Halong Bay, located in northern Vietnam, is a destination featured in almost every travel magazine for its tens of thousands of towering limestone islets and islands that dot the emerald-green waters.
Even though Halong Bay is unquestionably worth a visit if you’re in Vietnam, getting there can be difficult, especially for first-time travelers. No worries! Being one of the major tourist destinations in Vietnam, there are many ways for you to get here.
In this article, we’ll walk you through how to get to Halong Bay and showcase the benefits and drawbacks of each to help you decide. We’ll also offer some tips to make your trip to Halong Bay as easygoing and stress-free as possible.
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You can get a bus or a taxi over the roadways from nearby cities (most popularly, the capital Hanoi). If a bus is too crowded or a taxi too expensive for you, try one of the ride hailing apps in Vietnam, such as Grab. They can give you the experience of having a private car while, in some cases, it can be cheaper than hiring a taxi.
And if you know how to ride a scooter and have an international license, consider leasing a motorbike and making the journey all on your own with the help of either a paper map or Google Maps.
If you have a roomy budget and want to travel in the fastest, most convenient way possible, you can fly directly into Halong Bay through either Van Don Airport or Cat Bi Airport. Flights are available from just about every domestic airport in Vietnam.
More “novel” ways of getting around, such as by railway or the waterway (cruises), are also available. But they may be a little bit more difficult to book or navigate compared to the tried-and-true method of just booking a bus or a plane ticket. You may need a dedicated travel agent to find the best deals available.
This will entirely depend on where you are when you take the trip to Halong Bay. Most tourists will begin their journey in the capital Hanoi, which the Noi Bai International Airport services.
Halong Bay is around 179 kilometers from Hanoi, a distance you can cover in 2.5 hours on the most modern Highway of Vietnam – 5B Highway.
Suppose you want to visit other sights along the way, such as SaPa (a beautiful mountainous town) or Ninh Binh (Halong Bay on land), where you’ll also find a lot of limestone cliffs and mounts. In that case, they’re 493 kilometers and 229 kilometers from Halong Bay.
And last but not least, if you’re already in Haiphong — a coastal town that’s a stone’s throw away from Halong Bay — you’re only a very short taxi ride away from Halong Bay. From Haiphong to Halong Bay is only 63 kilometers!
Popular Means of Transportation
The most popular way to get to Halong Bay is definitely by the roadways. You can lease a motorcycle (make sure to also get safety gear like helmets) and ride the distance wherever you are to Halong Bay. Alternatively, you can take a bus or a private car (taxi).
As we said earlier, if you start in Hanoi, it’ll take about 2.5 hours of driving by bus to Halong Bay, assuming good weather and ideal road conditions. A pro to choose this method is that the route between Hanoi and Halong Bay is connected by the most modern highway in Vietnam – 5B Highway.
But by road isn’t your only option. You can also take a short flight via seaplane or helicopter to Halong Bay. The trip will only take a few minutes, with most planes starting from Hanoi and stopping at Van Don Airport (also known as Halong Airport.)
The only company which service seaplane to Halong Bay is Hai Au Aviation.
If you’re traveling on a budget, the train is the cheapest way to get to Halong Bay. A ticket will only cost you around $3-$4 if you take the cheapest seats available (cushion seats or private rooms on the train cars will cost you extra, but not by much.)
However, trains also take the longest out of all. There’re only 1 train station in Halong which quite old and the only station it connect with is Yen Vien station in Hanoi. From Yen Vien, it can take up to 7 hours of riding to reach Halong train station. P lease be advised that train is the most authentic way to get to Halong Bay as it’s mostly for local sellers and their selling goods.
Get to Halong Bay from Hanoi
If you landed in Hanoi and the next leg of your trip is Halong Bay: the good news is you have a lot of options to travel. Halong Bay is around 163 kilometers from Hanoi. Via the Hanoi – Haiphong express highway, if you travel by road either on a bus or a taxi, it’ll take you anywhere between 2.5 to 3 hours of driving, depending on road conditions and weather.
By Bus/Limousine vans
The bus fare from Hanoi to Halong Bay goes very cheap, only around $7 to $10. There’re lots of options for public bus which leaves from local bus station. However, as it’s mostly for locals, you might find it hard to get to the bus station, communicate with local staff (as they’re rarely speak 2nd language rather than Vietnamese) and get to Halong Bay on time because public transportation in Vietnam are not always be on time.
