exit which is longer than 500 m. The cave is divided into two main compartments, the first looks like a wide theater, with numerous stalactites dangling from the high roof. Entering the second one through a small trail, you will see a completely different space in comparison to the first one, which can accommodate thousands of people. Colorful spotlights are set in such an appropriately subtle way and add to the charm of the cave. Coming here, you will have a great chance to witness the beautiful landscapes of clear water lakes, some types of trees, and birds living here.

Bo Nau Grotto

Bo Nau GrottoThe name Bo Nau is associated with the fact that pelicans often take shelter here. According to some documents, Bo Nau cave is one of the earliest known in Ha Long bay and regarded as a place with beautiful landscapes and an attractive destination for tourists. The grotto has a relatively large area, divided into 2 compartments of about 1,000 m2, but still very pristine because it has not been renovated and exploited much.

The entrance area is a short sandy beach that visitors can only access by small boat, and large ships cannot enter. It also has a dome-shaped like a seashell facing down, creating a private space that feels like the ceiling of a theater. Stepping into the grotto, you will quickly see a stone column made of stalactites hanging down from the ceiling to the extremely majestic ground.

In front of the entrance are three stones, looking like three fairies with their head close to one another. Two men appear to be playing chess, with the third serving as a referee. Standing there, one can see a green mountain range undulating on the pure and emerald water all year round.

Luon Grotto

Luon GrottoLuon grotto belongs to Bo Hon Island, nearby Sung Sot (Surprise Grotto) 14 km south of Bai Chay. Luon grotto is a specially attractive destination as the shape of a tunnel with the submerged ground.

This is a closed group of islands, connected to the sea only by a cave entrance about 4 m wide, 3 m high, and 100 m long. The lake in the grotto is surrounded by four mountain sides, about 1 square kilometer wide.  There are not many grottoes of this type in Ha Long Bay, but perhaps the most attractive and attractive thing that attracts tourists here is the natural scenery. It is an interwoven, harmonious combination between the shape of the mountain, the color of the water, the clouds and the sky, to each tree and grass. The cliffs are steep and the water is clear and calm like a mirror. It seems that it is impossible to find any defect in nature here.

The only way to visit Luon grotto is by a small boat with oars. Luon grotto is the connecting passage between the sea and the lake. Today, Luon Cave is chosen as a top tourist destination where visitors can freely kayak or bamboo boat to experience and explore the beauty of the bay. Most of 2 days 1 night Ha Long Bay tours overnight on cruise go through this attractive tourist destination.

Chay Beach

Bai Chay Beach

Bai Chay is a famous beach in Northern Vietnam, located in Bai Chay ward, Ha Long, Quang Ninh province. Bai Chay is an artificial beach, located along Ha Long Bay with a sandy beach more than 500m long and 100m wide.

This is a beach that attracts a lot of tourists during the beach tourism season. The topographic feature is a strip of low hills running gently towards the sea, stretching more than 2km embracing pine trees, interspersed with hotels and small villas with separate architecture.

Wide beach, clean sand suitable for organizing group games, swimming, sunbathing or walking to watch the sunrise…

Dinh Huong Islet

Dinh Huong Islet

Dinh Huong Islet is a famous islets among hundreds of large and small islets; islands, in Ha Long Bay. Located right next to Dog Rock Island, southwest of Ha Long Bay, Dinh Huong Islet is a place that is considered a masterpiece of creation which has the shape of the top of an incense burner. Its appearance is very imposing and can easily be thought of as a giant incense burner placed on four slender stone slabs but is actually very solid. 

Today, Dinh Huong islet has been included in the symbolic image of the 200,000 VND note, representing an important part of this sacred island.

