If you're looking to make the 108-mile (174 km) journey from Hanoi to scenic Halong Bay—a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its limestone pillars and small, verdant islands—you have three efficient options.
The most straightforward option is hiring a private driver, and you'll have the option of stopping for additional sightseeing on the three-hour drive. You can also book a spot on a group shuttle that will pick you up right at the door of your hotel and drop you back off if you're returning. Although there are no direct commercial flights to Halong Bay from Hanoi, you can book a unique travel experience on a small seaplane that departs from the Noi Bai International Airport and arrives directly in the bay's Tuan Chau Island Marina.
Interested in taking an architectural tour of Hanoi, cruising Halong Bay on a traditional wooden boat, and trekking through some of northern Vietnam's natural wonders? Consider using our 7-day itinerary.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 3 hours, more with stops
A relatively quick and easy option is hiring a driver to take you along the QL5B highway that winds through the northern Vietnamese countryside. This part of Vietnam is frequently draped with heavy fog, which lends a mystical quality to the scenery (and potentially adding time to your commute, if the road is obscured).
About an hour before you arrive at Halong Bay, you can make a stop to explore the old French colonial city of Hai Phong, which still has the colonial-style opera house and the Queen of the Rosary Cathedral. Other popular attractions include the Du Hang Pagoda and many hip restaurants and cafes.
By Group Shuttle
Duration: 3-3.5 hours
You can also opt to book a group shuttle with plush reclining seats, wifi, charging ports, free water, snacks, a scheduled bathroom stop, and air conditioning. The shuttle will pick you up directly from your hotel, and it will drop you back at the hotel if you'd prefer to book a round-trip ticket.
Duration: 45 minutes
The fastest way to get to Halong Bay is to book a seat on a seaplane. Depending on the local operator, seaplanes can accommodate up to 24 passengers.
Make sure to check your operator's schedule of flight offerings as some companies only offer flights on certain days of the week, and make sure you can get a return flight if you're going back to Hanoi the same day. Flights on seaplanes depart from Noi Bai International Airport and land at the Tuan Chau Island Marina.