Here’s a faster, easier travel to Vietnam’s Halong Bay
YOU can’t say you’ve been to Hanoi unless if you’ve visited the Unesco World Heritage-recognized Halong Bay, one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist attractions.
Dotted with jagged limestone pinnacles which form scenic rock formations, Halong Bay’s postcard-perfect karst islets are best enjoyed from aboard a “luxury hotel on water”.
And there are plenty of tour companies ready to offer travelers a variety of cruise options, from an exhilarating day excursion out on the bay filled with activities such as kayaking and cave-visiting to the more laidback overnight trips so you can take your time and watch the romantic sunset over the vista of islands.
Prices range anywhere from US$60 to US$220, depending on how much you want to splurge and spoil yourself.
The only thing that has been considerably off-putting about visiting Halong Bay is getting there.
To begin with, international travelers usually land in Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, and Hanoi is approximately 165 kilometers from Halong Bay.
The journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay will ordinarily take travelers around four hours – one way. And that is if you are planning to endure the lengthy drive by car, which requires an international driving license, of course.
Other means of getting to Halong Bay include by coach, private taxi, or bus. There are no direct train routes to Halong Bay from Hanoi.
Some tour operators provide transportation from door-to-door so the logistics are less of a headache but the travel time (both ways) is still epic-ly long and boring. This eats into precious time daytrippers could be using to properly explore Halong Bay, instead of rushing through it.
But now, thanks to a newly-opened international airport on the island of Van Don, travelers will be able to reach the Halong Bay port in just one hour.
Located in the Quảng Ninh Province, a cool 50 kilometers away from Halong Bay, Van Don International Airport is said to be the most modern airport in Vietnam, equipped with the latest technologies and a state-of-the-art runway.
Operations at the airport commenced on Dec 30, 2018, when it received a Vietnam Airlines flight from Hanoi.
Van Don International Airport, which takes its design inspiration from the Halong Bay, is expected to handle an estimated upwards of two million passengers annually for the next two years and some five million per year by 2030.
It was unveiled alongside a new 60-kilometer highway which reduces travel time between Hanoi and Van Don to two hours and 30 minutes.