A more convenient and sufficient way is Limousine Vans. This type of vans is getting more popular these days because they’re offering a door to door service, small number of guests per vans (7 to 12 people) and depart every 1 hour. The cost might be a little bit more pricier, around $15 to $20 but it would well worth it.
Pros: It’s the most popular way to get to Halong Bay from Hanoi. It’s fast, comfortable and affortdable.
Cons: Not any.
Below are some trusted and popular company provide limousine vans service between Hanoi and Halong:
If you’re looking for an adventure that will take your breath away, then consider travelling from Hanoi to Halong Bay by motorbike. This journey is filled with breathtaking scenery, winding roads, picturesque villages and some of the most beautiful landscapes in Vietnam. As you ride through the countryside, you’ll be able to experience the true essence of Vietnam and its people.
The newest highway 5B won’t allow motorbike to travel on so your only option is taking 5A Highway. As a result, the journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay by motorbike takes approximately four hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions.
The rate to rent a motorbike from Hanoi is about 150,000vnd to 200,000vnd per day, depend on type of motorbike is manual or automatic. Automatic motorbike might be easier to ride but manual would be safer and more gasoline-friendly.
Some motorbike for rent shop in Hanoi:
1. AZ Motorbike
- Address: No. 55, Alley 76/35 An Duong street, Tay Ho district, Hanoi.
- Phone number: (+84) 984 916 785 (Call, Zalo, whatsApp).
- Facebook: AZ Motorbikes – for rent, sale, repair
- Website: azmotorbikes.com
2. Happy Zip Motorbike
- Address: 449-451 Hong Ha Street, Phuc Tan, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi.
- Phone number: (+84) 924.715.678 (You can call directly or message by Whatsapp or Facebook).
- Facebook: Happy Zip Motorbikes For Rental And Sale In Hanoi
- Website: happyzipmotorbikes.com
It’s important to note that riding a motorbike in Vietnam can be challenging due to the chaotic traffic and narrow roads. However, with a little bit of patience and skill, this journey can be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
Pros: The journey is beautiful as you’ll have chances to see the countryside of Vietnam
Cons: It would be quite an adventure
Suppose you have a roomier budget, and you want to enjoy the traveling experience to the fullest. In that case, we highly recommend taking a seaplane from Hanoi to Halong Bay, which offers you a beautiful aerial view of the Bay and its emerald-green water. Of course, this option is much pricier, with tickets ranging from $175 to as much as $390 per passenger.
The flight takes around 45 minutes and gives you a scenic bay view. Hai Au Aviation operates it and takes off from Noi Bai International Airport to Tuan Chau Marina, near Tuan Chau Island Halong City.
HAI AU AVIATION
Level 8, 70-72 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Hotline: +84 (0) 962 069 689
– You could see the magnificent beauty of Halong Bay from above
– It’s the fastest way to get to Halong Bay
– It’s a pricey transportation
There’s also the option of taking a train, which is popular among backpackers and budget travelers. The cheapest seats available (which aren’t very comfy since they lack cushions) are very cheap at only $4. You have the option to upgrade to cushioned seats or even private rooms, which will cost you extra but not a whole lot.
A train ticket starts from $4 per passenger, starts from Yen Vien station at around 4:55 AM every day and arrives about 7 hours later at 11:41 AM at Halong City.
– It’s the most authentic way to see Vietnam local life along the way
– The cost is quite cheap
– There’re only 1 train to Halong Bay from Hanoi and it’s quite old
– It might take you 5 hours to get to Halong Bay
Get to Halong Bay from Ninh Binh
If your journey to Halong Bay starts from Ninh Binh, your only option is to take buses. A distance of around 200 kilometers separates the two destinations.
There are many bus lines that operate from here to Ha Long, with fares going from $10 (shuttle buses) to $100 and $150 (private cars and minibusses). In any case, you’ll usually have to be on the road between 3.5 and 4 hours.
The main way most drivers these days will take to shuttle you from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay is by way of the Hanoi – Hai Phong expressway, also known as the CT04 or QL5B. This highway, stretching 105.5 kilometers, connects the capital city of Hanoi with the coastal town of Haiphong. From Haiphong, Halong Bay is only a stone’s throw away (60 kilometers or so.)
