1. Visa & passport
Information about visa and passport requirement and procedure to enter Vietnam: Detail regulations of Vietnamese government in applying for these travel documents, as well as how tourists can get them from different methods. Also, tips and suggestions for convenient visa services are listed to help travelers have these papers easily.
In order to enter Vietnam, foreigners are required to possess valid travel documents, including passport and visa. The truth is that Vietnam government is not strict in procedure of acquiring visa, so that international travelers can find that easy to apply and get this document for their entry to Vietnam
2. Money & Cost
Detail about general cost of products and services at Ha Long Bay, predominantly ones that are related to tourism. Furthermore, tips to use money wisely in this place, including bargaining tricks are also available to help tourists spend wisely during their trip.
3. Safety & Securities
Information about how to travel safely and how to have support in term of security: This supplies travelers with detail information about things to do and to avoid to be secure when travelling to Ha Long Bay, as well as steps to solve issues in case of encountering unsecured circumstances.
3.1. Ha Long cruise safety tips
Cruising on such a magnificent bay like Ha Long is undoubted a fantastic experience that you will never want it to be spoiled by any slight unfortunate accident. It is highly recommended to follow cruise ship safety instructions.
After boarding, the very first and basic thing that any reliable and responsive crew member would do is giving passengers a tour around the ship help you become familiar with escape routes and emergency exits. Crew member should also show you where to get life jackets and how to secure them properly. Please pay your fullest attention to this valuable instruction in case of emergency. In emergency situations, you will easily recognize by the evacuation signal (the most international standardized is seven short horn blasts followed with one long horn blast).
Even when your boat has signs of sinking, please remain calm and follow instructions of the crew members to take lifebuoy or life jacket and head to rescue boat to escape safely from the cruise. Jumping into the sea is only suggested when there are no crew members around.
If an emergency arises, please keep calm and listen to important announcements such as instructions guiding you to the exits and evacuation lifeboats.
Leave your valuable items like necklaces, rings, accessories home or in a safe for security reason.
Watch out for strong wind while walking on decks, wear comfortable walking shoes with good traction, and never stay on the decks during a heavy rain or stormy weather.
Drink an acceptable amount. Although some luxury cruise ships offer high quality wines, drinking excessively can impair your judgment and lead you to unexpected incidents.
You can avoid catching illnesses and viruses by washing your hands frequently. It is also advisable to carry extra hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for better protection.
Although it is an interesting experience to cruise alone, try to form a group of 3 to 5 friends and families members so that you can take good care of each other.
3.2. Tips for safe dining of seafood in Ha Long
Ha Long, known as the world heritage city with thousands of caves and grottos, is also famous for its abundance of nutritious and delicious varieties of seafood like crab, prawn, fish, or sea-snail. Gourmets who come to Ha Long can hardy resist the taste of fresh seafood without the worry of gaining weight. However, there is always risk of food poisoning hidden in seafood. Below are some safety tips to avoid trouble with dining in Ha Long.
3.2.1. Avoid eating raw seafood in general
Raw seafood or unprocessed seafood may contain the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria which is harmful for the digestive system. Moreover, the bacteria can live under high temperature (more than 80oC). Although sushi and sashimi is very tempting, try not to eat too much, especially from the dubious dining places.
3.2.2. Never eat raw crab
Inside unprocessed Ha Long’s crab is a very dangerous parasitic bacteria named lung fluke that may mess up your respiratory system with symptoms like lead to severe cough, coughing up blood, or even cerebral paralysis. It is highly recommended that crabs have to be fully cooked for at least 20-30 minutes.
3.2.3. Seafood shopping tips
Buying your own seafood in a market to bring back to your hotel and ask the chefs to cook for you is a very enjoyable experience. However, remember to choose ones which are still alive and fresh, because dead sea-animals, especially one that has shells, contain much higher level of bacteria or poisons.
3.2.4. Avoid drinking excessive beer while eating seafood
Scientists say drinking beer while eating seafood increases the probability of having gout or arthritis disease. Therefore, it is recommended that you limit your alcohol consumption when being served seafood.
3.2.5. Avoid having fruits/tea after having seafood
The reason is that the acid inside sour fruits may negatively affect the process of absorbing protein from seafood into your body. Besides, tannin from fruits may react with calcium and protein from seafood to stimulate your digestive system that leads to stomach-ache and vomiting. Same thing happens if you drink tea after a seafood meal.
4. What to bring
List of essential items which travelers should carry when they visit Ha Long Bay is introduced to ensure tourists have the best experience travelling at this bay. This equipment is classified into different categories for better look-up of user.
5. Travel to Ha Long Bay during Tet holiday
Travel to Ha Long always promises a great experience to travelers, in any occasions during the year. Tet Holiday is not an exception, although there are things you should learn to expect in advance.
Tet, or Lunar New Year, is the most important holiday of Vietnamese where family gathers and business closes to celebrate the New Year. The Tet “air” is everywhere with colorful flowers and people greet each other with smile and happy handshakes. You will likely see a-lot-happier and more passionate, friendlier and intimate Vietnamese than they would normally do in other time of the year: it is believed that what one does in the first day will be replicated for the rest of the year.
Some cruises will close for holiday and they usually do so between 3 and 5 days - this means you could not choose the one that you exactly want. For sure you will have a more limited number of options. The good news is that, the ones that still run will often offer a wide range of service such as organizing dinners or activities to help guests understand better of Vietnamese culture - something that is only offered during Tet.
In terms of weather, although Tet Holiday is not in rainy season, but there is also drizzles so please remember to carry umbrella or raincoat when you go out. Travel to Ha Long Bay during Tet Holiday might be great for some travelers, or terrible to some others, but the truth is that the bay is still magnificent as ever, and it is still worth experiencing this charming destination during special occasion like the Tet.
