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How to Get to Halong Bay: A Rough Guide 2021

Last updated: May 04, 2021 /549 Views

Surrounded by magnificent seascapes, Halong Bay can be easily reached by various ways of transportation. Before booking a tour, the very first step is to find out how to get to the bay. In this article, you will be guided to the location, the most popular routes, and the best ways to get to. Let’s figure out how to get to Halong Bay and choose the best option for you.

Before getting to learn about Ha Long Bay and how to get there, it is important to know exactly where it situated in Vietnam. Following that, you can easily visualize which travel route to map out. As far as everyone is concerned, Halong is a famous travel destination which is located in Quang Ninh Province, in the northeast of Vietnam.

Administratively, It belongs to Ha Long City, Cam Pha Town, and the partial Van Don District. Geographically, Halong sets a location in the Gulf of Tonkin and shares the maritime boundary with China.

The bay is the centre of a geological complex consisting of Bai Tu Long Bay to the northeast and Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba Island to the southwest.

Getting to Halong Bay

Getting to Halong Bay

 

Popular ways to get to Halong Bay

Thanks to the favourable geographical conditions of the “descending dragon” bay, there are various means of transportation to Ha Long, including the airway, roadway, railway, and waterway. Let’s draw a picture of 4 popular ways to travel to Halong Bay that you can engage in.

Airway

If you travel from overseas or further than Hanoi, flights to Ha Long Bay must be a priority thanks to the convenience and time efficiency. By air travel, you can fly into one of the three following airports near Halong Bay.

Airport near Halong

LocationDistance to Halong BayAirline supplier

Van Don Airport

(VDO)

Quang Ninh Province50 km

Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Bamboo Airways

Cat Bi Airport

(HPH)

Hai Phong Province60 kmVietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Bamboo Airways, Pacific Airlines, Donghai Airlines, Ruili Airlines, etc.

Noi Bai Airport

(HAN)

Hanoi180 kmVietnam Airlines, Pacific Airlines, VietJet Air, Bamboo Airways, AirAsia, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, Thai Airways, etc.

 

Pros: Flying saves much time and energy for your Halong trip. It is also convenient and economical when you decide on cheap airlines.

Cons: The airfares, especially the first-class airlines, sometimes cost an arm and a leg. There are limited options when you fly to Van Don and Cat Bi Airport.

3 nearest airport to Halong Bay

Roadway

Another popular way to travel around in either short or long distance to Halong is the roadway. Thanks to the upgrade of the expressway in Vietnam, traveling by shuttle bus, limousine van, private car, taxi, and even motorbike is more straightforward than ever. This way offers more of local lifestyle and money-saving cost.

Depending on your budget and preference, you can choose a money-saving or a high-class one. Particularly, if you travel from Hanoi, Sapa, Ninh Binh, and other destinations in northern Vietnam, we highly recommend the shuttle bus or luxury limousine to enjoy your ride to the fullest.

In case you depart from central and southern Vietnam, you should better take a night bus for the best comfort.

Departure point

Travel distanceEstimated durationTravel route

Hanoi

160 km

2.5 hours

  National Highway 5B (Hanoi – Hai Phong Highway)

Hai Phong

60 km

1.5 hours

  Hai Phong – Quang Ninh Expressway

Ninh Binh

220 km

3.5 hours

  Route 1: QL38B via Hung Yen/ QL39A via Ha Nam

  Route 2: QL5B via Hai Phong

Sapa

490 km

7 hours

  Route 1: QL5B via Hai Phong

  Route 2: Expressway CT05 (Hanoi – Lao Cai Highway)

Da Nang

898 km

17 hours

  National Route 1A from South to North

Hoi An

920 km

17.5 hours

  National Route 1A from South to North

Ho Chi Minh City

1,800 km

33 hours

  National Route 1A from South to North

 

Pros: A road trip is among the cheapest way to get to Halong Bay. The luxury bus ride offer pick-up/ drop-off services, wifi connection, air conditioner, bottled water, leather sleeping berth (night bus), and other essential amenities.

