I visited Halong Bay in mid-January 2019 in what is considered low season. Despite the time of year, there were at least 400 boats on the bay the day I visited, with an average day in the busy season numbering closer to 1,000. Halong Bay is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, and rightfully so.
Located approximately 4 hours from Hanoi, most visitors visit the bay on day trips from the capital city. If you decide to travel to Halong Bay on a longer trip, Tuan Chau Island is located near the port and offers various lodging options, or you can spend the night in Halong City where you’ll find everything from hotels and restaurants to shopping centers.
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site with an area of around 1,553 km2 (600 sq mi), including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are made of limestone karsts that tower over the deep blue and aquamarine water of the bay, making for a visually stunning experience.
Despite the cold and rain on the day I visited, my tour was a great success. For $45 a person, we got to make our way around this spectacular sight, with plenty of stops for kayaking and sightseeing on a boat ride around the various islands. This tour also included some of the best Vietnamese meals I’ve had, and an arduous climb up 435 steps to a breathtaking viewpoint that was ideal for photos. There’s no doubt Halong Bay is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and absolutely worth a visit.