Local Custom & Slang
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Gazetted as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hạ Long Bay is an ancient Vietnamese bay speckled with 1,989 limestone islands in various sizes and shapes. Bestowed several names by historical figures attempting to describe the place's otherwordly beauty, Hạ Long literally means "descending dragon", which tells of a tale of the gods sending down a family of dragons to aid the natives fighting off invaders. After the war, the dragon family decided to settle in the area and came to form Hạ Long Bay and its component islands. Hạ Long Bay is indeed home to many natural wonders many can agree seem beautiful and out of this world. One of Hạ Long Bay's pride is the many caves tourists can explore on guided tours, each with its own unique legend, as well as rock climbing and diving opportunities aplenty. Out of the 1,989 islands of Hạ Long Bay, only 40 are inhabited, mainly by four floating fishing villages of 1,600 people. Fishing and marine aquaculture are Hạ Long Bay's original economies, now vastly improved by travel businesses that opened up these quiet fishing colonies to great potential profit with the constant stream of tourists arriving yearly.
The weather of Hạ Long Bay can be divided into two: hot humid summer and cold dry winter.
The "dry" or winter season lasts from November to February, with many foogy days and strong moonson weather. Temperatures can range from 12°C to 20°C. Despite all this, the winter season never fails to see a rise in tourism in Hạ Long Bay.
The "wet" or summer season lasts from May to early September, where the bay is sunny and hot; perfect weather for swimming. Although rain can range from the common light drizzle to a rare typhoon, it is recommended to visit during this period. Temperatures range between 25°C to 30°C.
Taxis in Hạ Long Bay can be found around the usual hotspot: hotels, popular restaurants and bars, the airport and the pier. The usual rules stand for hailing any taxi in Vietnam: checking the meter and ensuring the taxi is part of a trusted cab company. Alternatively, it is recommended to phone your respective hotel to arrange a taxi to pick you up once you arrive.
Taxi fares in Hạ Long Bay start from 5,000 VND to 14,000 VND.
Privately rented cars offer the flexibility of transportation that taxis cannot. Definitely more comfortable and a quicker way to get around compared to the former, we recommend you rent a car from a local rental agency to better suit your schedule.
Prices may vary; starting from 800,000 VND to 1,200,000 VND a day. It can be subjected to seasons, peaks and the type and make of the vehicle you intend to rent.
Alternatively, the more adventurous at heart can choose to rent a motorcycle to access the more off-the-beaten-path destinations and roads of Hạ Long Bay. Cheaper and more mobile, you will find yourself blending in with the local traffic.
Rental prices vary depending on the make of the bike, but it can be separated as either semi-automatic or automatic bikes: the former are generally cheaper, costing 100,000 VND a day while the more expensive latter can cost up to 150,000 VND a day.
Which type of bike you rent should depend on the sort of terrian you choose to visit: automatic bikes are more suited for the city, while semi-automatic bikes are reserved for generally rougher terrain. Do take note that all motorcyclists are required by law to wear a full-face helmet, lest risking being pulled over by Vietnam's finest.