Ha Long Bay is situated off the coast of Halong City, 170 km east of Hanoi. One of Vietnam’s greatest natural wonders, Ha Long Bay was included as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994 and is one of Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations, both for the magnificent views of the bay and the relaxing boat trips.
According to the legend, Ha Long Bay was formed when a dragon descended down into the sea to help the Vietnamese fight against invaders and spat out thousands of pearls, which formed thousand of stone islands with great walls to block the invaders boats.
It is possible to visit Ha Long Bay year-round, with the best time to visit from October through April, although during the winter months of December, January and February, the weather can be cool and overcast with low visibility. During the summer months from May to September, temperatures rise and storms are more likely during the rainy season.
Halong City is about 170 kilometers northeast of Hanoi, or a three to four hours drive.
There are many tour operators who offer overnight trips to Ha Long Bay for bargain prices, but beware that you often get what you pay for. In return for higher priced tours, the quality of the boat, accommodation, transportation, food, and tour guides also increase. Some questions to ask before booking the tour is how many people will be in the car and on the boat, whether rooms have A/C, how many meals are served on the boat, and how much time is spent on the boat, so you know what to expect in advance.