Cons: If you travel over a long distance, it is quite dangerous and time-consuming to go on a road trip. Not to mention, the reclining seat is uncomfortable on a long-haul journey.

 

Railway

For those seeking a scenic way to get to Halong Bay, the railway will give you a great chance to soak up the landscape at a slow pace. There are various choices you can choose from: a soft/ hard seat or a sleeper cabin; a local train or a luxury tourist train?

Although traveling by train takes more time than the bus/ car ride, you still enjoy the comfort zone and good sleep on the long distances. In another respect, train tickets are far more expensive than bus fares.

Departure point

Travel route

Travel distance

Duration

Hanoi - Yen Vien Train Station

Hanoi – Halong by train

180 km

7 hours

Sapa - Lao Cai Railway Station

Sapa – Hanoi by train

Hanoi – Halong by road/ train  

300 km

160 km

8 hours

2 – 7 hours

Ninh Binh – Ninh Binh Train Station

Ninh Binh – Hanoi by train

Hanoi – Halong by road/ train

100 km

160 km

2.5 hours

2 – 7 hours

Da Nang – Da Nang Train Station

Da Nang – Hanoi by train

Hanoi – Halong by road/train

770 km

160 km

17 hours

2 – 7 hours

Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon Railway Station

Ho Chi Minh City – Hanoi by train

Hanoi – Halong by road/train

1700 km

160 km

35 hours

2 – 7 hours

 

Pros: Train is the safest means of transportation to Halong Bay. Also, it offers an authentic and comfortable experience of getting around in Vietnam.

Cons: The time-consuming and slow journey can make train travel more undesirable and unsuitable for those who are lack time.

 

Waterway

From nearby regions, you can easily get to Halong Bay by waterway with cruise ships, a ferry, or a speed boat. The closest route is Cat Ba - Tuan Chau ferry and speedboat departing from Hai Phong, or you can cruise from Da Nang, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh city, or other countries and arrive in Halong at Cai Lan Port or Halong International Port. Additionally, you can choose a cruise to explore the in-depth beauty of the world’s natural heritage. Ha Long boasts some international ports which serve both logistic and tourism purposes.

Pros: Getting via waterway gives an opportunity to admire Ha Long Bay from a close distance. Also, the ferry and speed boat ticket is affordable for every budget traveler.

Cons: This way can take a longer time to travel and not suit those who have a seasick. 

 

How to get to Halong Bay from overseas

Before getting to Ha Long Bay from abroad, you have to book a flight to Vietnam first. There are three main international airports (in Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City) receiving a large number of international flights to the country.

Among those, the closest airport to Halong Bay is Hanoi International Airport (Noi Bai Airport). As a result, the best way to travel from overseas must be to fly to the Hanoi airport first. It is especially convenient for those who plan to travel across northern Vietnam.

In other cases, taking an international flight to Ho Chi Minh City or Da Nang then plan to visit Ha Long is also a great option.

Flight to Halong Bay airport

Fly to Hanoi is the best way to get to Halong from overseas

 

International flight routes

Up to now, Vietnam boasts numerous land crossings with its neighbors and international flight connections.

  • From Asian countries: China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.
  • From Western countries: France (Paris), the UK (London), Germany (Frankfurt), and Russia (Moscow), etc.
  • From the USA: No direct flight to Vietnam

There is a high chance of non-stop flights between the USA and Vietnam in the near future. Don’t allow the limitations of direct flight routes to Vietnam to take the edge off your wanderlust. Sometimes an indirect flight to Vietnam can save the costs of transportation.

There is a great collection of transit flights through Thailand, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, etc. before flying to Vietnam. Following are some popular international flight routes from large cities all over the world to Vietnam.

International flight routes to Halong, Vietnam

International flight routes to Halong, Vietnam

 

How much does it cost?

