Sunset in Halong Bay

Halong Bay - a truly magical place

Jungle-clad islands cloaked in atmospheric sea mist and 2,000 limestone pinnacles thrusting skywards: Halong Bay is indisputably one of Asia’s great landscapes.

If we put together a shortlist of our all-time favourite landscapes, Halong Bay would definitely be in the running for the top spot. This is somewhere that really lives up to its reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful locations.

Even if you couldn’t place it on a map, the chances are you’ll recognise its turquoise waters studded with emerald islets, red-sailed junk boats, and floating villages painted eye-popping shades of sapphire and cerulean. Catch it on a sunny day and it’s genuinely jaw-dropping, but even when overcast, there’s nothing quite like sitting on deck as those endless sheer-sided pinnacles loom out of the mist above you.

We prefer spending a night or two onboard a Halong cruise to day-tripping, and there’s no shortage of options. Our favourites range from cosy, wood-panelled cabins to ultra-swish private vessels complete with onboard spa facilities, but what all of them have in common is the chance to wake up in one of the world’s most beautiful places.

You’ll have to share the beautiful karst scenery with a few more fellow visitors than the first tourists did, but the majesty of this unique seascape remains undiminished. These days there are strict rules restricting boats to certain routes and activities, and its floating villages and pearl farms are undeniably tourist-centric. We recommend you opt for a route that takes you further afield to neighbouring Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay where it’s still possible to find yourself drifting through this iconic scenery without another boat in sight.

Connects with

Vietnam - Hanoi - Street - David Lovejoy


Northern Vietnam

Combining canary-yellow French palaces with colourful and chaotic market streets dating back to the imperial dynasties, Hanoi is the place to soak up the atmosphere of old Vietnam.

Rice paddies and mountains of Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh

Northern Vietnam

Ninh Binh’s landscape of jagged peaks could be taken straight from the pages of Vietnamese legend, but it’s real enough — and whether you explore by boat, bike or foot, it always delivers.

Hoi An waterfront at night

Hoi An

Central Vietnam

It may be best-known for its lantern festival and World Heritage architecture but, for us, Hoi An’s true appeal lies in its charming rural outskirts and mouth-watering foodie experiences.

Halong Bay features in these itineraries

Farming in Vietnam

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From $2,775 per person

Don’t know where to begin with Vietnam? This trip combines cultural, scenic and historical highlights for a perfectly balanced introduction.

The InsideAsia team in Bristol

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