Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay: An Ultimate Guide

January 09, 2023 - 16597 views

Known as two worth-visiting destinations in Vietnam, Halong Bay, and Ho Chi Minh City is located in two different regions of the country. There are various means of transportation to travel such a distance. Let's cover the best ways to get from Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay.

While Ho Chi Minh City features a dynamic and bustling city, Halong Bay is more of a natural heritage with thousands of islets and limestone karsts. For those who plan to visit both destinations, it is better to figure out where Ho Chi Minh and Ha Long Bay are, as well as how to travel back and forth. Read through our ultimate guide to get a brief of Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay transfer and some local tips for the most comfortable journey.

Ho Chi Minh and Halong Bay location

Location of Ho Chi Minh City and Halong Bay

Ho Chi Minh is located in the southeastern region of Vietnam and on the edge of the Indochina Peninsula. It is the largest city in Vietnam, which develops as an economic and cultural hub beside Hanoi. Nowadays, Ho Chi Minh is still referred to as Saigon, particularly the Vietnamese in the South. As far as you know, the airport code of Ho Chi Minh City is SGN. With a long-lasting prominent history and many wondrous attractions, Saigon welcomes a large number of inbound tourists flying to Tan Son Nhat International Airport for a vacation.

 

Halong Bay is situated in the northeastern area, which belongs to Quang Ninh Province. The bay sets location on the northwest coast of the Gulf of Tonkin, far known as a geological complex comprising Bai Tu Long Bay to the northeast and Lan Ha Bay to the southwest. Ha Long Bay is home to several terminals, ports, and three nearby airports to get there. Thanks to the great seascape location and the close distance to the Hanoi capital, Halong Bay is a must-see for those in search of a journey into the magnificent natural heritage.

Distance from Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay

As mentioned above, Saigon is in the center of southern Vietnam whereas Halong is in the northern part and close to the border. To answer the question “How far is it from Saigon to Halong Bay?”, you can use Google Maps and navigate the exact location. Generally, the Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay distance varies from 1,726 km to 1,848 km depending on different roadways.

  • Route 1: Via QL14 and QL1A

Following this way, the Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay distance is roughly 1,726 km and it takes 33 hours to drive. This route map will cross the High Central provinces, then take a turn at Da Nang – Quang Ngai Expressway to enter National Route 1A (QL1A). At the end of the route, you should follow the National Route 5B via Hai Phong, the most popular travel route.

Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay distance

Saigon to Halong Bay Route 1

  • Route 2: Via QL1A

The other Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay route is to head for National Route 1A, the trans-Vietnam Highway paralleling with the coastline from North to South of the country. In this way, the travel distance is approximately 1,848 km on a 33-hour car ride. Before getting to Halong Bay, you need to map out the Hanoi – Hai Phong Expressway (QL5B) like Route 1.

Ho Chi Minh to Ha Long Bay distance

Saigon to Halong Bay Route 2

  • Route 3: Via airways

Due to the length of the roadway, it can be traveled by airways to save time and energy instead of a long-haul excursion. The direct distance from Ho Chi Minh to Ha Long Bay is around 1,145 km as the crow flies. Much more time-saving and convenient, the non-stop flights will take almost 2 hours to transfer one way.

You have to choose one of three nearby airports: Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi), Cat Bi International Airport (Hai Phong), and Van Don International Airport (Quang Ninh). Among those, the closest airport to Halong Bay is Van Don, while the farthest one is Noi Bai International Airport.

Ho Chi Minh to Ha Long airway

Saigon to Halong Bay airways

Depending on the schedule, budget, and destination, you should opt for the most suitable route and means of transportation. Keep scrolling to discover how to get from Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay.

How to travel to Ha Long Bay from Ho Chi Minh

To travel such a distance from Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay, you will have various choices including plane, train, bus, private car, and motorbike. Sometimes, it is fair to get there by booking a cruise from HCMC.

From our hands-on experiences of transportation in Vietnam, the following guide will help you out on the 3 best ways to get to Halong from Ho Chi Minh.

Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay

How to get to Halong Bay from Ho Chi Minh

1. Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay Flight

  • Price: 60 – 100 USD ++
  • Duration: 2 hours

Flying is the most convenient way to get from Saigon to Halong Bay since there is a great diversity of air carriers offering non-stop flights in only 2 hours. Depending on different schedules and cabin classes, the airfare can vary from 55 USD for a one-way ticket. The travel cost also includes a transfer between your hotel and the airport, starting at 20 USD or more.

The most popular brands of flights include Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airways, Pacific Airlines, and VietJet Air. Generally speaking, Vietnam Airlines is the most high-end airline providing more luggage allowance; Bamboo Airways is medium-priced providing inclusive meals and pleasant services; while Pacific Airlines and VietJet Air are the budget ones offering the cheapest domestic flights.

Ho Chi Minh to Ha Long Bay flight

Flight to Halong Bay from Saigon

 

Ho Chi Minh to Halong flights

Airports close to Halong Bay

In Ho Chi Minh, you can choose to fly from Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) to one of the following airports near Ha Long Bay.

  • Van Don International Airport (VDO)

Located in Quang Ninh Province, Van Don Airport is the new commercial airport to serve the surroundings of Halong Bay. This is one of the most technologically advanced airports in Vietnam, completed with well-invested infrastructure and ultramodern facilities. Not to mention, Van Don is the nearest airport to Ha Long Bay, approximately 55 km far from each other. It takes around 45 minutes to travel from Van Don Airport via the new expressway. As a result, it is highly recommended to fly to Van Don International Airport, if you engage in Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay flight.

Pros

Cons
  • Up-to-date facilities and the most advanced airport
  • Opportunities to get a free transfer to Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Yen Tu, valid for 30 days since the flight
  • Time-saving and economical transport thanks to the closest distance to Ha Long
  • A limited number of Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Long flights and high-priced fare

 

Ho Chi Minh to Van Don International Airport

Flight to Van Don International Airport from Saigon

  • Cat Bi International Airport (HPH)

Cat Bi Airport is situated about 10 km southeast of Hai Phong, the neighboring province of Quang Ninh. The airport hosts a number of domestic and international flights operated by multiple airline carriers. The distance between Cat Bi Airport and Ha Long is around 60 km via the new highway. It is easy to take a bus, a private taxi, or a shared car (10 – 50 USD) in 1.5 hours from Cat Bi to Halong City.

Pros

Cons
  • A commercial hub for many airlines and flight routes, also including international flights from 6 countries
  • The top rank airport in terms of service quality
  • Smaller airport and fewer options than Hanoi Airport

 

Ho Chi Minh to Cat Bi International Airport

Flight to Cat Bi International Airport from Saigon

  • Noi Bai International Airport (HAN)

Set location in the outskirt of Hanoi, Noi Bai Airport is the second biggest transport hub in Vietnam, after Tan Son Nhat Airport. This is the farthest airport to Halong Bay (190 km) but the most popular option. Covering an area of around 140,000 square meters, Hanoi Airport welcomes 15 million passengers annually with a large number of domestic and international flights. Consequently, you will have plenty of choices to get to Halong Bay from Hanoi Airport, consisting of the shuttle bus, private car, taxi, and especially seaplane – the most fascinating way to travel.

Pros

Cons
  • The most favorable airport while flying to the North of Vietnam
  • A great collection of flight routes and air carriers to fly into
  • Opportunities to experience the seaplane from Hanoi to Halong Bay
  • The farthest airport to Ha Long Bay so it takes more than 2 hours to transfer by roadway

 

Ho Chi Minh City to Noi Bai International Airport

Flight to Noi Bai Airport from Saigon

Flight routes from Sai Gon to Halong Bay

For those seeking the most stress-free way to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Long, traveling by air is always the first choice. In accordance with the above airports, you can decide on the most suitable flight routes to Van Don, Hai Phong, or Hanoi. With similar airfare and flight duration, you should make a comparison of the distance from the airport to Halong Bay and how to get there.