Generally, the average prices of a round-trip to Vietnam range from 350 USD to 1,500 USD. The airfares can vary depending on the season, airlines, cabin classes, and departure points. A journey from the USA costs higher due to the unavailability of non-stop flights into Vietnam.

You can expect lower costs during the off-season (May to October), while the highest prices surge up during December and February. Another way to save money on Vietnam flights is booking with budget airlines such as Tiger Airways, Air Asia, Pacific Airlines, and VietJet Air.

 

How to get to Halong Bay from domestic destinations

Upon arrival in Vietnam, you will have numerous choices to decide on the most suitable way to travel to Halong Bay. From any region in Vietnam, it is a piece of cake to travel around and pay a visit. Now, take a look at this guideline to find out how to get to Halong Bay from the 6 most popular travel destinations in Vietnam.

Hanoi to Halong Bay

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is situated on the western bank of the Red River in northern Vietnam. The distance between Hanoi and Halong is roughly 170 km with travel time around 3-3.5 hours following the old roadway of National road 18.

However, the official launch of the New Highway 5B (Hanoi – Hai Phong Expressway) has shortened the travel time to 2 hours since the beginning of 2019. Despite the close distance, figuring out how you can get to Halong Bay from Hanoi is really confusing.

Get to Halong Bay from Hanoi

Get to Halong Bay from Hanoi

In general, the travel time from Hanoi to Halong Bay takes around 0.75 – 7 hours, depending on different means of transportation.

  • The fastest way: by seaplane or helicopter (only 45 minutes)
  • The slowest way: by train (up to 7 hours)
  • The most popular way: by private car and bus (around 2.5 hours)

How to get to?

There are various ways you can choose to travel to Halong like a local or a tycoon. Let’s opt for one of our recommendations which differ vastly in quality, price range as well as a comfort zone.

Transport typeDurationCost
Bus (Shuttle bus & Limousine)2.5 – 3.5 hours5 – 15 USD
Private car / Taxi2 – 2.5 hours75 – 150 USD
Flight (Seaplane or Helicopter)45 mins181 - 400 USD
Train (Local train)7 hours3 - 4 USD

 

Hai Phong to Halong Bay

As a prominent port city in northern Vietnam, Hai Phong shares the land and sea border with Quang Ninh province. It is pretty close to get to Halong Bay from Hai Phong, only around 63km via the New Highway. If you follow the old expressway, the distance is lengthened to almost 90km.

It used to take you roughly 2 hours to travel by roadway. Now, you need only 1 hour to get to the bay via the New Highway from Hai Phong. The close distance makes it quite convenient to travel between Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island. However, it takes more than 3 hours to travel via waterway.

How to get to?

Transport typeDurationCost
Bus (Shuttle bus or Limousine)1.5 hours5 – 10 USD
Taxi / private car1 hour40 - 60 USD
Cruise Halong Bay2 - 3 days140 USD ++

 

Sapa to Halong Bay

Located in the mountainous region of northern Vietnam, Sapa is about 490 km far from Halong. The distance can be flexible according to different routes. Thanks to the construction of the Noi Bai - Lao Cai Expressway, get to Halong Bay from Sapa is much more convenient and faster than before. No matter which route you choose, the landscape is captivating and the ride is still enjoyable.

Sapa to Halong Bay

See the best ways to get from Sapa to Halong

Normally, you have to spend 7 - 10 hours traveling. Due to the long distance and the terrain of travel routes, the shortest travel time is 7 hours, making the journey a long haul transfer. Considering which mode you should opt for will rely on the amount of time you wish to spend and how many points you want to stop on the way.

How to get to?

Transport typeDurationCost
Bus (Limousine & Shuttle bus)9 - 10 hours19 - 22 USD
Train (Overnight train)10 - 15 hours40 USD ++
Private car / Taxi7 hours280 USD ++

 

Ninh Binh to Halong Bay

Ninh Binh, a northern province in Vietnam, is known as the "Halong Bay on land” because of the similar system of limestone karsts, caves, and turquoise waters. About 220km far, Ninh Binh is the second-best destination in the North to admire the laid-back sceneries and magnificent gift of Mother Nature.

