20 Awesome Things To Do In Halong Bay 2024 | The Best UNESCO Trip Ever

A UNESCO World Heritage Site famed throughout the world for its scenic beauty, Halong Bay has always been regarded as a top destination for a relaxing cruise holiday. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Halong Bay boasts almost 2,000 karst formations and untouched tiny islands, as well as two other bays: Lan Ha Bay, located to the south, and Bai Tu Long Bay, located to the East.

In this article, we’ll take you on a journey of the best activities and sites in Halong Bay. We’ve got you covered for everything from discovering picturesque limestone mountains, organized tours, wondrous caves, and pristine beaches to kayaking across green seas and indulging in local cuisine. So sit back, relax, and let us take you on an unforgettable journey through this natural wonder of the globe.

20 Fascinating Things To Do In Halong Bay

Without further ado, here are our top 20 ideas for great things to do in and around Halong Bay!

1. Enjoy A Leisurely Cruise – Top Things To Do In Halong Bay

To truly take in the essence of Halong Bay, an overnight cruise or two-night cruise is highly recommended if you are tight on time. A cruise in Halong Bay offers everything you need for a fantastic trip, from fine dining on board to off-board activities like kayaking, exploring caves, and snorkeling on serene beaches.

Overview Elite Of The Seas
Elite of the Sea Cruise – One of the most luxurious cruises in Lan Ha Bay

There is a cruise option for everyone, whether you are traveling with friends, and family, or even hosting a wedding. From shoestring budget cruises on Ha Long Bay to luxury liners, from boats with 5 to 200 rooms, Halong Hub has it all.

The boat was amazing, so big and spacious. And the food was delicious. Great for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation. We booked on Halong hub and booking, transport and checking in was effortless.

Emily Thomas from the United States

Mon Cheri Cruise Lan Ha Bay

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Mon Cheri Cruise Lan Ha Bay

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Mon Cheri is a world-class cruise and one of the most luxurious ships that operate in the area. Behold the beautifully appointed cabins, decked out with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and decorated with dark wood and mahogany.

All rooms come with a private balcony and have full ocean views. What makes Mon Cheri even more special is that every single cabin is adorned with a bathtub.

Mon Cheri Cruise will surely meet your utmost demands and be well worth your investment!

Peony Cruise Lan Ha Bay

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Peony Cruise Lan Ha Bay

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The Peony Cruise is a top-of-the-line luxury cruise that sails from Hanoi to Hai Phong, Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay, and Cat Ba Island. Your comfort is of the utmost importance, with only 20 cabins onboard. Each exclusive room is fitted out with a panoramic balcony, a shower, as well as a bathtub.

The cruise offers a well-planned itinerary that allows you to discover hidden caves and fishing villages, as well as kayaking or swimming to isolated lagoons and grottos.

Rest assured that all of our cruises are designed to inspire you with the beauty of the bay.

2. Go Parasailing And Soar Above Halong Bay

For a more daring experience, parasailing should be on your list! It offers the chance to get a unique way to explore Halong Bay.

Parasailing will give you a chance to enjoy the seascape and experience the adrenaline rush of flying in the sky while enjoying the view of the rock formations from above.

Colorful parachute in the blue sky

3. Make A Whistle-Stop At Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island is the largest island in the Halong Bay area and boasts a wide range of bars, cafes, hotels, and restaurants. Almost all Halong Bay cruises depart from Cat Ba Island, allowing tourists to enjoy a day of sightseeing before embarking on their cruise boats.

The island’s beaches are perfect for swimming and sunbathing during the summer months. Visitors can also rent kayaks or speedboats or explore the more secluded beaches of Lan Ha Bay.

From lush forests to mangroves, the surroundings have a Jurassic Park–like feel that creates a sense of exploration not often experienced in other parts of Vietnam. It’s no wonder the blockbuster Kong: Skull Island was filmed there!

Cat Ba town also has an incredible nightlife scene, so it’s not a bad idea to turn your Cat Ba day trip into an overnight excursion. To find out more, check out our complete guide for what to do on Cat Ba Island.

cat ba island
Halong bay archipelago top view from Cat Ba island, Vietnam

4. Take A Hike And Go Trekking In Cat Ba National Park

Before setting foot on your cruise boat, why not go hiking?

UNESCO has recognized Cat Ba National Park as a world biosphere reserve, as its ecosystems include tropical jungles, wetlands, mangroves, and coral reefs. Try to spot the white-headed Langur which is one of the most endangered primates in the world.

Visitors can also get fantastic hilltop views of the small island throughout the national park!

Trekking In Cat Ba National Park
Tourist in Vietnam Backpacker Enjoys the view of The Cat Ba National Park from the Viewpoint

5. Take A Scenic Flight Tour Of Halong Bay

Experience the breathtaking beauty of Halong Bay from a truly unique perspective – aboard a seaplane! Take in the stunning views of the karst formations of Halong Bay and Cat Ba island from above, and don’t miss the iconic Fighting Cocks Island, whose two rock formations resemble two cocks fighting.

Tours depart daily from Hanoi, offering 25-minute Halong Bay scenic flight trips starting at just 99 USD. Starting your unforgettable holiday with a seaplane ride before your cruise trip is the perfect way to elevate your trip to superstar status.

Out of all the things to do in Halong Bay, this is undoubtedly the most panoramic. It’s also probably the most romantic, which is why we recommend it as a climactic add-on to a Halong Bay Couples Cruise.

