Halong Bay is dubbed as one of the World Heritage Sites. It’s filled with multiple towering limestone islands and is quite a scene to take in. In the Halong Bay area, you can enjoy activities such as scuba diving, rock climbing, hiking or even kayak expeditions.
Travelling from Hanoi to Halong Bay without a tour will require more organizing, will be slightly more expensive and to be honest, Halong City is not really an interesting place to stay.
However, there is one advantage of travelling to Halong Bay without a tour. This is to visit the Bai Tho Mountain, or better known as Poem Mountain. If you want to go off the beaten track and climb this mountain to enjoy the breathtaking view over Halong Bay, continue reading to find the best way to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay!
From Hanoi, there are plenty of buses leaving for Halong Bay. And thanks to the the newly-opened Halong – Hai Phong Expressway, you can now reach Halong Bay around 2 hours faster than before.
If you take the bus, the fastest time you can reach Halong Bay from Hanoi is via Kumho Viet Thanh, which takes 3h 30min. Rates start at 165,000 VND ($7.10). You can also choose from 2 other well-known bus companies and see their schedules below.
Each bus company has its own designated departure and arrival points so check in advance to save money on booking. If the pick-up and drop-off points are far from your accommodations in Hanoi and Halong Bay, you might end up paying more money on taxi rides.
If that is the case, you can also consider taking a more expensive limo van that will allow you to travel door-to-door.
If you prefer to travel in style but don’t want to pay the price of a taxi, you can also book a luxurious van ride from Hanoi to Halong Bay.
Tickets start from 335,000 VND ($14.50) and it takes only 2h 30min to get to Halong Bay. The price indicated already includes free pick-up and drop-off services. To book this comfortable van ride, click on the button provided above and proceed to the ‘minivan’ section.
Traveling by train is the cheapest option to get from Hanoi to Halong Bay. You can buy a ticket for as low as 80,000 VND ($3.50).
However, this journey lasts 7 hours and there is only one trip daily which departs at 04:55 from Yen Vien Station in Hanoi, northeast of the city center. You will reach Halong Bay area at 11:45. The train station in Halong is situated east of Bai Chay.
Be informed that the train bound for Halong only has hard seats. It may not be the most comfortable way to travel. Still want to take the train? Check the button below to book your train ticket to Halong Bay.
Taking a taxi is the best option when you are travelling in a group.
The perk of booking a taxi for the journey is that it brings you end-to-end which means you do not have to worry about getting a transfer from your hotel in Hanoi and your hotel in Halong Bay.
When booking online, the price for a vehicle starts at 1,700,000 VND ($73) with pick-up in Hanoi and drop-off at any hotel in Hanoi. This vehicle can seat up to 5 passengers and it takes about 2h 30min before you reach Ha long Bay.
Luxury Transports Company also offers rideshare if you’re looking to save some money but we prefer a car ride over a van. The share ride from Hanoi costs about 340,000 VND ($15) per person and the meeting place is at Tonkin Coffee in the city center of Hanoi. The drop-off point is at the Hotel Murong Thanh in the city center of Bai Chay, or also name Ha Long city.
Have some money to splurge? Then this option just might be what you’re looking for to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay.
Hai Au Aviation offers the option to book a seaplane ride. The plane ride is short at just 45 minutes but the aerial view of the bay area is absolutely breathtaking! It’ll make the fare totally worth it.
For a plane ride that doesn’t include a tour, tickets start at 4,200,000 VND ($181). In summer, they have 4 flights that depart daily at 9:00, 12:30, 14:30, and 16:00 from Hanoi. They have a different schedule in winter.
Planes depart from Hanoi Airport and arrive at the Tuan Chau Marina (southwest of Bai Chay), the starting point of most Halong Bay cruises.
Flying from Hanoi to Halong Bay via Van Don Airport
You can also now travel to Halong Bay via plane to Van Don Airport. However, there has yet to be a direct flight coming from Hanoi to Halong Bay. You will first have to make a stopover in Ho Chi Minh. Right now, we don’t recommend this option.
Gia Lam to Halong Bay by Helicopter
Duration: 55min Cost: 10,200,00 VND ($440)
You can also take a helicopter from Hanoi to Halong Bay. Helicopters depart from Gia Lam Airport, located a little east of the city center in Hanoi. The price for the helicopter ride starts at 10,200,000 VND ($440), one-way.
There are trips departing Hanoi on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9:00.
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
*Both tours include free pick-up and drop-off in Hanoi.
Want to have a broader choice of tours? Check out Halongbaytours for more boat cruises around Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay (Cat Ba).
Frequently asked questions about travelling to Halong Bay from Hanoi
Is it worth to visit Halong Bay?
Halong Bay offers breathtaking views and is one of the highlights of Vietnam. Travelling here by bus or is fairly easy, but we recommend to book an organized boat trip, departing from Hanoi instead. This is often cheaper and costs much less effort to organize.
What is the most popular way to get from Hanoi to Halong Bay?
The most popular option to get from Hanoi to Halong Bay is by direct bus from Hanoi to Halong city which takes about 2.5-3.5 hours. Other options to travel this 175km distance from Hanoi are taking the van, train, taxi or even by seaplane or helicopter.
What is the main highlight in Halong City/Bai Chay?
Not to confuse with the beautiful Bay of this area, Bai Chay is just an ordinary city and not very interesting to visit for travellers. However, there is one stunning viewpoint overlooking Ha Long Bay on top of the famous Poem mountain.
How can I visit Poem mountain when travelling from Hanoi to Halong Bay?
To visit this stunning viewpoint, you will need to travel from Hanoi to Halong bay first. As far as we know, it is unfortunately not possible to visit this viewpoint as part of an organized tour.
Once you arrived in Halong city, you can find the location of Poem Mountain easily on Google maps.
PRO-TIP: Don’t forget to read the most recent reviews to check if Poem Mountain is still open to visitors.
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