Being recognized as the Natural Wonder of the world by UNESCO, Halong Bay is among the worth-visiting landscapes in Vietnam for tourists, both domestic and international, who love discovering wonderful works of the Mother Nature.
Coming to Halong Bay, you will not only be able to witness the breathtaking scenes of the nature but also enjoy numerous popular but interesting things to do in Halong Bay.
With so many Things to do in Halong Bay, it's difficult to decide on what to start with. Here are some recommendations of Halong Bay activities to help you make the most of your trip.
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If you truly want to see all the beauty of Halong Bay then you need to board on a cruise and cruise along the emerald water of Halong Bay. Taking a cruise is a popular choice for many tourists travelling here and you can find many cruises around the area offer different length and routes.
Normally, you will be welcomed on board by a delicious meal including seafood. Then all your time left on cruise will be spent to visit the caves and grottos, enjoy and immerse in the beauty of Halong Bay.
If you have more time, try to spend an overnight on cruise in Halong Bay, it will be a much different experience than just having a day trip to Halong bay. Staying overnight allows you to experience the magic of Halong Bay at a more relaxed pace.
You’ll see, do and experience more. You’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of this UNESCO protected area. There’re many activities to join on cruise such as squid fishing, attending a cooking class, visiting caves, etc and immerse yourself in the majestic beauty and silence of the ocean at night.
>>> One or Two Days in Halong Bay, check out: Halong Bay Tours
Engaging in Tai Chi session in the early morning is the perfect way to start your new day in Halong Bay. Tai Chi is a gently physical exercise combining deep breathing and relaxation with slow and easy movements.
A form of martial art, Tai Chi is extremely beneficial for your health as it helps to reduce stress, prevent falls, and improve balance and general mobility. You are strongly recommended to wake up early and participate in the session.
Most Tai Chi classes are held between 6:30am - 7:00am, on sundeck if it's sunny and in the dining hall if it rains.
Cooking demonstration is an onboard activity which helps passengers not only to sample fine cuisine but also learns more about Vietnamese culinary culture.
Cruise Chef will show and guide you how to make Vietnamese traditional dishes such as fresh or dried springing roll and/ or how to carve different kinds of vegetables and fruits.
You may be invited to participate in a fun competition with other passengers to find who is the fastest to make the dish.
Finally, you can have your own dish of food, enjoin yourself or share it with your companions. An interesting activity for those who love cooking and cuisine!
Discovering caves and grottos is properly the most popular things to do in Halong Bay.
Hidden in thousands of jungle-covered peaks of Halong Bay are picturesque grottos and caves of all shapes and sizes. Check out Thien Cung Cave (Heavenly Palace Cave) and Dau Go Cave, which are easily accessed from Tuan Chau Port. Plenty of boats and cruises anchor here, offering cave visits.
Despite being rather costly, jumping on a seaplane in Halong Bay and flying over the limestone islands is one of the best things to do in Halong Bay.
The plane departs from Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, so you won’t get stuck in traffic on your way to Halong Bay. You will be rewarded with a beautiful birds-eye view of the bay and of all the peaks in their entirety, rather than of one peak after the other, like at sea level.
Visit Cannon Fort if you want to take in the best views of Cat Ba Island. You can reach Cannon Fort by car or scooter. If you’re feeling fit, you can choose to hike up a steep, narrow slope.
Cannon Fort offers scenic views of Cat Ba Island with tiny houses and fishing boats, surrounded by rolling hills covered with lush greenery. The Japanese built tunnels and gun posts at the site during World War II.
The fort also features a small museum and a cafe with a terrace so you can have some little insight of history of this place.
Not only is Halong Bay a spectacular destination for sightseeing in Vietnam, but also is an ideal place for adventurous sports.
Tourists coming to this landscape can enjoy not only the boat trip but also scuba diving. Scuba diving has been opened in Halong Bay recently, making it one of interesting things to do in Halong Bay, particularly for underwater lovers.
