The World Heritage site, famed throughout the world for its scenic beauty, has long been regarded as a top destination for a relaxing cruise holiday, but apart from just cruising, there are so many things to do in Halong Bay; here’s our top 9 activities:
1. Seaplane tours
Seaplane is a truly special way to bear witness to the beauty of Halong bay. Tours leave from Hanoi every day, and there are 25 minute sightseeing trips from Halong that start from as little as $99. Hai Au Aviation is currently the only company offering this stunning opportunity.
2. Enjoy Halong Bay on cruises
There are many cruise boats operating in Halong Bay, from shoestring budget options to lap of luxury liners. Many of the cruise boats are built in the style of old Chinese trading junks, whilst others are more like the old fashioned riverboats. Thanks to the comfort and convenience offered on these tours, cruising is a crowd favourite, and one of the most popular things to do in Halong Bay..
3. Explore caves in Halong Bay
There are 59 ‘discovered’ caves in Halong Bay to date, and experts believe there could be as many as double this number still waiting to be found. The most famous of these are the Sung Sot (or Surprise Cave); Thien Cung Cave (Paradise Cave); and Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave). The Surprise Cave is the one most commonly visited by tour boats, but don’t be put off by large numbers of visitors; they are a must-see and one of the most interesting things to do in Halong Bay.
4. Watersports: Kayaking, Canoeing, Diving, Fishing
The tourist boats cannot navigate some of the really tiny channels that cut between some of the 1960 islands of the bay, which is why taking out a kayak or canoe is one of the best things to do in Halong Bay. In some instances you can paddle through tunnels in the rock to access secret hidden lagoons within the islands. Swimming and diving from rocks are also popular things to do in Halong Bay, and for the less active-minded, fishing is always a great way to relax.
5. Visiting Floating villages
The floating villages of Halong Bay have existed for hundreds of years; one of the most famous of which is Cua Van. Originally set up as a place for fishermen to sell their catch upon their return from sea, the floating villages eventually became the homes of Halong’s indigenous people.
Recently, the government directed the residents to move inland in effort to improve their standard of living and the children’s access to education, as well as to protect the fragility of Halong’s marine environment that was beginning to suffer from the fishing trade. The floating villages are now preserved, a museum of sorts, for tourists to come and learn about Halong Bay’s indigenous people and their way of life.
Visiting the floating villages is one of the most educational- as well as inspiring- things to do in Halong Bay.
6. Squid Fishing
As night falls on Halong Bay, flashlights can be seen all over the place, a display from the activities of night-time squid fishermen- most of the tour boats will offer you the chance to try for yourself. The squid will be attracted to the light and hopefully take the bait. Some times of the year are better than others, but it is always fun up on deck in the still of the night, enjoying a beer and trying to catch these local delicacies.
7. Amazing Parasailing
For the more daring among you, parasailing in Halong Bay offers the chance to get a totally unique view of the scenic beauty of the bay. The karst rock features for which the bay is famous, tower above the cruise boats. This is one of the things to do in Halong Bay that is rarely offered by tour companies, so you will have to seek it out for yourself.
8. Photography, catching beautiful moments
Never visit Halong Bay without your camera; this is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and capturing this beauty on camera is one of the obligatory things to do in Halong Bay. You’ll find yourself rewarded with vista after stunning vista; as your tour boat rounds each island you’ll be greeted by a completely fresh view. From high up on some of the islands to deep in the bowels of others, you will have some of the best photo opportunities of your life.
9. Eating Fresh Seafood
Lovers of great seafood hit the jackpot in Halong Bay; the food on board the cruise boats is exceptional, and seafood makes the base for many of their menus. Simply stopping off on an island and enjoying barbecued seafood on a quiet beach is also a very pleasant experience. Seafood is always best served fresh and it comes no fresher than fishing it out of the water and tossing it straight on the fire.