Known for the natural dazzling beauty of thousands of islands located in northeastern Vietnam, Halong Bay is the one-of-a-kind destination you must not miss in Southeast Asia. With its name referred to as 'The Descending Dragon', Halong Bay has been chosen as the top UNESCO World Heritage Site of Southeast Asia many times. Read on to understand why this scenic sight has drawn so many locals and tourists to discover the country of hidden charms.
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Enjoying picturesque breathtaking sights
From picturesque sights to stunning caves, historical complexes and luxurious resorts, Halong Bay has it all. Though it is quite common to visit Halong for 1 to 3 days, there are plenty of landscapes within the area to explore.
Some of the most striking sights are Bai Chay resort area; Co To Island, known for its pure crystal sea water and colorful corals; and Tuan Chau Island with artificial beaches full of white sand and massive amusement activities. Natural landscape enthusiasts can indulge in visits to massive caves including Luon Cave, Sung Sot Cave and Bai Tho Mountain. Halong is also famous for the historical Yen Tu Complex of Monuments and Landscape, consisting of pagodas and towers nestled within the forest.
Experience a wide range of activities
Exploring Halong Bay does not have to be only relaxing. Sporty travelers will enjoy Halong Bay’s plentiful outdoor activities offered to visitors such as kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, fishing, and so on. Ride kayaks on your own during day through dozens of caves. Learn to sail at the local village of Cua Van in the afternoon or fish for squid at night.
Excellent local cuisine
Whilst Halong Bay has excellent seafood, the most well-known type is Cha Ca, which is local fried chopped fish. Cha Ca can be served in a typical Vietnamese meal along with rice, soup and a stir-fried meat and vegetable dish. Cha Muc — fried chopped squid — is also a similar dish. Banh Cuon Ba Ngan is a popular restaurant in Halong City that is well-known for Cha Muc, served with Banh Cuon (aka rolled rice). This famous street food restaurant is located in the town centre on 34 Doan Thi Diem Street.
Spend the night on a boat or an island
Whether you'd like to spend a night on the boat or at a bungalow on an island, these experiences are worth spending money on. Halong offers wonderful choices of top-notch hotels and resorts such as Halong Paradise Suites Hotel, Vinpearl Halong Bay Resort and Novotel Halong Bay. There are a wide variety of cruises to take, ranging from the most luxurious 5-star experiences to mid-range ones, which is ideal for a relaxed family trip, and even party boats mainly for groups of young people.
Going with a tour or by yourself
The most ideal way to experience Halong Bay, which I highly recommend, is to book a full-package cruise. For about 110 USD (approximately 2 500 000 VND) per person, you can expect a quality cruise of 3 or 4 stars, for 2 days and 1 night. Vspirit, Halong Phoenix and Royal Wings are some of the well-known names for cruises. Low-budget travelers can enjoy a diverse range of affordable Halong tours offered by plenty of travel agencies, hostels and hotels around the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Walk by Ma May or Ngo Huyen street, where most backpacker hostels are located, and you will find plenty of options that suits your budget. From Hanoi, Halong can be easily accessed by car, train or bus within 4 to 5 hours.
What to pack before Halong?
Get yourself reading by remembering to pack swimsuits, sunglasses, flip flops and extra clothes for hot sunny days during your cruise. The rain can be very unpredictable in Halong Bay, so most cruise operators do prepare disposable raincoats for customers. Halong is best when the sun is shining, so make sure to check the weather forecast before you book a tour. Boats can be forbidden to depart due to bad weather conditions, especially on stormy days between August and October.