Development has not been kind to Halong City (known locally as Bai Chay). Despite enjoying a stunning position on the cusp of Halong Bay, this is a gritty town with pockets of bland high-rise hotel development dotting the shoreline.
Many travellers opt to skip Halong City completely, preferring to spend a night out in Halong Bay itself. Increased competition for a dwindling clientele means budget hotel rates are some of the cheapest in Vietnam. Chinese and Korean visitors are now more prevalent, preferring to enjoy terra firma attractions such as casinos and karaoke after a day exploring the bay.