18 Fascinating Things to Do in Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famous throughout the world for its beauty. It has always been on the list of top destinations that a visitor should not miss when coming to Vietnam.

A cruise seems to be one of the best choices to enjoy a relaxing holiday on the bay. You can choose an overnight cruise for one night or two nights if your time allows. In a limited schedule, a day cruise (4 to 6 hours) is also a good option to have a quick view of the legend bay.

But aside from that, Halong Bay has so many other things that are worth a try. Listed below are some fascinating things to do in Halong Bay recommended for you to enjoy a real Halong Bay from above and aside. Your trip to Halong Bay, Vietnam will be much more memorable.

1. Get on a Seaplane Tour

A seaplane tour over Halong Bay is a special way to witness the scenic beauty of this masterpiece of nature. The tours offer a great chance to soar through the sky above clear waters and a bird’s eye view of the below landscape.

Towering limestone islands, sandy beaches, and evergreen rainforests are together in a panoramic scene. The tour provides a live English commentary about the history and myths of Halong Bay.

Seaplane Tour in Halong Bay

Seaplane Tour in Halong Bay

Hai Au Aviation is currently the only company carrying this tour. There are daily flights between Noi Bai Airport and Tuan Chau harbor every day. For a limited time and budget, a 25-minute aerial sightseeing trip that starts from USD 99 is a good option.

2. Fly with a canoe - Go Parasailing

Parasailing offers a chance to watch Halong Bay from above for a unique view of the scenic beauty. Like in some beaches in Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, and Vung Tau, flying with a canoe has recently been provided in Tuan Chau harbor. This is the number one activity for adventure seekers in Halong Bay.

Fly with a canoe - Go Parasailing

Fly with a canoe - Go Parasailing

Though lower than the seaplane, parasailing still gives you a chance to enjoy the scenery with a bird's eye view. From above, a beautiful seascape and an exciting feeling while in the middle of open airspace will be a special experience.

3. Stop at Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba is the biggest island in the Halong Bay region and is home to a peaceful lifestyle and scenic beaches. Its beaches (Cat Co 1, 2, and 3) are perfect for swimming and sunbathing during the summer months.

However, summer is the domestic tourism peak time so just expect to be with lots of people on the beach. To avoid that, you can rent a boat and head to Lan Ha Bay, where the beaches are more secluded and quieter.

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island

Another thing to do in Cat Ba is to grab a rental bike to explore some scenic spots like a local. You can even get some home-cooked lunch in an ethnic village living on the island.

It's easy to book a day trip or just the bus to Cat Ba from any tour company in Hanoi. It might be a good idea to stay on the island for a night to explore the lifestyle here when the lights on. If your time permits, book a luxury cruise in Lan Ha Bay (2-night option) to enjoy a floating feeling on the bay and a day trip to Cat Ba Island.

4. Go Trekking through a World Heritage Forest

Being a World Heritage Site designated as a biosphere reserve in northern Vietnam, Cat Ba National Park is worth a visit. The park has some very rich biodiversity, with the tropical rain forest on a limestone mountain, mangroves, coral reef, seagrass beds, etc. This area is home to 1,588 species of higher plants, more than 200 terrestrial animals, including the most endangered primates in the world, the white-headed Langur.

Go Trekking through a World Heritage Forest

Go Trekking through a World Heritage Forest in Cat Ba National Park

On coming here, don't miss out on a trek through its jungle-like terrain to see it in depth. Trekking across the Kim Giao Forest - Ngự Lâm Peak trail is good to see the ancient, rare, and endangered Kim Giao trees.

The trail leads you to Ngu Lam peak which offers spectacular views of the area. This great combination of tourism and workout will bring you a feeling of satisfaction after a healthy day of trekking around the World Heritage forest.

5. Enjoy a Relaxing Cruise

Boat tours in Halong offer you abundant options from shoestring budget cruises to luxury liners, from private cruises for couples to big ships for a hundred guests. You can see many boats built in the style of old Chinese trading junks, some are more like the old-fashioned riverboats. Sailing together with them are luxury steel ships with modern facilities of the 5-star standard such as Hermes Cruise, Ambassador Cruise, Le Theatre Cruises, Heritage Cruises, Scarlet Pearl Cruises,...

Almost all cruises offer comfort and convenient stay with interesting activities. Onboard, you can join a cooking class, Taichi session, squid fishing, and live music performance.

Enjoy a Relaxing Cruise

Enjoy a Relaxing Cruise

Outdoor activities come with swimming, kayaking, trekking, cave visiting, or bamboo boating. Some cruises have a massage, swimming pool, fitness room, and Jacuzzi tubs. All experience will be a good memory to cherish for a period of life.

6. Go Caving

With Karst terrain, Halong Bay has 59 "discovered" caves to date, and many others still waiting to be explored, you may need to refer to 10 Great Caves In Halong Bay Must-visit. These caves are always the main attractive destination on route visiting Halong Bay.

