All About Halong Bay

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About Halong Bay

Halong bay is known for its impressive natural beauty, and although it was recently crowned one of the new Seven Natural Wonders of the world, not many people know about the legend of the bay’s origins.

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. The bay has a total area of more than 1,500 square kilometers including 1,969 large and small islands. In 1994, The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 (129 sq mi) was recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage with aesthetic value.

Ha Long Bay- Smile Travel
Ha Long Bay- Smile Travel

Meaning of Halong Bay

In Vietnamese, the name “Hạ Long”, literally translated, means “descending dragon”. According to ancient mythology, the Vietnamese people are said to have descended from dragons themselves – with this in mind, the legend of Halong Bay promises to be a fascinating one indeed.

The Legend of Ha Long

Legend has it that shortly after the formation of the country, Vietnamese people had to fight back against hostile invaders attempting to enter the country through the sea. Refusing to allow his people to be defeated, the revered Jade Emperor called upon the Gods to send the Mother Dragon and her children to help the Vietnamese people in defeating their enemies.

The Mother Dragon and her children did not hesitate, they heeded the Emperor’s call and ferociously came down on to face the attackers. Although the invaders were powerful and on the verge of winning, the dragons destroyed them in a blaze of fire.

The Legend of Ha Long Bay- Smile Travel
The Legend of Ha Long Bay- Smile Travel

As the enemy was defeated, giant emeralds appeared and scattered along the bay. According to legend these emeralds were actually the teeth of the Mother Dragon and her children. The emeralds were left behind to create an impossible-to-penetrate barrier to discourage any future invasions. Peace returned to the country and after a thousand years, these walls of emeralds transformed into the islands and islets that you can admire in Halong Bay today.

After their triumph in Halong Bay, the Mother Dragon and her children never returned to the heavens from which they were summoned. Instead, they stayed and adopted the form of humans to help the Vietnamese people farm, raise cattle, reclaim land and thrive. 

To commemorate the intervention of the Mother Dragon and her children, Vietnamese people named the bay: “Hạ Long” and the area where her children landed, “Bái Tử Long”; the latter meaning “Bowing down and showing respect to the dragon’s children”.

The Best Time to Visit Halong Bay

Travel planning is the ultimate way to take on a stress-free vacation to Halong Bay. However, it is sometimes stressful because there are many things to take into consideration such as when is the best time to visit Halong Bay? How to achieve a smooth and fun-filled journey? With first-hand knowledge and deep insight about Halong Bay, our complete guide below will hopefully make everything easier for you.


Best time to visit Halong Bay: March, April, May, October, November, and December.

For sightseeing trips: April, May, June, October, November, and December.

For outdoor activities: March, April, May and June.

For money saving: late May, June, July, August, and early September.

Best Time by Weather

Featuring the tropical hot climate of Northern Vietnam, Halong Bay weather is characterized by two distinct patterns: hot & humid summer and cold winter. Between these seasons, there are also transitional seasons called spring and autumn in a short period of time.

Spring (March to April): Pleasant, dry weather makes spring the best time to go on an overnight trip to the bay. The temperatures range between 18°C and 23°C. During these months, you can also expect to soak up the gentle sunshine and little rainfall, perfect for sightseeing excursions and outdoor activities.

Summer (May to September): Regarded as the off-peak season, especially for foreigners, the hot and humid summer can be really irritating and harsh for travelers. Extreme heat usually lasts all day long, 30°C on average so sunscreen is very essential. The hottest months are June, July, and August. In addition, August receives the highest precipitation and high risks of storms. Despite that, on the plus side, summer enables beach bums to freely enjoy a dip in the cool water and take part in multiple water-based activities. Budget-minded travelers can also save a great sum of money since many tour operations offer promotions, discounts during this season.

Beautiful Halong bay in Summer Time (May)

Fall (Late September – October): Lasting too short but autumn is always the best season of the year. This is also the second peak tourist season in Halong Bay. Your cruise vacation will also be more tempting with less rain and more sunshine, ideal for going out.

Winter (November – February): Winter without a doubt is the coldest time of the year. The temperatures drop down to around 10°C and 20°C and the weather is dry. Therefore, swimming is almost impossible during this time and thick fog in the early morning may obstruct your vision. One plus point of winter is that this is the festival season with several important occasions like Christmas, New Year, and Lunar New Year.

Halong Bay Weather


Monsoon Influence: Halong Bay is influenced by the monsoon climate; which brings heavy rain and high humidity in the summer months.

Cooler Winters: Winter temperatures in Halong Bay can drop to as low as 10°C, making it a refreshing change from the hot and humid summers.

Foggy Conditions: Halong Bay can be prone to foggy conditions, particularly in the winter months; adding to the ethereal beauty of the bay.

Rainy Season: The rainy season in Halong Bay can bring heavy downpours, but these also help to maintain the lush vegetation and keep the bay thriving.

Tropical Storms: Halong Bay is vulnerable to tropical storms, which can bring strong winds and heavy rain; It’s important to check the weather forecast before visiting the bay during the storm season.

Halong is one of the most humid cities in Vietnam with the average annual humidity at 84%, which fluctuates from a minimum of 68% to a maximum of 90% in a year.