Flight Routes

Distance Duration Price Frequency

  Ho Chi Minh to Van Don

1,148 km 2 hours 5 min From 60 USD / one way 13 flights/ week

  Ho Chi Minh to Cat Bi, Hai Phong

1,147 km 2 hours From 40 USD/ one way 3 – 4 flights/ day

  Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi Airport

1,150 km 2 hours 10 min From 30 USD/ one way 60 flights/ day

 

Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay airport

From Ho Chi Minh to Ha Long Bay Airport

 

Pros

Cons
  • Flying is the fastest way to travel between Ho Chi Minh and Ha Long Bay. The direct flight takes only 2 hours, plus 1 – 2 more hours transferring from the airport to the bay.
  • It is much more comfortable and convenient to book a flight that is straightforward, trouble-free, and full of services.
  • The airfare is relatively high for budget travelers and backpackers, but it is possible to decide on cheap airlines like VietJet Air and Pacific Airlines.
  • In addition to flight booking, you have to book a transfer from the airport to Halong Bay, which must be unfamiliar for newbie travelers.

Ho Chi Minh to Halong flights

2. Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay cruise

  • Duration: 2 – 3 days
  • Price: 120 USD ++

For those in search of a cruise adventure, the best way to travel must be to book a cruise. Many should wonder how long a Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay cruise lasts. In fact, some international cruises from Saigon to nearby Asian countries include Halong Bay in the itinerary. However, remember that you spend only one day passing the karst formations in Halong Bay. Such an unsatisfying excursion!

Choose an overnight Halong Bay cruise instead. It is a short excursion in 2 – 3 days but you still have enough time to visit all must-sees, join onboard and water-based activities, as well as interact with the locals. Sounds more interesting? First thing first, transfer to Halong by airway to save time and energy for the upcoming cruise journey. We highly recommend you should fly to Hanoi as most Halong Bay cruises from Hanoi provide a transfer to the terminal with a suitable surcharge. 

Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay cruise

Book a Halong Bay overnight cruise instead

Let’s go on the cruise itinerary to admire the spectacular scenery, soak up the atmospheric seascape on the sundeck, and let your hair down in the silence of the bay. Also, you can join a cooking class on board, discover the bay by kayaking, visit local villages, cycle around the rustic landscapes, and other more. Don’t forget to get an insight into the culture and cuisine here.

All in all, a Ha Long Bay cruise is more worth trying than an international cruise if you really want to spend time relaxing at the bay. 

Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay long or short cruise

Check this article Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay Cruise: Long or Short Cruise? for a better choice

Pros

Cons
  • Cruising is the best way to explore Ha Long Bay and enjoy inclusive services like a free transfer from Hanoi to Halong.
  • There is a variety of cruise types and budget ranges to opt for. It means everyone can choose a suitable cruise option to enjoy an excursion into the world's natural heritage.
  • The length of the cruise tour is 2 – 3 days, unsuitable for those who have scant time. In this case, you can alternative to Halong Bay day cruises lasting for a half or full day.

Cruise to Halong from HCMC

3. Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay train

  • Duration: 37 hours
  • Price: 40 – 60 USD ++

If you are in search of a more low-cost but safer way to get to Halong from Sai Gon, the train is an ideal choice. However, there is no direct train between these destinations. You must take the Reunification Express Train from Saigon to Hanoi, then transfer from Hanoi to Ha Long in the most comfortable ways. 

Ho Chi Minh to Ha Long Bay train

Train from Saigon to Hanoi then transfer to Halong Bay

With a railway distance of 1,700 km, the train from Saigon Railway Station leaves for Hanoi a few times per day. The train ride takes around 33 hours with several stops to buy food and drinks in a few minutes. There are various options for soft/ hard seats and sleeping berths. The ticket fare also varies depending on the cabin type: the cheapest must be a hard seat while the priciest is a soft-sleeper in a 4-berth cabin, the most convenient option to get some sleep on the train.

