Tuan Chau island located north west of Hanoi is the place from where all Halong Bay cruises depart. The island in itself is just 2.2 square km large and is connected to a bigger island called Bai Chay via a bridge. The beautiful island has man-made white sand beaches and some of the resorts on the island have spectacular view of the Halong Bay. The island was also the venue for Miss Universe 2008, Ms.Vietnam 2010 and Ms.Vietnam 2018.
It is a privately owned island and there is an entrance fee of USD $1 to enter the island. The Halong Bay cruises include this entrance fee in their cruise prices and most of the tourists are not even aware of this fee.
How to reach Tuan Chau island?
Halong Bay tours: I highly recommend a 2D/1N Halong Bay cruise to anyone visiting Vietnam. The unique landscape of Halong Bay is one of the most spectacular sites we have visited till date. Most of the cruises pick-up guests from Hanoi and drop them back to Hanoi after the cruise. If you are visiting through an agency, ask them to drop you back at Tuan Chau island instead of bringing you back to Hanoi.
By public buses from Hanoi: Many private buses ply between Hanoi and Tuan Chau island on a daily basis. You can contact your hotel to find out about buses that go to Bai Chay. You can either take a taxi or motor-bike taxi from Bai Chay to Tuan Chau harbour. Bus fare is around between 3 USD to 25 USD depending on the bus type.
By taxi: You can take a private car from Hanoi to Halong Bay. The drive is approx 3.5 hrs. Taxis charge ~ USD $85 one way.
By seaplane: Hai Au Aviation runs seaplane from Hanoi to Halong Bay. You can check the fares and availability on https://www.seaplanes.vn.
By airplane: The nearest airport to Tuan Chau is Cat Bi International airport on the Hai phong island. It takes 1-1.5 hrs from Tuan Chau to the airport. Our hotel offered to arrange a taxi from Moon Bay to Haiphong airport at USD $40. We instead booked a Grab which costed us USD $23. If you plan to book Grab, make sure you have safety margin; in case the driver is not willing to go to the airport and cancels your ride.
Where to stay in Tuan Chau island?
Tuan Chau island has many hotels and resorts. I will recommend you choose one which has clear view of the bay. We stayed at Moon Bay hotel which was basic in terms of amenities; but the panoramic rooms had excellent view of the Halong Bay. The rooms were on the 4th floor and every panoramic room had a outside sit-out.
The other hotel that we were considering for its view and reviews on TripAdvisor was Halong Paradise Suites. It also has amenities like swimming pool, spa and review of their food is very good.
You can also choose to stay at Bai Chay and get Grab or local taxi to commute.
Getting around Tuan Chau island
Grab is very easily available at Tuan Chau island. Hotels and resorts also help with taxi for going around. Motorbike rentals are also available at the island. Moon Bay hotel charges 120.000 VND for half day and 200.000 VND for full day motorbike rental (off season rates). It was cloudy when we visited and we did not opt for it.
Veg/ Indian food on Tuan Chau island
Tuan Chau island was the only place in Vietnam where we struggled a bit to find vegetarian food. We had to make-do with pizza and pasta. Check out Halong Paradise Suites & Sandy Bay Beach Bar and Cafe if you are looking for veg options.
Read my post on Vegetarian / Indian food in Vietnam
Things to do in Tuan Chau island
Tuan Chau is getting very popular and there are many tourist attractions coming up. We saw a lot of construction going on. The attractions as in Dec 2018 were:
Tuan Chau entertainment center (also called Tuan Chau park): This is the 12 acre huge park built with many activities inside it. Beauty pageants are held in this center. However, the other activities inside the center are open based on the tourist’s inflow on a particular day. We went in December which is an off-season. The only activities open to tourists on the day we went were sea lion and dolphin show, some carousel rides and bumper cars. The activities inside the entertainment center are free as of now, but could become chargeable once all the activities are open to public. The other attractions inside the center are circus, crocodile club, light and sound show, horse riding and many rides for kids. We heard that there are also late night disco parties during peak season with music and dance shows.
Tuan Chau entertainment center is a very good recreation center (especially with kids) if the attractions are open. Unfortunately that is not something that is known before you decide to book your stay at the island. You can check their website http://tuanchau-halong.com.vn/ for updates.
Tuan Chau beach: This is an artificial beach with calm waters and white sand. We saw a group having party in the afternoon with high volume and guessing it must be packed during peak season. Its lovely if you can get some quiet time here. The view from Sandy bar and cafe is also lovely.
Sunworld, Halong Bay: Sun World Halong Bay is one of the many entertainment parks built by Sun group in many cities in Vietnam. They have sun world in BaNa Hills, Halong Bay, Sapa, Danang and An Thoi. The most famous among these is the one in BaNa hills, followed by Halong Bay. Sunworld is actually located on Bai Chay island.
Halong Bay Sunworld is divided into 3 parks – Dragon park, Typhoon Water park and Mystic mountain. Water park is closed during off season from Nov to March. Some of the attractions on the mystic mountain are paid; like 12D cinema and wax museum. There are more attractions being constructed, like an artificial beach and a visit to lighthouse.
