How to Get to Halong Bay
Travel to Halong Bay is possible by many different modes of transport depending on where you’re coming from. Take a look at our quick guide to help you decide which option is best for you.
If you’re not too far away, one of the most exhilarating modes of transport available is the motorbike! Cruising through Vietnam’s gorgeous scenery on the back of your very own hog is a great experience. A bike trip will allow you to see more of the local lifestyle as you can take breaks at your leisure in some of the small towns around Northern Vietnam.
Many travelers rent motorbikes as it’s a wonderful way to take in the sights and it won’t burn a hole in your wallet. Gas is cheap and you can often rent a bike for a cheap price from your hotel or hostel; if this is not possible a quick google search will help you find a reliable motorbike rental service. Keep in mind that you will have to pay a deposit for the bike, on top of the rental fee.
A trip from one city to another can take hours so you will need to take plenty of breaks to stretch your legs and enjoy some snacks and drinks. Keep in mind that this option is recommended for experienced riders only, as traffic in Vietnam can be very chaotic. A long motorbike trip is not advisable for a first-time rider.
- Pros: Travel at your own pace: take breaks when you feel like it and arrive when you want to arrive! This is a great budget-friendly option, gas in Vietnam is very cheap! You can take in the scenery in a much more immersive experience when traveling by motorbike.
- Cons: Driving in Vietnam can be dangerous and is not recommended for an inexperienced driver. A bike trip can become uncomfortable over long distances. The weather is unpredictable and a surprise rainstorm can put your travel plans at risk.
|Hanoi||Phung's Motorbike Rental (0084 965 93 66 77)||13 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi||13 USD/Day (Honda Fortunes 125cc)|
|Da Nang||The Motorbike Station (0084 922 771 171)||196/41 Tran Cao Van, Da Nang||9 USD/Day (Honda Airblade 125cc)|
|Ho Chi Minh city||Tigit motorbikes (firstname.lastname@example.org)||B2-00.01 Sarimi, 72 Nguyen Co Thach, District 2, Vietnam||65 USD/Month (Honda Airblade 110cc)|
Below is the average distance between major cities in Vietnam and Halong bay, that may be helpful for your road-trip planning.
|Cities||Distance||Mileage||Est. Time (Road trip)|
|Hanoi||175 km||108 miles||2 hrs 30 mins|
|Ninh Binh||208 km||129 miles||3 hrs 30 mins|
|Hai Phong||64 km||40 miles||1 hr 20 mins|
|Sapa||500 km||316 miles||7 hrs 20 mins|
|Hue||783 km||487 miles||14 hrs 15 mins|
|Da Nang||882 km||548 miles||15 hrs 50 mins|
|Hoi An||911 km||566 miles||16 hrs 33 mins|
|Nha Trang||1405 km||873 miles||24 hrs 30 mins|
|Dalat||1530 km||839 miles||28 hrs|
|Ho Chi Minh city||1800 km||1118 miles||33 hrs|
|Phu Quoc||1744 km||1083 miles||32 hrs|
2. Public Bus
Another budget way of travel would be the bus. There are a few types of buses available for long-distance travel in Vietnam, local buses, luxury buses, and private shuttle buses. Each of these options are fairly cheap depending on which company you go with. The local bus will actually be more like a coach. They stop a few times for breaks so there are opportunities to get snacks but more often than not the trips are long and you may want to eat on your own schedule so it’s advisable to take your own snacks and water.
If you need to travel overnight you can get a sleeper bus which allows you to fully lay down and sleep through the night, which can be quite comfortable or uncomfortable depending on the bus you take. Tickets can be bought at the station before boarding the bus. Choosing the local bus is a great option for budget travelers however if you pay less you often get less! If you wish to travel in more comfort you can pay a little more money to travel on a luxury bus which provides amenities such as Wifi, air conditioning, and comfier seats.
The second type of bus is a private shuttle bus. These are usually minivans, which can be much more comfortable than a coach if you are only driving for a few hours. They tend to be slightly more expensive but quicker than a local bus but most offer the additional service of pick up and drop off at your hotel which is a great plus. You can usually make a booking for a private shuttle bus through your hotel or hostel which makes this a very convenient choice.
- Pros: Buses are cheap and pretty fast! If you pay a bit more you can travel with Wi-Fi. Private shuttle buses can offer pick up and drop off services. Private shuttle buses may also offer some amenities such as Wi-Fi and bottled water.
