For several years tourism in Vietnam has been under the shadow of its neighboring countries. Now the world is starting to recognize the sheer beauty and splendor of this nation in Southeast Asia. In fact, Vietnam posted a record 15.5 million international arrivals in 2018.
Quite a number of people tried to take advantage of this boom and as a result you may have noticed that some sites have inaccurate, outdated, and even misleading content. In light of this, we made a conscious effort to provide information that’s as precise and detailed as it can be so travelers can be properly educated and guided as they explore what Vietnam has to offer.
In this post we will discuss everything you need to know if you wish to cruise in Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay. When we speak of Halong Bay, often we are referring to the entire region, which is actually composed of three bays: Halong Bay itself and the neighboring Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay. Each boasts its own distinct, remarkable landscape.
There are 3 ports for the three bays:
- Tuan Chau Marina for Halong Bay cruises
- Hon Gai Port for Bai Tu Long Bay cruises
- Got Ferry Port for Lan Ha Bay cruises
Our RecommedationsMost travelers depart for the cruises from Hanoi City, while others take international flights or domestic flights to Noi Bai International Airport or domestic flights to Cat Bi International Airport, then take a direct car ride from the airports to the bays.
Distance and travel time
|From||Port Name||Cruising Area||Distance||Transport Type||Travel Time|
|Hanoi City Center||Tuan Chau Marina||Ha Long Bay||146 km||Shuttle bus/ Car||3 h 25 min|
|Hanoi City Center||Got Ferry Port||Lan Ha Bay||153 km||Shuttle bus/ Car||2 h|
|Hanoi City Center||Hon Gai Port||Bai Tu Long Bay||136 km||Shuttle bus/ Car||3 h 15 min|
|Noi Bai International Airport||Tuan Chau Marina||Ha Long Bay||148 km||Shuttle bus/ Car||3 h|
|Noi Bai International Airport||Tuan Chau Marina||Ha Long Bay||148 km||Seaplane||45 min|
|Noi Bai International Airport||Got Ferry Port||Lan Ha Bay||150 km||Shuttle bus/ Car||2 h 30 min|
|Noi Bai International Airport||Hon Gai Port||Bai Tu Long Bay||157 km||Shuttle bus/ Car||3 h 20 min|
|Cat Bi International Airport||Tuan Chau Marina||Ha Long Bay||62 km||Private car/ Taxi||1 h 45 min|
|Cat Bi International Airport||Got Ferry Port||Lan Ha Bay||28 km||Private car/ Taxi||40 min|
|Cat Bi International Airport||Hon Gai Port||Bai Tu Long Bay||79 km||Private car/ Taxi||2 h|
How to Get to Halong Bay
Vietnam has made some recent upgrades to its infrastructure, including its roads and highways. Now it is a lot easier and more convenient to get to the world-renowned Halong Bay. It is famous for its emerald waters and thousands of karst islands topped by forests and dotted with spectacular caves and grottoes. The region is also popular for scuba diving, hiking, trekking and rock climbing, particularly in Cát Bà National Park.
Transportation Options from Hanoi to Halong Bay
Getting from Halong Bay on a budget is no problem at all. Most cruise suppliers offer a round-trip shuttle bus service that picks up tourists from their hotels in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and takes them directly to the port and vice versa. This is quite convenient because you won’t have to worry about transfers because you will be picked up and dropped off by the cruise company’s mini bus.
Hanoi is about 165 kilometers (103 miles) from Halong Bay. Traveling by road used to take 3.5 to 4 hours, but thanks to a new highway linking Hai Phong and Halong Bay, the travel time has been cut to just 2.5 hours. A number of cruise buses now use this highway and charge an extra fee.
Hiring a private vehicle is the most comfortable way to get to Halong Bay. If your trip is more a question of comfort than budget, then a private car is an excellent option. Most cruise operators and tour companies like Halong Hub offer private car rentals at reasonable rates. You get to travel in utmost comfort and privacy without necessarily breaking the bank.
In Vietnam, the 4-seater of the average car brand is quite compact. It is suitable for just 2 adults. We recommend a 7-seat car for a maximum of 3 adults (or 2 adults and a child) and a 16-seat van for families of 4 adults and up.
If you prefer to book a vehicle by yourself, go directly to the big terminals like Gia Lam, My Dinh or Luong Yen. A one-way ticket costs 100,000 to 200,000 Vietnamese Dong (US$5 -10). The majority of the buses stop at a terminal close to the Bai Chay Bridge. From there you can catch a motorbike taxi and ask the driver to take you to Tuan Chau Marina.
This option is somewhat more complicated, so we don’t recommend it as the best way to go from Hanoi to Halong Bay. Here are some of the disadvantages of taking local buses:
- Most local buses will not pick you up and drop you off at your hotel or cruise port.
- Most local bus operators don’t speak English. Buying tickets and asking for help is difficult.
- Local bus stations are quite chaotic. Beware of taking the wrong bus or being pickpocketed.
- You need to keep your valuables in bags that you carry with you, and keep an eye on your checked luggage. Other passengers may take your luggage (by accident or on purpose) if they get off the bus along the way.
