Halong Bay in December – a Good or Bad Time for a Trip?

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: November 2, 2020

It is widely known that Vietnam has a humid tropical climate with little difference among three regions. The North of Vietnam is under the strong influence of the northeast monsoon, explaining why the region always has a harder winter with quite cold weather than two other regions. This characteristic also has an influence on tourism in northern provinces, including Halong Bay in Quang Ninh. 

For many Vietnamese people, the winter is not an ideal period for traveling to Halong Bay, especially in December. There are two reasons to behind this problem. 

  • 1st: it is close to Lunar New Year Holiday in Vietnam and Vietnamese people have a habit of returning to their homes in their hometown to spend almost the time of the vacation for their families instead of traveling. 
  • 2nd: the weather in winter is widely thought to be too cold to go to the beach. Therefore, you will not see many Vietnamese people traveling to Halong Bay in this month.

In short:

  • December is the beginning of winter in Halong and northern provinces of Vietnam.
  • December is close to Lunar New Year Holiday in Vietnam
  • Demcember is the time that few Vietnamese people choose to visit Halong Bay

I. Weather in Halong Bay in December

Weather in Halong Bay in December

In common, the weather in Halong Bay in December is quite cold with low humidity and rainfall; however, there has been a remarkable increase in average temperature for recent years, which leads to the weather in Halong Bay changing a bit.

Here is the summary of common statistics about Halong Bay’s weather in December:

MonthTemperature
(lowest-ave.-highest)
Average hours of sunlightRelative daytime humidityDays with rain/drizzling
Dec15-19-218 hours50-60%7 days

1. Temperature

Recently, the average temperature in Halong Bay is about 19 degrees Celsius, the highest temperature measured is about 21 degrees Celsius, and the potential lowest is 15 degrees Celsius, which is higher than the past but still the lowest in a year. 

Compared with the average temperature in the winter in countries in temperate zones, this temperature is remarkably higher, even if it is equal to the average temperature in some countries in the summer or fall. Therefore, it is regarded to be quite suitable for foreign tourists to travel to Halong Bay at this time.  

2. Sunlight

In the winter in Vietnam, the night is commonly longer than the day. Normally, there are 8 hours of sunshine every day but the sunlight is also milder and more comfortable than in the summer. Besides temperature, sunlight is also another advantage of traveling to Halong Bay in December for foreign tourists since the sky is crystal clear to see islets, caves, the sea, and the weather is moderately warm enough to play outdoor activities for a long time. 

3. Humidity

Although Vietnam is a country having a tropical climate, the North of Vietnam including Halong Bay still has a dry winter with low humidity about 50 – 60% due to the strong influence of the northeast monsoon blowing from China. For foreign tourists coming from temperate zones or cold countries, it is not a problem; however, for tourists coming from the tropical zone or countries near the equator having high humidity, this kind of such dry weather will cause tiredness or cracked skin.    

4. Rainfall 

Overall, December is always one of the months having the lowest rainfall in a year, or in other words, there are rarely rains in December in Halong Bay. The average rainfall measured in December is about 23mm over 7 days, which is significantly dry especially when compared with the wet summer months that often bring well in excess of 250mm of rain each month. However, lately, there appear unexpected heavy rains in December but they don’t last long. With this characteristic, trips to discover Halong Bay, outdoor activities, and sports will not be interrupted much by the rain.

II. Pros and Cons of visiting Halong bay in December

Pros and Cons of visiting Halong bay in December

1. Pros

  • The weather in December is indeed chilled for almost foreign tourists especially for one who comes from countries having a cold winter with ice and snow.
  • The low humidity and low rainfall make it possible to enjoy Halong Bay discovering trips perfectly and not to be interrupted by the rain.
  • That there are long sunshine hours but not too harsh and hot is really suitable for tourists to chill out with many outdoor activities.
  • December is not the peak season of domestic tourism; therefore, the number of tourists is not too many at this time.

