Ha Long Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin, is a world famous UNESCO world heritage site in the north east of Vietnam. It is about a 3,5 hour drive from Hanoi although it can be driven quicker if you don’t have to make the obligated tourism stops along the road.
Since 2012 the area is called one of the “7 Wonders of Nature“, so you may understand it’s an absolute must see when visiting Vietnam. It might even be the most well known spot in Vietnam.
The area contains about 2.000 limestone islands that rise from the blue/green sea. According to the locals, “Ha” means descending and “Long” means dragon. Therefor the name Ha Long Bay literally means, Bay of the descending dragon.
Legend behind this story is very beautiful and worth thinking of when visiting this area. It originates from an ancient myth about a family of dragons sent to Ngoc Hoang (King of Heaven in Oriental culture) to help defend the country while Vietnamese were fighting against the aggressor. The mother dragon and her children spat jewels and jade, which turned into islands and islets and created a firm wall intercepting the invaders. Later, attracted by the peaceful scenery of the earth, the dragon family decided to stay here and the name, “Ha Long” was born.
The best way to experience the beauty of the bay is to take a cruise. There are many different organisations offering cruises, from party cruises to very posh ones. You can even rent a private boat for a day. But my advise would be to book a nice cruise and stay 2 nights to get the full Ha Long Bay experience.
Here are some awesome things to do in Ha Long Bay with kids. If you follow this list you will for sure see all the major highlights of this wonderful city. Use it as a check-list. It works really well.
- Swim at the deserted beaches;
- Go kayaking and visit lagoons hidden within the limestone islands;
- Do some squid fishing at night;
- Take a Vietnamese cooking class if your cruise offers this;
- Visit the floating village Vung Vieng and see how locals live and how they cultivate the pearls;
- Join the, very early, morning Taichi lesson on the upperdeck of the boat and see the sunrise over the mountains of Ha Long Bay;
- Explore the Thien Can Son cave and beach.
Signature Cruise Ha Long Bay
Vinashin Port, Halong,
+(84) 944 205 335
At the Vinashin Port in Halong where many of the cruise companies pick up their guests.
We had an Elite Family Suite, consisting of 2 bedrooms and bathrooms. The second bedroom was full of beds where the children slept. They had a fun time, although I would maybe not recommend this for older children. The Elite Family Suite is located at the back of the vessel giving acces to a large private terrace. Perfect for private dinners, some reading or a heavenly private spa.
There is one restaurant and bar on board serving all the meals. A private BBQ on the beach is also possible. If you advise at the moment of booking that you are traveling with children they can arrange special children’s meals for you.
Services and amenities for kids
For an overview of the services and amenities for kids at this hotel click here. Amenities provided by the hotel in green.
This is not a specific family oriented cruise or company. Although they are the most family friendly cruise I have encountered. They have family suites and offers children’s meals, games and movies if indicated at the time of booking that you are traveling with children. They even organised a cookie making class while we were on board for our kids. I think the staff loved them it was more the other guests were a bit annoyed that we had our 4 children with us, they later revised their opinion as we have very well behaved kids (if I may say so myself) and if they feel like behaving in that manner ;).
We had looked extensively at various cruises before we booked Signature. There were a lot of bad companies, with rancid boats and tired cabins. So we were very happy with our choice. The cruise is well organised, with friendly staff and offer nice activities. The second day of the cruise we had a day boat taking us to deserted beaches where the kids could swim and build sand castles. We also went kayaking and the kids jumped of the boat and enjoyed the water of the bay. They even did some snorkeling.
If you are not a group person you’ll have to get a bit used to having to follow a certain program while on board. Which was a bit difficult for our family as we are used to do our own thing. But that was the only thing we had to get used to. We had just a perfect stay!
When to go to Ha Long Bay is actually dependent on what you want out of the trip. September – November and March – May are ideal because of the dry climate and pleasant temperature.
From May to September is the off season, making prices more attractive and there will be a glowing sun with uncrowded beaches, but there is a chance of hurricanes and storms during that period, especially in July and August.
November – March is the peak season. But there may be a haze during your stay and the skies will not be as clear as you would hope. We experienced the same during our stay in Ha Long Bay in november.
Below is the current temperature and forecast for the next days in Ha Long Bay, decide for yourself if it’s tempting or not.