Ha Long Bay

We would like to visit UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay. Can anyone suggest very economical trip- transportation,accommodation, food, sightseeing,etc?

It's very interesting to visit Ha Long bay, the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Vietnam. You have two options to travel this place:
-You can take the boat cruise around the bay within 4 hours and spend the night in hotels there. (I recommend you shouldn't travel Ha Long bay in a day because it is very tired for you to come and leave in one day)
-You can take boat cruise within 2D1N or 3D2N with affordable price(Sleep onboard). With this option, you can discover the place both night and day, you can do the kayak to see many magnific caves around the bay.
If you need more information, feel free to contact me at Tommy_vtt[at]
Willing to help you
Have a nice day!

Halong Bay is one of the most beautiful natural sites in the world totally ruined by over tourism of the worst kind. Phuket has a similar problem with their Limestone Karst national park so they've restricted numbers visiting but even then its stretched to the limit. The Philippines has a similar site at El Nido that is pristine and equally beautiful site without all the thousands of tourists. Having said that there is a back way of see the Limestone Karsts of Halong Bay without going to the heavily touristed areas. You fly into Hai Phong airport instead of Hanoi if you are coming from the south of Vietnam or if you are coming from overseas into Hanoi, catch a train to Hai Phong then go straight to the ferry departure area and get the quick cat to Cat Ba Island then either a bus or taxi around the island to the bay with all the hotels. Stay on the island and take one of the many tours available that will visit similar bays to Ha Long but without all the 300+ Chinese Junks with 40+ people onboard each junk. Less pollution and less  queues to visit bays etc. Do some google research on boats that sink in Halong Bay from suspect marine standards and you will see why I have stopped visiting the main Halong Bay Tourist area. Tripadvisor will give you reviews on hotels on Cat Ba Island. Cat Ba can be a bit over touristy in itself but it does give you the option to visit less overcrowded places in the extended Ha Long Bay area. I know Vietnamese will cry foul at my statements but facts are facts. Death by drowning is not a nice way to go. The safety records aren't good.
Ha Long Bay is the jewel in the crown of Vietnamese tourism but its getting a tarnished reputation from shonky outfits. Do your research before booking anything.

Wow! That's an amazingly informative description from Pierre! Thank you so much for your insightful advise! Yeah, sure, we will check everything before we start. No hurry :D  Hope we will get more information about Ha Long Bay through web search and people who visit already :D

Ken Charma

The last major drowning was at the beginning of 2012 with 11 drowning,  mostly Aussies who are normally good swimmers but it went down so fast they had no hope of getting out in time. It happened I believe in the dark but can't confirm that.

DirtyPierre :

The last major drowning was at the beginning of 2012 with 11 drowning,  mostly Aussies who are normally good swimmers but it went down so fast they had no hope of getting out in time. It happened I believe in the dark but can't confirm that.

Really risky game:cool: Need to rethink. Why should we die by drinking dirty water. For that we have many ways here:D
Sure, better half will withdraw from wish if she see this posting, :lol:

Beautiful place, the Hebrides of Vietnam.  Recommend the overnight boat tour, just choose your traveling companions with care .. saw some boats loaded with smokers, we were lucky. 

They prepare food on the boat, getting it from fisherman in the bay.

I am an expat residing 20km north of Halong Bay. That one boat mishap does not ma`make the Vietnamese boat people shody. Its very safe here and the standards have been rapidly hauled up. Please give them a chance. Halong is still a good area to visit despite the cost. If you stay with the budget hotels with aircon and hot water bath, its only $15 a night. If anyone needs help I am more then willing to help you around here. If you know the way around its less than$10 to get from Noi Bai to Halong Bay. Hope that help.

The bay has had at least three fatal boat sinkings in the previous decade. Storms or windy conditions were blamed for sinkings in 2009, 2006 and 2002 that killed at least a dozen people in all.

When it comes to ruining things I don't think tourists get out the gate compared to the locals.  Most tourists will take a few extra steps to put trash in a receptacle but it seems not one local in twenty is willing to take those few steps.  They'll even leave the trash in the street a few feet away from it.