2. Cons

  • Although there has been a significant increase in average temperature in Vietnam due to the climate change phenomenon, there are still some unexpected cold days with the lowest temperature measured of 12 degrees Celsius.
  • The water in the sea at that time is much colder than it’s in the summer; therefore, honestly, it is not an ideal choice to play some underwater sports such as swimming and scuba diving. 

II. What to Do in Halong Bay in December?

With these weather characteristics, which sports or activities are highly advised for tourists to play or do when they travel to Halong Bay in December? Follow me to get some suggestions for your itinerary soon.

1. Kayaking in Halong Bay

kayak in halong bay,vietnam.

The first outdoor activity that we can’t not mention that is well-liked by many tourists is Kayaking in Halong Bay. It is considered to be the best way to have a look at the admirable majestic pristine beauty of nature in one of the most beautiful bays in the world. You will row your kayak by yourself slowly through caves, around islets, and stop on any island you want to see. Moreover, this activity is truly suitable for trips in December because when tourists take part in kayaking, they have to use a lot of energy to control the kayak and their bodies will be warmed up naturally. 

2. Visiting Fishing & Floating Villages

Visit floating villages - Things to do in Halong bay in December

There are some beautiful small ancient fishing and floating villages still existing in Halong Bay and surrounding bays until now such as Cua Van fishing village, located between Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay, which is named as the most beautiful fishing village in Halong Bay, or Vung Vieng fishing village, located in the center of Bai Tu Long Bay, which has its reputation for pearl farming. All of them were found from the early of the nineteenth century and there are many families living in these villages for three generations.

There are not any differences between visiting these fishing villages in Halong Bay in December and in other months in a year. Tourists can join in daily works with the locals such as catching fishes, squid,…, taste extremely-fresh seafood which are cultured in cages by the locals or see the beautiful scenery around villages. I am sure that it will leave you unforgettable memories.

3. Cruising on Halong Bay in December

Cruise on Halong Bay - Things to do in Halong in December

Almost all tourists choose to travel to Halong Bay in summer; however, differing from the image of a gloomy sky and rough sea that many people imagine, traveling to Halong Bay in December is such a new experience that is worth trying.

If in summer the sun rises early and the temperature rises rapidly in a day, in winter tourists can enjoy their cruises in a whole day comfortably without being concerned about the heat of the sun. Moreover, for cruises that depart early, it is possible for tourists to see a fairy-like scenery of Halong Bay. In the early morning, yachts glide on the foggy sea among enormous green limestone mountains and islets, which creates an extremely-romantic sight looking like the scenery of fairyland we usually see in movies. Islets with enormous different shapes suddenly turn into more shimmering in the thick fog.

4. Discovering Natural Caves in Halong Bay

Visit Cave - Halong Bay in December

Not only is Halong Bay famous for its complex of limestone mountains, islets, but it also has its reputation for a system of beautiful natural caves, which attract many tourists at first sight. All of them were formed naturally thousands of years ago and have still widened at a very slow speed. Many tourism companies have added visiting caves in Halong Bay into their suggested itinerary for tourists when they visit the bay. Below are some well-known caves that are highly advised to pay a visit by tourists. 

  • Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave)

Sung Sot Cave, located in the center of Halong Bay, regarded as the heart of the bay was first found by the French colonists in 1901. The name of the cave means every tourist will be surprised when visiting it. This cave is considered to be in the top 10 of the most beautiful caves in the world; therefore, tourists had better not miss this destination on the journey to visit Halong Bay.

  • Thien Cung Cave

Thien Cung Cave was also first found by the French colonists in 1993 with 10.000 square meters. The cave first makes a great impression on tourists by enormous stalactites in different shapes, the high ceiling, and the large space inside the cave.   

  • Dau Go Cave

Dau Go Cave is only 5000 square meters in width, the entrance is 17 meters in width, 12 meters in height, and located at a height of 27 meters from the surface of the sea. The cave is divided into three parts and each part also has enormous stalactites in different shapes and different sizes.

