Is Halong Bay Worth It? Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated on April 3, 2024 by Natalie

Researching your trip to Vietnam and find yourself wondering, ‘Is Halong Bay Worth it?” Here’s everything you need to know about visiting one of the most famous natural wonders of Vietnam.

is Halong Bay Worth it

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Halong Bay is said to be one of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous places on Earth. Well.. at least it used to be.

With its emerald waters and unique rock formations, it really is a unique natural beauty that looks otherworldly.

In this post, I’m going to share my experience at Halong Bay, all the different options for visiting, and whether I think Halong Bay is actually worth it.

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About Halong Bay

Located in Northeastern Vietnam, Halong Bay is a natural wonder presenting a stunning landscape of emerald waters and over 1,600 limestone cliffs.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers an area of approximately 1,553 square kilometers, making it one of the most iconic and picturesque destinations in Southeast Asia.

is Halong Bay Worth it

Halong Bay Essentials

Halong Bay Legend

The name “Halong” actually translates to “Descending Dragon,” and there’s a beautiful legend that surrounds the formation of the bay.

According to the legend, the bay was created when a dragon descended from the heavens, its tail gouging out valleys and crevices that were later filled with water, creating the stunning seascape we see today.

Recent Mass Tourism

In the past few reports, Halong Bay has stated that in 2019 it received over 4 million tourists. In 2022, it is believed that due to over-tourism from lockdowns, Halong Bay received over 11 million tourists.

Halong Bay is not only one of the most visited wonders in Vietnam but all of Southeast Asia.

is Halong Bay Worth it

Let’s Talk Trash

I’m not going to lie. the amount of trash floating in Halong Bay is pretty horrifying.

While locals will point at tourists, I saw many locals themselves litter right into the waters. At the end of the day, it’s not just one kind of person’s fault, it’s really everyone’s, and I’m sure the mass tourism aspect doesn’t help.

Just keep this in mind while visiting so you can lower your sanitary expectations and as always, be a responsible tourist and don’t litter.

How to Visit Halong Bay

Luckily, Halong Bay can be incorporated into Vietnam itineraries in a number of ways. It can be a full one-day trip or a 2-3 night stay.

After hearing so many conflicting opinions on whether Halong Bay was worth it, I opted for just a day trip and was really happy with my decision.

When I began my research on Halong Bay, I was confused about the ‘norms” for visiting. Initially, I was looking into options for staying in the actual city. To my discovery and after hearing other travelers’ experiences, staying in the city of Ha Long is not the way to go.

Most of what to see is in the bay itself and not the city.

Of course, there are exceptions! I’m sure some travelers have stayed in Ha Long and loved it. If you are staying at a nice resort and waking up on the vibrant waters, I can imagine it is a lovely experience. There are some truly amazing-looking hotels on the bay like Premier Village and Vinpearl Resort.

is Halong Bay Worth it

Day Trips to Halong Bay

I personally opted for the day cruise in Halong Bay.

Day trips to Halong Bay can be a great option because it gives you the perfect taste of the experience as you still get the lunch buffet. wine at sunset, hiking viewpoints, kayaking, swimming, and cave exploring.

That’s right, all this in one day! The day tours jam-pack all the activities you get in most of the overnight cruises.

While the day trips did not seem as popular as options online, many travelers I met said if they could have found a day trip tour, they would have opted for that instead of the 2-3 night cruises.

Overnight Halong Bay Cruises

Overnight cruises on Halong Bay can be an awesome experience if you’ve got the time in your itinerary.

By day explore hidden caves, kayak through lagoons, and soak up the sun on the deck. Evenings are for indulging in seafood feasts under a starlit sky and partying with fellow travelers.

Waking up to the limestone cliffs emerging from the misty waters would certainly be something to remember!

Day Trips VS Overnight Cruises

While the price difference between a Halong Bay day trip and an overnight cruise is minimal, it is ultimately your time that you will have to make the call.

Essentially, the day cruises pack in all the activities you do on an overnight cruise. The overnight cruises just give you more time to do these activities such as hiking, kayaking, and swimming. Additionally, you will get a more luxurious experience on the overnight cruises.

In short, if Halong Bay is one of your ultimate bucket-list destinations, I say go for an overnight cruise.

If you’re debating if Halong Bay is worth it, then opt for a one-day trip, just so you can get a glimpse of what the natural wonder has to offer.

Halong Bay

When to Visit

Like any outdoor experience, weather can really make or break your time in Halong Bay. Most of the activities at Halong involve water so seeing the bay during a time when it is warm will be best.

April – October is an ideal time to visit.

Believe it or not, Vietnam does get cold. I would avoid visiting during December – March.

Best Things to Do in Halong Bay

Most Halong Bay Tours do the same things more or less. Here is what you can expect from your Halong Bay Cruise Experience

is Halong Bay Worth it

1. See the Impressive Caves

Anyone planning a trip to Halong Bay must put cave exploring at the top of their list.

Filled with mysterious formings and bodies of water, Halong Bay is home to many stunning caves waiting to be explored.

Cave exploring in Halong

2. Swim in the Emerald Waters

Of course, no trip to Halong Bay is complete without a dip in the majestic vibrant waters.

Swimming in Halong

3. Go Kayaking

This was one of my favorite activities we did in Halong Bay! The crazy rock formations create a kayaker’s paradise.

4. Eat Seafood

Enjoy fresh seafood with an unforgettable view. Eating seafood in Halong Bay is a must-do!

Seafood in Halong

5. Hike the Viewpoints

Get the best view of the bay from viewpoints high above the waters. This spectacular view will truly take you out of this world!

Is Halong Bay Worth It

6. Enjoy a Sunset Wine Tasting

As the sun begins its descent, snag a glass of wine and find a comfortable spot on the deck. The play of colors in the sky, the tranquil waters below, and the silhouette of the karsts create an unreal backdrop for your tasting experience.

best things to do in halong bay

7. Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay. While you won’t be able to see Cat Ba during a one-day cruise, overnight cruises should take you to see this paradise island.

People often rave about Cat Ba that it was one of their favorite parts of their Halong Bay experience.

The Final Verdict – Is Halong Bay Worth it?

Hopefully, by the end of this in-depth blog post, you’ll have decided for yourself if Halong Bay is worth it.

All in all, I think Halong Bay is worth it. You’ve come all this way to Vietnam, perhaps you’ll never get to return again! You don’t want to miss out on one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world.

The real question that you should be asking yourself, and hopefully this post will give you a better idea – is exactly how much time you should dedicate to Halong Bay.

From cruising through the bay’s iconic landscapes to exploring hidden caves, and savoring seafood feasts, Halong Bay offers an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re seeking adventure or tranquility, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has something for everyone.

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  1. I would like to visit Halong Bay in the future so thanks for sharing your experience. It’s a shame about all the rubbish! We saw the same issue in many places and yes, we also witnessed locals littering. We just have to do our part and not add to the problem.

  2. I have not been to Vietnam yet, but when I do, Halong Bay will be on top of my list. It is amazing that there are about 1,600 limestone cliffs, I will also make sure I see the impressive caves here. It is totally a shame about the rubbish thrown by locals and tourists. It happens in many beautiful places in the world.

  3. I feel like it’s impossible to miss the main symbol of Vietnam – Halong Bay. Like you, I would choose a day cruise to see this natural wonder. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. I love that this is a straight forward and honest post. What a pity about the trash, but Halong Bay is iconic and I think it should be on the list. I would love to visit the caves and do some hiking. Thanks for sharing!

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