If you plan to visit Vietnam and you end up asking yourself this question, let me help you here: the answer is DEFINITELY YES.
Ha Long Bay is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1994, and believe me when I say it deserves it. The thousands of limestones island ( there actually are a bit more than 1600 of them) in the bay create a unique and unforgettable scenery, that you really don’t want to miss. Located 3 hours away from the Vietnamese capital Ha Noi, the city of Ha Long has nothing much to offer, but it’s bay is an absolute must-see if you are in the area.
That’s probably why more than 6 millions people from all over the world visit the bay every year. They were 5.5 millions in 2011, and the number grows every year. That explains why you might read on some blogs and other websites that the bay is too crowded and that tit lost its magical part. It might be the case for visitors who go for a day trip, but it’s way less obvious for others, who choose to spend at least one night on a boat. The vast majority of visitors stay on the bay only a few hours. They leave from Hanoi in the morning, and are back there in the evening. Considering that they all follow approximately the same way around the bay, we can easily understand why some visitors feel that the site is too crowded.
So my advice is simple, when you plan your trip in the North Vietnam, remember to keep at least two days to visit the « Descending Dragon » Bay (Yes, that’s why Ha Long means, but your guide there will tell you about the entire story behind it…).
Another advice about that once-in-a-lifetime experience: You’ll find all kinds of prices for a two day trip on the bay. Some extremely cheap, some extremely expensive, and hundreds of others in between. Please stay away from the too cheap, because as I always say, if a deal seems to good to be true, it’s probably because it’s not (true). To avoid ending on a 100 years old destroyed boat, with drunk staff serving you canned food and showing you only the most crowded spots around, make your own researches, and go for a recognized travel company, just like Pioneer, that will offer you good deals for this awesome experience following your budget. Believe me, you won’t regret it.