Weather Overview

Halong Bay has a tropical monsoon climate with two main seasons: the hot and rainy season from May to October and the cool and dry season from November to April. During the hot season, temperatures can reach up to 35°C with high humidity and frequent rain showers, while during the cool season temperatures average around 20°C with less rainfall. Overall, the best time to visit Halong Bay is from October to April when the weather is pleasant and the visibility is better for viewing the scenic landscape.


Halong Bay Weather in Fall & Spring (September to November and March to May)

Lowest temperature: 13ºC

Highest temperature: 32ºC

Humidity: 79%-85%

Deciding on the best time to visit will depend on your personal preferences. As many people prefer the cool, dry weather of Spring and Fall, the peak visiting times tend to be from March to April and September to October. During these months, you can expect more sunny days, a cooler breeze and calmer weather. A minor shower is to be expected occasionally, but they rarely last long enough to disrupt visitors’ plans.


Halong Bay Weather in Summer (May-September)

Lowest temperature: 21ºC

Highest temperature: 38ºC

Humidity: 81.5%

Summer lasts from around May to September, and at this time, the air is hot and humid. This warmer weather helps create beautiful sunsets, viewable at times when there is no rain or fog. While the promise of summer heat can be tempting, the months of July to September are also the wettest, so visitors should check weather forecasts for signs of severe weather. Temperature high for these months is 38°C.


Winter (November to March)

Lowest temperature: 10ºC

Highest temperature: 19ºC

Humidity: 79.2%

Winter lasts from around November to March. These months are the coldest with temperatures dropping down to 10°C – 20°C on average with a low of 16°C. This is also the dry season, not a lot of rainfall is to be expected.

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.

Private Car

If you want to travel in ultimate comfort, a 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.

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.


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.

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 ( 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. 


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.

Book your Best cruises in Halong bay

Halong Bay is one of the most popular destinations on many travelers’ bucket list. There are many different ways to enjoy the spectacular beauty of the Bay but none is as fulfilling as taking an overnight cruise trip. The trip not only takes you deeper into the most secluded part of the Bay but also organizes many activities for you to understand more about the local culture. There are both 1 Day Trip, 2 Day Trip, 3 Day Trip and even longer trips available. 

Book your cruise at websites:


List Caves in Halong Bay


  1. Hang Sáng Tối “Dark and Light Cave” Halong bay
  2. Bo Nau Cave “Pelican Cave”
  3. Dau Go Cave “Wooden Head” Cave
  4. Luon Cave
  5. Ho Dong Tien Cave “Fairy Lake” Cave
  6. Me Cung Cave- The Oldest Cave in Halong Bay
  7. Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave
  8. Thien Cung Cave “Heaven Palace” Cave
  9. Trinh Nu Cave “Virgin Cave”


Top 5 Most Amazing Caves in Halong Bay

No trip to Halong Bay is complete without touring some of its most famous caves. Carved deep into Halong’s limestone karsts, each Halong Bay cave is a grand display of just how beautiful nature can be. The caves found in this area were formed between 11,000 and 70,000 years ago and walking into one is like stepping straight into history.


Ancient tales and folklore surround each of Halong Bay’s caves, and this is usually where you can find the origin for the name for any cave. These tales give each cave a kind of mystical, spiritual feel. Read our detailed cave guides to find out more about each cave’s given story.

How many?

Nobody knows for sure how many caves can be found in Halong Bay, but there are around 30 that are accessible to the public. These caves differ in size and stature and are spread wide across the bay so be sure to visit a handful of them to get the most out of your trip.

5 most amazing caves:

Many of Halong Bay’s caves are massive and have magnificent displays of stalagmites, stalactites, and other crazy rock formations. Some caves are great for exploring by kayak and others even have graffiti dating back to the French occupation in the 19th century. One cave is said to be the home of fairies and in other caves, you may be lucky enough to find some fossils. We have compiled a list of the top 5 most amazing and beautiful caves as follows:

1. Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave)

Fact: Located on Bo Hon island,  3km away from Sung Sot Cave and 15 km to the south of Bai Chay wharf.

The beauty of Trinh Nu (Virgin) Cave (Photo: Instagram/

2. Luon Cave

Fact: Located on Bo Hon island, 1 km away from Sung Sot cave and 14 km from Tuan Chau tourist wharf.

3. Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave)

Fact: Sung sot cave was discovered back in 1901 and initially known with the name “Grotte des Surprises”.

Inside Sung Sot cave – one of the most visited caves in Halong bay!

4. Bo Nau Cave (Pelican Cave)

Fact: Located on Bo Hon island and has an area of 200 m2.

5. Thien Cung Cave (Heaven Palace Cave)

Fact: This is one of the biggest caves in Halong bay, with a total area of 10.000 m².

Each cave has its own story and special qualities and should not be missing from any good Halong Bay itinerary.


Top 10 the Best Cruises in Halong Bay-Lan Ha Bay 2023-2024


  1. Orchid Classic Cruise
  2. Stellar of the Seas Cruise
  3. Heritage Cruise Binh Chuan
  4. Ambassador Cruise Halong 1 Day
  5. Capella Cruise
  6. Scarlet Pearl Cruise
  7. Indochine Cruise
  8. Aspira Cruise
  9. Le theatre Cruise
  10. Era Cruises


Best Halong Tour Operator to book Halong Cruises

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