Furthermore, Halong Bay has a tremendously diverse ecosystem, including both tropical evergreen biosystem and oceanic and sea shore biosystem.
For you information, the coral reefs in Halong Bay are largely concentrated in the areas of Cong Do Island, Van Gio Island, and Trai Cave. Halong Bay Snorkeling or scuba diving in these places, travelers can see sparkling life under the sea and admire a wide coral reef displaying a myriad of colors at the bottom of Halong Bay.
See more in: Halong Bay Diving
Cat Ba Island is the biggest island in Halong Bay and also the most popular and touristy of the whole area. This is also the spot where many of the boats leave for island trips so it makes a good place to base yourself while you are in Halong Bay.
The island sits around an ancient fisherman’s port and as such has a relaxed atmosphere that makes it the perfect place to spend an afternoon. One of the best things to do here is to rent a bicycle and ride to the idyllic countryside just outside the main town.
If you are staying on Cat Ba Island and want to try some of the local delights then head for the central market. Cat Ba Island Market offers a variety of local fruits and vegetables and also fresh the local seafood.
If you decide to set a seafood barbecue, you can find all source of ingredients here. There are huge mounds of crabs, jump shrimp, fish among many other seafood.
Located in the southeast of Ha Long Bay, Dau Be Island has an area of 22 863 m2 with 139 meters at the highest peak. The steep island cliffs stand like walls to shield the island from the waves rushing from the east into the Gulf.
Dau Be Island is famous for Ba Ham Lake. Ba Ham Lake is a system consisting of three major ocean basins connected through a meandering narrow cave. Inside the cave, stalactites hang down from the ceiling cave creates strange shapes and sizes. The island is also home to monkeys, birds, flying squirrels, bats, and many species of flowers.
If you want to get the underground cave and grottoes then you need to row across to them at low tide which is the only time that you will be able to climb inside.
Alongside many other caves, visiting Me Cung Cave is another worth-trying things to do in Halong Bay.
The entrance of the cave is through a narrow entrance which you need to squeeze into. However, once you enter inside, the chamber opens up and you will find winding tunnels that are covered in gorgeous stalagmites and stalactites.
There are also fossils in the cave so if you are a fan of spelunking then this is a great spot to explore for an afternoon.
Trinh Nu cave or Virgin Cave in English is located in Bo Hon Island. The reason behind the name is the legend that is associated with the cave. The story goes that a young woman committed suicide here after she was trapped in an unhappy marriage and then her body turned to stone.
In the center of Trinh Nu cave has a stone statue, look like a girl lying, long hair, eyes toward the distant in wait. With fisherman, Trinh Nu cave is their house on the sea, and with couples, this is the eternal symbol of love.
Monkey Island is also known as Cat Dua in Vietnamese and you have to take a boat trip from Cat Ba to reach Monkey Island.
The reason why it’s called monkey island is there’re about 20 monkeys live on the island. They often go down to play with tourists, eat the food given for them such as bananas, apples, tangerines, candy... And gradually people call this monkey island.
In monkey island, you can go up to the mountain and take panorama view of the whole area. There is an idyllic private beach here and you can spend your time topping up your tan on the white sand or go swimming and snorkeling in the azure seas.
If you want to sample some of the local produce in Halong Bay then one of the best places to do this is at Bai Chay Market.
This is a local Vietnamese market in Halong Bay and you will find huge heaps of fresh fruit and vegetables here as well as plenty of seafood.
You can also buy other local items like clothing and textiles so this is a good spot to visit if you want to stock up on souvenirs.
One of the best things to do in Halong Bay is discovering the place yourself on your own kayak. The emerald water of Halong with calm water and many hidden tunnels make a perfect setting for kayaking.
Kayaking in Halong Bay is very easy to take part in for every tourist, even adventure kayaking. The adventure kayaking will be hold in some of the most beautiful places in Halong Bay with mountain surrounded, beaches and water tunnel cave. The most common places are 3 Peaches islets, Dark and Light Cave. Adventure kayaking often offers tourists the option of 2-3 day tours.
