Which Harbour for Halong Bay?

The overwhelming success of Halong Bay on the international stage is not at all surprising, given the beauty and uniqueness of its limestone seascape. Tourists still arrive in droves to visit the twice-recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site, keen to explore it on a daytrip, 2-day or 3-day cruise, but ever-increasing tourist numbers have advanced the popularity of Halong Bay’s sister bays, namely Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay

The jumping off point for all three bays are spaced widely apart, leading some tourists to question which harbour they need for Halong Bay. Though Halong Bay cruises provide transport to the harbours from Hanoi, many tourists still prefer to make their own way there to try to get a last-minute deal on tours. If you are planning on doing this, then this quick guide by Incredible Asia Journeys on which harbours to use for Halong Bay and its sister bays is definitely for you.

Halong Bay - Tuan Chau Harbour

As the main Halong Bay harbour, Tuan Chau Harbour is the longest established and by far the most active of the three ports serving the bays. Guests coming from Hanoi or Halong city to Halong Bay are treated to a whole host of services, ranging from restaurants and bars to souvenir shops and entertainment shows. A staggering 2000 boats can dock here at any one time, and the harbour has become so large in recent years that it has morphed into its own attraction, with plenty of accommodation options as well as a 2km beach constructed with imported sand. The marina stretches 8km into the Gulf of Tonkin and houses a waiting lounge for each of the companies offering cruises to independent travellers or those on a Vietnam group tour. From Hanoi, it takes about 3.5 to 4 hours to reach Tuan Chau Harbour, where tours enter the bay via its most popular route. 

Bai Tu Long Bay - Hon Gai Harbour

Though the entrance points of Bai Tu Long and Halong bays are just 18km from each other, the answer to which Halong harbour to use for cruises will be different between them. Hon Gai Harbour and Tuan Chau Harbour are separated by the Bai Chay Bridge, which in turn joins the two halves of Halong City. Facilities at Hon Gai Harbour aren’t as developed as they are at Tuan Chau due to the much smaller number of tourists using the pier to set sail to Bai Tu Long Bay, but a smattering of restaurants and cafes provide everything necessary for passengers awaiting pick up for their cruise. Driving to Hon Gai Harbour from Hanoi takes roughly the same time as driving to Tuan Chau Harbour. The harbour is backed by the giant Sun Wheel, a Ferris wheel offering fantastic views over the Gulf of Tonkin from the top.

Lan Ha Bay – Got Harbour

At the time of writing, Got Harbour on Cat Hai Island, Hai Phong, is a construction ground of cranes and building materials. Due to the success of Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay is readying itself for a new wave of tourism, so preparations at Got Harbour are in full throttle. There are currently a few scattered stalls around Lan Ha Bay’s harbour, all of which are sure to transform into full shops and restaurants in the coming months and years. Driving to Got Harbour from Hanoi is actually much quicker than driving to Tuan Chau or Hon Gai and, depending on the will of your driver, can even take around half the time to reach. When researching which harbour to use for Lan Ha Bay, visitors should be careful not to mix Got Harbour with Dinh Vu harbour, which lies nearby on the mainland and transits purely between Hai Phong city and Cat Ba Island.

Which Harbour is used by which Halong Cruises?

Below is a useful table of cruises for visitors to the overall Halong Bay; which harbour to use for cruising differs on the destination of the company you select. These are just some of the more popular Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay cruises.

Tuan Chau Harbour

(Halong Bay)

Hon Gai Harbour

(Bai Tu Long Bay)

Got Harbour

(Lan Ha Bay)


+ V'Spirit Cruise

+ Majestic Cruise

+ Lavender Cruise

+ Swan Cruise

+ Oriental Sails

+ Bai Tho Junk

+ La Paci Cruise

+ LaFairy Cruise

+ Stellar Cruise

+ Alisa Cruise

+ Dragon Pearl Cruise

+ Paloma Cruise

+ Red Dragon Junk

+ Ginger Cruise

+ Maya Cruise


+ Aphrodite Cruise

+ Hera Cruise

+ Au Co Cruise

+ Emperor Cruises

+ Starlight Cruise

+ Ancora Cruise

+ Perla Dawn Sails

+ Era Cruise

+ Mon Cheri Cruise

All of the above cruises can be found and booked here.

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