Halong Bay’s beauty means it’s remained one of Vietnam’s top attractions for decades (welcoming over 10 million visitors per year). All this traffic has forced the Vietnamese government to impose strict regulations on tourists and travel vendors in order to maintain the purity of the national park.
The beauty of this is the region is meticulously set up for visitors but it also means that there are plenty of crowds to navigate. Here’s a few must-dos in order to get the most out of your Halong Bay experience.
Cruising is a non-negotiable when it comes to Halong Bay exploration. Literally, the Vietnamese government’s strict regulations on tourism in the region means all boats must follow pre-prescribed routes. However, none of this detracts from the stunning views along the bay. It just means all you have to do is select a cruise that suits your budget and the rest is taken care of.
Many of the cruise options start around $18 from a local vendor and go up to $1895 for a luxury two-night cruise with Paradise Cruise, with the national park entry fee included in the your ticket cost. Oasis Bay Classic Cruises offers 2 to 4 day cruise itineraries that include all meals, deluxe cabins and a range of fishing and water sports activities.
Swimming and Diving
Diving is possible in Halong Bay, although the countless number of boats that visit the area means that much of the natural coral species have been lost over the years. However, water sports such as kayaking are a beautiful way to get close to the limestone karsts.
Handspan Travel Indochina offer day trips covering trekking across Cat Ba Island (one of the largest karst islands in Halong Bay) with a picturesque few hours kayaking inside the many inlets and caves. While Hai Au Aviation offer breathtaking birds eye view tours via seaplane starting at $140.