At Which Port do International Cruises Stop in Halong Bay?

The draw of Halong Bay has long since reached international levels, with visitors coming from the opposite side of the world to experience its picture-perfect setting. Regardless of their origin, the millions of tourists who visit Halong Bay every year find a magical destination of forested limestone spires and the exquisite caves formed within, all sitting in an emerald sea that rolls up to remote islands’ shores.

For cruise passengers on many international cruise lines, Halong Bay represents a wonderful starting destination or a beautiful conclusion to tours to and from Hong Kong or Singapore. Before departing on such a cruise, many potential passengers research which port international cruises stop at in Halong Bay, in order to assess their time and distance allowances for their one day on land. For the benefit of passengers eager to explore the north of Vietnam, here is the Incredible Asia Journeys list of day trips from Halong Bay’s cruise liner port.

1. Sun Group Halong International Cruise Port - Updated 2024

From 3rd May 2019, Sun Group has announced the opening of the Sun Halong International Cruise Port at Bai Chay Commune in Halong City. The Sun International Port officially opened on 28th April 2019 with top-of-line facilities designed to serve the international tourists visiting Halong.

The Sun International Cruise Port can hold up to 300 ships and the facilities can serve the high-speedboat, yachts and overnight cruises. It is very convenient because it is close to the Halong City, Market, restaurants and Sun World Entertainment Complex.

Halong International Cruise Port

2. An Introduction to Cai Lan Port, Halong Bay

International cruise passengers touch down every few days at Cai Lan port in Vietnam’s northeastern corner. The port lies in the north of Halong City, just above Halong Bay, facing onto the Cua Luc harbour where cruise liners anchor for the day. On a typical itinerary, cruise liners arrive at Cai Lan at about 07:00 or 08:00, leaving at some point between 20:00 and 22:00 to head back into the open sea.

The large time allowance gives visitors plenty of options for day trips from Cai Lan port. Many passengers opt to stick to the immediate shoreline and enjoy some of the famous attractions of the coast for which Vietnam is known, but many search for excitement further afield in the country’s highly cultural capital, Hanoi.

As with everything around Halong city, Cai Lan port is surrounded by jutting limestone karts, providing a resplendent first impression of Vietnam as international cruise passengers pull up to the shore. After passing under the Bai Chay bridge, which connects the two halves of Halong City, tourists will be left for the day on land and the chance to join an organised tour from Cai Lan port to anywhere within a few hours’ driving distance.

2.1. Cai Lan Port to Halong Bay

Of all the things to do around Cai Lan port, the most popular is certainly to visit Halong Bay, a seascape unlike any other on Earth. The distance from Halong City’s cruise liner port to Halong Bay is a very minimal 14km and its route cuts through the western half of Halong city, with readily available taxi services at the port taking about 20 minutes to complete the journey. The destination port is Tuan Chau Harbour, from where all-day and overnight cruises to Halong Bay leave. Both private tours and group tours are available from Tuan Chau, but cruises should be booked beforehand with a reputable tour company in order to get a reliable deal, as some of the more unscrupulous practices at the harbour prey on tourists looking for a bargain.

At Tuan Chau harbour, your cruise will leave into the breathtaking world of Halong Bay and take you to many of the sites available for exploration here. These include a multitude of caves with astounding rock formations within, vibrant fishing villages where families live directly on floating rafts atop the water, and a host of magnificent tree-clad islands containing white sand beaches at their bases. Tours last either 4 or 6 hours cruising in Halong Bay and can be booked with Incredible Asia Journeys here.

A Halong Bay cruise is waiting for you to experience

Tours will end in the late afternoon or evening time, giving you a chance to either head back to the international cruise port or explore the wonders of Halong City. Finishing your Halong Bay day trip from Cai Lan port before sunset presents the opportunity to watch the magical spectacle from atop the Sun World Ferris Wheel or, for the more active cruise passengers, from the top of Bai Tho Mountain.

2.2. Cai Lan Port to Lan Ha Bay

Just below Halong Bay lies a seascape of similar contoured rocks and their rain-eroded facades – Lan Ha Bay. For tourists looking for a quieter alternative to the occasionally crowded Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay presents the perfect package with serene waters, quiet coves and the tranquil advantages of its indistinguishable appearance from its famous neighbour. Heading from Cai Lan port to a Lan Ha Bay daytrip is one of the less explored options for passengers on international cruises, but one that can reap a lot of benefits for those who undertake it.

Once such benefit, along with the quieter waters, is an increase in cruising time. Around 7 hours is usual for a Lan Ha Bay day trip, offering one of the best options for things to do from Cai Lan port. The longer travel time of 1 hour to the departure terminal, Got harbour, means that you will get back to Halong city later, but still with plenty of time to explore before returning to your cruise liner in the evening.

The magnificent scenery of Halong Bay

2.3. Cai Lan Port to Hanoi

Especially towards the end of an international cruise, passengers can arrive at Cai Lan Port with cruising fatigue, eager to head out for some land-based action. For this, Hanoi is well positioned, requiring a 3–3.5 hour drive from the cruise port and providing a fantastic account of Vietnamese culture, history and architecture. 

Customisable day trips to Hanoi from Halong’s harbour will show you the best of the capital through its beautiful attractions, starting in the Old Quarter. This is the historic and bustling centre, where street food stalls sit in front of layers of historical architecture, dating from as far back as the 6th century and spanning the dynasties and colonial rulers that have taken residence there since. Museums such as the Museum of Ethnology and Hoa Lo Prison Museum take you through the turbulent history and prosperous current state of Vietnam, while religious sites such as the Temple of Literature, Tran Quoc Pagoda and Ngoc Son Temple offer gorgeous aesthetics as well as a window into current culture.

On a full-day tour of Hanoi from Cai Lan port, cruise passengers will return to their international liner with plenty of time to spare until their departure. If this sounds like an appealing option, then click here and opt to create your own tailored trip with Incredible Asia Journeys, including transport, lunch, all entry fees and a professional tour guide.

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