Useful Local Tips in Halong Bay
Besides being one of the most attractive and unique destinations in the world, Halong Bay also has the beauty of the legend. With thousands of grandiose islands, this place is considered a wonderful gift from nature, is recognized by UNESCO as the World Natural Heritage Site.
- What is the best time to visit Halong Bay?
- How to get to Halong Bay?
- Shopping and prices in Halong
- Must-try food in Halong
What is the best time to visit Halong Bay?
As located in the North of Vietnam, Halong Bay has 4 different seasons and you can visit Halong at almost any time of the year.
In the spring, there is still light rainy and foggy weather but the sky is much clearer than in the winter. This is the time of flowers blooming and swallows flying over the bay. Besides, the sun shines constantly all day, and the sea is gentle and calm. With this weather, tourists can truly experience the best of Ha Long as they are cruising slowly around and staring at the breathtaking scenery.
Hot and Moist Summer
Summer brings clear views of the stunning islands and pleasant swimming temperatures, the sun rises in the very early morning and shines till 7 pm in Halong, which makes you feel the daytime is longer than the nighttime. This season also gives you the perfect chance to have tanning skin and is an ideal time for cruising and kayaking. On the other hand, from July and August, there may be infrequent typhoons so sometimes you will have to cancel or delay your trip.
Autumn is also a perfect time for couples or small families to have private lifetime experiences together while sailing through Ha Long Bay. The average temperature is lower than 27°C, so you can enjoy the cool and pleasant atmosphere. From October onwards, it is the ideal time for tourists to take a Halong cruise on the bay. This wonderful weather is suitable to enjoy all activities offered onboard while making sightseeing as perfect as it has to be.
Swimming and sunbathing in Halong
Cold and Dry Winter
Winter normally arrives at Ha Long Bay in November and gets much colder in January and February. The highest temperature reaches only about 20°C and it can drop to about 8°C. However, tourists still can take a boat cruise in winter. Although swimming is not suitable, you can join a lot of exciting activities in this season and you may also admire the thick fog possesses a mysterious beauty.
Halong in the clouds
In general, the best time for Halong bay travel will be from April to October because, at that time, the weather is quite cool and nice. However, you can also come here in the winter months. The weather can be quite cold and cloudy, sometimes rainy but it will be the best time for a private trip with the fanciful scenery of the islands between clouds.
How to get to Halong Bay?
About 170km away from Hanoi capital with 3 hours traveling by car, Halong Bay is accessed easily by different means of transportation.
This type of transfer is available for departing from the Hanoi center only. The shuttle bus can be understood as a “tourist bus”, leaving Hanoi around 08:00 and returning at 12:00 from Halong Bay every day. If your hotel is located in Hanoi Old Quarter, you will be picked up from the hotel. Otherwise, you have to take a taxi to the meeting point. Shuttle bus costs from USD 10 to USD 30/person/one way.
If you arrive at Noi Bai Airport and want to travel to Halong city, just rent a car with a driver. There are several companies that offered this service at the price of less than USD 100/one way for a private car from Noi Bai to Ha Long.
You can choose the service of Halong Express train departs from Gia Lam Railway Station to Ha Long and costs about USD 20/ticket.
From Danang, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh City, you can fly either to Hanoi or Hai Phong Airport and get a car transfer to Halong Bay. From other Southeast Asia countries, you also need to fly into one of these two airports to get access to Halong Bay.
You can also travel to Halong Bay on a helicopter which takes only 1 hour and it is only possible from Hanoi. This service is exclusively run by Northern Vietnam Helicopter Company and it is a quite costly option to reach Halong Bay.
Another special way for tourists from Hanoi to reach Halong Bay is using modern and luxury seaplanes. The seaplane with 2 pilot seats, 12 passenger seats, and spacious windows, not only saves travel time but also helps you comfortably see the beautiful landscape from the plane, as well as record memorable moments of Halong Bay from the height of between 150 and 3,000 meters above sea level.
Visiting Halong Bay on a seaplane
Let's read more detail at How to Get to Halong Bay: A Rough Guide
Shopping and prices in Halong
Shopping is an essential activity for most tourists. From shopping, you can learn more about local culture and society, as well as bring home some nice souvenirs for your friends and family.