How to get to Halong Bay from Noi Bai International Airport
Noi Bai is located in Soc Son district, which is about 27 kilometers from the city center of Hanoi. It is the second biggest transport hub in Vietnam, welcoming 15 million passengers annually.
Although it’s farther from Halong Bay than Cat Bi, Noi Bai International Airport is widely chosen by those who visit Halong Bay. This is because it connects to many international airports and transportation from Hanoi to Halong Bay is quite convenient.
You can transfer to Halong Bay without stopping by in Hanoi. From the airport, you can choose either buses or taxis, but keep in mind that the distance is 150 km.
From the airport, you will need to take a taxi/motorbike taxi/bus to Bac Thang Long toll station to catch a bus to Halong Bay. This is the cheapest way to do the trip, but then again there are disadvantages so this option is not recommended.
This is the most convenient option, and also the most expensive. It will take you around $70 – $80 for the trip. In addition, taxi drivers are notorious for overcharging and other scams so be very careful.
This is by far the safest and most comfortable option. It is more expensive but the service is certainly worth your money.
If you wish to travel to Halong Bay in style, go for a seaplane ride courtesy of Hai Au Airline! The flight is just shy of one hour and is undeniably the most lavish and adventurous way to get to the World Heritage Site.
It’s a one-of-a-kind experience because you’ll get to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Halong Bay. You’ll get to see the majestic landscape from a height of 150 to 3000 meters. This is definitely the best option if you have a generous budget.
From Hanoi city center, take a 30-minute transfer to Noi Bai International Airport to board the plane. It will land in Tuan Chau Marina, the port for Halong Bay cruises. You can choose a one-way 45-minute flight experience between Hanoi and Halong Bay over the lush Red River Delta or enjoy a spectacular view of the islands of Halong Bay on a 25-minute scenic flight.
How to get to Halong Bay from Van Don International Airport
Van Don Airport is one of three airports near Halong Bay. It is located in Quang Ninh which is 50 km from Halong. Opened to the public in December 2018, Van Don is the newest commercial airport in Vietnam. Completed with massive and well-invested infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities, it is the country’s most advanced airport to date. It has a 3.6-km runway to facilitate the landing of world’s most advanced aircrafts at discounted service fees for all carriers.
Access to Halong Bay is now much faster and easier thanks to this newly-opened international airport. Van Don is a mere 50 km from the famous World Heritage Site. All the passengers flying to Van Don will be provided with free bus tickets on Halong – Van Don route. Or if you prefer a taxi, the cost won’t be too expensive as it’s the nearest airport to Halong Bay.
In addition, for travelers coming from Saigon who don’t want to spend time in Hanoi and want to go directly to Halong, a flight to Van Don is the best option.
How to Get to Bai Tu Long Bay
Bai Tu Long Bay refers to the area located to the east of Halong Bay. While it shares many similar geological features with Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay is regarded as an off the beaten tourist track with a number of pristine beaches and equally impressive karst mountain formations.
The bay is known for its rich biodiversity which consists of two ecosystems: a marine/coastal ecosystem and a tropical rainforest ecosystem. A large number of tourists wish to visit Bai Tu Long because it is less crowded than Halong Bay.
Getting there is pretty much the same as with Halong, the only difference being the port location. Ships sailing in Bai Tu Long Bay starts their cruise at the Hon Gai Port.
How to Get to Lan Ha Bay
Located directly at the southern section of the world-renowned Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay is considered by many as the twin of Halong. It is even regarded as a smart alternative to Halong because it is less touristy but equally beautiful. It features 300 or so karst islands and limestone outcrops that partition the seascape into smaller bays and gulfs.
How to get to Lan Ha Bay from Hanoi
The bay is located approximately 134 kilometers (83 miles) from Hanoi. Access to this isolated area is through the port city of Hai Phong where Got Pier is located. Got Pier connects Hai Phong to Cat Ba Island – the gateway to Lan Ha Bay. Travel time from Hanoi to Hai Phong (Got Pier) is around 2 hours.
From Hanoi to Lan Ha Bay by land transport, you have three options: tourist bus, public bus and private car. These are basically the same options you have when traveling from Hanoi to Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay. Again, it is generally recommended traveling via private car because it offers utmost privacy, comfort and convenience.
How to get to Lan Ha Bay from Cat Bi Airport
If you are coming from overseas or elsewhere in Vietnam, take a flight to Cat Bi International Airport. It is located in Hai Phong, 60 km far from Halong Bay. It offers flights from multiple airline carriers to many popular global destinations. There are 85 flights on 14 different routes from the airport, connecting HPH to 14 different cities in 6 different countries. The most popular routes connect Haiphong to Bangkok, Seoul, Shenzhen, Matsumoto and Da Nang.
From Cat Bi, you can take taxi or private car to Got Ferry Port. Travel time is around 40 minutes.
All in all, a visit to Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay or Lan Ha Bay is an absolute must on any Vietnamese vacation. It would be a shame to miss out on an area that is revered all over the world. No description can quite prepare you for the incredible landscape, it would be best to experience it for yourself.
If you want to spare yourself from the hassle of arranging all transportation details, feel free to contact Halong Hub. We can assist in booking your cruise, along with all travel details, so you can just sit back, relax and enjoy your stay.