UNESCO World Heritage sight Halong Bay mesmerises visitors with its dramatic landscape. The ancient limestone karsts that rise majestically from the water are covered in dense jungle vegetation and some hide enormous caves and grottoes, their glistening stalactites and stalagmites lending them an otherworldly beauty. According to geologists, the tower-karst scenery was formed over millions of years from river erosion, chemical action, rising sea levels and a tropical
climate, resulting in the striking limestone isles and karsts that make the bay one of the country’s key tourist draws.
According to legend, an enormous dragon sent to earth to help defend the country from invaders descended into the sea at Halong, cutting the bay from the rocks and scattering giant emeralds which became the isles and karsts and earning the bay its name – Halong means ‘descending dragon’.
Popular Halong Bay tours
While day tours of Halong Bay are popular, many visitors opt to stay overnight on a wooden junk, allowing them to experience the bay at perhaps its most beautiful -in the early morning and at sunset. An overnight tour takes visitors deeper into the bay and further from the busiest areas and gives more time for exploration and relaxation on the boat deck.
From Hanoi to Halong Bay
Topas Travel organises both day tours and overnight tours to Halong Bay departing from Hanoi. Customers booking tours with Topas Travel will be picked up from their hotel in the morning and transported by bus to Halong city.
Leaving Hanoi, the bus snakes through the countryside around the Red River Delta, affording views of water buffaloes, paddy fields, and local farm workers tending their crops along the way. We ensure customers travel safely and in comfort. The bus arrives in Halong city mid-morning, from where passengers will board a traditional wooden junk and set sail to explore the bay.
Things to do in Halong Bay
Onboard your wooden junk, a fresh seafood lunch (with vegetarian option) is served while the boat begins its voyage into the bay. Large windows on all sides ensure panoramic views of the bay in all its glory. The knowledgeable guide will point out some of the most famous landmarks from the limestone bedrocks, sheer cliffs and tiny islands with names denoting what they are thought to resemble: Fighting Cocks (the symbol of Halong Bay), Duck, Swan, Incense Burner, and Stone Dogs amongst them. A short cruise by bamboo boat around Ba Hang floating village will show you what life on the water is like for the fishermen who make this area their temporary home. A stop at the beautiful Thien Cung (Heaven Palace Grotto) cave is a highlight of most tours of the bay with a chance to see the huge, awe-inspiring chambers adorned with stalactites and stalagmites and time to relax on the pretty beach.
Halong Bay cruises and boat trips
Topas Travel offers a range of cruises in Halong Bay. Our day trip includes four hours spent on the water, where guests will enjoy a fresh seafood lunch, time for relaxing and sunbathing on the deck, and a trip by bamboo boat to explore the limestone caves.
Alternatively, choosing an overnight tour gives the chance to explore more of the bay and enjoy the stunning scenes of the sun rising and setting behind the limestone karsts. An overnight cruise also includes kayaking, swimming and squid fishing, as well as a cooking class where guests learn to make Vietnamese spring rolls and takes in some of the less-visited tourists sites.
A three-day, two-night tour takes visitors into Bai Tu Long Bay and further from the crowds, and additional activities include a traditional puppet show in the beautiful village of Yen Duc. We recommend this tour for a chance to fully relax and explore the more remote areas of this UNESCO World Heritage bay.
Most of our guests at Topas Ecolodge combine their stay in the Sapa mountains with a mini-cruise in Halong Bay. For the best quality tour, we recommend booking through Topas Travel (link), a sister company of Topas Ecolodge.
Topas Travel offers tours throughout the country with the option of including a stay at Topas Ecolodge. Topas Travel seeks to offer adventurous, authentic and unique experiences that respect the local environment and communities while bringing visitors a little deeper into the real country and away from the tourist sights.