- Cons: There isn’t much privacy on buses. The toilet situation may be grim or non-existent! Some buses stop to pick up extra passengers along the way which can slow down your trip.
|Ho Chi Minh City to Quang Ninh||Hoang Long Bus (38-seater)||18:30 to 08:30 (+1 day or 38 hours)||820,000 VND (To book: 0225 3920920)|
|Da Nang to Bay Chay Bus Station (for Halong)||Vạn Lục Tùng (46-seater)||15:00 to 07:30 (+1 day or 16h30m)||400,000 VND (To book: 091 536 33 77)|
|Hanoi to Halong bay (See our bus guide)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
3. Reunification Express Train
One of the most popular ways to travel through Vietnam is by train! Vietnam has a great railway system. Traveling by train will give you the opportunity to really soak up the scenery at a slower pace than you would on a bus or a bike. Train tickets are extremely cheap, and you can choose between having a soft or hard seat or even a sleeper cabin. Depending on your ticket, a train journey can be a comfortable experience, although it is set to be a long one, as train travel is one of the slower modes of transport available.
You can book train tickets on the Vietnam Railways official website (https://dsvn.vn) and either print them out or pick them up at the station. Alternatively, you can ask your hotel or hostel to book tickets for you if you need some help.
- Pros: Train travel is probably the safest of all the available options. It offers the greatest views of the scenery. And it’s cheap and comfortable!
- Cons: Train travel can be quite slow so it’s not suited to those who are short on time.
There are no direct trains to Halong bay at the moment. Therefore, you need to book a train to Hanoi and from there take a bus or train to Halong.
|SE8||Ho Chi Minh City - Hanoi||06:00 - 15:33 (+1 day or 33h)||960.000 VND (Soft-Sleeper)|
|SE2||Nha Trang - Hanoi||03:21 - 04:50 (+1 day or 25h)||1,170.000 VND (Soft-Sleeper)|
|SE6||Da Nang - Hanoi||03:04 - 19:58 (16h54m)||1,250.000 VND (Soft-Sleeper)|
4. Private Car
If you want to travel in ultimate comfort, private car to Halong Bay would be a great choice. This is by far the fastest and most luxurious option, as well as the most expensive. Traveling in a private car is also a very flexible choice as you will be picked up and dropped off in a location of your choosing, you can travel by your own schedule and stop when you want to stop. Private cars can be booked through a taxi company or through your cruise provider.
- Pros: A private car will, of course, give you lots of privacy. It’s also probably the most comfortable way to travel. As well as the fastest way to get to Halong Bay! Some amenities are sometimes provided like Wi-Fi and bottled water.
- Cons: This is one of the most expensive ways to get to Halong Bay.
Pro tip: agree on a price before the actual trip to avoid paying an inflated fee.
How to book: For Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city: VN Rent A Car Co., Ltd (+84 964 058 978)
If you are further afield than Hanoi, it may be possible to catch a flight to Van Don airport in Quang Ninh Province. Van Don airport is a brand-new airport opened in December 2018 and is about 53 km or 31 miles away from Halong City. Thanks to the new expressway that links Van Don airport to Halong City, the connecting travel time is only 1 hour in a car or bus. The only direct flights to Van Don airport are from Ho Chi Minh city, but it is possible to fly from other cities in Vietnam with a layover in Ho Chi Minh. Direct flights from Ho Chi Minh can be as cheap as $44 in the off-peak season. Flights to Van Don airport are currently operated by Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air and Bamboo Airlines.
- Pros: If you are coming to Halong Bay from across the country, then a flight can cut down travel time by days. The flight is short and comfortable.
- Cons: Flying to Halong from cities other than Ho Chi Minh will mean a layover in Ho Chi Minh. Flying may not suit budget travelers.
See our guide on Airports near Halong bay for detailed flight schedules to Van Don Airport, the nearest airport to Halong bay.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, it’s possible to catch a seaplane from Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport to Tuan Chau Marina where you can board your cruise or travel to your hotel. Sure to provide a fast, comfortable and fun trip, traveling by seaplane is a pretty unique experience and will help build some great memories of your trip to Halong Bay. The flight is only available from Hanoi and should take around 45 minutes.
The costs vary widely depending on the time of year due to the higher demand during peak season and depending on whether or not you choose to add an additional 15-minute scenic tour of Halong Bay onto your flight.
- Pros:The fastest way to get to Halong Bay from Hanoi. Flying by seaplane is a priceless experience and a great way to get your first glimpse of Halong Bay.
- Cons: Flying by Seaplane is not a budget efficient way to travel.
Scheduled flight information
|Ha Noi - Ha Long (HAI601)|
|Ha Noi - Ha Long (HAI603)|
Notes: Low season starts from 16 Apr to 31 Sep, High season starts from 01 Oct - 15 Apr.
How to book: Hai Au Aviation - 0084 (0) 962 069 689. Address: Floor 11, 70-72 Ba Trieu Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
Last updated: 28 August, 2019
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