As soon as you get off the train in Hanoi Railway Station, you can spend a few days discovering the capital or get to Halong Bay instantly by other means of transportation in 3 hours. Get to know the best ways to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay.

You may also like Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay Train: Travel Like A Local

Pros

Cons
  • Traveling by train is the most scenic way to behold the countryside landscape. Also, it is interesting to immerse in the day-by-day life of the local train in Vietnam.
  • The railway is far more economical than airway transfer.
  • There are full services on the train that cover delivered meals to your compartment, drinks and snacks carts, air-conditioned cabins, and so on.
  • The non-direct train route and long haul journey make Ho Chi Minh – Halong train less preferable.
  • As a popular transport for the locals, the train is somewhere public that you should watch out for scammers and gangster men.

 

Above are the best ways to travel between Saigon and Halong. You still have other ways to experience, such as a night sleeping bus (around 35 USD, 25 hours) and a motorbike (around 35 USD, 35 hours). All things considered, the most convenient choice should be taking a flight from Saigon to Van Don Airport.

Suggested Ho Chi Minh – Halong Bay itinerary

Overall, booking a Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay tour with transportation is the most convenient choice, particularly for first-time visitors. Following the tour itinerary, you can have the opportunity to travel from the South to the North of Vietnam. There is a great diversity of tour packages with different lengths of days. If you have limited time, a Vietnam essential itinerary in 10 days is perfect to discover the best in the country.

Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay tour

Follow the tour itinerary from Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay

On the three first days, you will start the adventure from Ho Chi Minh City. Immerse in the bustling Saigon and get a deep insight into the southern culture at the same time. It is time to experience the real-life in Mekong Delta village, to visit local workshops and fruit orchards, especially to board a sampan boat along the narrow canals. Also, you can learn about Vietnamese history on a visit to Cu Chi Tunnels – the underground tunnel construction to serve Vietnam’s army during the War.

The following days go on an excursion to Hoi An – the captivating ancient town and Hanoi – the beautiful over-1000-year-old capital.

On the last days, you will head for Halong Bay and join the 2d1n Halong cruise to explore the mesmerizing limestone karsts over the bay. As you cruise passing the grottoes rising from the emerald water, you can engage in various activities on board. Not only sightseeing, but you also visit limestone caves, go kayaking or cycling, enjoy swimming, call on floating villages, and a bucket list of fabulous things to do in Halong Bay.

What a miss if you miss out on other destinations on the move from Ho Chi Minh to Ha Long Bay. Compared to planning on your own, booking a package tour with a local travel agent is much more worth trying. The travel consultant will take care of your whole itinerary including train ticket or flight booking. Let’s see what to expect on a Vietnam tour package from Saigon to Halong Bay.

Do you need more suitable tours for yourself? Please contact us now!

Contact Besprice Travel

Local tips for Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Long Bay transport

  • It is quite struggling to travel to Saigon and Ha Long during the tourist season. You should better book at least 2 weeks in advance to make sure you have a slot. Booking ahead also gives you better choices.
  • Flying is no longer expensive if you stick with budget airlines such as VietJet Air, Pacific Airlines, AirAsia, Tiger Airways, Bangkok Airways, etc. There are numerous selections that you can take a reference at Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay flights.
  • Another tip to get a cheap flight in Vietnam is to hunt for the best deals and sale-off. It is better to follow the fan page and subscribe to get the promotions instantly.
  • It is necessary to buy a baggage fee before your flight to save an amount of travel cost. It costs an arm and a leg to buy additional baggage at the airport.
  • Let’s take the weather condition into account. The flight and cruise tour might be delayed due to the bad weather. You should get to know the best time to visit Halong Bay and Ho Chi Minh City before your trip.

To sum up, getting from Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay is quite straightforward thanks to the convenience and flexibility of transportation in Vietnam. Remember that a travel agent is always informative and supportive to help you plan a tailor-made tour. 

Nhung Dang

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