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Hạ Long Bay

Vietnam Travel Guide

Practical information on Hạ Long Bay

  • Romantic
  • Beach / Seaside Resort
  • Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
  • Caves
  • Art & Culture
  • Unesco World Heritage
  • Essential
5 / 5 - 3 reviews
How to get there
Two and a half hours from Hanoi by train
When to go
From May to November
Minimum stay
One day

Reviews of Hạ Long Bay

Claire Guerin Seasoned Traveller
39 written opinions

Hạ Long Bay, one of the must-see destinations in Vietnam, is somewhere I found to be full of mystery, and the scenery there is simply magical.

My suggestion:
Spend at least one night here: the sunrise and the sunset are absolutely wonderful.
My review

I was warned that "it's extremely touristy" and "it's polluted" … and yes, it is very touristy, but this honestly does not detract from the magic of this place at all. Hạ Long Bay is simply gorgeous: a vast place containing a large number of breathtakingly beautiful karst islands. As night begins to fall, the colours of the sky present a beautiful spectacle, and the lights of the boats add a highly romantic touch to the scene!

I spent two days and one night on a junk here. In my opinion, bathing on the main tourist beach is something to avoid, though whether that's really possible is another matter. I particularly enjoyed going canoeing and taking cooking lessons to learn to make nem (a kind of Vietnamese roll made using rice paper as a wrapper). The meals were served in copious quantities and the food was of good quality. The bedrooms were certainly sparse, though you spend so little time in them that it's not really an issue.

Even just travelling across the tiniest section of Hạ Long Bay I felt like I was discovering a place even more beautiful than the last at every turn. The colours of the water and the islands kept changing! It was fascinating! As you can no doubt tell, I've been left with very good memories of Hạ Long Bay, and as far as I'm concerned it fully deserves its place as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature!

Simon Hoffmann Seasoned Traveller
193 written opinions

Ha Long is a town in northern Vietnam, famous for a stunning bay that opens onto the Gulf of Tonkin.

My suggestion:
If you go in low season, you'll avoid the hoards of tourists and find the visit far more enjoyable.
My review

The Ha Long Bay has to be one of the most incredible places I visited. I can completely understand why this spectacular seascape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Imagine a long series of huge, limestone pillars that rise above the sea, some containing immense caves that you can visit. Add to this idyillic setting fisherman going about their business and amazing floating villages. It's magic!

There was an early morning mist when I was there, which, rather than hiding the beauty of the landscape, created a mysterious, dreamy atmosphere. You can understand why the area has given birth to so many legends. One activity I happened upon and which I highly recommend during a holiday in Vietnam, is to go out on a kayak and explore Ha Long Bay's interior lakes. It's an unforgettable experience.

Marine Faure Seasoned Traveller
48 written opinions

Ha Long Bay is the body of water in North Vietnam with the famous sugar-loaf formations which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

My suggestion:
Spend the night on the water to see the breathtaking sunset and sunrise!
My review
Ha Long Bay is one of nature's marvels and, since 2011, one of the natural wonders of the world for some. I went there from Hanoi, spent a night on a boat to really make the most of the sunset and sunrise, and then went back to the coast the next day. It's one of the most touristy places in the country so don't expect to be the only boat on the bay. I remember how shocked I was by the number of boats there were. However, the scenery is breathtaking! It is, quite simply, magnificent. In the midst of these fairy like surroundings, I felt like I was in another world. The collection of islands and islets are the biggest karst seascape in the world. I spent my trip navigating the bay, but I also visited some caves on the islets, took a canoe trip and visited a village that floats in the middle of the bay. An unmissable place during your trip to Vietnam!

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