Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay is a scenic and popular area in northern Vietnam. There isn't much to see in Hai Long City as most visitor's head straight out for a harbor cruise. For those arriving by cruise ship, Vietnam's capital of Hanoi is a 4-6 hour drive and 100 miles to the west.
Citizens of most countries will be issued a visa on arrival and this will be charged to their shipboard account (approx $6-$50 USD/pp depending on the ship's processing fee). It is best to confirm with your cruise line the latest visa policy.
On 22 June 2015, the Embassy received the formal notification that the Government of Viet Nam decided to exempt visa for British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Viet Nam (for all purposes) for a period of up to 15 days, and on the basis of meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. The visa exemption period will start from 1 July 2015 and end on 30 June 2016. http://vietnamembassy.org.uk/index.php?action=p&ct=Notice2
Where You're Docked
Cruise ships may dock at Ha Long City's commercial pier or tender to the Bai Chay Tourist Wharf where boats depart for the scenic bay.
Vietnam's currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND) but US dollars (no coins) are accepted almost everywhere. However, purchases in USD tend to be rounded up to the nearest dollar. Merchants also prefer new, crisp bills and may not accept old and worn out bills. Using Dong will save you a bit. This may not see like much but the cost of living is very low in Vietnam and goods and services are very inexpensive by western standards.
Exchange rate 20,800 VND = 1 USD (Jan 2013)
There is frequent bus service between Hanoi and Ha Long with departures every 30 minutes between 6am and 6pm.
Search hotels in Hanoi here
Must See Sights
The main activity at Ha Long Bay is to take a cruise of the bay. Multiple tour operators run cruises differing in routes, class (luxury vs budget), and length of cruise. Tickets for individuals not on group packages can be purchased at ticket counters inside the information building at Bai Chay. Ignore the touts outside. The most popular route is #1 which goes to Cat Ba.
For those heading to Hanoi, the city's attractions include
Be aware of long lunch time closing times and closed days when planning to visit Hanoi's attractions.
Shopping & Restaurants
Shop's in Hanoi can be found by Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter. Ba Tieu Street is the city's main shopping street.
Bun Cha is a local but simple specialty consisting of grilled pork on rice vermicelli noodles. Head to Bun Cha Huong Lien to eat at the same restaurant as Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama.
Try cafes and restaurants for wifi. Social media sites including Facebook may be blocked in Vietnam.
Maps (right-click to save)
Ha Long Weather Forecast
Suggested Port Guides