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 Mother Nature.
Coming to Halong Bay, you will not only be able to witness the breathtaking scenes of nature but also enjoy numerous popular but interesting things to do in Halong Bay.
With so many Halong city things to do, it’s difficult to decide on what to start with. Here are some recommendations for Halong Bay activities to help you make the most of your trip.
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Top things to do in Halong Bay is properly kayaking
I. Attractions – Best things to do in Halong Bay
1. Cannon Fort
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 which is one of the most famous Halong Bay attractions 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.
Visit Cannon Fort for the best views
The fort also features a small museum and a cafe with a terrace so you can have some little insight into the history of this place.
2. Cat Ba Island
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 Halong Bay Vietnam things to do is to rent a bicycle and ride to the idyllic countryside just outside the main town.
Take a look at Cat Ba Island
3. Dau Be Island
Located in the southeast of Ha Long Bay, Dau Be Island has an area of 22 863 square meters 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 create 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.
View at Dau Be Cave
4. Me Cung Cave
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 that 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.
The magnificent and colorful 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.
5. Trinh Nu Cave
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.
Trinh Nu cave is associated with the tear-jerking love story
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.
>>> Get on a Halong Bay Tour and visit all these places! <<<
6. Monkey Island
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.
Monkeys go down to play with tourists
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.
On Monkey Island, you can go up to the mountain and take a 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.
7. Lan Ha Bay
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.
Lan Ha Bay is covered with pearl green color
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.
8. Floating Villages- Halong Bay must see
The 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 imagine 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, the 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.
Halong Bay floating village
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 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 fun things to do in Halong Bay.
9. Bai Tho mountain
If you are a truly adventurous traveler, Bai Tho mountain can satisfy it with a panoramic and impressive view of the whole Ha Long Bay. Climbing to the top of Bai Tho Moutain is really must-do in your trip, you only take about 30 minutes to the desired destination.
When reaching the highest point of Bai Tho, tourists can not stop sightseeing the magical and splendid of Ha Long, which is the combination of ancient caves, white sandy beaches and bright sunshine. Don’t forget to bring a camera because you definitely capture lots of memorizing moments.
The magnificent view from Bai Tho mountain
II. Activities – What to do at Halong Bay
1. Take A Halong Bay Cruise
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 Halong Bay cruise is a popular choice for many tourists traveling here and you can find many cruises around the area offer different lengths and routes.
Spending the whole day in Halong Bay cruise is an indispensable experience
Normally, you will be welcomed on board by a delicious meal including seafood. Then all your time left on the cruise will be spent to visit the caves and grottos, enjoy and immerse in the beauty of Halong Bay.
2. Overnight On Board
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.
Romantic dinner on Halong Bay cruise
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 the 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
3. Learn Tai-chi On Deck
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 gentle 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.
Tai Chi is must-do what to do in Halong bay city
Most Tai Chi classes are held between 6:30 – 7:00 in the morning on the sundeck if it’s sunny and in the dining hall if it rains.
4. Attend A Cooking Class
Cooking demonstration is an onboard activity that helps passengers not only to sample fine cuisine but also learns more about Vietnamese culinary culture.
Cruise Chef will show and guide you on how to make Vietnamese traditional dishes such as fresh or dried springing roll and/ or how to carve different kinds of vegetables and fruits.
A cooking class on Halong Bay cruise
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!
5. Discover Grottoes
Discovering caves and grottos are 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.
6. View Ha Long Bay From A Seaplane
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.
Halong Bay from above
7. Scuba Diving
Not only is Halong Bay a spectacular destination for sightseeing in Vietnam, but it also is an ideal place for adventurous sports.
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 the 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 more 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 3 Things You Should Know About Halong Bay Diving
8. Shop at Cat Ba Island Market
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 the source of ingredients here. There are huge mounds of crabs, jump shrimp, fish among many other kinds of seafood.
9. Shop at Bai Chay Market
If you want to sample some of the local produce then one of the best places to visit in Halong Bay 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.
Bai Chay offers a variety of goods and nice souvenirs
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.
10. Kayaking in Halong Bay
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.
Discovering the place yourself on a kayak
Kayaking in Halong Bay is very easy to take part in for every tourist, even adventure kayaking. The adventure kayaking will be held 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.
11. Halong Rock Climbing
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 rising 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 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 safety 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.
12. Swimming at Halong Bay beach
Just simply dip in the cool jade-green water of the Bay, you will feel really relaxed 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.
The turquoise and refreshing sea waters of the Bay
13. Participate In A BBQ On 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 the beaches of Halong Bay will bring 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.
Seafood barbecue on an unspoiled beach is the best thing what to do in Halong
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?
14. Riding A Bicycle Around
Cycling is the best way for you to both explore the surroundings and do physical exercise.
Cycling around Halong Bay
Cycling is an outboard activity which is normally included in a 3-day and 2-night itinerary. The most popular area to organize cycling is the “isolated oasis” Viet Hai Village, located approximately 18 kilometers 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 from the outside world. Cycling in the village, travelers will have a great opportunity to enjoy the truly airy ambiance, visit old houses, take pictures of forest trees, and admire natural scenery.
15. Dining In Caves
Dining in caves is a unique thing to do in Halong bay for most tourists. 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.
Instead of having dinner in a restaurant, Let’s explore dinner in Halong caves
Normally, cave dinner in Halong Bay is 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.
16. Night Squid Fishing – Things to do in Halong Bay at night
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 for the night trip.
Lucky enough, you can catch 15 – 20 squids per night!
Experience Halong Bay nightlife with squid fishing
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 seawater 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 of 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.
17. Sunbathe in Halong Bay
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, snorkeling, fishing, or kayaking upon cruising around.
Sunbathing is exciting activities in Halong for foreign tourists
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.
Halong Bay tremendously diverse ecosystem
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.
19. Enjoy The Beauty of Sunset – What to do in Halong Bay city
After a long day full of physical activities on beaches such as swimming and surfing, it is time sitting silently on deck and observing the view of the sunset. This offers a perfect spot for those who want to take professional pictures in an extremely stunning landscape.
Observing the stunning sunset on the beach brings visitors an unforgettable memory.
Sightseeing sunset is one of wonderful things see in Halong Bay Vietnam
The sundown on the beach is regarded as the most spectacular sightseeing in Halong and it sounds great to sit on the board, drink a cup of beer and chat with other beloved ones. According to most visitors, enjoying the sundown on deck 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 or if you would like to have Private cruise to Halong Bay.
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