Timings and entrance fee for SunWorld Halong Bay:
|SUN WORLD Halong Bay|
|Park Name||Timing (Mon-Fri)||Timing (Sat – Sun)||Entrance ticket cost (adults and children over 1.3m)||Entrance ticket cost (children below 1.3m)|
|Mystic Mountain and Queen cable car||2pm – 10pm||9am – 10pm||350,000 VND||250,000 VND|
|Dragon Park (Off season Nov to March)||2pm – 7pm||9am – 7pm||50,000 VND||50,000 VND|
|Typhoon Water Park (Off season Nov to March)||CLOSED||50,000 VND||50,000 VND|
|Dragon Park (Peak season April to Oct)||2pm – 7pm||9am – 7pm||300,000 VND||200,000 VND|
|Typhoon Water Park (Peak season April to Oct)||2pm – 7pm||2pm – 7pm||350,000 VND||250,000 VND|
|Fame Hall Wax Exhibition||2pm – 10pm||9am – 10pm||100,000 VND||50,000 VND|
|12D Cinema||2pm – 10pm||9am – 10pm||70,000 VND||70,000 VND|
|Combo Ticket (All in One, off season)||400,000 VND||300,000 VND|
|Combo Ticket (All in One, peak season)||500,000 VND||400,000 VND|
(as on Dec 2018)
Attractions available at Mystic mountain:
You need to take the queen cable car to go to the mystic mountain. Queen cable car is a duplex cable car which holds 2 Guinness world records – highest capacity cable car (230 passengers at a time) and tallest cable car tower. The price of the ticket includes queen cable car ride and a few other attractions:
Sun wheel: This ferris wheel has 64 cabins and does one ride in 20 mins. The panoramic view of Halong Bay makes it worth staying at Tuan Chau island for a day!
Zen Garden – Japanese garden offering bird’s eye view of the island. It has waterfalls, koi fish lake, bonsai trees and a miniature of Mt.Fuji.
Samurai Slide: This 55m fun ride can be done by kids above 1.3m. You can see a video of the ride on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm0jarHfspo. We infact did this twice. A bigger version of the ride is available at Sunworld BaNa hills.
Video Games (some games are paid): This is where we spent a lot of time; which could have been avoided. This is a magnet for kids 🙂
Kiddoland: It is a playground for toddlers with small slides, ball house, obstacle course etc.
Koi bridge: The design of this bridge imitates a koi fish. The bridge connects zen garden to bonsai house, water puppet show and tea house.
Tea house: It showcases Japanese architecture, their tea ceremony and music.
Moonlight water puppet show: This show is an exact copy of the water puppet show held in Hanoi. The music is little different but the performances are same. The shows are held every hour from 5pm onwards.
12D Cinema (paid separately)
Fame hall (paid separately): This is a wax museum, smaller version of Madame Tussauds.
Attractions and rides at Dragon park and Typhoon Water Park:
Dragon park has quite a few rides, both for kids and adults. They have a huge roller coaster that runs at a maximum speed of 105 km/ hr and does 2 or 3 full loops. They also have some small roller coasters for kids and toy trains, bumper cars and carousels. It would have been fun if we got a chance to spend some time in the Dragon park. Unfortunately it was closed by the time we got free from Mystic island.
Water park: The water park at SunWorld Halong Bay is closed during winters. It is open from April to October. The rides are maybe smaller compared to ones found in huge parks like Atlantis Dubai, but they are comparable to most of the good water parks around the world.
Tips when visiting Sunworld Halong Bay:
- Visit on a weekend: I prefer visiting theme parks on weekdays because the crowd is usually less. However, in case of Sunworld Halong Bay I recommend the opposite. If you can spend only 1 day in Sunworld; visit on a Saturday or Sunday when it is open throughout the day.
- Know the rides before you go: It is very difficult to cover the entire park in 1 day. We could cover only the mystic park in 5 hours. This was partly because of the lack of information and partly because we liked a few things and spent more time than was required. Make sure you read about the latest rides and decide which ones you would like to definitely cover.
- Plan for 2 days if possible: If you can plan for 2 days at Sunworld, you should be able to cover most of the rides/attractions.
- Get the map when you enter Sunworld so you have a good idea of what is where. The crowd around attractions is usually less during peak lunch and dinner time, so try to finish popular rides like samurai ride and sunwheel at that time.
- Skip the water puppet show if you have seen it elsewhere: Water puppet shows are held in many cities in Vietnam. If you plan to watch one elsewhere, you can skip the show at Sunworld Halong Bay. The shows are almost the same and you can spend that hour elsewhere.
Map of the places mentioned in this post:
Latest information about Sunworld Halong Bay:
Rides in Dragon park: https://halongcomplex.sunworld.vn/danh-muc-trai-nghiem/cong-vien-rong/
Attractions in Mystic hill: https://halongcomplex.sunworld.vn/danh-muc-trai-nghiem/cap-treo-nu-hoang-va-khu-doi-huyen-bi/
Rides in Typhoon Water park: https://halongcomplex.sunworld.vn/danh-muc-trai-nghiem/cong-vien-nuoc/
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