Halong city is one of the
fastest developing cities in north east Vietnam. Ha Long City is
not likely to win prizes for its architecture or facilities, but
it is by no means the hell-hole portrayed in the ‘Lonely Planet’
The city is the provincial capital of Quang Ninh province, and was created in the nineties by amalgamating Bai Chay, a tourist area, with the much larger industrial and commercial area of Hong Gai. The considerable differences between the two elements, and their separation by a busy vehicle ferry crossing the Cua Luc estuary, made them uneasy bedfellows at first, but time and the imminent construction of a bridge is bringing them together.
Surprisingly, the tourist area of Bai Chai is the less attractive area for the serious traveller. Ha Long City's market The long seafront suffers from uncontrolled and inappropriate development, and apart from the hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops (mostly poor quality), and the Royal Park, a long seafront development with few distinctive attractions, there is little reason to spend much time there. Almost invariably, we recommend our clients to spend the night on a well-equipped boat on Ha Long Bay
Of course, Ha Long City’s fame is its location facing the World Heritage Area of Ha Long Bay. The main access point is a purpose built wharf to the west of Bai Chay. Its location means that the large numbers of day-trip visitors by-pass Ha Long City altogether, thus depriving the local community of much-needed income. If time permits, a visit to Hong Gai is worthwhile.