The most famous cave is Sung Sot (Surprise) cave located on Bo Hon Island and belongs to the center of Halong Bay. This cave includes two chambers rising to a height of about 30 meters. Inside are stalactites in the shapes of elephant, flower, water seal… which will surprise everyone as its name.

Dau Go Cave

Dau Go Cave

Next to Sung Sot cave is Dau Go (Wooden Stakes) cave, located in Dau Go Island. Dau Go cave has rolls in the dome which look like a huge oil paint picture. The beauty of this cave rewarded it as “caves of wonders” in World Wonder book by French.

Nearby, you could visit Trinh Nu (Virgin) cave and Trong (Drum) cave which locate opposite to each other. The 2 caves carry a sad story about a young couple who could not stay together because of family differences.

Thien Cung (Paradise) cave brings you a feeling of being in heaven of rock beauty. The various sizes and shapes of stalactites and stalagmites there will dazzle all visitors.

The longest cave in the Halong Bay region is Hanh cave which is located in Cam Pha. The cave is 1.3 kilometer in length along Hanh Mountain and crosses out the sea. To visit Hanh cave, you will need a small boat to reach and lamp to light up the dark inside the cave.

7. Snap Insta-Worthy Photos

Halong Bay is one the best spots for taking photos so never visit the bay without your camera. Halong Bay is stunning in every single corner and capturing this beauty is one of the must-do things in this heaven on Earth.

Snap Insta-Worthy Photos

Snap Insta-Worthy Photos

You will find yourself rewarded with a completely fresh view as your tour boat rounds each island. The most Insta-worthy panoramic pictures are easily snapped from high up on some of the islands.

8. Feast on Halong Seafood Cuisines

Whenever visiting a new place, enjoying the cuisines there is one of the must things as food is said to be the best way to get to know a culture. Halong is not an exception and the cuisines here will take a considerable amount of your trip time. The incredible gastronomy of this region would satisfy any pickiest diner.

Feast on Halong Seafood Cuisines

Feast on Halong Seafood Cuisines

Of course, though seafood is the best part of the cuisine here, plenty of other traditional foods are worth tasting. Let take a cruise and you will have full meals onboard with both local and international cooking styles served.

Seafood is the main menu and you can have it best fresh by fishing it out of the water and tossing it straight on the grill. Seafood is always best served fresh and it will give you a bigger appetite to explore the wonders of the bay.

9. Go Diving and Snorkeling

For those who love discovery, Halong Bay diving and snorkeling are the 2 not-to-miss experiences. They are superior choices to observe the hidden beauty of the underwater world of Halong with your naked eyes.

Halong Bay boasts a diverse ecosystem, including both tropical evergreen and oceanic biosystems. Especially, the coral reef ecosystem here is worth seeing. How great it is to touch bright coral reefs and follow the ways of fish.

Go Diving and Snorkeling

Go Diving and Snorkeling

There are many PADI-authorized operators in the area that help you enjoy a safe and memorable experience. Use a snorkel to take a deep dive into the sea, a fascinating world below the surface appears in your eyes.

10. Climb up Bai Tho Mountain

Seen from afar, Bai Tho (Poem) Mountain looks like a massive castle with 3 undulating towers on the rock walls. Bai Tho is considered the most ideal viewing spot in Halong Bay thanks to the mountainside overlooking the bay.

There are a number of scenic trails taking you through the lush greenery so have a look around for routes to the peak of different hills in the area. The path is not too long but quite steep. Yet tourists can relax during the way on the system of solid stone steps. Surrounding is green scenery, goats grazing on the slopes, or monkeys perching on tree branches.

Climb Up Bai Tho Mountain

Climb Up Bai Tho Mountain

After about 30 minutes of climbing, you get up to the top of the mountain. It's time to admire the majestic Halong Bay below and soak up the romantic and peaceful nature. Here you see a stone stele and flagpole with poetry carved on. That is the origin of the mountain's name.

11. Ride the World’s Highest Cable Car

Sunworld Amusement Park offers one of the best all-embracing views of the UNESCO Site from the Queen’s Cable Car. This world’s highest cable car boasts fantastic panoramic views abound.

Ride the World’s Highest Cable Car

Ride the World’s Highest Cable Car

Besides the Guinness World Record of the highest cable car at a height of 188.88 meters, Queen’s Cable Car is the biggest reversible aerial tramway capable of carrying up to 230 passengers. It's the reason why Sunworld Amusement park is listed as one of the top things to try in Halong Bay.

12. Go Kayaking and Canoeing

Halong Bay owns more than 1,960 islands rising from the water. The density of islands has made plenty of narrow channels that are not easy to access by tourist boats. But with a kayak or canoe, you can reach those narrow corners or even tunnels that are hidden from the boats' navigation.

Kayaking in Halong Bay

Kayaking in Halong Bay

It is great to paddle through tunnels in the rock to explore secret lagoons within the islands. Some say that Halong Bay is a flat out heaven for kayakers and that makes this activity be one of the most fascinating activities in Halong Bay.

