There are daily slow boats connecting Hon Gai with Hai Phong (30,000d, three hours). Boats depart Hon Gai at 6.30am, 1 lam and 4pm. There are no longer hydrofoils linking Halong and Hai Phong as travel by road is cheaper and just as fast.
The best way to get to Cat Ba Island is to hop onto the regular tourist boats from Bai Chay tourist-boat dock. It costs 70,000d one way, including a leisurely cruise through the most beautiful parts of the bay. An extra 30,000d brings entry lo the most important caves and grottoes in the bay. The whole trip takes about five hours, but there are no precise departure times, as it depends on numbers.
From Bai Chay, Pearl Cape (Tel: 847 888; Halong street) operates hydrofoils to Mong Cai (US$12, three hours) leaving at Sam and lpm; the ticket office is almost next door to the Mien Tay bus station. The trip is definitely preferable to the long road journey.
As always, be prepared for changes to these schedules.
Buses from Halong City to Hanoi (35,000d, 3.5 hours) leave from Mien Tay bus station (Ca Lan street) in Bai Chay every 15 minutes. Buses to Hai Phong (22,000d, 1.5 hours) depart every 20 minutes from here.
Most buses to northeastern destinations start from Mien Tay bus station before passing through Hon Gai bus station ( Le Loi street). Buses for Mong Cai (35,000d, six hours) and Cua Ong (9000d, 1.5 hours) for Van Don Island (Dao Cai Bau) depart regularly during daylight hours.
Car & Motorbike
Halong City is 160km from Hanoi and 55km from Hai Phong. The one-way trip from Hanoi to Halong City takes about three hours by private vehicle.