  • Trinh Nu Cave & Trong Cave

Trinh Nu Cave is located on Bo Hon Island and in front of it is Trong Cave, about 750 meters far from Trinh Nu Cave. Two caves don’t only attract tourists by the majestic beauty of nature, but they also attract tourists by sad love stories around the meaning of their name and stalactites formed inside two caves.

  • Me Cung Cave 

Me Cung Cave is also one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay, located on Lom Bo Island. This cave has a small entrance but the deeper tourists go, the larger space is. Its name means a maze since Me Cung Cave has a multi-compartment structure with many compartments divided naturally by limestone walls like a huge maze.

5. Going Scuba Diving or Swimming

Scuba diving in Halong bay - Halong Bay in December

Normally, when people mention going to the beach or traveling to destinations next to or on the sea, people always think about outdoor activities such as swimming, windsurfing, scuba diving, and so on. However, upon traveling to Halong Bay in December, these activities, including diving in Halong, are not highly recommended due to the moderately-cold temperature of the water. But honestly, it is not really a problem with western tourists who come from countries having a extremely-cold winter. Therefore, tourists still consider going scuba diving in coral reefs in Halong Bay or going swimming in pristine beaches on islands in the bay.

There are some areas having coral reefs concentrating mainly in Bai Tu Long Bay and near Co To Island. At present, tourism companies also have services for scuba diving at coral reefs in the bay at a cheap price.

6. Climbing Mountains

climb mountain - Halong bay in December
Source: @przybyszola

Halong is a huge complex of islets and limestone mountains lying on the sea. It is also the home of abundant endemic flora and fauna which is suitable for one who loves to discover nature or ecotourism. The average height of mountains in Halong Bay is only up and down 50 meters and from the top of mountains, tourists will have a new look and feel fully the wonderful beauty of the bay.

IV. Tips to Have a Trip in Halong Bay in December

  • Bring sunscreen, sunglasses even when it is still in the winter in Vietnam since you ought to remember that Vietnam is a country in the tropical zone.
  • Bring a cardigan or jacket in case there appear some unexpected monsoons making the day become too cold, sometimes there also appears rain. 
  • Water-proof bag for your camera especially if you travel to Halong at the end of December (at season change) as the air will become too humid and your electronic devices can be affected.
  • Preparing books, music, in-house games when relaxing on board, just in case it is too cold outside and you are not able to go out for activities.
  • Prepare for trip cancellation. Your trip to Halong Bay will be canceled due to the unexpected storms, cyclones, thunderstorms, monsoons, and other bad natural phenomena; therefore, following weather forecasts directly or asking tourism companies to have advice is truly necessary. 
  • Remember to warm up your body before playing outdoor activities such as kayaking, swimming, especially scuba-diving,…

V. Frequently Asked Questions

Is December a good time to visit Halong Bay?

Yes, December is truly a good time to visit Halong Bay especially if you are western tourists. First of all, the service price is cheaper than in months in summer as the number of tourists in December is not as crowded as it is at that time. Secondly, for western tourists, the temperature in Halong Bay in December is quite chilled for them to play outdoor activities (just about 19-degree Celsius). Thirdly, tourists will have a new look about the bay, which they can not feel in other periods in a year.

What should I wear in Halong Bay in December?

You should wear warm clothes in Halong Bay in December. You can choose a thin shirt, a pair of jeans, sneakers if you intend to climb mountains, flip-flops, and a cardigan or a jacket, a scarf is also necessary.

What is the weather like in Halong Bay in December?

In common, the weather is sunny but still cold (the average temperature is 19-degree Celsius), dry, low-humid. At the end of December, the weather will become more humid and there appears more rain and the temperature rises a little but still cold.

What is there to do in Halong Bay in December?

There is no difference between outdoor activities you can do in December and things you can do in other periods in a year. Things that are highly suggested by almost all tourists on tourism forums include kayaking in Halong Bay, visiting fishing villages, cruising in Halong Bay, and so on.

Can you Swim in Halong Bay in December?

Yes, you can swim in Halong Bay in December. It is really a chilling experience for anyone who has tried it. However, for your safety, you should warm up your body by some movement before going swimming to avoid cramps.

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