Of all tourist spots in Vietnam Halong Bay is the most famous. Halong Bay is composed of more than 3000 large and small islands, of which 1969 ones are given names, mostly by the shape they bear such as Toad islet, Finger island, Fighting cocks, Stone dog islet…
Opened to tourists in early 1990, Halong Bay is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, from Halong Bay to Hong Kong is just 250 km by sea, and during 1980s a lot of boat people escaped to Hong Kong this way
Halong Bay cruises were in the boom when it was first recognized by Unesco as the World Heritage in Vietnam, though a beach resort city most travellers going on Halong Bay tours do not stay in the hotels, they prefer to spend the night on boat, in summertime, about June to August, local tourist flock to Halong, called by local people as Bai Chay, or burning town for the beaches, mid range hotels usually open in Summertime for local tourists, outside Summer these hotels were almost empty, high class hotels in Halong Bay were along the beach such as Sai Gon Halong, Mithrin, Novotel, these hotels serve local Vietnamese tourists in Summer and others from Asian countries, especially from China, Hong Kong or Malaysia
Visit Halong Bay Vietnam is a must for all travellers, those who want to stay away from the crowds prefer further inhabited islands like Cat Ba island, Ngoc Vung, especially Quan Lan and Co To island, the most far reached island in the gulf of Tonkin
Most tours to Halong Bay start from Hanoi, travellers take a road trip in 4 hours, most cruises in Halong Bay offer shuttle bus transfers 2 ways as part of the tour package, this can be also be separated as an additional 20-30 usd/person, a private car usually cost 110 usd for 2 days and 85 usd for 1 day trip, public buses are also available from Luong Yen station in Hanoi. Travellers from China visit Halong Bay via northern border gates of Mong Cai, 150 km from Halong bay, those who have short time or want to visit Halong in a deluxe way can choose to travel Halong Bay by helicopters, takes 1 hour flight from Hanoi (Gia Lam airport)
Foreign tourists entering Vietnam by ships can also visit Halong Bay, usually the ships arrive at Cai Lan port just 15 minutes drive from Halong city centre or Hai Phong harbour, if arriving in Hai PHong harbour travellers can take a 2 hour drive from Hai PHong to Halong or catch a hydrofoil to Cat Ba island, from here they can enter Halong Bay from the other side.