13. Discover the Legendary of Trinh Nu Cave and Trong Cave

Coming to Halong Bay, myth and folklore of the bay's caves are the things that enthusiastic travelers the most. Among them is the famous love story behind Trinh Nu (Virgin) Cave and Trong (Drum) Cave.

Located opposite to each other, the two caves are famous for not only the beauty but also their folk legend. It is a tragic love story about a beautiful girl who fell in love with a poor fisherman. Her family disagreed with their love and forced her to marry a rich landlord in the area.

Trong Cave (Drum Cave)

Trong Cave (Drum Cave)

The young couple decided to escape to protect their love. The girl rowed a boat out to the sea and hid in Trinh Nu Cave to wait for her lover. Unfortunately, on the way to Trinh Nu Cave, a big storm hit the fisherman's boat into Trong Cave. The couple was stuck there for days. They both died in despair and turned into two statues in the caves.

In the eastern gate of Trong Cave, you see a stone statue that looks like a man facing out the sea. In Trinh Nu Cave stays another statue looking like a lying girl with long hair and crying eyes. The caves, nowadays, are an eternal symbol of love with couples.

14. Visit a Floating Village

One of the very interesting parts of Halong Bay is the hundreds-year-old floating villages. There are some villages famed worldwide like Ba Hang, Cua Van, Vung Vieng, and Cong Dam. By far the most famous as well as the biggest village among all is Cua Van floating village. Electricity is from generators and fresh water is brought in from the mainland and stored in tanks.

Vung Vieng Floating Village

Vung Vieng Floating Village

In recent years, the government has directed the residents to move inland for a better living standard. The villages are now preserved as a museum of sorts where you can learn about the locals and their way of life. The visit will become one of the most educational- as well as inspiring- things to do in Halong Bay.

15. Go Squid Fishing

As night falls on the bay, the fishermen start their work. Flashlights can be seen all over the place which is used to attract squids. For fishermen, fishing is their daily work and for visitors, this is a very interesting night-time activity.

This exciting activity is offered by most of the overnight cruises. You will have an opportunity to be a fisherman and try your hand at squid fishing. This is also a lovely way to enjoy a beautiful evening in Halong Bay.

Squid Fishing in Halong Bay

Squid Fishing in Halong Bay

The squid season is from November to February; this is also the best time to visit Halong Bay in general. Though the rest of the time might not be "best", it is always fun to be out on the deck, enjoy a drink and catch these local delicacies.

16. Go cycling

There is no better way to check out the laid back atmosphere of this Heritage Site than by cycling around Cat Ba Island. This is also a healthy and eco-friendly way to spend your holiday!

Cycle around the island is a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery and explore residents' way of life. Go down to its various beaches and award yourself a relaxing time on the sand and a refreshing swim in the clear water.

Cycling in Cat Ba Island

Cycling in Cat Ba Island

Bicycle tours are easily found by any local tour company, or if you want to explore at your leisure, you can go it alone.

17. Travel to Monkey Island

Monkey Island is located about 5 km from Cat Ba town and has an area of 22 square kilometers. This is a great spot to spend on your holiday thanks to the beautiful scenery and an idyllic private beach.

On Monkey Island, you can spend your time topping up your tan on the white sand or go swimming in the azure seas. You can opt to go kayaking, snorkeling, or hike across the island. It all brings you a great experience!

Travel to Monkey Island

Travel to Monkey Island

Living together with residents on the island are many dozen of monkeys (that is why they named for this island as Monkey). The monkeys are very friendly and naughty and can even grab food right from your palms.

Monkey Island has another name: Cat Dua (lit. Sandy Pineapple). It is so named because of a large amount of wild pineapple shading around the island. The pineapple fruits here look good but it is not for food but for traditional medicine.

There is only one way to get to this island: 10 minutes by boat from Beo dock. On the boat way, you will pass by Cai Beo fishing village and a few tiny islands.

18. Visit Cat Ba Hospital Cave

Located in the middle of Cat Ba Island, Hospital Cave was so named as it was built as a secret bomb-proof hospital for Viet Cong leaders during the Vietnam War.

The Hospital Cave was obscured from sight by thick vegetation and a lack of major roads. During 10 years of operation, the cave has been kept secret from the Americans until abandonment in 1975. The cave now becomes one of the top historical sites of the region.

Visit Cat Ba Hospital Cave

Visit Cat Ba Hospital Cave

From Cat Ba town center, you can rent a scooter to reach Hospital Cave. A guide will take you around the cave to see 17 rooms over three floors, the old operating theatre, and a huge natural cavern used as a cinema.

The upper floor is a meeting room where important decisions were made. It even had a small swimming pool to engage in some downtime. After the tour, you will learn how the cave worked and receive an excellent window onto Vietnamese history.

Now, if you're eager to discover Halong Bay, don't hesitate to contact Halong Bay Cruise Deals to create your own trip!

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