Where to stay in Halong Bay for first time: 4 Safe areas & Best Places

Halong Bay is one of my favorite summer destinations in Vietnam and I have traveled to Halong Bay many times. In today’s article, I will help you to find the safe places to stay in Halong Bay for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Halong Bay for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map. I’ll also share where I stayed in Halong Bay and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Before get into the detail of the main topic, let’s look at some facts about Halong Bay:

Halong Bay, spelled Hạ Long in Vietnamese, is one of the most iconic tourist destinations in Vietnam, attracting millions of visitors each year. It has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, making it a must-visit destination for travelers exploring Vietnam.

Halong Bay is known for its stunning natural beauty, and is situated within Quang Ninh Province, 170 km east of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. It takes around 3 to 4 hours by car or bus.

Halong Bay is home to numerous caves and grottoes, each with its own unique features. Some popular ones include Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave) and Thien Cung Cave (Heavenly Palace Cave).

Traditional floating fishing villages can be found in Halong Bay, where local communities live on boats and floating houses. Visiting these villages provides insight into the local way of life.

The bay offers spectacular views, especially during sunrise and sunset, when the karsts are bathed in soft hues of orange and pink. Cruises tours are popular ways to explore the bay, and enjoy various outdoor activities such as kayaking, swimming, and hiking on some of the larger islands. 

In addition to its natural beauty, Halong Bay has cultural and historical significance. Legend has it that the karsts were created by dragons, and the bay’s name, “Halong,” translates to “Descending Dragon.”

Is Halong Bay safe to visit?

Yes, Halong Bay, like any other popular tourist destinations in Vietnam, is generally safe to visit. But, in any destination, it’s always recommended to follow basic safety guidelines such as be aware of your surroundings, take care of your belongings, and avoid poorly lit areas at night.

When selecting an overnight cruise, you should select a well-established and reputable cruise company with positive reviews. Also pay attention to safety briefings provided by the crew. Follow their instructions in case of an emergency or when required during activities such as kayaking or swimming.

It can get hot and humid in HaLong Bay. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if you’re engaging in physical activities.

Where to stay in Halong Bay for the first time?

The best and safest areas/places to stay in Halong Bay for first-timers and tourists are Halong Overnight Cruise, Bai Chay, Halong city center, and Cat Ba island. 

Halong Overnight Cruise is the best way to stay and explore the beauty of Halong Bay. An overnight cruise allows you to explore a larger portion of the bay compared to a day trip, giving you more time to take in the breathtaking scenery.

Bai Chay is the most popular area for tourists, where you can find a beautiful sandy beach and is close to various attractions like the Sun World Halong Park and the Bai Chay Bridge. You can stay here and take a day cruise to Halong Bay.

Halong City Center is a good base for a more local experience, and you can find some good accommodation options. It is the administrative and commercial center of Halong City. This area is home to Quang Ninh Museum and Bai Tho Mountain for panoramic views of Halong Bay.

If you don’t want to stay in the mainland, you can consider staying in islands such as Cat Ba Island, Co To Island, and Quan Lan island. Cat Ba is the largest island in the area where you can enjoy swimming on the beaches, trek though the national parks, and enjoy local seafood restaurants. 

On one of my trips to Halong Bay, I had a wonderful 3 Days 2 Nights stay at Stellar of the Seas Cruise. It was a good value for money Overnight Cruise in Halong. The boat, the staff, activities, and food were all outstanding. My room was beautiful with a lovely bathroom and balcony to enjoy the views. Just make sure you stay long enough to have an excursion to Cat Ba island.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Halong Bay for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Halong Bay first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Halong Bay first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Halong Bay, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Halong Bay have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

4 Safe areas/places to stay in Halong Bay for first-timers and tourists

1. Halong Overnight Cruise

Taking an overnight cruise allows you to witness the bay’s beauty during different times of the day, including sunrise and sunset, enhancing the overall experience.

An overnight cruise provides more time to explore the various caves, grottoes, and floating fishing villages that dot Halong Bay. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in activities like kayaking, swimming, or simply relaxing on the deck, soaking in the natural beauty.

Many Halong Bay cruises offer comfortable and well-equipped cabins, often with large windows offering panoramic views of the bay. Staying overnight allows you to enjoy the tranquility of the bay in the evening and wake up to the stunning scenery without having to rush.

Some cruises incorporate visits to local fishing villages or pearl farms, providing a chance to interact with the local community and gain insights into their traditional way of life. 

Overnight cruises often include meals on board, offering a chance to savor delicious Vietnamese cuisine while surrounded by the stunning scenery of Halong Bay. 

While day trips to Halong Bay are popular, staying overnight allows you to experience the bay during quieter hours. As day-trippers depart, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the serene atmosphere with fewer tourists around.

Many overnight cruises offer onboard spa services or activities like tai chi in the morning. This allows you to relax and rejuvenate, adding an element of wellness to your Halong Bay experience.

Many cruises depart from Tuan Chau Harbor, on the man-made Tuan Chau Island, 8 kilometers southwest of Bai Chay. Some overnight cruises include transportation to and from Hanoi, making it convenient for travelers. This may involve a shuttle bus or private car.  

Cruise operators often provide a range of packages, including one-night or two-night options, allowing visitors to choose the duration that suits their preferences.

Best places to stay in Halong Overnight Cruise for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Genesis Luxury Regal Cruises, 5-star superb cruise, great stay for an amazing experience in Halong Bay. The 2 Days 1 Night package will take you to Tuan Chau Island, Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay, Fighting cocks islet, Light/Dark caves, and floating village. You can enjoy the scenery while in bed, drink at happy hour, and do plenty of activities like kayaking, squid fishing, and swimming on a private beach. In the 2 Nights package, you can have an excursion on Cat Ba Island.