The biggest bus operator of Ninh Binh – Halong Route now is The Long Travel:
- Address: Van Lam, Ninh Hai, Ninh Binh
- Phone number: +84 (0)91 6868 355
- Website: thelongtravel.com
Read more at: Halong Bay to Ninh Binh: How to travel in 2023
A popular alternative to Halong Bay proper is Cat Ba Island, which is situated near the Bay. If this is your first time visiting, we highly recommend you stop by while you’re on the way to Halong Bay (talk with your driver and see if they can drop you off at the proper place since Cat Ba Island is right on the Ninh Binh – Halong route.)
To get to Cat Ba Island, you can shuttle from Ninh Binh to Ha Long City via National Route 5B. Once you arrive in Ha Long, the best way to get to Cat Ba Island is by taking a ferry or an express boat, which will take around an hour to reach the island.
But do note that other means of transportation can be used to get to the island, such as a seaplane or a helicopter (you can find more details about these services in the FAQ section below.)
Get to Halong Bay from Sapa
To travel to Halong Bay from Sapa, you have two options: you can either ride a shuttle bus from Sapa back to Hanoi and use regular routes (by buses, seaplane, or train) to Halong Bay. Or alternatively, if you don’t want to waste any time at all, you can drive straight to Halong Bay.
Phuc Xuyen bus line is one of the best services around that offers a shuttle bus service from Sapa to Halong. The bus line operates a 42-seat sleeper bus. Amenities include air conditioning, an LCD screen for each bed, complimentary WIFI, blankets, bottled water, and refreshing cold towels.
Phuc Xuyen Bus
- Address: No.1 Yen Thanh, Uong Bi, Quang Ninh
- Phone number: 1900 6799
- Website: https://phucxuyen.com.vn
The ticket was quite cheap (only $16 or so). For the price, all the amenities you get are a steal. And you’ll come to appreciate all these amenities as you travel along the entire 500-kilometer route. If you travel by road and make a very good headway and there’s good weather, it’ll take 7 hours at the earliest. But it sometimes can take up to 11 hours before you arrive in Halong.
– Travel directly from Sapa to Halong Bay might not save you much time because the journey is rough and pretty long
– We’re strongly suggest you should stop by Hanoi before taking other means of transportation from there to Halong Bay
Get to Halong Bay from Hai Phong
Haiphong isn’t far from Ha Long Bay. As a matter of fact, you can see the signature cliffs and islets of Lan Ha Bay and Ha Long Bay all the way from Haiphong City!
The distance from Haiphong City to Halong Bay is only around 63 kilometers, which can be easily covered by a motorbike or a taxi ride for one-and-a-half hours long. There are many shuttle bus lines that you can take that’ll drop you right at the Bay.
But a better way to travel is by ferry, which starts at Ben Binh ferry station in Haiphong City and arrives at Cat Ba island in Halong City. The ferry departs from its port at 10 AM and 2 PM every day, so make sure that you get your scheduling dialed in and buy a ticket before departure.
Travel time’s much longer on a ferry than on a shuttle bus at around 3 hours. But the ticket price is quite low (at around $5-$8). You’ll also get to enjoy the sights of the Bay from the water, which is where the true beauty of the Bay lies!
Get to Halong Bay from the Airports
Traveling by air is the easiest, most convenient, and fastest. There’re 3 international airports closed to Halong Bay: Noi Bai Airport (Hanoi), Cat Bi Airport (Hai Phong) and Van Don Airport (Quang Ninh). If you have a roomy travel budget to spare and want the most hassle-free experience possible, this is our top recommendation.
So, how do you get to Halong from the various airports around?
From Noi Bai International Airport
Noi Bai International Airport is located in Hanoi. This is where most people will fly in from other countries.
If you have some extra time to explore Hanoi, you can take a bus, shuttle bus, taxi, or Grab from Noi Bai Airport to the city center. From there, you can choose from several different transportation options to Halong Bay.
Renting a motorbike can be an exciting way to get to Halong Bay. Just ensure you have either an international or local driving license before you set off. And, of course, make sure that you have properly bought all of the safety gear, like a good helmet.
Taking a local bus can be a good choice if you’re traveling on a budget. Depending on the bus line, the price for a ticket will vary from 100-200,000 VND (about $5-$10). There are many bus lines operating the Hanoi – Halong route. You only need to ask your local travel agent to find a good bus line for you (or you can search online for information about these bus lines and book tickets yourself.)
However, many travelers don’t want to share their ride with others, and that’s fine. A private car can be a great option if you value privacy and don’t want to share your space with anyone else. You can hail a taxi or a rideshare from popular apps like Grab.
