Halong Bay Travel Guide, Attractions

Littered on the emerald water of Halong Bay in the gulf of Tonkin of Vietnam, the 3,000 islands and islets were believed to be dragons sent down from Heaven to help the Vietnamese protecting their country from foreign invasions. In fact, there were many fierce battles in the ancient times and recent times on the bay that helped to bring victory to Vietnam and the Vietnamese people.

Nowadays Vietnam is at peace yet Halong Bay is still invaded by foreign tourists who assault the bay in wooden luxurious junks toting digital cameras and trying to capture as many images of the bay as possible. Most travelers to Vietnam would visit the bay on 2-day or 3-day cruises; it is possible to day-trip to Halong Bay from Hanoi though. There are a number of boat companies which offer luxury junk cruises on the bay following different routes.

 A little boat on Halong Bay Vietnam
A little boat on Halong Bay Vietnam

There are quite a few limestone caves on many islands on Halong Bay that you can visit on cruises such as Dau Go Cave, Thien Cung Cave, Sung Sot Cave... Beside visiting the caves, you can get get off the junk and hike up to the top of some islands to get the panoramic view of the bay. Alternatively, you can go swimming or kayaking amid the towering islands or venture into many underwater caves, hidden lagoons, secret beaches…

Sunset over Halong Bay Vietnam
Sunset over Halong Bay Vietnam

The Dau Go and Thien Cung Caves are on the same island which is closest to the shore. Those of you do not have much time on the bay, say one day trip, then you are more likely to visit these two caves which takes 1.5-2 hours. There are steps going up to the openings which require some effort. The stalactites and stalagmites are very impressive. The Dau Go Cave was where a 13th General of Vietnam hid wooden stakes for the trap against Mongol ships during their invation.

A stalactite at the Dau Go Cave
A stalactite at the Dau Go Cave

 

An eagle shape in the Thien Cung Cave
An eagle shape in the Thien Cung Cave

Dinh Huong Islet is right after you have passed the Dau Go and Thien Cung Cave. There is a fishing community here now. This site is quite photogenic.

Dinh Huong Islet on Halong Bay
Dinh Huong Islet on Halong Bay

Once you have passed the Dinh Huong Islet, it is the Fighting Cocks Islets which are a twin boulders.

The Fighting Cocks
The Fighting Cocks

Then for those of you who have more time then you'll travel further through several islands to Ti Tov's Island with a beach. There are steps on this island which requires a hard hike to the top. The award includes spectacular views of Halong Bay from above. The site around this island is beautiful and you can have a swim or go kayaking.

Kayaking on Halong Bay
Kayaking on Halong Bay, a view of the Ti Tov Island

 

 

halong bay vietnam
A view of Halong Bay from the top of Ti Tov Island

 

 

A boat sailing in the wonder of Halong Bay, Vietnam
A boat sailing in the wonder of Halong Bay, Vietnam, a view from the top of Ti Tov Island

Further from Ti Tov Island is another interesting area with the Sung Sot Cave, Bo Nau Cave, the Luon Lagoon. The Sung Sot Cave takes 1-2 hours to visit on foot. The Bo Nau Cave is small but it offers amazing angles for photography. The Luon Lagoon takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to visit by rowing boat. There are wild monkeys on the island surrounding the Luon Lagoon.

Sail boats at the Bo Nau Cave
Sail boats at the Bo Nau Cave

 

The Sung Sot Cave
The Sung Sot Cave

For those who go on 3-day cruises, then you can travel further. There will be more deserted beaches, lagoons, caves and fishing villages, floating schools... There are also farms growing oysters for pearls in the Sung Sot Cave.

A floating village on Halong Bay
A floating village on Halong Bay

 Halong Bay has been listed to the World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO twice: for the natural landscape and for the geological history. The bay is 160km from Hanoi and it only takes 2 hours to get to Halong Bay from Hanoi via the highway.