There are several options for transportation from Hanoi to Halong Bay. While most travelers choose the easiest way which is to go with the shuttle bus offered by tour companies or cruise operators, it might be a refreshing experience to try using the local bus and going to Halong on your own.
In order to take the local bus to Halong, first you need to get to the shuttle bus station (not the station for city buses). There are several stations in Hanoi that have shuttle buses going to different provinces in Northern Vietnam. The biggest ones are Gia Lam station, Giap Bat station and Luong Yen station. For the route Hanoi – Halong, Luong Yen station is the most recommended option. At Luong Yen station, there is a bus leaving for Halong approximately every 30 minutes. If you are staying around the Old Quarter area, you should take a taxi to the station as it would be too complicated to go by city bus. It takes around 20 to 30 minutes to go from Old Quarter to Luong Yen station (depending on traffic). You could look up the distance in advance using Google map to better plan your time.
After arriving at the station, go inside the building and look for the ticket counter. You just need to tell the staff where you are going and they will give you tickets together with the bus plate number. However, their English is pretty limited, so you should expect just basic instruction. After buying the ticket, go find the bus and show them the ticket when asked. The ticket price for one person going from Hanoi to Ha Long is about 100,000 VND (at the time this article is written).
It usually takes more than four hours to arrive in Halong with two stopovers for bathrooms and some quick stops to pick up passengers on the way. The drive is long and tiring, so you should prepare some snacks and waters. And if you want more space to stretch your legs, you should sit in the back row of the bus.
Travelers visiting Halong Bay get dropped off near Bai Chay station. From there, take a taxi or ‘xe om’ to your hotel. It should be a few kilometers only. You will soon see with your own eyes the vast ocean, the limestone mountain and the white boats floating on the emerald water as you have seen in so many photos on the internet. Welcome to Halong Bay!
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