If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, chances are you’re already familiar with the famous Halong Bay. But did you know that Halong City, the gateway to the bay, has a lot more to offer than just a place to catch a boat? As someone who called this charming city home for a year and a half, I can tell you that there’s plenty to see and do here if you’re willing to venture beyond the tourist hotspots.
That’s why I’ve put together this short guide covering all the essential info you need to plan your visit. From the best time to go to how to get there and what to do once you’re there, I’ve got you covered.
Best Time to Visit
Are you planning a trip to Vietnam and wondering when the best time to visit Halong City is? Well, the answer depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re after mild temperatures and clear skies, the fall season is your best bet.
During October to December, the city experiences cool and dry weather, with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 24°C. This period offers an ideal opportunity to explore the city and engage in outdoor activities like hiking, driving, and kayaking. Moreover, you can avoid the peak tourist season from June to August, which tends to be crowded and costly.
On the other hand, if you don’t mind a little rain and humidity, the summer months can still be enjoyable. You’ll have more options for water activities, such as swimming and parasailing. The winter months can be chilly, but they come with their own unique charm, with festive holiday markets and decorations.
How to Get There
Halong City, located around 170 kilometers east of Hanoi, is best reached by road. Multiple transportation options are available, including public buses, private cars, and taxis. Consider the affordable and comfortable ‘limousine’ service (Hanoi to Halong and vice versa), costing approximately 250k VND per person. With a travel time of around 1.5 hours (depending on traffic), advance booking allows for convenient pick-up from any location in Hanoi City.
If you’re looking to book a last-minute limousine from Hanoi to Halong, there are a few options available. Here are some places where you can book a limousine ride:
- Online booking platforms: You can use websites such as A21 Tours to search for and book limousine transfers from Hanoi to Halong. These platforms offer real-time availability and instant confirmation for many transport options.
- Travel agencies: Many offline travel agencies in Hanoi offer limousine transfer services to Halong. You can find these agencies in tourist areas, such as the Old Quarter. Some popular agencies include Vietnam Cheap Packages, Halong Tours Booking, and Vietnam Travel Group.
- Hotel concierge: If you’re staying at a hotel in Hanoi, the concierge can often help you arrange a limousine transfer to Halong. They may have partnerships with local transportation providers and can book a ride for you.
- Limousine providers: Finally, you can try contacting limousine providers directly.
Regardless of your choice for booking a limousine ride, make sure to proactively check the availability and pricing in advance. Additionally, it is advisable to secure your reservation ahead of time whenever possible, as last-minute availability may be limited.
What to See & Do
If you’re looking for things to do in Halong City, there’s no shortage of options! Here are some of the top attractions and activities to check out during your visit:
- Visit Bai Tho Mountain: This mountain offers incredible views of the bay, and hiking to the top is a great way to get some exercise while taking in the scenery.
- Visit Quang Ninh Museum: This modern museum offers an interesting look at the history and culture of the Quang Ninh Province.
- Take a Day Trip to Cat Ba Island: Just an hour away from Halong City, Cat Ba Island is home to beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and caves.
- Visit Cai Dam Market: This local seafood market is a great place to buy fresh seafood and see the local way of life in action.
- Admire the murals: Located in Bai Chay, the Ceramic Mural Wall is a 1.2-kilometer long wall made up of thousands of ceramic tiles, depicting the landmarks around the world.
- Clock Tower: The clock tower roundabout is often decorated with colorful flowers and lights, making it a beautiful sight to see, especially at night. It’s a busy area with lots of shops, restaurants, and cafes nearby, so it’s a great place to grab a coffee or a bite to eat and watch the bay view.
- Bai Chay Beach: The beach itself offers a range of activities for visitors to enjoy such as parasailing, jet skiing, kite flying, picnic, bar hopping and clubbing at night.
- Relax at Thông Zeo Cafe: A popular spot for locals and expats to take pictures while sipping a drink to enjoy the view of the sea. Most wedding photoshoots are held here too.
- Bai Chay Bridge: Offers scenic views of the bay and the surrounding area upon crossing the bridge.
- Sun World Ha Long: The park features a range of thrilling rides, including roller coasters, drop towers, and spinning rides. There is also a water park with a variety of slides and pools, as well as a cable car ride offering panoramic views of the bay.
As of my knowledge, the prices for combo tickets at Sun World Ha Long are as follows:
- Adult (from 1.4m height): VND 650,000 (about USD 28)
- Child (from 1m to 1.4m height): VND 550,000 (about USD 24)
- Senior (above 60 years old): VND 350,000 (about USD 15)
Accommodation options in Halong City are diverse, ranging from budget-friendly guesthouses to high-end luxury hotels and resorts. In the city center, you’ll find a variety of hotels and guesthouses that cater to different budgets and preferences. These accommodations often offer comfortable rooms, basic amenities, and convenient access to local attractions and markets.
Staying on a boat or cruise ship in Halong Bay is a popular choice if you seek a unique experience. These accommodations immerse you in the breathtaking natural beauty of the bay and surrounding islands. Numerous boats and cruises provide comfortable cabins, serve meals, and offer a range of activities such as kayaking, fishing, and cave exploration.
In a nutshell
Don’t overlook Halong City as just a launching point for your Halong Bay adventures. With this comprehensive guide, you can plan your trip and make the most of your time in this vibrant and beautiful city. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to discover all that Halong City has to offer!
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