Travelers making the 129-mile (208 km) journey between Ninh Binh and Halong Bay typically arrange for a private transfer, often as part of a broader tour. Private transfer affords travelers complete control over their departure times and locations, and allows for the opportunity to stop and sightsee along the way.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 3.5 hours, more with stops
One of the first points at which travelers may wish to stop on the way from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay is Xuan Thuy National Park, which is a destination for many species of birds, including endangered species, as they migrate north each winter. The unique Vi Khe Ornamental Plant Village offers the opportunity to stop and smell the orchids, camellias, and roses a little further up the road.
Further along, approximately an hour outside of Halong Bay, is the old French colonial city of Hai Phong. Hai Phong is rich in culture and history, and well worth a stop. Some of the city's highlights include the old French opera house and the cathedral, the Queen of the Rosary. The elaborate Du Hang Pagoda is a stunning example of 17th-century architecture and landscaping, including a Bonsai garden.
Hai Phong's location near the water makes it a particularly good place to experience Vietnamese seafood, which can be found everywhere from the city's trendiest restaurants to its humblest street markets, where the dishes offered are still likely to be fresh and delicious.