The only part of Ha Long City most visitors see is Bai Chay harbour, the embarkation point for boat tours of Ha Long Bay that begin and end in Hanoi. However, with its small beach and given recent upgrades to the city -- including the construction of a wide promenade and the planting of gardens along the coast -- Ha Long City isn't a bad place to spend a night or two en route to one of the outlying islands or a boat tour of the Bay.
The provincial capital of Quang Ninh province, Ha Long City is actually comprised of two towns, Bai Chay and Hon Gai, which are connected by a bridge. The former is the tourist town part of Ha Long City, while the latter is home to more of a local scene. Bai Chay is packed with hotels and hosts the pier from which the Ha Long Bay tour boats leave -- chances are, if you're overnighting in Ha Long City, you'll find yourself in Bai Chay.
While there are some luxury hotels with decent swimming pools and high-altitude rooms with fantastic views over the bay, Ha Long Bay is known for its mini-hotels -- scads of them, all clustered together in and around Vuon Dao Street (which means "Peach Garden").
These hotels fill up with Vietnamese in the summer and occupancy in Ha Long can reach capacity during festivals and holidays, so if you're travelling during these periods, be sure to book ahead. The rest of the year, the mini-hotels are more or less empty, or closed.
Vuon Dao Street is about two kilometres west of the tour boat pier along Ha Long Road, which follows the bay. The post office is at the base of Vuon Dao Street, where it meets Ha Long Road (open Mon-Sat 07:00-11:30 and 13:00-17:00, Sun 08:00-10:00 and 14:00-16:00).
ATMs are scattered liberally around the city. You'll find a couple near the post office and more along Ha Long Road.
Free WiFi is available at all hotels and most cafes but if you don't have your own computer or mobile device you'll have trouble finding somewhere with internet. The Quanh Ninh tourist information office on Ha Long Road offers 30 minutes free internet so is your best bet.
Bai Chai Hospital is about two kilometres from the junction of Vuon Dao Street and Ha Long Road, inland pier (T: (033) 384 6557), and the provincial hospital is in Hon Gai (T: (033) 382 5482). For anything serious, head to Hanoi.
Ha Long Bay conclusions
Ha Long Bay for backpackers
Ha Long Bay for budget-busters
Ha Long Bay for flashpackers
How to pick a good Ha Long Bay cruise
Lonely Planet Vietnam 9
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Text and/or map last updated on 13th October, 2014.
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