Ha Long Market
Ha Long market, located on Bach Dang Street, in the Ha Long city center, is the largest market in Quang Ninh province. Was built in 2003, Ha Long market has become a popular shopping place for locals and tourists. There are a variety of goods sold here.
First floor: pearl, jewellery, embroidered paintings, mother-of-pearl mosaic paintings, and electronics. Second floor: footwear, clothing, seafood, and marine products. Food and drinks are also sold in small restaurants in the market.
Halong market opens every day from 6.00 a.m and 6.30 p.m. The market is often crowded on the weekend.
Ha Long Night Market
The night market is near Bai Chay Beach, open every day from 6.00 pm until late at night. A market is a group of more than a hundred stalls that sell diverse types of products, such as handicrafts, handmade accessories, clothes, and other dispensable items such as swimwear, lotion, or hat. Tourists tend to come to this place for purchasing unique products of the beach city like necklaces made from seashells, wooden small boats, or T-shirts with images of Ha Long Bay. The price range is higher than other markets in the city.
Halong night market
Bai Chay Commercial Center
Located on Vuon Dao Street in the Bai Chay Beach area. Bai Chay Commercial Center is one of the largest and most modern shopping centers in Halong City. Products here are diverse from regular to deluxe goods.
Like Ha Long Market, Bai Chay Commercial Center opens every day from 6.00 a.m and 6.30 p.m
Besides, there are many shops opened daily along the Bai Chay Road with various types of special high-quality products such as Halong Pearl shop, crocodile leather shop, wooden souvenir shop, coal souvenir shop...
The shopping price in Halong is not too expensive for the famous destinations. You can buy clothes, and souvenirs for just a little bit expensive more than in other local places in Vietnam. Eating at Halong restaurants is also quite affordable price. However, like many other destinations, you also need to ask about the price before deciding to buy or rent something.
Read more: Best 5 shopping places in Halong Bay
Must-try food in Halong
One of the memorable experiences here is enjoying the local food. Halong is famous for various cuisines with seafood that tourists should not be missed when traveling here.
Firstly, we must mention Squid Sausages. This famous speciality is cooked with fresh squid. What made a special flavor to fried squid is the hands-pounding technique, instead of grinding as many other places. After adding spices, the patties are fried on a pan with boiling oil. It makes the squid sausage crunchier and more delicious. Despite the relatively high price, 300.000 – 450.000 VND per kg, tourists still try to buy in the market when they come here.
You also should try ¨Ngán¨. You will be surprised by its name which means ¨boring¨ in Vietnamese. However, it is considered the most delicious dish in Halong. ¨Ngán¨ is a mollusk with bivalve-like clams, it can be processed in various ways: grilled, steamed, cooked soup, fried with noodles or vegetables. ¨Ngán¨ can also be used to make wine. The wine which is processed by ¨Ngán¨ has its own scent from the sea. If you would like to buy fresh ¨Ngán¨ or wine, you can go to Cai Ram market, Vuon Dao market.
It is very strange when you hear about Sa Sung – a kind of sea-worn. It lives deep in the sand and is available only in Quan Lan island (Quang Ninh Province), so this is a quite expensive dish in Halong Bay. Fresh ¨Sa Sung¨ can be stir-fried with garlic or dried, grilled, or roasted to eat while drinking alcohol. In addition, it is also used to make spices for noodle soup.
Another famous seafood dish in Halong is Snail. Halong has different kinds of the snail so if you hear about it, you have to ask to repeat or need a pen and paper to record because it is hard for you to remember: hương snail (Flavor), đĩa snail (plate), vặn snail (twisted), Gai snail (prickle), etc. Served with snail are the special sauces to make that dish tastier.
It is a pity when you travel to Halong without enjoying Tu Hai. If you try it once, surely you will not forget the typical taste of this seafood. Tu Hai can be steamed, make a salad, cooked soup, grilled, etc. The appetizer with steamed Tu Hai has a cool and sweet taste and it can be said that this is the most delicious, nutritious dish.
It can be said that Halong is the place where nourishing a variety type of rare and precious seafood. When choosing Halong as the destination for your wonderful trip, why not plan to enjoy much special seafood that has been bestowed on Halong by nature?
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You might want to read more: Avoiding Scams for Halong Bay Cruise
Image Sources: Internet