Exit Search

Snapshot: Halong Bay

September 14, 2020

Sail through emerald waters, kayak through ancient grottos and catch some rays on white, white sands

 

Thousands of limestone mountains, topped with lush tropical jungle, jaggedly project out of clear, emerald waters. Halong Bay looks like the computer-generated backdrop to a James Cameron movie. It’s breathtakingly beautiful with junk boats carving lines in the tranquil bay as sunset colours bounce off the water.

 

The UNESCO World Heritage Site with a boat with the view of the Karsts Isles.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site with a boat with the view of the Karsts Isles.

 

For centuries Halong bay has been a muse for poets and painters. People have flocked here to see this natural wonder and, while there might be a few more tourists and a lot more boats today, it still has retained its sense of wonder. It’s easy to while away a few days in Halong Bay watching sunsets and absorbing the 20-million-year-old karsts.

The Bay, in the Gulf of Tonkin, is very near the Chinese border and the thousands of natural caves and grottos that today witness tourist visits, used to be a base for pirates and smugglers to hide and transport their booty. Many of these caves are open to the public, well illuminated and provide guided tours that can help point our various rock formations that look invariably like roaring lions, entwined lovers or Buddha sitting in uncomfortably looking poses. The rocks may have some wonderful mythological tales but it’s the incredible natural beauty that inspires us.

 

A female water hawker floating in the fishing village in Halong Bay.
A female water hawker floating in the fishing village in Halong Bay.

 

Sung Sot Cave is one of the biggest cave networks and the views from Pelican cave are stunning. Take a boat or, if you’re feeling brave, kayak through the Dark and Bright Cave, where you’ll dodge stalactites and hear bats preparing for the evening hunt above you. All but 40 of the islands are uninhabited and the fishing villages and farmers that do live on these isolated outcrops have hardly changed their living habits for centuries.

 

The Sung Sot Cave with tourists following the trail in Vietnam.
The Sung Sot Cave with tourists following the trail in Vietnam.

 

There are plenty of opportunities to do some hill walking and cliff climbing, to get a better view of the sea-scape. The protected nearby national park of Cat Ba is home to most of the world’s remaining golden-headed langur population. Some of northern Vietnam’s best beaches are hidden away in the regions around here. Lan Ha Bay is further away than the busy Halong Bay and is covered in white sandy beaches. As well as a great spot for diving, often seals and dolphins can be spotted here.

 

Golden head limestone Langur in Cat Ba Island.
Golden head limestone Langur in Cat Ba Island.

 

A boat cruise is certainly the best way to ensure you get to see all that the area has to offer and most will arrange food either on the boat or in one of the fishing villages in the area. However, if you’re feeling very James Bond (Tomorrow Never Dies was filmed here after all) then you can also see the Bay from a helicopter or seaplane.

 

A floating fishing village in Halong Bay by the Karst Tower Isles.
A floating fishing village in Halong Bay by the Karst Tower Isles.

RELATED TOURS
Flights Included
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
Flight Inclusive
Fully Escorted

Flight Inclusive

Typically $3,203
Now
$2,699 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
Flight Inclusive
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
Typically $3,203
From
$2,699 AUD
pp twin share
Flights Included
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
Flight Inclusive
Fully Escorted

Flight Inclusive

From
$3,199 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
Flight Inclusive
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
From
$3,199 AUD
pp twin share
Flights Included
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
Flight Inclusive
Partially Escorted

Small Group

From
$3,099 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
Flight Inclusive
Partially Escorted
Moderate Pace
From
$3,099 AUD
pp twin share
$1299 Flight Offer
Travel from:Nov 2024
Travel until:Mar 2025
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace

Small Group

Typically $6,569
Now
$6,199 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Nov 2024
Travel until:Mar 2025
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
Small Group
Typically $6,569
From
$6,199 AUD
pp twin share
$999 Flight Offer
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Private Tour
Fly from $999

Private Tour

Typically $5,470
Now
$2,999 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Private Tour
Fly from $999
5 Star
Typically $5,470
From
$2,999 AUD
pp twin share
$1299 Flight Offer
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Partially Escorted
Moderate Pace

Small Group

Typically $4,427
Now
$2,199 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Partially Escorted
Moderate Pace
Small Group
Typically $4,427
From
$2,199 AUD
pp twin share
$1299 Flight Offer
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace

Small Group

Typically $4,710
Now
$2,799 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
Small Group
Typically $4,710
From
$2,799 AUD
pp twin share
$999 Flight Offer
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace

Small Group

Typically $3,257
Now
$1,899 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
Small Group
Typically $3,257
From
$1,899 AUD
pp twin share
$999 Flight Offer
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Private Tour
Local Guides

Private Tour

From
$4,499 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Private Tour
Local Guides
Pure 5 Star Luxury
From
$4,499 AUD
pp twin share
$1199 Flight Offer
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Local Guides
Moderate Pace

Small Group

Typically $6,449
Now
$4,199 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Local Guides
Moderate Pace
Small Group
Typically $6,449
From
$4,199 AUD
pp twin share
$1199 Flight Offer
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Local Guides
Moderate Pace

Small Group

Typically $4,700
Now
$2,799 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Local Guides
Moderate Pace
Small Group
Typically $4,700
From
$2,799 AUD
pp twin share
$1199 Flight Offer
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
5 Star
Small Group

Small Group

Typically $5,470
Now
$2,199 pp twin share
AUD
Travel from:Jun 2024
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
5 Star
Small Group
Local Guides
Typically $5,470
From
$2,199 AUD
pp twin share
Processing...