But if you have the budget and want a once-in-a-lifetime experience, consider taking a seaplane to Halong Bay. While it comes with a high price tag, the stunning views from above are unforgettable!
From Van Don Airport
If you choose to get to Halong by air from other airports in Vietnam, then you’ll most likely arrive at Van Don Airport (VDO), located in Quang Ninh province. You can get a ticket here from any major airport in the country, such as Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi or Tan Son Nhat Airport from Ho Chi Minh City.
The airport was built specifically to service tourists wanting to visit Halong Bay and is only 50 kilometers away from the sight. Once you land, it’s only a fairly short bus or taxi ride away.
Fortunately, every traveler coming to Van Don airport is provided a free-of-charge ticket for the Van Don – Halong Bay bus route. You only need to ask the local agent to point you to the stop and take your ticket. Then, get on and ride the bus all the way there!
If you want a more direct route, you can take a taxi or hail a private car with a ridesharing service like Grab. It’s a bit pricier, but you don’t have to contend for seats with other people, and the driver will take you directly to your hotel or wherever you wish to go next in Halong Bay.
From Cat Bi International Airport
Cat Bi International Airport is another airport that’s situated very close to Halong Bay. You only need to take a taxi or a bus ride for around 50 kilometers or so before you arrive at the Bay (an hour’s ride at best.)
Taking a bus can be an affordable option, but it requires some planning ahead. Besides knowing what bus to take (and where), you also need to strategically get to the bus stop to catch the ride on time.
First, you’ll need to take a taxi from the airport to Lac Long Station, where you can catch a bus to Hon Gai, Halong. From there, you’ll need to take another taxi to Halong Bay. While this option may take up to 2 hours between the vehicle changes, it’s relatively cheap, with a cost of $10-$13.
If you prefer a more direct and convenient option, taking a taxi from the airport is a good choice. With a travel time of less than 1 hour, a taxi ride will cost you between $35-$50.
Alternatively, you can opt for a shared car service at the airport. Many ride-sharing services are available in Vietnam, the most popular of which is Grab. This option costs around $15-$20 and takes about 1 hour to reach Halong Bay.
With Halong being one of the top tourist sights in Vietnam, it’s not surprising that you get a lot of traveling options if you want to visit the place. We hope this guide has answered all your questions about how to get to Halong Bay from anywhere in Vietnam!
If you have any other questions, please contact our team. We’ll get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.
Actually, yes! Besides seaplanes, if you want a view of the Bay from the air, you can also take a helicopter tour. But note that these packages can be extremely pricey and only suit affluent travelers. A 1-day helicopter tour of Halong Bay may set you back as much as $2,000.
The tour starts at Hanoi from Gia Lam heliport. From there, you’ll take a 45-minute chartered helicopter flight to Halong Bay. Guiding you through all the sights along the way, offering you commentaries, and answering all of your questions will be an English-speaking guide.
Yes. Many services offer chartered cars or minibusses that take you from Hanoi to Halong Bay. That means the whole vehicle can take you and your fellow travelers to Halong Bay privately, without any other stranger sharing the ride like you would with a normal bus.
The fares, of course, are going to be pricier than a normal bus, but not by a whole lot. Compared to the standard $15 or $20 fare of a bus, a private car is going to set you back around $100.
Some people may find the included privacy worth the money.
A third option, too, is hailing a private car from a ridesharing service (just think Uber.) Many ridesharing services are available in Vietnam that you can download from an app store on your phone. The most popular one right now is Grab. The fare sometimes can be cheaper than hailing a taxi.
At the moment, the Halong Bay area is serviced by Van Don international airport. You can take a flight anywhere from Vietnam here, then ride a short distance (50km) to Halong Bay proper.
The airport to Halong Bay is serviced by many different airlines, including Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airlines, and VietJet Air.
That’ll depend on your itinerary. If you only want to take in the sight, a day trip will give you time to soak in most sights. But, if possible, we highly recommend staying overnight either in a hotel in the nearby Halong City or on a Halong Bay cruise.
The driver from Hanoi to Halong Bay normally take about 3 – 3.5 hours by car or bus without traffic jam.
With tourist buss & limousines, they normally take a 30 minutes break, making the total journey up to 4 hours.
A taxi from Hanoi to Halong Bay will cost you about 120USD for a 4 seaters car and 130USD for a 7 seaters car.