HOW TO GO FROM HALONG BAY TO NINH BINH

halong bay to ninh binh

Halong Bay to Ninh Binh is a popular tourist route within Vietnam but there are a few different ways you can travel it – which we share here!

Where to Where?

Halong Bay is a part of HaLong city which is located in Halong city Quang Ninh province. Halong bay is a popular spot among tourists and became a World Heritage in 1994.

Ninh Binh is located in the south of Hanoi capital and is a province of Viet Nam. There are plenty of sites of interest in Ninh Binh such as Hoa Lu – Tam Coc, Kenh Ga, and Dancing cave.

Travellers from all across the world who come to Vietnam make it a point to visit both Halong Bay and Ninh Binh in their Vietnam Itinerary. The distance between the two sites is 300km, and it takes about 4.5 hours to get there.

Ninh binh cruising along the water 3 weeks in vietnam

How to travel from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh (or Ninh Binh to Halong Bay)?

The distance between Halong Bay to Ninh Binh is around 300km. 

By private car – From Halong City to Ninh Binh city, it will take you around 3.5 – 4 hours when taking a private taxi ride. We always recommend booking drivers in advance using the 12go.Asia website – you can arrange a driver with your hotel or cruise company but compare the prices they quote to this website as usually, we find the website is cheaper. Typically, a van which fits up to 9 people, will cost you $137 (USD) but 2-3 person cars will cost around $100. Remember, you can always split the cost with other travellers you meet on your trip. 

By tourist Bus (limousine bus) – Alternatively, you can take a bus from Halong City to Ninh Binh for just $13 – however, these journeys take around 4 hours because they have designated stops en route. These are comfortable buses with plenty of room. 

By Local bus – To save even more money, you can catch a local bus from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh for just $6. These can actually take less time than the tourist bus because there are less breaks on the way but they are not as comfortable. 

Tips for catching the local bus

  • Book in advance, especially if you are travelling in the Vietnamese holidays.
  • Triple check you are catching the right bus and do not ask anyone around; speak directly to someone who works at the station. 

By Motorbike – Some suggest that you can take a motorbike from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh. This route can be beautiful but because of the bad roads, it can be dangerous and it is a long distance to travel. 

Sunset over Halong Bay near Hanoi in Vietnam 3 weeks in Vietnam

Tips to travel from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh

As the general public transportation can be crowded, look for clean and comfortable travel with reliable tour operators

Here are some of the advantages of confirming your tickets with a trusted transportation booking site:

  • Pick from a wide range of many good buses from different bus companies.
  • Payments are easy to make and you can pay online.
  • Get all the details and information about the bus, route, and the timing before you book your ticket.
  • You can change or cancel your plans 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.
  • Get a pickup service from your hotel to the bus station.
  • An English-speaking guide handles all your queries.
Ninh binh 3 weeks in vietnam

From Cat Ba Island to Ninh Binh

Another popular route is to travel from Dao Cat Ba town centre to Ninh Binh; this is an quieter area in this region of Vietnam, very similar to Halong Bay. You can tour the Cat Ba Island via ferry and expect a lot less tourists compared to Halong Bay. 

To travel from Halong Bay to Cat Ba, you can catch a ferry from Tuan Chau to Gia Luan Harbor for just $2 and the trip takes 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a $12 speed boat. 

From Cat Ba to Ninh Binh, you can take a bus for $14 and the drive only takes around 4 hours, shaving quite a bit of time off the journey from Halong Bay. 

Ninh Binh from Hanoi

You may be looking to head back to Hanoi after visiting Halong Bay (especially if your cruise includes transfers to and from the city). This is a great way to split up the long journey and spend an extra day or so in the capital. 

From Hanoi, you can travel down to Ninh Binh in under 2 hours. 

By VIP bus – You can catch a VIP bus from Train Binh Trong, Hanoi to Ninh Binh city centre. These take 1 hour 25 minutes and cost around $12 per person. 

By standard bus – You can save money by taking a tourist standard bus, that still comes with AC but takes around 3 hours and costs $7. 

By car – You can take a private car from $57; ideal for those travelling from the airport. These journeys take around 1 hour, 40 minutes. 

By train – For a unique way to travel in Vietnam, why not opt for the train. This is a 2 hour, 15 minute journey costing around $6. This is great way to see the countryside whizz on your journey. 

Again, all of these prices and times are quoted from 12go.Asia.

Hanoi train street

Halong Bay to Ninh Binh FAQ

Hanoi to Ninh Binh is a 2 -3 hour journey. The quickest way to travel from Ninh Binh to Hanoi is by hiring a driver to drive you down in under 2 hours. The train takes just 2 hours and 15 minutes whilst the popular VIP buses will take around 2 hours. 

The distance from Halong Bay and Hanoi is 170 km, taking around 2.5 hours drive. When booking your Halong Bay cruise, you can choose to inlaced a shuttle bus, private driver or VIP bus to transfer you from your hotel in Hanoi to the cruise.

Most people will travel to Halong Bay with a cruise bus or mini bus; arranged by the cruise company you choose to go with. For a little more space, you can catch a private car. Those looking for a more extravagant way of travelling can opt for the seaplane. When planning how to get to Halong Bay, make sure to book your Halong Bay cruise and see what transfer options your cruise offers. 

There is a train from Hanoi to Halong Bay but it only runs once a day. This is the Vietnam Railways train 51501, which departs from Yev Vien Station in Hanoi at 4.55am, arriving at Halong Train Station at 11.45am. This train costs just $3.50 and is the cheapest way to get from Hanoi to Halong Bay. 

We highly recommend you include Ninh Binh on your Vietnam itinerary if you have the time to visit. There is a good mixture of beautiful views and local temples as well as tasty food. Plus Ninh Binh is a lot less touristy than Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, meaning prices are lower and you can experience a better look at local life in a slower paced city. 

Private 9-seater cars cost around $100 but it is possible to arrange a taxi for as little as $70 if you can negotiate a driver via your hostel or hotel. Alternatively, you can book a driver online for around $100. 

You will need at least 2 days in Ninh Binh so that you can visit all of the important attractions but then head over to the Cuc Phuong National Park too.  

From Ninh Binh, you can catch a flight to Hoi An; this trip takes around 1 hour 20 minutes. Or you can catch a train to Da Nang railway and then travel from Da Nang to Hoi An. However, the train takes 13.5 hours and costs $22. You can find flights cheaper than the train using Viet Jet and AirAsia.  

Most people will catch an overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa, taking 9 hours. However, you can also choose to take the bus, taking 6 hours. 

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8 Comments

  1. I have been in Vietnam and traveling by local bus for the last few weeks and can confirm that it is not as uncomfortable as they make it seem on this post. It really depends on your budget, but getting to see the way the locals live and travel is an experience in and of itself so don’t rule it out!

  2. […] After finishing your cruise, head over to Ninh Binh; a city just over 4 hours away the bay. There are a few different ways to travel between the destinations and we have a full post to help you get from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh. […]


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