Depending on which routes and vehicles to choose, it takes around 3.5 - 5 hours to get to Halong Bay from Ninh Binh. The best way to get is to follow National Route 38B via Ha Nam and Hung Yen province. After that, you should enter the National Highway 5B.

Ninh Binh to Halong Bay

How to get from Ninh Binh to Halong

How to get to?

Transport typeDurationCost
Bus (Shuttle bus or Limousine)4 - 4.5 hours10 - 15 USD ++
Private car / Taxi3.5 hours75 USD ++

 

Da Nang/ Hoi An to Halong Bay

Da Nang and Hoi An, the two most worth-visiting destinations in central Vietnam, are roughly 900 km and 930 km far respectively. Due to the far distance, it is possible to travel between Halong Bay and Da Nang by either roadway or airway.

If you travel by plane, it takes more than 1 hour to fly directly. Also, you can fly to the nearby airports in Hanoi and Hai Phong, then spend a couple of days discovering before getting to the bay. While traveling via roadway takes up to 16 hours to complete the route. You will travel across many beautiful destinations and stops along the way.

Da Nang to Halong Bay

Distance between Halong Bay and Da Nang

How to get to?

Transport typeDurationCost
Flight1 hour 15 minutes60 - 100 USD ++
Overnight bus17 - 18 hours35 USD ++
Overnight Train20 hours45 USD ++

 

Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay

Known as the most dynamic and fast-developing city in the South, Ho Chi Minh (Sai Gon) is approximately 1,800 km far from Ha Long by land. Much further than from Da Nang and Hoi An, it is possible to get from Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay.

Traveling by land, it takes more than one day (approximately 33 hours) to travel. It is such a long-haul excursion that you must get tired and unpleasant on a car/train seat. That is the reason why many tourists opt for a flight to reduce the traveling time to only 2 hours.

Ho Chi Minh to Halong Bay

From Ho Chi Minh City to Halong Bay

How to get to?

Transport typeDurationCost
Flight2.5 hours100 USD ++
Train37 hours40 - 60 USD ++

 

Suggested itinerary to get to Halong Bay

Apart from these mentioned ways of transportation, many travelers decide to take a Halong Bay trip to travel around. Here are the best recommendations for tours and excursions to choose from, depending on how long you can spend on vacation.

  • Hanoi – Halong Bay – Sapa

If you stay in Vietnam for only 4 – 6 days, don’t miss out on the discovery of northern Vietnam. If Hanoi appears as a capital featuring the laid-back history and the pace of modern life, Sapa will catch your eyes on stunning mountain views. On the last two days, you will join a Halong Bay cruise from Hanoi with a shuttle bus transfer.

For further details about the best deal of Hanoi Halong Sapa tours

  • Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Hoi An – Hue – Hanoi – Halong Bay

In case you have more spare time, a 10-day Vietnam package tour is an absolute way to get to Halong Bay. You can traverse from the South to the North on a journey to the top wondrous beauty spots in Vietnam. Take time to enjoy your excursion in Saigon, Mekong Delta, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi before taking an overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay.

  • Hanoi – Halong Bay – Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City – Can Tho – Chau Doc – Phnom Penh – Siem Reap

For those who have abundant time to travel around, it is advisable to go on a Vietnam and Cambodia tour in 15 days or more. The longer you can stay, the more interesting places you can uncover. Departing from Hanoi and Halong Bay in the northern area, you will have the chance to admire the glamor of Hoi An, immerse in the bustle of Saigon, soak up the laidback of Mekong Delta area, and get a deeper insight into the Angkor architecture of Siem Reap.

In conclusion, there is no exact answer to the question “How to get to Halong Bay?” as you will have various options for travel routes, means of transportation, and transfer providers. For those from overseas, it is best to book an international flight and a tour package with a travel agent who will consult you about the best way to travel.

Hong Nhung

(Image source: BestPrice Travel)

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