Halong Bay in Vietnam.

Tourist boats near the caves at Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.

Taking a Cruise on the mysterious Ha Long Bay and going round the beautiful Hang Thien Cung (caves) in Vietnam.

There are various possibilities and options if you are staying in Hanoi and want to go on a Ha Long Bay cruise - ranging from just going for the day and taking a 4 or 5 hour cruise to going on an extended Halong Bay cruise and spending 2 or 3 days or more on board. Prices for these trips therefore obviously vary according to which itinerary is chosen but importantly there are further options to consider - the quality of the boat, number of passengers on board, how good is the food and so on. You do need to carefully read the descriptions for various options - some boat trips on offer may seem pretty cheap but this probably means they are really crammed. Hanoi hotels are good at organising these Halong Bay trips for you and most don't particularly mark up the prices for some commission. Additionally you can usually leave your luggage at your hotel if going off on a trip for several days and just pick it up on return even if you are no longer intending to stay at that hotel.
[ Click the thumbnails for a larger photo, use the back button to return to this page ]
Ghostly limestone rocks in the sea at Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Halong Bay Limestone cliffs and rocks Local boats at Halong Bay, Vietnam Floating village boats at Ha Long bay, Vietnam.
Halong Bay floating village, Vietnam. Floating tuk tuk? at the floating village Halong Bay, Vietnam. It's worth remembering that Halong Bay can be shrouded in mist - even fog - or drizzle and this obviously affects what you can see - you have to take pot luck. Our Halong cruise was organised by our hotel - there were various options and they recommended the 35USD each trip as this was a better boat, less people on board and offered a good lunch. The trip included transport by mini-bus, a guide, boat trip, entrance fee to the cave and an excellent sea-food lunch - drinks were extra however but were not over-priced. The mini-bus trip takes quite a long time as Hanoi to Ha Long is 165 kms - the usual drinks, toilet and craft shop factory stop is made en-route. The return trip skips the factory but does have a breif toilet and drinks stop.
Early evening at Ha Long Bay, Vietnam One thing to bear in mind is that the drive back in the dark from Halong Bay to Hanoi can be quite hair raising - especially the overtaking where the drivers are content to nearly collide head-on at high speed. Certainly on these mini-buses it's best not to sit right up the front by the driver. Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site - covers 580 square miles and has over 2000 pinnacle shaped outcrops. Legend states that giant dragon plunged into the Gulf of Tonkin and created a myriad of tiny islands - Ha Long means "descending dragon". The whole area is a seascape of bizzarely shaped outcrops, caves and sandy coves. The boat trip takes you through often mist-shrouded limestone and dolomite outcrops and around several of the brightly painted floating villages of Ha Long Bay.
The day of our trip was quite dull and the whole area seemed really weird and erie with the pinacles rising ghost like out of the gloom. Part of the tour included a visit to

Hang Thien Cung (grotto of the heavenly palace)

- i.e. a series of underground caves. There is a steep climb to the entrance of the cave then a descent into the rectangular cavern - the cavern is 250 metres long and 20 metres high.
Inside Hang Thien Cung - Halong Bay - Vietnam colourful formations inside Hang Thien Cung, Vietnam. One of the caves - Hang Thien Cung, Vietnam. Hang Thien Cung (cave) at Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.
The numerous stalactites and stalagmites are lit up often with brightly coloured lights and the whole thing is quite spectacular. It probably takes around 35 to 40 minutes to walk round the caves. Obviously there can be several groups in the caves at the same time but the guides seemed capable ofr organising their respective groups and there was no congestion.
Cruise boat waiting at Halong Bay View of part of Halong Bay in Vietnam. Mist starting to descend at Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Limestone outcrop at Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.
When you climb back up to the exit from the caves (which is not the same as the entrance point) the views are again very impresive. After returning to the boat it was then possible to go kayaking or you could just sit and relax on board. The entire "boat" part of the Halong Bay tour takes about five hours and is definitely a worthwhile experience and good value for money.
Our items about Hanoi - including day trips which can be easily done from the city.
More destinations for which we have travel and holiday guides are for Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Cyprus, lots of Greek Islands, The Algarve and several Canary Islands
Also many Topics about England - Wild Flowers, National Trail Walks, Churches plus quite a few canals including The Kennet and Avon Canal, The Oxford Canal, The Grand Union Canal, The Regents Canal - also two rivers (the Lee and Stort) and about walking The Thames Path. Please visit our Resources Page to see the links to these topics - and also from where you can email us.
You may also be interested in looking at our Cookie and Privacy policy.