Some other attractive experiences in Ha Long Bay

Not only can visit, sightsee, coming to Ha Long, visitors can also try many unique and impressive experiences such as:

  • Kayaking: enjoying the scenery of Ha Long Bay by kayak is an activity that tourists look forward to. You will be able to sit on a tiny Kayak, swim in the middle of the water, and feel small in the majestic landscape of clouds and sky. Try to sit stable and hold the position tightly for easy balance.
  • Spend the night on a yacht: If you love romantic natural scenery, try spending the night on a yacht. Visitors will welcome the sunrise with the sea on all four sides, no more dust or noise of the city.
  • Viewing Ha Long Bay from a seaplane: this is a relatively new form of experience. On the seaplane, you will have the same view as a bird flying high above, taking in the entire majestic landscape of Ha Long Bay.
kayak in Ha Long Bay

kayak in Ha Long Bay


Famous delicacies in Ha Long are mostly made from seafood such as crab, squid, sea worms, shrimp, fish,… Seafood noodle dishes are very popular.

Cha Muc (Grilled Chopped Squid)

Grilled Chopped Squid

Cha Muc, known as squid sausage or squid cake, is famously from Quang Ninh province and considered one of the top regional specialties of Vietnam. The main ingredient is squid meat, patiently grinding up by hand then fried in medium heat until the meat turns golden brown. The crunchy and delicate texture of this dish makes it become one of the most delicious dishes in Ha long.

In Ha Long, diners can find Cha Muc at any time of the day. Some famous addresses include Ba Ngan, Ba Yen, Goc Bang, or in the local market during the day. One serving costs 30,000 – 55,000 VND depending on whether diners want to order more squid.

Fresh Oyster in Ha Long

Oyster in Ha Long

Oysters are famous world-over for being a luxurious treat; Halong Bay is a wonderful place to enjoy them fresh.
After being cleaned, the oysters will be grilled on a charcoal stove with salt, pepper, and grilled onions or served raw with a slice of lemon.

Sa Sung (Peanut Nudus)

Sa Sung (Peanut Nudus) in Ha Long

Sa Sung or peanut nudus is probably the most unusual food in this list. It’s a type of sea worm found abundance in Ha Long. The worm lives in the sea, just under the top layer of sand, and lives in brackish waters. It can be fried with garlic or pineapple, grilled with chili salt, roasted and served with chili, lettuce, or eaten raw with mustard. Sa Sung is considered valuable food that rich protein.

Ngan (Austriella Corrugata)

Austriella Corrugata in Halong

Ngan is a special type of bivalve mollusk living in the sea, bigger than the clam with a white shell and a big tentacle. It can be found only in the Bach Dang River (border between Quang Ninh and Hai Phong). Ngan can be processed in various ways: grilled, steamed, soup, or stir-fry with noodles or vegetables.

“Gat gu” cake

Gat Gu Cake

“Gat Gu” cake is made from rice powder similar to rice noodles and steamed rolled rice pancakes. The secret to making this delicious and unique cake is the sauce. The local people steam fish sauce with chicken fat, onion, and chili. This perfect combination creates a special dipping sauce and makes the dish even more exotic with a unique aroma.

Sam (Horseshoe crab)

Horseshoe crab in Halong

Another attractive specialty of Halong is Sam, known as the seafood with high nutritional value. Sam is processed into many dishes such as Sam pudding, fried eggs, Sam salad, Sam sauté with peppers and lemongrass, steamed Sam, or stir-fried Sam with glass noodle… very unique and delicious food. However, sam is a type of seafood with cold properties, so if you have a “history” of allergies or have a cold stomach with seafood, you should not eat it or only eat a little. The famous Sam’s address in Ha Long is Ba Ty’s Sam’s in alley 6 Cao Thang, or Sam’s in Quang Yen, located on the road from Ha Long to Hanoi. In the afternoon, in the snack area of Ha Long 1 market, there is also a shop selling sweet and sour crab legs, sam rolls… quite delicious

Be Me noodles

Be Me noodles

Be Me noodles is a popular breakfast and lunch dish in Quang Ninh, especially in Ha Long city. Be Me shrimp (also known as mantis shrimp) is a seafood species abundant in Ha Long waters, with firm, sweet-smelling and nutritious meat. A bowl of vermicelli costs about 30,000 – 40,000 VND.

Source: collected by An