7 Reasons Why El Nido Is Better Than Ha Long Bay

I happened to visit both Ha Long Bay located in northeastern Vietnam and El Nido located in the northwestern tip of the province of Palawan, Philippines. Both natural wonders are composed of several islands and islets that feature towering limestone cliffs and I couldn’t help but make the comparison which one is better.

Ha Long Bay was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and is the New7Wonders of Nature organized by the New7Wonders Foundation. El Nido, on the other hand, is currently ranked #4 in Condé Nast Traveler’s list of “20 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World for 2017”. And for the second year in a row (2016-2017) and the third time since 2013, the islands of Palawan has won the best island in the world award by Travel + Leisure magazine.

Considering the beauty of the place alone, here are the reasons why I like El Nido more than Ha Long Bay:

1) The Turquoise-Colored Water

El Nido, Palawan 

El Nido turquoise water
The turquoise-colored waters of El Nido

Ha Long Bay 

Ha Long Bay emerald water
The emerald green waters of Ha Long Bay

2) The Pristine Beaches

El Nido, Palawan 

The powdery white sand underlies the limestone formations around El Nido. El Nido has around 50 white sand beaches that boast the whitest and finest sand in the world. You can even hire a private boat and have the island entirely to yourself.

Seven Commando Beach
Seven Commando Beach (El Nido, Palawan)

Ha Long Bay 

If you are going to Ha Long Bay, do not think about the beaches. Think of the boat tour and exploring the caves. Ha Long Bay is bigger and has around 1,600 limestone islands and islets and covers an area of over 1,500 sq km but very few beaches.

Junk boat
View from the deck of our luxury junk

3) More Exhilarating Kayaking Experience

El Nido, Palawan

You’ll be blown away as you paddle your kayak in Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon. The calm waters, both shallow and deep, surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs, will give you a solitary feeling.

Small Lagoon
Kayaking in Small Lagoon

Ha Long Bay

Kayaking in Ha Long Bay
Kayaking in Ha Long Bay

4) The Crystal-Clear Water

El Nido, Palawan

Nacpan Beach
Crystal-clear waters of Nacpan Beach

Ha Long Bay

Lunch at Ha Long Bay
Lunch by the private beach

5) It’s More Natural

El Nido, Palawan

In Ha Long Bay, you enjoy the karst landscapes as you cruise through the stunning bay on a traditional junk boat for 2-3 days. In El Nido, you get-off the boat during the island-hopping and get to experience the nature. There’s a hidden beach to discover, a secret lagoon to find, a snaking sandbar to walk on, a cave to explore, a cliff to climb, a waterfall to jump off, snorkeling spots to enjoy and plenty of white sand beaches to laze on.

Pinagbuyutan Island
Exploring Pinagbuyutan Island during the island-hopping

Ha Long Bay

The caves should be naturally beautiful with the formations and natural lighting. But they have installed colorful lighting around the caves and even placed water systems to depict pool of waters that flow naturally.

Ha Long Bay cave tour
Ha Long Bay cave tour

6) Warm Sea Temperature

El Nido, Palawan

The swimming season in El Nido lasts from January to December, twelve months per year! During those months, the water temperature does not drop below 20°C/68°F. Average water temperature in El Nido from:

  • September to April is 27.75°C/81.75°F
  • May to August is 29.5°C/85°F
El Nido island-hopping
El Nido island-hopping

Ha Long Bay

The swimming season in Ha Long Bay lasts from April to December. During those months, the water temperature does not drop below 20°C/68°F. Average water temperature in Ha Long Bay from:

  • January to March is 20°C/68°F
  • April to May is 24.5°C/76°F
  • June to October is 29.2°C/84.4°F
  • November is 26°C/79°F
  • December is 22°C/72°F
Ha Long Bay
Enjoying our red wine on the deck of our traditional junk

7) It’s Just Simply More Breathtaking

El Nido, Palawan

El Nido is a true paradise. It has so much to offer and everywhere you look is spectacular. If you are looking for some activities and you have the desire to be close to nature, El Nido is an amazing retreat from the noise of the cities.

Limestone cliffs of El Nido
Limestone cliffs of El Nido

Ha Long Bay

If you prefer relaxing on the deck or on your own private balcony while impressive scenery passes you by, you will love Ha Long Bay.

Limestone cliffs of Ha Long Bay
Limestone cliffs of Ha Long Bay

I understand we should not compare places because each one is unique on its own. But you can’t blame me for having some favorites. How about you? Which one do you prefer?


Next Suggested Article –> 3-Day Islas De Gigantes Itinerary – Must Do And Must See

15 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why El Nido Is Better Than Ha Long Bay

  1. I just got back from Halong bay, and
    truly in every way — El Nido blows
    this out of the water. They are both
    magnificent in their own ways, but I
    totally agree…El Nido is paradise on
    earth. I’ve also been to Pha Nga bay
    in Thailand, but my heart still beats
    for El Nido. Sheer beauty 🏝❤️

  2. In Hanoi now and just finished Ha Long Bay cruise
    and you i totally agree El Nido is way better than
    Ha Long Bay. In Halong Bay no beaches to swim
    and the water is not crystal clear like that of El
    Nido. I liked Ha Long Bay but coming back. I love
    Vietnamese food though so it is worth coming for
    that alone. Been to El Nido 4 times and Coron

  3. I have been to el Nido back in 2007. Tly stunning.The Bacuit Archipelago is truIy stunning. I distinctly remember also
    back then that the Lonely Planet books (not sure back then if youtube and online reviews were this popular like now)I
    read back then described El nido as similar to Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay but their writers also said that the difference is
    Mother nature unleashed her imagination on El Nido. I am headed to Ha Long in 3 months time. Im sure Ha Long will
    also be nice.

  4. I am on a luxe boat with private balcony in
    Halong Bay as I write this…We had a
    wonderful sunset and kayak as well


    I wish I was back in El Nido although I was
    there 2 years ago on heavy rain days where
    on one day all tour boats were cancelled
    and I was just on day tours…it was just so
    much nicer for all the 7 reasons in this
    article plus the fact that you can snorkel
    there but can’t here.

    The boats are better here and food similarly

    I would return to Palawan any day but
    would think twice before I came back to

  5. I couldn’t agree more. I haven’t been to
    Halong Bay but I have visited quite a lot of
    beaches around the world and all I can say is
    that nothing beats the beauty of El Nido or
    even Coron.

  6. Great, this was so helpful!! Just did el nido
    and now in Hanoi i was wondering if its
    really worth doing the Halong Bay as the
    weather is rather chilly here.

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