Please remember Vietnam is just such a new country with hundreds of years at war with xxxxxx it only started opening in the last ten years or so. We are all decades if not centuries ahead in terms of development. Yes th still throw thrash and  and and, but the local news on radiô and television are highlighting it frequently and I hope the next generation will bring hope of salvation. But its still a new country with rich culture and wonderful places for tourist.

TanRay :

Please remember Vietnam is just such a new country with hundreds of years at war with xxxxxx it only started opening in the last ten years or so. We are all decades if not centuries ahead in terms of development. Yes th still throw thrash and  and and, but the local news on radiô and television are highlighting it frequently and I hope the next generation will bring hope of salvation. But its still a new country with rich culture and wonderful places for tourist.

Yeah, agree. But it's the duty of authorities to protect the life of tourists. Otherwise they will hesitate and ignore the site slowly. Vietnam tourism need to develop more by giving stress in safety measurements of tourists. For that the local authority should take initiative and give guidance to the business people there such as boat owners, etc. So they will not fill overload for money! Government cannot ignore tourism industry as it plays an important role in Vietnam's economy like any other country.

I don't see what  history has to do with it.  The war ended two generations ago.

Fact of the matter s that only 14% it tourists here ever come back.  The endless money hustle and the litter are cited as the main reasons,

I live in Cần Thơ.  Nice middle class neighborhood.  Every empty lot is loaded with trash, including styrofoam and plastic.  Neighbor's house cleaner would come out every morning with dustpan full of trash, walk across the street and leave it in the grass.  Smile smile smile smile smile.  Trash can was only a few steps further.

I don't excuse it.  It's disgraceful.

Every scenic area is lined with plastic junk and empty cigarette packs.  People walk across our land on Phú Quốc and drop trash everywhere.  It would never cross their minds to save it for a bin.  Since there's no money in it for them, they don't care.

Same at my gym taking barbells out of the rack and leaving them on the floor, underfoot in the aisle.  Unconscious.

I call it măt mơ nhưng ngủ

Take the budget airline to Hanoi Noi Bai airport. Take the local public bus nư~number 7 to the first toll gate. Cross the road and take the north bound interstate bus. It cost only maximum US$10 pax. Tell them you want to get down at Bai Cai Bridge to go to Halong Bay. Walk past the toll and turn right. Approx. 250meters there is a small road, turn into that road and it would bring you towards the beach and hundreds of hotels from 5 stars to budget $20 per night twin sharing with aircon and hot water. Small but decent room for two. If you need help pm me.

Hi charma vietnam

You should choice an program of 2 days 1 night on board for Halong Bay. So you can also consider the board of 3 stars so that they can satefy for your journey and they have the insurance during your journey on their board.



Agree with Jen. Halong is one of the places where I think it's worth paying a little bit more to avoid the really budget places.  You'll have a much better time and won't be packed it like sardines.

I went with Vega travels over the previous long weekend and found them to be really good. Was about $150 for a 3 days/2 night trip and worth every cent for us.

ChrisFox :

Fact of the matter s that only 14% it tourists here ever come back.  The endless money hustle and the litter are cited as the main reasons,

This is also to do with the visa costs to visit Vietnam. Even for a quick weekend trip, a tourist visa will be about $60.  The stamping fee at the airport rose 80% at the start of this year alone.

Everyone has helped the discussion. Its true Halong bay is being distorted by its own beauty. We visited Halong bay 5yrs ago and even then it was pretty dirty. I don't recommended any of my family or friends to go to Halong bay anymore. Its a pity but I recommended Nihn Bihn as it's a little less known then Halong, plus only a 2hr drive from Hanoi.
My wife and I moving to hoi an to try and help with this rubbish problem. If anyone knows the keep Australia campaign? Well that's the road we will take. Educate young kids to educate there parents.