If you have a thirst for adrenaline-rush activities, then Halong bay climbing will please your knees.
Being one of the most majestic climbing areas of the world, Halong Bay is considered the paradise of adventurous rock climbing as it has a unique topography with thousands of high limestone mountains arising from the sea.
There are some bolted climbing routes out on some of the islands like Moody’s Beach, Tiger Beach, Saigon Wall, etc.
In your first time of rock climbing on the sea, you may need many necessaries. In addition to climbing shoes with pointed toes to stick to the cliffs, you will need a belt, which will be tightened with ropes by a safe lock.
Besides, it is necessary to get a helmet and powder to avoid being slipped when clinging to the rocks and hooks as well to keep ropes with available hooks on the cliffs. Skillful climbers will only take a pair of shoes to start their journey.
May to June and September, October, November and December and are considered the best months to climb in Halong Bay, with clear skies, no rain and temperatures which are warm, but not too hot.
See more in: Halong Bay Climbing
Just simply dip in the cool jade-green water of the Bay, you will feel really relaxing and free from hustle and bustle daily life.
Nothing can be commensurate with a refreshing swim in the emerald water of Halong Bay. The turquoise and refreshing sea waters of the Bay will dispel any fatigue, stress, and affliction and help travelers truly relax.
This is a good opportunity for you to enjoy such charming beauty of Halong Bay’s beaches, including Ti Top Beach, Bai Chay (Bãi Cháy) Beach, Tuan Chau (Tuần Châu), Beach, Ngoc Vung (Ngọc Vừng) Beach and Quan Lan (Quan Lạn) Beach.
This should be one of your gastronomic things to do in Halong Bay. Trust me! There is no doubt that having BBQ on one of beaches of Halong Bay will bring to you a unique experience that you hardly have anywhere else.
With various fresh meat and seafood dishes, like roasted chicken, baked king prawns, grilled beef rump, etc, it is very promising for tourists to have an exceptional and tasty meal in the bay of islands.
Just imagine, in the light of the dawn, you and your loved ones feast on a delicious BBQ meal and sip perfect cups of cocktail or wine, surrounded by green islets, white sands, and the blue sea. It is difficult to resist, right?
Halong Bay is a very popular destination in Vietnam which means that many of the islands get crowded in the high season. If this is the case, you might consider a trip to Lan Ha Bay.
The island is less touristy and known for white sandy beaches and there are a plethora of activities on offer here. These include exploring the floating villages, swimming, rock climbing, kayaking and scuba diving. Or, you could simply chill out on one of those beaches and watch the local daily life go by.
Floating village is an interesting feature of the daily life of Halong Bay locals. For most of us, a cruise on the emerald clear green water of Halong Bay is a unique experience, so it might be hard to imagining living everyday life surrounded by the beauty of this well-known bay.
However, for a large number of families of the traditional floating fishing villages in Halong Bay, water world is their second hometown. This sounds strange but it does. Rising and falling with the natural tide, these floating villages have been “warm” homes to many generations of fishermen in Halong Bay.
You and your family will be given a deeper insight into the local culture and daily life.
These families earn their living from the diversified supply of the marine life. You could understand more about the real life of those fishermen on floating boats by chatting with them. Pay a visit to one of those charming villages, meet playful kids, and meet some grinning fishermen. This way, you are experiencing of the most interesting things to do in Halong Bay.
Cycling is the best way for you to both explore the surroundings and do physical exercise.
Cycling is an outboard activity which is normally included in 3 day 2 night itinerary. The most popular area to organize cycling is the “isolated oasis” Viet Hai Village, located approximately 18km from Cat Ba Island and belonging to the core of Cat Ba National Park. Surrounded by high mountains, thick jungles, and vast ocean, Viet Hai is absolutely separated with the outside world. Cycling in the village, travelers will have a great opportunity to enjoy the truly airy ambience, visit old houses, take pictures of forest trees, and admire natural scenery.
