Halong Bay – or Along Bay – is one of the wonders of Vietnam, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the new seven wonders of Nature. With its preserved marine panorama and almost 2,000 islands, Halong Bay offers stunning landscapes!
How to visit Halong Bay? When is the best time to go? And how to avoid crowds of tourists? Here’s a handy guide to prepare for your visit.
What is Halong Bay? Why is it so famous?
Halong Bay is a vast collection of islands and islets from 1969. Most of these islands have a rugged nature that does not allow them to be inhabited, so they have not been affected by human presence. It is a remarkable preserved natural space, with unique landscapes in the world, classified as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1994 and considered one of the 7 new wonders of nature.
The legend of Halong Bay
Legend has it that Vietnam was attacked by an enemy country. The Jade Emperor, considered the god of gods in Vietnamese mythology, sent a mother dragon and her babies to defend the Vietnamese against invaders. The dragons then spat gems and jewels into Halong Bay which turned into islets that came to destroy and blockade the ships of the invaders.
“Ha Long” also means “descent of the dragon”, that is, the place where the dragon descends from the sky to the sea.
How to visit Halong Bay?
Halong Bay is located 170 km northeast of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. It extends over 1,500 km2 and has around 2,000 islets.
To visit the bay, you will have to go to the coast of Bai Chay or to the island of Cat Ba to board a cruise. Unfortunately, the numerous constructions carried out in Bai Chay make this area not very pleasant and contrast with the beauty of Halong Bay. If you can, choose to leave Cat Ba, whose coastline is a little more preserved.
There are several ways to visit it, from a cruise lasting a few hours to several days. It all depends on the time you have, your budget and how you want to explore the bay.
I recommend spending at least 2 days – 1 night in the bay and ideally 3 days – 2 nights to have time to really enjoy and enjoy the environment which changes depending on the time of day. With time, you can also do some activities such as kayaking to discover places inaccessible by boat or even fishing.
When is the best time to visit Halong Bay?
The weather is only good 80 days a year in the bay, so we need to better target the periods that offer the most sun:
- The best time to visit Halong Bay is autumn, between September and November. Rain is rare and temperatures are around 25 degrees.
- The period from April to June is also recommended. It may be very hot, but the sun is out and you can swim easily.
- January, February and March are months with milder temperatures and the sky is cloudier. If you go at this time, you will need to bring warmer clothes.
- Finally, July and August are months to avoidIt is the beginning of the rainy season where storms are not rare.
Halong Bay or Lan Ha Bay?
Lan Ha Bay is located south of Halong Bay, east of Cat Ba Island. The landscapes are similar to Halong but the islets are short with a little more vegetation and there are 139 beaches – often deserted – while Halong has very few beaches.
The other big difference is that Lan Ha is much less touristy. In Halong, 1,000 boats cross the bay, while in Lan Ha there are only a hundred. Visiting Lan Ha therefore allows you to escape the mass of tourists (at night, certain areas of Halong Bay can turn into nightclubs with the accumulation of cruise ships) and feel almost alone in the world.
Therefore, I advise you to visit Lan Ha Bay for a much more authentic visiting experience.
Book a cruise in Lan Ha Bay
There are many cruise companies that offer excursions. During my trip, I took a cruise with Autumn scenttravel agency offering stays in Lan Ha Bay aboard traditional junks.
The great advantage of this agency is that its boats are among the ten that have the right to anchor in the bay at night so that you have the impression of sleeping isolated from the world. It’s magical to see the night fall on the bay and the sun rise there at dawn!
If you can, book a cruise in your “Four Seasons” or “Romance” rubbish which have only 4 and 3 cabins, which allows you to travel in small groups and have even more of the feeling of a private cruise. Each cabin is equipped with a bed, shower and private bathroom, is very comfortable and the meals on board are excellent.
Depending on the length of your cruise, you can go kayaking, squid fishing, take a Viet Hai bike ride between the jungle and mountains or even pass through a fishing village.
Additionally, Parfum d’Automne now offers stays for vegetarians with 100% vegan meals on board.
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