Good luck with that.  I paid some people to clean up the beach near the ferry arrival in Phú Quốc and gave them the remainder of 200,000 ₫ when I got back and found it bare. Next visit, it was filling up with trash again.  We have a picnic on our waterfront land down there, people passing through drop a steady stream of garbage as they walk .. I don't even want to think about what it looks like where they were sitting.  Not only that, they come to a halt and start lighting cigarettes.  Oh, look.  Người nước ngoại.  Let's stare at them and smoke.  We paid to have the land cleaned.  Passers by trashed it again. 

I walk around my neighborhood and pick up trash and put it in the bin.  They clearly think I'm crazy.  I try to guilt trip them about it but that doesn't work.  It's like people on the escalators, taking the glacially slow ride down without taking a single step.

We need to get the word out ... they already see westerners as money so if we can make the connection that westerners don't come back because we find the litter offensive, that has the potential to sink in. 

What really gets me is seeing people dropping imperishable plastic trash in the water or on the ground when there is a trash bin only a meter away.  I just want to scream at them.

in perth , we had a doposit arrangement with regard to soft drink bottles,that was around 30 years ago now theyre thinking about brining it back for pte and cans. the refund was paid to person collecting product, i feel sure lots of kids would jump at the oppertunity for pocket money, could be a suggestion for tourism commision Viet Nam

It's a culture thing. That's why you teach the kids. Grass roots thing. I would never pay people to pick up rubbish. It sends the wrong message. In Cambodia they pay less then a1c for each plastic bottle. Yes this stops plastic bottles going in the streams and oceans but it also stops young children from going to school as they are looking  for bottles all day. They must want too keep their country clean. Fines also help but having pride in the place they live is also a huge factor. For many years australia had a tidy town comp this gave people a way for trying to win the tidiest town. This gave people in that town pride in the place they lived and bragging rights over neighbouring towns.
Maybe if you make a sign in Vietnamese and placed a few extra bins around people might just start to change there ways. Worth a try.
Anyway keep up the great work.

I,m not sure that Viet Nam is that close to third world, I get the impression education is a priority, we used to do it on the way home from school and weekends, but tidy town sounds good too

I'm not saying they are third world but there are still some very poor people around. Plus people then start emptying rubbish bins to get the bottles. I'm not a teacher just a average bloke who is going to try and help keep Vietnam beautiful.
But all I can say is just do what you can. There is a woman is my area that I always see picking up litter on her way to work or the shops. Now when I see some litter I stop and pick it up. I know I can't stop people from littering but I can help clean it even just a little bit. Because every little bit helps.
I have a mate who runs a cooking class in hoi an and I'm planning to use his contacts to try and get some programs into some schools their.

I like where your at jed and would seriously consider joining you , ill need to sort a lot of other stuff first, but 3 cheers to you

Make no mistake: we are in the Third World.  That's not a value judgment, it's simple definition. 

You might not find this in the dictionary but most any time you see those rows of identically-wide storefronts you're in the 3W.

Glad to hear I'm not the only one trying to do something about the litter.  My neighbor has a new housekeeper who uses the receptacle instead of the empty lot across the street, our own is slowly learning that we don't like plastic bags in our own yard, but we had one who not only smoked in the yard, against direct instructions to not smoke near the house, but threw the butts into our fishpond and quit when we told him not to.

I don't see the littering as a culturally relative thing nor would I excuse it on that basis if I did.  I see it as part of a pervasive unconsciousness that has expression all around me.  It's not just that they don't care if their own country, their own neighborhood, gets trashed .. it's more like a parrot dropping the husk of a seed.  They unwrap something, they dont want the wrapper, they just release it.  It's not conscious, it's not "throwing away," it's forgetting.  We go to a noodle place with an air-conditioned room and a waiter carrying nothing opens the door to the cool room and leaves it gaping behind him.  Workman comes in to fix the WiFi in my house, opens a closed door, ditto.  Woodworking place with a tool rack wholly empty, tools all over the room.

I don't think signs about keeping the môi trường all sạch and đẹp are going to cut it.

My wife and I took a 3Day-2Night on V'Spirit Cruises.