When is Tet Holiday?
Tet 2015: February 19-22
Tet 2016: February 8- 11
6. Useful Vietnamese phrase and vocabulary for tourists to Ha Long
Tourists coming to Vietnam might find the language of this country very interesting or rather strange in term of pronunciation, provincial accent, and spelling. The reason might lie inside a comprehensive system of carets that make works with the same spelling varying with different pronunciation, not to mention meanings. In order to make your trip to Ha Long specifically, and Vietnam in general become more exciting, this article will show you some basic tourism phrases and vocabulary.
6.1. Essential Vietnamese phrase to use in Halong:
• Xin chào (cin chow, cin in incinerate): Hello or Hi
• Cảm ơn (calm on,): Thank you
• Không (kh-o-ng, ng like in sing): No, Thanks!
• Bao nhiêu tiền (bow nieu tien): How much is this?
• Đắt quá (dut wa, dut like in Dutch): Too expensive!
• Tôi nghỉ tại (toi ng-i tie): My hotel address is…
• Tôi muốn (toi moo-unt): I want to have…
• Đẹp quá (dep wa, depth without th): So beautiful!
• Bạn khỏe không? (barn kh-o-air kh-o-ng): How are you?
• Bạn tốt quá! (barn tot wa): It’s nice of you
• Không sao (kh-o-ng siao): No problem or It’s ok.
• Bạn chỉ đường giúp (ban chi duong jup): Can you show me the way to…?
• Tôi muốn xem (toi moo-unt x-em, em in embark): I want to see…
• Tôi muốn đi (toi moo-unt dee): I want to go to…
• Không m-our (kh-o-ng m-our, our in tour): I don’t want to buy it.
• Tôi hút thuốc nhé (toi hoot thuoc nhe): Can I smoke here?
• Em ơi (iem oi): Hey buddy! I’m calling you!, Hey missy! (friendly tongue)
• Tôi không biết bơi (toi kh-o-ng bet boi): I don’t know how to swim
• Cứu tôi với (kyu toi voi): Somebody help me!
• Ôi dời ơi (oi zoi oi): Oh My God!
• Ngon quá (ng-on wa): It’s so tasty!
• Nguy hiểm quá (nuya him wa): It’s too dangerous!
6.2. Essential vocabulary:
• Đảo (n): isle, island
• Vịnh (n): gulf, bay
• Du thuyền (n): yacht
• Thạch nhũ (n): stalactite, stalagmite
• Cảng (n): port, harbour
• Nước (n): water, country
• Hang (n): cave, den, hole, and burrow
• Hải sản (n): sea-foods
• Biển (n): sea
• Tàu (n): ship
• Khách sạn (n): hotel
• Lễ tân (n): receptionist
• Làng chài (n): fishing-village
7. Getting around Ha Long Bay
For those not traveling in a tour bus and those daring to venture out far, finding their way around Ha Long Bay can be intimidating. Fear not since Ha Long Bay has every way to support moving around town.
Taxi is highly recommended for long distance traveling such as to the pier or to airport. Since the taxi driver is a native, he might be able to give the tourists some travel tips or a good story about the bay (if he can speak English!).
The fare is reasonable, usually around 14,000 VND (about $0.7 USD) per milometer. There are many options of taxi suppliers, but tourists should choose well-known companies such as Mai Linh Taxi, Ha Long Taxi, and Mong Cai Taxi. These firms have many different types of cab with a visible taximeter that would please any customer.
You can always ask the hotel receptionist to call one for you.
7.2. Rental car/motorbike
For tourists who prefer private transportation for flexibility at low, rental motorbike and car might be an ideal option. These rental vehicles are available at various locations in the city, but tourists are recommended to lease cars or motorbikes at their hotels. The price is various based on distances, time, and kind of vehicles, but generally it is only VND 60,000 – 100,000 ($3 – 5) a day for motorbike, and VND 800,000 – 1,200,000 ($ 40 -60) a day for a car.
8. Hanoi – Ha Long Transportation
There are several transportation options from Hanoi to Ha Long.
8.1. Car transportation (interprovincial bus, private car...)
Car transportations such as interprovincial buses, tourists buses, private cars, and motorbike is the most popular option that tourists choose to travel from Hanoi to Ha Long. The reason that makes most tourists choose this type of transportation is that the road and bridge tolls are quite cheap. Also, about 3 hours and a half sitting in a car with air-conditioning and cushioned seats seems comfortable and relaxing to many tourists.
There are various choices for tourists when it comes to car transportation. Usually for a large group of tourists who travel in a tour, the travel agencies will prepare a bus for them so they don’t have to worry about it. For individual or small group of tourists who travel by themselves, Vietnamese interprovincial buses could be an ideal choice. However, the tourists should carefully secure their property (particularly small items such as cellphones, purse or jewelry...), purchase tickets only at the bus station, and never get in any buses that pick up on the road. In the worst case, taxi is also a choice, but it will cost a little bit extra.
8.2. Train transportation
For tourists who adore the joy of observing landscape while traveling by train, train travel is a great option. The train starts at Yen Vien Station (Hanoi) at 5:15am, and it takes about 7 hours to reach Ha Long City. The magnificent view of endless rice field, forest, and ocean on the road will remain in passenger’s memory as a unique experience. However, the train might be a nightmare for any clean freak. It is not too dirty, but it neither spotless.
8.3. Helicopter transportation
This is new a service provided by Northern Services Flight Company since 2008. It takes only 45 minutes to get to Ha Long City with $350-420USD for a one way ticket and $550USD for a round trip ticket. Beside regular transportation, this company also provides see-sighting services for tourists. It is quite fascinating having a panoramic sight of Ha Long Bay from above.
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