Where to Stay in Halong Bay – A guide to Descending Dragon’s (1,600) remote islands
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Aside from its capital, Hanoi, Vietnam has many natural wonders to offer to travelers. One such beautiful oasis is Halong Bay (Ha Long Bay). Located near the Chinese border, the ‘’Descending Dragon’’, hidden meaning behind Ha Long, is one of the tourist hotspots in Vietnam. It consists of more than two thousand limestone islands and islets with turquoise waters harboring over them.
Because of its rich vegetation, followed by the splendid landscape, this area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Ever since it hasn’t been attracting only travelers, but also artists, scientists, and researchers from all over the world and diverse fields of research to explore this, mostly uninhabited, and intact, natural wonder.
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Halong Bay is a safe travel destination both for men and women. There are only minor inconveniences one can expect during their visit.
Firstly, the greatest problem Halong Bay faces are inconsistencies when it comes to following international safety regulations. Since many cruises take this route, in case you want to sign up for a tour, it would be best to select one of several trustworthy cruise companies listed on the Official Web Portal of Quang Ninh Tourism.
Secondly, the infrastructure on the mainland is far from the standard and the level of fatalities is quite high, so you should take extra care during your transport from Hanoi to Halong Bay. Lastly, the sea can be very polluted at times but don’t let this ruin your stay at this natural paradise.
Since Halong Bay basically consists of more than two thousand islands, some of them even uninhibited, and smaller islets, the most efficient way to arrive at this location is by cruise ship. Most of the tourists even base themselves on these cruise ships as they allow them to explore and reach the nearby islands much easier.
Five best places to stay in Halong Bay
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Travelers usually decide to spend a day or two on the cruise. There are two types of cruise, normal, with a moderate price, and luxury, rather expensive, but with greater amenities. Staying on a cruise allows you to explore numerous islands much easier. However, if you prefer accommodation on the mainland, Halong Bay has got you covered. With the increased number of tourists, Halong Bay has seen many new hotels and Airbnbs open on the islands, and along the coast. With plenty of accommodation options so you can have a hard time finding the ideal place as your base. We recommend:
- Cat Ba Island
- Titop Island
- Co To Island
- Quan Lan Island
- Halong City
If you are interested in exploring the natural beauty of the islands, then you can always stay on one and visit other islands nearby on a day trip, or you can base yourself on the mainland, in Halong City, and enjoy the Bay at sunset. On the numerous islands, you can enjoy relaxing on the beach, participate in watersports, or admire their preserved and thriving nature.
Either way, wherever you decide to stay in Halong Bay, you won’t be disappointed. So as not to be overwhelmed with the available options, we have made a list of the most popular places among tourists with their details:
Cat Ba Island
|First-timers||Has everything from the typical tourist scenario|
Restaurants, bars, and pubs are located on this island
Co To Island
|On a budget||
Tourist attractions and activities with affordable accommodation
Quan Lan Island
The mixture of the sea, sand, nature, and seafood ie everyone’s dream
The most convenient location
Where to stay in Halong Bay for the first time – Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island is not only the biggest island of Halong Bay but also the most popular one. Located at 50 km from Hai Phong City, it takes approximately one hour by speedboat to reach the island. Since the island has great biodiversity, one part of it is a National Park where the visitors can enjoy the relaxing scenery filled with coral reefs, forests, white sand beaches, and mangroves.
The best way to explore the island is by renting motorbikes. Apart from the trekking route around the National Park, and Ngu Lam mountain, Cat Ba Island has three beaches for those wanting to go for a swim. Given the natural beauty and numerous activities, this island is perfect for your first visit to Halong Bay.
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Things to see and do on Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island offers numerous opportunities for hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, rock climbing, and swimming. Other than that, there are restaurants serving famous Vietnamese seafood dishes, and drinks, where you can relax with a spectacular view of coral reefs and sea.
Check out our top places to visit:
- Cannon Fort
- Monkey Island
- Lan Ha Bay
- Cai Beo
- Cat Ba National Park
- Green Mango Restaurant
Once a fort defending the island from the invasion of the Japanese military, today the visitors of the island can enjoy the spectacular panorama of the island and the whole Halong Bay. Apart from the amazing view, it also contains underground tunnels, cannons, and model soldiers.
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Take a field trip to the popular Monkey Island where apart from the amazing beaches and tracks leading to astonishing greenery, you can see monkeys roaming freely around the island. Also, it is a great place for kayaking and exploring the island.
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Lan Ha Bay
If you are interested in greenery, amazing landscape, sea, and kayaking, then make sure to visit Lan Ha Bay, a group of more than 200 karst islands, rocks, and caves spread around the southeast coast of Cat Ba Town.
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Cat Ba was once a fishing port, and its remains are still visible today in Cai Beo, the ancient fishing village. It is also known as the ‘’Floating Village’’ because of more than 300 boathouses which today fish or farm seafood for living.
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Cat Ba National Park
Rich in flora and fauna, and home to more than 32 different species of mammals, some of which are endangered, this National Park is also the ideal place for hiking lovers because of its hiking trails which allow you to explore it and enjoy the nature and scenery.
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Green Mango Restaurant
Praised both for excellent food and service Green Mango Restaurant is the tourist hotspot in Cat Ba. While enjoying your meals and drinks, you can also enjoy the view of the harbor.
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Where to stay on Cat Ba Island
As Cat Ba Island is quite an attractive tourist location, it has a wide range of accommodation options to suit everyone’s taste. Still, the island tends to be crowded so it might be hard to find the perfect place to stay.
We recommend the following ones:
Affordable option – Woodstock Jungle Camp – Great accommodation, with the only downside being its location 8 km away from the center.
Moderate option – This room on the Lan Ha Bay – Cat Ba island Cruise
Luxury option – The room on Cat Ba Sisters Legend Cruise