We will not go back, nasty, dirty and other than the
scenery, not really to do.

The constant barrage of Tourist Traps all along the trip
really turned me off.

I also think it is a cultural thing or maybe just letting people know that tourist's won't come back to a nasty dirty overpriced place.


Wow Chris I love the power in your trance. That is what it is. Tricky style. Asian has a culture of littler and  someone else will clean it up. As labor is cheap. Plus the about of litter is increasing at a mind blowing rate.

Sorry I have more.  Yes tourist won't cone back but neither  will the fish.

Trance?  Is that the word you meant to use?

Sorry I ment stance. Maybe a sign wouldn't work but worth a try. Even if 1 in 10 read it and not litter its a start.

A few days ago I was in BigC having coffee at the only enclave of civil society I know of in Cần Thơ, the Trung Nguyên coffee area.  A woman came down the escalator with a shopping cart.  A cart, mind you, with wheels, which she could only get on by lifting it over stanchions placed there explicitly to prevent people from doing exactly that, and another set at the bottom.

Not to mention signs saying in both Vietnamese and English, "DON'T CARRY SHOPPING CARTS ON THE ESCALATOR."  Her face was frozen into an extended laugh the whole time.  Isn't this a lark.  Her recklessness and stupidity were bad enough but that smile was too much for me.  As her dozens-of-cousins helped her lift the cart over the barrier built there precisely to stop people from endangering the lives of everyone else, I snapped, pointed at the sign and yelled, "ĐỌC ĐƯỢC KHÔNG?!?"  Can't you read?

Smile smile smile smile smile.

I wish there had bern cops there and they'd arrested her.  She could have killed people if that thing had shifted.

Sorry, but I think the littering signs are hopeless.  My friends counseled me to take things more in stride.  Perhaps they're right.

@ChrisFox I hear you guy, especially because at the other end of the store is the  escalator that's made for the carts. She had to go out of her way to use that one. Try not to lose it over a few uneducated ones, ain't worth it.

I'm sure the sign and barriers have stopped many other people from doing that. I'm just giving you suggestions on small ways that you could lessen the littering. I don't know you personal but you seem to be passionate about your beliefs and that's a good thing. Yes it would be easier not to say or do anything  but if everyone did that nothing would change or get better.
The lady may have understood you and been shamed not to do that again. Then again she may not have but at least you can say you tried. Ps My wife and I love Can Tho had a nice BBQ dinner by the water.

mark stutley :

I like where your at jed and would seriously consider joining you , ill need to sort a lot of other stuff first, but 3 cheers to you

Thanks. We are heading over in early Feb and Hoi an is going to be our base. Well that's the plan. I have never done anything like this before but I have time and the internet so I'm going to get into the research. May even see if I could get some funding from some local organizations. But look me up if you are in Hoi an at least for a beer.

Yeah there are a few places here I love to eat .. sorry for all the negativity lately but I am at that stage in my adaptation where the novelty has worn off and the other side is setting in.  I have a real hard time dealing with that kind of unconsciousness, and I don't want to leave anyone with the impression that I'm overflowing with hate or anything.  But I'm rally conscientious about being a good citizen, I have never thrown a piece of trash out a car window in my life unless it was a biodegradable piece of fruit and aimed at tall grass. 

We eat at Hồ Sên a lot, could that be the one you're talking about?  Generally we eat at the humbler places, noodle houses and broken rice and vegetarian, avoid the more expensive ones because the food is no better and indoors mean tobacco smoke.  I'm allergic, and that is about the hardest thing about living here, people think nothing of coming into an otherwise empty restaurant, grabbing the seat closest to me, and whipping out a cigarette.

I'll get past this, learn to settle down, I promise, but it's really hard sometimes to keep an even keel when I see people walking down my street and dropping trash three feet away from a bin.

Having my dog stolen right in front of the house didn't do a lot for my good feelings either.

It was a Vietnamese low cost cook your own at your table thing. Don't know if it even had a name. Not the best place to have a pet dog. I really hate the smell of smoke too but that just a way of life in Asia.

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