Glide over jade waters, past over a thousand islands, under limestone cliffs to witness the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bay of the Descending Dragon
Halong Bay might be the pride and joy of Vietnam. The coastline is about 75 miles long, and it boasts over 1,900 small islands, and is a top source of income for fishermen who live within of the bay's four floating villages. The communities of boats remain close for access to over 200 species of fish and 450 species of mollusks. The floating villages and Halong Bay are the most popular tourist site in Vietnam. (1)
Mud fails to touch and soil its perfect hue.
A gentleman lives up to its proud name.
Wind wafts its scent on quiet moonlit nights.
Its wealth is purity, unmatched by all.
Nguyen Trai, 15th Century Vietnamese Confucius Scholar (2)
A Wonder of The Earth Erected from the Sky (3)
Over 450 million years ago Halong Bay could not be seen above water. Yet at the beginning of the Carboniferous Period (about 340 million years ago) tectonic activity forced these limestone structures to tower over the bay. Halong's cliffs were then subject to the hot, windy, and tropical environment, which resulted in porous rock. The standalone monoliths weathered to form in the water, and massive caves were carved out of the cliffs. I’ve never seen anything like Halong Bay, and its striking beauty earned it two UNESCO World Heritage Site distinctions, in 1994 and 2000 for Criterion VII and VIII, respectively.
Trips To Halong Bay
When To Go
The best time to visit. The temperature is moderate, the water is calm, and the skies are clear – giving way for fantastic photos.
May to September
Considered to be Vietnam’s high season. Yet it’s one of the worst times to visit the bay. The tropical storms are common and unpredictable, which leads to companies cancelling trips up to an hour before leaving.
February to April (4)
Rainy season will offer cool, foggy and drizzly days. There will be low visibility.
December to January
Considered low season, this is a good time to go for budget travelers. It's the coldest time of the year for Vietnam (ranging between 50s and 60s), but there will be clear and calm seas.
Types of Tours
Unsurprisingly, every hotel, hostel, and travel agency will have an insane amount of tour options. The biggest choice to make is the amount of money you’re willing to spend.
$220 USD/night+, and there is plenty of time to sunbathe and island hop. The food is also extravagant on these cruises.
Between $60 USD and $130 USD, these are between one-day trips and overnight trips. The difference of these would be the food, and accommodation for the room. Yet there is a lot of competition, so there’s no doubt you can book this option a day in advance and still get a spot.
<$60 USD, this includes anything from a full-day kayaking trip to a budget cruise. With the former, it’s wise to get a guide if you’re going to explore the bay completely sans-boat.
*Be warned, budget trips usually scrimp in the safety department. If you are an experienced kayaker, or are going during the sea’s calmer months these are good options. Otherwise, I would recommend paying for a mid-range tour. (5)