New airport to serve Halong Bay

HANOI, 4 January 2019: After two years of construction, Van Don International Airport opened last Sunday in Quang Ninh province – home to the UNESCO world Heritage site Halong Bay.

Located just 50 km from the famous bay, the new airport is the first in Vietnam to be developed by a private company.

It opened for commercial flights just less than two weeks before the ASEAN Tourism Forum convenes, 14 to 18 January, in Halong City.

Sun Group usually associated with tourism, leisure and entertainment-focused properties and projects, invested VND7.463 billion (USD310 million) in the new airport, which is the closest to the new Halong Bay cruise port.

The Netherlands Airport Consultants, a leading airport consultancy and engineering firm, coordinated the construction of the airport and support facilities.

“It is the most modern airport in Vietnam… It will have positive influences on the passengers’ experience here in the airport,” said NACO project manager and architect, Romy Berntsen.

Development of Van Don airport is in line with the government’s plan to have 13 international and 15 domestic airports by 2023. At present there are 21 airports across Vietnam.

As a new gateway for both domestic and international travellers heading for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay, the airport can handle up to 2.5 million passengers annually for the next two years and 5 million a year by 2030.

According to officials attending last Sunday’s opening, the airport should attract flights from Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia, as well as domestic routes within Vietnam.

National carrier, Vietnam Airlines was the first to serve the airport with a service from Ho Chi Minh City that started last Sunday. Vietjet has confirmed it will fly from Ho Chi Minh City to the new airport effective 20 January.

Halong Bay is hosting the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum, 14 to 18 of January, an event that will attract up to 400 travel professionals worldwide, who will meet with a similar number of travel content suppliers from the 10 ASEAN nations

Also this week, Sun Group officially unveiled two more major new infrastructures projects in Quang Ninh, namely, the new Halong-Van Don Highway and Halong International Cruise Port.

The new four-lane, 60 km highway has reduced travel time from Van Don Airport to Halong City to just under 50 minutes.

With total investment of VND1,032 billion (USD43 million), Halong International Cruise Port is the country’s first cruise port dedicated exclusively to receiving international cruise ships.

Located in Bai Chay ward, Halong City, the port can accommodate two cruise ships (up to 225,000 GRT each) at the same time and a total of 8,460 passengers, including crew.

The port terminal, designed by Bill Bensley, an architect who usually specialises in hotel and resorts, will be a new landmark for the city and Quang Ninh Province.

The opening of all three major infrastructure projects will play an important role in tapping the province’s tourism potential and create new opportunities for international trade and economic cooperation.

Up until the opening of new airport travellers either flew to Haiphong or Hanoi airports and then transferred by bus to Halong Bay. 

Haiphong airport is 85 km from Halong Bay with a bus transfer time of two hours and 20 minutes.

The overland transfer distance from Hanoi to Halong Bay has now been cut from 180 to 130 km, while travel time is around two hours and 45 minutes via the Hanoi-Haiphong six-lane expressway that opened in 2015 and the new Haiphong-Halong four-lane highway that opened in late 2018.