The best way to travel the 175 km distance from Halong Bay to Hanoi is by bus. This bus journey takes 2.5 hours and costs around 253,000 VND ($10.50). You can also choose from a few other options: a 7-hour train, a 2.5-hour taxi, a 1-hour flight, or a 45-minute helicopter ride.
The bus is the most common way to travel from Halong Bay to Hanoi. Thanks to the newly-opened Halong-Hai Phong Expressway, you can now complete this journey in around 2.5 hours. Fares start from 253,000 VND ($10.50) for a bus that will take you from the harbour at Halong Bay to the centre of Hanoi.
Taking the train is the cheapest option at 90,000 VND ($3.80), but it can take up to 7 hours and the train only has hard seats. If you want to travel like a local, though, the train ride from Halong Bay to Hanoi can be a great experience.
Travelling in a group? You can get a 5-seater taxi for 1,900,000 VND ($81). If you’re in a group of 5, that’s just 382,000 VND ($16) per person.
If you have dollars to spare and want to see northern Vietnam from a bird’s eye view, you can travel via seaplane for 9,700,000 VND ($410) or by helicopter for 9,670,000 VND ($410).
Travelling by bus or limo van is a quick and convenient way to get from Halong Bay to Hanoi. It’s affordable, too, with fares from 253,000 VND ($10.50).
Most buses take the newly-opened Halong-Hai Phong Expressway and that cuts the travel time in half — from 5 hours before to just 2.5-3.5 hours.
There are three main companies operating buses on this route: Grouptour, Sapa Express, and Rosa Eco Bus. Each company has its own designated departure and arrival points. Check in advance which bus stops close to your accommodation.
Or even better, choose a limo van that includes free pick-up and drop-off! They are a bit more expensive than buses, but cheaper than a taxi!
Departure and arrival station
All buses depart from Tuan Chau Harbour. This is where ferries dock after a cruise along Halong Bay.
In Hanoi, Grouptour and Sapa Express arrive at their own headquarters, a few blocks north of Hoan Kiem Lake. Rosa Eco Bus parks at VRB-Hang Voi, just a few metres east of Hoan Kiem.
Want something more comfortable than a bus? Limo vans operating from Halong Bay to Hanoi are highly-rated for their spacious seats and overall luxurious service.
The best part? A limo van ride is only a few dollars more expensive than taking the bus. And if you travel with one of the companies we mention below, you will also get free hotel pick-up and drop-off. That already makes up for the extra dollars you spend on your limo van ride.
Fares start from 310,000 VND ($13) for the 2.5-hour journey.
COVID-19 UPDATE: The last time we checked (December 2022), it wasn’t clear whether Vietnam Railways has resumed operations on this route. Any feedback would be appreciated!
Travelling by train is the cheapest way to get from Halong Bay to Hanoi. A ticket costs only 90,000 VND ($3.80).
But what you save on money, you’ll have to spend on time. Because a train ride takes around 7 hours — that’s 4.5 hours longer than a bus, limo van or taxi.
Taking the train from Halong Bay to Hanoi is an experience
The train ride from Halong Bay to Hanoi is not just a mode of transport, it’s an experience on its own.
Unlike other trains in Vietnam, the lone train operating on this route was not made for tourists, not even for passengers. It works as a transport vehicle for goods, used by local traders to move fruits and vegetables and sell them in the markets.
The long train ride is far from comfortable, but you will be sharing it with locals. This will be a great opportunity to speak with them or simply observe their way of life.
This train also makes long stops — 10 to 15 minutes in some stations — and gives you some time to go out of the train, buy food, interact with locals, take photos, and make an adventure out of this journey.
Some things to consider: It’s an old train
This train takes the Yen Vien – Pha Lai – Ha Long – Cai Lan railway project, which after over 15 years of construction remains to be unfinished. That means the train used for this route is very old, too. It only has wooden seats, and those seats are not even available in all cabins.
So if it so happens that the seats are fully booked on the day of your travel, you will need to pay a few dollars more for a temporary seat to be installed for you.
Also, we recommend on reading up on other travellers’ experiences before boarding the train so you have an idea of what to expect. Its staff speak very little English, if at all. If you need assistance, they may not be of much help.
Thankfully for travellers in the faraway future, the Vietnamese government decided to resume this project with a target completion in 2030, according to an article by VN Express.
Departure and arrival station
There is only one direct trip per day and this leaves at 13:45. You will reach Hanoi at 20:31.
The train departs from Halong Train Station, 5 km north of Bai Chay Beach and 10 km northwest of Tuan Chau Harbour. It arrives at Yen Vien Station, 10 km northeast of Hanoi city centre.
You can buy your train tickets onsite at Halong Train Station. Pre-pandemic, you can also purchase your tickets online. But the last time we checked (December 2022), Baolau has yet to resume ticket-selling for this route. Click the link below to see if anything has changed.
A taxi is a good option if you are travelling in a group. It’s a bit more expensive than a van, but the advantage of booking a taxi is that you can travel door-to-door and don’t have to share the taxi with others.
Prices start from 1,900,000 VND ($81) for a 5-seater car when you book with BookAway, which offers excellent customer service.
Heading straight to Hanoi Airport from Halong Bay? You can also get a 3-seater car starting from 2,320,000 VND ($98). Just click the link below to book your private transfer!
Hai Au Aviation offers a seaplane ride once a day. The plane departs at 12:30, but there’s a catch. There have to be at least 4 passengers for the flight to push through. Otherwise, your flight will be moved. It’s best to book this option only if you have a flexible schedule, or you’re already in a group of 4.
A seaplane ride from Halong Bay to Hanoi costs 9,700,000 VND ($410) per person. The flight takes about an hour, already including a sightseeing tour of Halong Bay.
Another luxurious and scenic way to travel from Halong Bay to Hanoi is by helicopter.
However, if you’re really thinking of taking a helicopter, we recommend doing it on the way to Halong Bay, instead of on the way to Hanoi. The helicopter ride from Hanoi to Halong Bay includes an 8-minute scenic tour of the limestone islands.
The rate of 10,920,000 VND ($465) is only slightly higher compared to the fare of 9,670,000 VND ($410) from Halong Bay to Hanoi, which doesn’t include this scenic trip over the limestone islands of Halong Bay. You can book your flight directly on the Vietnam Helicopter Tours website.
Just landed in Hanoi? In this hotel, you will get the best night of sleep you had since ages. The friendly staff will give you a warm welcome and serve a wonderful breakfast buffet the next morning! Located in the middle of the center, but completely isolated from all the noise.
For many travellers, Halong Bay is one of the highlights of Vietnam. The stunning landscape and breathtaking views over the limestone rocks look almost unreal!
To experience Halong Bay in the best way, you can book a boat cruise departing from Hanoi. Organized tours departing from Hanoi are often cheaper than tours sold by agencies in Halong Bay and another advantage is that you don't need to organize your transport to get there.
We recommend to book your boat tour online to get the best prices and be certain that you book with a trusted company. I already spoke to many travellers who booked boat trips from a random agency on the street and were very disappointed by the service and conditions of this boat.
See here our recommendtion of well-rated boat cruises
Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.