Vietnam – Getting to know Halong Bay

Halong Bay looks like those cinematic images of coastal Asia that hover in the collective subconscious – traditional junks sailing past craggy shorelines, as apricot sunsets blaze into the ocean. You may blame these on the Bond films, but Halong Bay is the coastline that started it all. Here you can cruise the waters in a luxury junk (there are some you can have all to yourself – perfect for a honeymoon treat), explore the bays by kayak, and relax on tiny island beaches before dining in style aboard your boat.

Vietnam Halong Bay Travel Guide

One of the world’s ‘natural wonders’, and an absolute must-do on any first-time holiday in Vietnam, Halong Bay (also spelt Ha Long) is an area of more than 1,000 towering limestone karsts, winding tributaries and sub-tropical islands of various sizes. It’s slowly modernizing, but the Bay’s UNESCO status makes sure it stays well protected. The area plays host to a huge diversity of ecosystems, including offshore coral reefs, freshwater swamp forests, mangrove forests, small freshwater lakes, and sandy beaches.

What to do in Halong bay

Cruise the Bay on a traditional junk. Throughout much of the year (weather & season permitting!) overnight junk journeys give you the chance to sunbathe, swim and snorkel. You can be sure to stop at caves, deserted bays, remote islets and hidden lagoons. If you fancy taking things even easier, just stretch out on the sundeck, sip a cocktail and soak up the magic.

Island hop. Folklore says that dragons descended from the heavens to help locals by spitting jewels and jade into the sea, forming a natural fortress against invaders – the islands that you see today. Several of these boast beautiful grottos and huge caves that you can explore during your tour of the bay.

Efforts are being made to minimise the environmental impact on the bay. While the number of junks has increased in recent years, and pollution levels in some areas are causing concern (particularly around the main ports), Halong Bay’s iconic status and irresistible beauty are unaltered.

Exploring Halong Bay: A Must-Do Adventure

Set Sail on a Traditional Vietnamese Junk

Experience the magic of Halong Bay aboard a traditional Vietnamese junk. These junks, originally Chinese sailing boats, found their way to Vietnam in the 14th century. Today, they are an integral part of Vietnamese culture and have been transformed into comfortable passenger vessels, offering one or two-night cruises.

From your junk, embark on adventures by water, kayaking through hidden bays and secret caves, all while taking in the stunning scenery. Onboard, savor freshly cooked delicacies like spice squid (muc rang muoi), chicken curry (cari ga), and enjoy cocktails at sunset on the beautifully polished top deck. Choose from 10- to 24-cabin vessels or opt for a private boat for a more intimate experience.

Discover Tranquility in Bai Tu Long Bay

For a deeper exploration of Vietnam’s coastline, consider extending your journey to two nights. Just 30 kilometers east of Halong Bay, you’ll find Bai Tu Long Bay. Initially, it may resemble Halong Bay with its limestone karsts and lush greenery, but Bai Tu Long is quieter, receiving fewer boats, ensuring a more peaceful atmosphere.

Witness the Sunrise and Practice T’ai Chi on Deck

Staying on a junk in Halong Bay offers a unique opportunity to witness the sunrise over the water. Set your alarm to catch the enchanting peach-pink sky reflected on the limestone formations. Many junks also offer early morning T’ai Chi classes on the deck. Led by an experienced instructor, these gentle movements synchronize with the soothing sounds of waves lapping against the boat’s hull.

Ascend to the Peak of Ti Top Island

While most images of Halong Bay are captured from the water, Ti Top Island offers a distinctive perspective. Hike to the island’s summit, named after Russian astronaut Gherman Titov, who visited the island during the 1960s, strengthening Soviet-Vietnamese relations.

Located southeast of Bai Chay Harbour in the western part of Halong Bay, Ti Top Island is a jungle-covered rock formation with a staircase leading to its peak. At the summit, you’ll find a wooden viewing platform, providing breathtaking views across the bay. After the hike, unwind on the island’s cozy crescent beach, and if you arrive in the late afternoon, the beachside bar beneath the cliffs might be open for a refreshing cocktail.

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Tailored Itineraries with Halong Bay Tours

Explore our recommended travel plans in Halong Bay, showcasing routes that have been carefully curated for your inspiration. Keep in mind that your unique journey will be crafted by one of our dedicated specialists.

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LIST VIEW

Kanazawa

Perhentian Islands

Redang Island

Kuala Terengganu

Malacca

Kuala Lumpur

Pangkor Islands

Cameron Highlands

Penang

Langkawi

Photos of Halong Bay


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