Dinning in caves is a uniue things to do in Halong bay for most tourirsts. After a day of kayaking, swimming or joining in other activities, there is nothing more relaxing than having a diner in such a quiet, romantic and a little mysterious cave.
Normally, cave dinner in Halong Bay are often held in Trong Cave (Male Cave) or Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave). Male-Virgin Cave is known as the couple caves related to their legend of two lovers, alluring a lot of foreign tourists with its spectacular sceneries and charming atmosphere.
In Bai Tu Long Bay, foreign visitors can seek a chance to try cave dinners in Thien Canh Son Cave, a cave noted for its magnificent seascapes.
More information: Halong Bay fishing – An amazing squid fishing night on Ha Long Bay
Sleepless in Halong Bay? Then, think of night squid fishing. It might be one of the most lesser-known things to do in Halong Bay, but it provides you with great pleasure of the night trip.
Lucky enough, you can catch 15 – 20 squids per night
You will be supplied with fishing rods, racquets to actively use them to catch squids. During the squid season, it will be popular for tourists to see many large shoals of squids surrounding cruisers and each tourist could catch about 30 squids for each fishing night.
You could use the squids caught for making dishes. This is a perfect time to enjoy Halong Bay by night. At night, the surface of the sea water is sparkling with the reflected light from those cruises that anchored on this bay.
International tourists really love the boiled whole squids as upon eating, they could enjoy the wonderful feeling of ink line which breaks out pitch-black within their mouth. Tourists could also eat whilst singing Karaoke or dancing. With a little bit alcohol yeast, everybody will become enthusiastic and excited dancers and singers.
Squid fishing is considered the most engaging activity in the evening for many cruises. However, please be noted that this activity can only be held when weather permits.
Inside Halong Bay, there are a number of large islands, and one of the most well-known islands is Cat Ba Island – the largest one and also home to a national park featuring with 20 species of mammals, 69 species of birds, 20 species of reptiles and amphibians, 11 species of frogs. Many of these animals are listed in the Red Book and under tight protection.
The National Park provides tourists with fantastic chances for hiking and spotting rare “Cat Ba languor” monkeys. This park covers both water and land, and those keen walkers could spot wild boar, giant oriental squirrels, civet cat and deer. There are different bird species in this National Park, including hornbills, hawks, and cuckoos.
One of the most satisfying things to do in Halong Bay is sunbathing or swimming. As an ocean area, Halong Bay offers countless places for tourists to enjoy swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling, fishing, or kayaking upon cruising around.
According to some experienced tourists, they said that the stunning scenery of mountain cliffs rinsing out of this bay becomes an ideal backdrop for many water-based activities.
Halong Bay is an ideal place for travelers who love snorkeling because of its tremendously diverse ecosystem, including both tropical evergreen biosystem and oceanic and sea shore biosystem. Especially, underwater is the coral reef ecosystem which is one of the most impressive features of Halong Bay.
The coral reefs in Halong Bay are largely concentrated in the areas of Cong Do Island, Van Gio Island, and Trai Cave and that’s why snorkeling is normally held in these areas. You can see sparkling life under the sea and admire a wide coral reef displaying a myriad of colors at the bottom of Halong Bay.
After a long day full of physical activities on beaches such as swimming and surfing, it is time sitting silently on desk and observing the view of sunset. This offers a perfect spot for those who want to take professional pictures in a extremely stunning landscape.
Observing the stunning sunset on beach brings visitors an unforgettable memory.
The sundown on the beach is regarded as the most spectacular sightseeing in Halong and it sounds great to sit on the board, drinking a cup of beer and chatting with other beloved ones. According to most visitors, enjoying the sundown on desk is obviously one of the best things to do in Halong Bay that tourists should never miss in their cruise.
If you're interested in what to do in Halong bay at night, see more in the article Halong Bay Nightlife.
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