Luxury ($$$): Dora Cruise, great 5-star accommodation, featuring an outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, free parking. It has 2 Days 1 Night and 3 Days 2 Nights packages with comfortable family rooms, honeymoon suites, and executive suites. Rooms are spacious with balcony and hot water baths. Good choice of food. The view is amazing. Staff are nice and friendly.

Luxury ($$$): Le Theatre Cruises – Wonder on Lan Ha Bay, beautiful 5-star boat cruise to Halong Bay. The boat docks in Tuan Chau pier. Rooms are spacious and clean with a stunning view. You can enjoy activities such as kayaking, tai chi, cooking class, bamboo boat rides, and squid fishing.

Mid-range ($$): Royal Palace Cruise, 4-star typical HaLong Bay cruise where you can enjoy activities such as kayaking, squid fishing, early morning tai chi, cave exploring, and  summer roll making. The food is delicious with lots of choices.


2. Bai Chay 

Bai Chay is a popular area in Halong City and is a hub for cruise departures. From here, you can embark on overnight cruises or day trips to explore the breathtaking landscapes of Halong Bay.

This area is home to the artificial Bai Chay Beach, offering a pleasant place for a stroll and some relaxation. Many visitors are drawn more to the stunning views of the bay itself rather than the beach.

Another popular attraction in Bai Chay is the Sun World Halong Park, an amusement park, offering entertainment options like a cable car, Queen Cable Car, water park, and various games.

The night market in Bai Chay is a vibrant place to explore in the evening. You can find local souvenirs, handicrafts, and enjoy a variety of street food.

Best places to stay in Halong Bay in Bai Chay:

Luxury ($$$): Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long, 5-star beautiful hotel located on private Reu Island, in Bai Chay Ward. It has an outdoor swimming pool, great buffet breakfast, children’s playground and water sports facilities. 

Mid-range ($$): Grand Fleuve Boutique, 4-star good value for money hotel, next to Sun square, walkable distance to the Beach. Close to Bai Chay Beach, Ha Long Queen Cable Car and Sun World Ha Long Park.

Budget ($): Green Suites Hotel, 3-star hotel located close to Bai Chay Beach, easy access to many restaurants. You can rent a motorbike to explore the area.


3. Halong city center

Halong city center is a good base for a more local and authentic experience compared to the tourist-centric Bai Chay. This area is home to some cultural attractions such as Quang Ninh Museum, Hon Gai Church, Long Tien Pagoda. You can climb up to the Nui Bai Tho for stunning views of the bay.

Best places to stay in Halong city center for first-timers:

Budget ($): Diamond Luxury Hotel, 3-star hotel located in the city center of Ha Long, next to a beautiful park and Vincom Plaza shopping center. Many good restaurants are just a short stroll away. Rooms are big and spacious. The rooftop bar has amazing views. It has a 24-hour front desk, free parking, family rooms, airport transfers, and a shared kitchen. You can rent a bike/car from this hotel.

Budget ($): The Confetti hotel, a 3-star hotel in a beautiful residential area in Halong City, featuring  free bikes, free parking, airport transfers, and a private beach area. Lots of cafes and restaurants nearby. 10 mins Grab a taxi ride to most attractions.

Luxury ($$$): Best Western Premier Sapphire Ha Long, 5-star that has an amazing view of the bay, featuring an outdoor pool, Free parking, good breakfast, and family rooms.


4. Cat Ba island

Cat Ba Island is an excellent choice if you prefer a more laid-back and nature-focused experience. The island is less crowded than the mainland, providing a more tranquil experience. 

Cat Ba Island is accessible by ferry from Hai Phong or Halong City. The ferry ride offers scenic views, and once on the island, transportation is primarily by motorbike or taxi. Sometimes me and my partner drive from Hanoi and bring the motorbike to the island.

If you take the 3 Days 2 Nights overnight cruise, you can have a stop on Cat Ba island. This island offers a range of activities, including trekking in Cat Ba National Park, exploring caves, kayaking in Lan Ha Bay, and relaxing on the beaches. 

The main town on the island is Cat Ba Town, which serves as the commercial and tourism hub. Here, you’ll find a variety of accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shops. 

Best places to stay in Halong Bay in Cat Ba island:

Luxury ($$$): Hôtel Perle d’Orient Cat Ba – MGallery, 5-star beachfront hotel, located close to Cat Co 3 Beach, Cat Co 1 Beach and Cat Co 2 Beach. It has Beautiful surroundings, spacious rooms, and nice pools.

Mid-range ($$): Cat Ba Paradise Pool & Sky Bar, 4-star hotel that has a great location for easy exploration. It has an outdoor swimming pool, garden, 24-hour front desk, and airport transfers. Close to Cat Co 1, Cat Co 3 and Cat Co 2 Beach.

Budget ($): Cat Ba Spring Garden Homestay, 3-star accommodation, offering outdoor pool, free parking, superb breakfast. The location is a bit out of town, it is the best base if you plan to rent scooters or take a taxi to get around.

Hostel ($): Catba Backpackers Hostel & Pool Bar, great accommodation on Cat Ba island, featuring dorm rooms, indoor swimming pool, and a private beach area. The hotel can help with laundry, transportation services, bike and motorbike rentals.


In conclusion, Halong Overnight Cruise, Bai Chay, Halong city, and Cat Ba are the safe and best places to stay in Halong for first-timers and tourists. The Overnight Cruise is a popular and recommended way to explore Halong Bay. It allows you to experience the bay more thoroughly than a day trip. 

You can continue reading other popular tourist destinations in Vietnam in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Halong Bay. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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