Halong Bay

Halong Bay sightseeing


The Socialist Republic of Vietnam boasts several major cruise destinations. The country's outstanding attraction is without a doubt Halong Bay. Cruise ships regularly call at the region, which has been under UNESCO World Heritage protection since 1994.

Halong Bay rock formations

Halong Bay rock formations


On the way to the provincial capital Halong City, the ships cross the entire bay and then anchor in front of the city. Due to its location, the large city with around 250.000 inhabitants is an ideal starting point for visits to the Vietnamese metropolis of Hanoi and for boat trips to Halong Bay. Its unparalleled scenic beauty is recommended for a tour on one of the more than 300 tourist boats available.

Cruise ship Oceania Nautica in front of Halong City

Cruise ship Oceania Nautica in front of Halong City


Halong Bay – unique UNESCO World Heritage landscape

Located in the northeast of Vietnam, the often fog-shrouded bay is a great natural experience. It covers an area of ​​1.553 square kilometers. The number of islands is exactly 1.969. These are limestone and slate rocks of different sizes. 434 square kilometers of the bay with a total of 775 islands are under UNESCO protection.

Excursion boat in Halong Bay
The rocky landscape of Halong Bay
The vastness of Halong Bay
Karst islands of Halong Bay

The majority of the islands are covered with bushes and trees. Dense jungle landscapes thrive on the larger islands. Geologists estimate the age of the landscape to be between 250 and 280 million years old. Some have remarkable caves that have been developed for tourism. Almost all of the karst islands are uninhabited

Thien Cung Cave

The boat tours arranged by the cruise lines follow a circular route through the awe-inspiring island world. The excursion boats pass small and large islands, sometimes just rocky needles sticking out of the water. The excursion often includes a visit to the Thien Cung Cave on Dau Go Island. Located 20 meters below sea level, the “Sky Palace” features beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations. The cave was discovered by accident in 1992 when a fisherman seeking shelter from a typhoon followed a monkey into the previously undiscovered cave.

Dau Go Island with Thien Cung Cave
Excursion boats in front of the Dau Go island
Dau Go Island ahead
Thien Cung Cave

The stalactite formations of the 3.000 square meter cave have names such as "lion, tiger, elephant and cobra". An optimally designed path leads through the cave. There is no shortage of effective light installations. To visit the cave, the junks dock at a safe, massive jetty. However, a total of more than 120 steps must be overcome.

Light installations in the Thien Cung cave

Light installations in the Thien Cung cave


Individual tourists like to see more on private tours through Halong Bay than the organized travelers on the cruise ships. In view of the short duration of the stay, an organized boat trip through the island world is nevertheless highly recommended for cruise tourists.

Halong City - Sights of a big city in transition

Halong City has long been the center of Vietnamese coal production. After coal mining was relocated to neighboring areas, a structural change began to become a city that was heavily influenced by tourism and had a variety of tourist facilities. Regardless, Halong City's Hòn Gai district still thrives on fishing, trade, industry and commerce. The city also has one of the largest commercial ports in Vietnam.

The diverse tourist facilities are located in the opposite western district of Bãi Cháy. Its offers are primarily aimed at Vietnamese and Chinese families.

All in all, Halong City is barely noticed by travel guides. Nevertheless, there is a lot to discover there that is worth seeing.

Sights in the Hòn Gai district

Quang Ninh Provincial Museum

The museum, library and exhibition complex, located in an upscale new development district, measures around 24.000 square meters. The Spanish star architect Salvador Perez Arroyo was responsible for planning the structure, which consists of three blocks. The dark exterior of the building interprets the theme of coal, which is the typical mineral of Quang Ninh Province. On the ground floor of the museum, visitors can see a whale skeleton and full-size sailing boats. The individual departments on the three floors above are dedicated to providing in-depth explanations of Halong Bay, the history of the region and the Republic of Vietnam, as well as the economic achievements since gaining independence. In addition, exhibits relating to former coal mining are shown. Attention is also paid to the coexistence of cultures, Buddhism and the revolutionary and later President Ho Chi Minh.

Quang Ninh Provincial Museum
Sailboat at Quang Ninh Provincial Museum
Exhibit in the Quang Nninh Museum
Quang Ninh Provincial Museum - scene of coal mining

Long Tien Pagoda

Long Tien Pagoda is the largest pagoda in the city. Located in the heart of Halong City, it is a must-see place for both Buddhists and tourists. It was built in 1941 at the foot of the Bai Tho Hill in the architectural style of the Nguyen Dynasty. The main altar is, how could it be otherwise, dedicated to the god Buddha.

Long Tien Pagoda


Long Tien Pagoda


Long Tien Pagoda - group of figures


Long Tien Pagoda - group of figures 


Fishing port and fishmonger

A variety of small and micro fishing boats fish during the day within sight of Vincom Plaza in central Halong City. In the immediate vicinity, traders offer the catch of the day. It is unimaginable for Europeans the quantities of sea creatures that are offered to potential buyers alive in plastic tubs.

Fishing boats in Halong City harbor


Fishing boats in Halong City harbor


Halong City - fish market


Halong City - fish market 


Ha Long Market

This is a multi-story market hall in the city center. Mostly basic everyday goods are waiting for buyers there. The hall is not necessarily a sight. Visitors interested in the lives of ordinary Vietnamese should visit the sprawling, multi-story market hall.

Ha Long Market


Ha Long Market


Street market in Halong City


Street market in Halong City 


Bãi Cháy suspension bridge

The imposing Bãi Cháy cable-stayed suspension bridge, which is more than 1.100 meters long, spans the connection between Halong Bay and Cua Luc Bay. At night, thousands of LED lights bathe the bridge in bright colors.

Sun Wheel Ferris Wheel

According to the operator, the Sun Wheel is said to be the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. The wheel is actually an impressive diameter; However, it can only be considered the tallest Ferris wheel in the world because it was built on the Ba Deo hill. 64 gondolas each carry six passengers. At an average speed of 15 to 20 minutes, this makes around 1.200 passengers an hour. A wax museum, the Museum of Waxwork, is also maintained in the building.

Ferris wheel and cable car

Ferris wheel and cable car


The sights in the Bãi Cháy district

Halong City's district Beach Fire is a test-type town characterized by tourism. The hotels, restaurants and bars were created mainly for Vietnamese and Chinese guests. The main attraction of the district is the Sun World Halong amusement park with roller coasters, cable car, artificial beach and well-kept gardens. The flower arrangements of azaleas, hibiscuses and orchids are really worth seeing.

Sun World Halong amusement park


Sun World Halong amusement park


Out and about at Sun World Halong amusement park


Out and about at Sun World Halong amusement park 


A cable car runs from the park to the other side of the bay. The cable car ride ends at the height of the ferris wheel. The return ticket for the train costs around 10 US dollars. 

Update March 2024

My shore excursions Halong Bay