Currently, Hai Au Aviation is the only company offering this one-of-a-kind activity in Halong Bay.

Scenic Flight Tour Of Halong Bay
Experience the breathtaking beauty of Halong Bay from a truly unique perspective – aboard a seaplane!

6. Go Explore Caves – Journey Into The Mystical World!

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 caves of these are Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave), Thien Cung Cave (Paradise Cave), and Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave) on Bo Hon Island. 

Sung Sot Cave has two chambers that rise to a height of about 30 meters with a steep path, hence it’s perfect for spelunking. If you are a fan of folklore, there is also a legend about Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave) that might interest you.

sung sot cave
Sung Sot Cave is perfect for spelunking.

Take the opportunity to explore an underground cave. The oldest caves are at least two million years old with impressive chambers and amazing stalagmites and stalactites, Thien Cung Cave and Dau Go Grotto.

Another cave that you should not miss when you visit Ha Long Bay is the Hospital Cave. Cat Ba Hospital Cave was used as a secret hospital during the Vietnam War as it could not be bombed or even found. Nowadays, the Hospital Cave is one of the main tourist attractions in Cat Ba National Park.

Not done with caves? Read our guide to the best caves in Halong Bay!

7. Capture Your Memories – Taking Snap Insta-Worthy Photos

Make sure your camera has a lot of memory left before heading to Halong Bay. It is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and capturing this beauty in photos is one of the obligatory things to do in Halong Bay. You’ll find yourself rewarded with vista upon stunning vista.

As your boat tour rounds Cat Ba Island, Tuan Chau Island, or one of the lesser-known islets, you’ll be greeted by a completely fresh view of towering limestone cliffs. From high up on some of the islands to going deep in the underwater territory of others, you will capture some of the most Insta-worthy photos of your trip yet.

Running out of ideas? Read on for more insta worthy locations.

halong bay cruise
Dreamy sunsets & landscapes are common in Halong Bay.

8. Feast On Fresh Seafood – Best Things To Do In Halong Bay For Foodies

Lovers of seafood will find their haven in Halong Bay! The food onboard some of the cruise boats is truly exceptional. Apart from being on deck, there is an abundance of seafood all over the place, fresh and affordable.

You could also simply stop by a floating village or even make your own self barbecue fire pits by the beach to enjoy fish or other seafood.

Insider tips: Seafood is always best served fresh and it comes no fresher than fishing it out of the water and tossing it straight on the grill!

A real foody? Here’s the ultimate guide to Halong Bay food!

halong bay sea food
Find delicious seafood in food markets and on a Halong Bay cruise!

9. Go Scuba Diving And Snorkeling

Most Halong Bay cruises offer the fantastic opportunity to go scuba diving or snorkeling around the famed karst of the bay.

Immerse yourself in the depths of the marine waters, and enjoy up to 163 kinds of colorful corals, including red and forest corals. You could also explore deep grottoes and seagrass beds that are home to sea turtles and sea horses on your scuba trip.

For divers, take a boat ride into the sea, and explore what lies below the emerald waters. There are plenty of PADI-authorized operators in the area for a safe and memorable experience.

Insider tips: Don’t forget your underwater camera!

Unlock 10 mind-blowing Halong Bay facts that will leave you breathless!

Scuba Diving in halong bay
Go diving in Halong Bay to discover tropical fish and coral reefs.

10. Climb Bai Tho Mountain

Rock climbing is one of the most appealing things to do in Halong Bay! The hills are alive and ready for rock climbers. Imagine seeing one of the Natural Wonders of the World from atop one of those rock formations!

Bai Tho Mountain or Poem Mountain is the mountain of choice, standing at 200 meters tall, it is located in the heart of Halong city. This mountain is quite special: half of its foothills rove over the land, and the other half is immersed in the ocean.

Its peak is an ideal location for you to admire the entirety of the bay and the city from above, and it is well worth the hike.

For more details, check out our article on Bai Tho Mountain: discover Ha Long from the top!

Climb Bai Tho Mountain
Enjoy amazing views from the top of Bai Tho mountain.

11. Ride The World’s Highest Cable Car

Budding landscape photographers flock to the Sunworld Amusement Park, which offers one of the best all-encompassing views of the UNESCO site!

The park’s main attraction is the Queen’s Cable Car, which provides panoramic views. This cable car holds a couple of Guinness World Records as the biggest reversible aerial tramway, capable of carrying up to 230 passengers, and the highest cable car, at a height of 188.88 meters.

It’s no surprise that tourists consider Sunworld Amusement Park as one of the top things to do in Halong Bay. The ride is comfortable, and the price is affordable, at 300k for adults and 200k for children under 1.3m.

Insider tip: If you’re looking for the golden hour, we know the best places to capture the best sunrise and sunset in Halong Bay.

halong bay Cable Car
Find Halong city & Bai Chay bridge aerial views from the cable car in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam

12. Go Sea Kayaking And Canoeing

The tourist boats cannot navigate some of the narrow channels that cut between some of the 1960 islands, 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.

The best places for these activities are the beaches like Tuan Chau, Bai Chay, Bai Dai, Quan Lan, Ti Top, and Tra Co. On a side note, Bai Chay is the closest beach to Halong Bay!

Discover more beautiful beaches of Halong Bay!

Kayaking in halong bay
Families love rowing a kayak in Halong Bay!

13. Be Amazed By the Sun World Halong Complex

Sun World Halong Complex is the epitome of amusement, excitement, and endless joy! The complex covers 214 hectares of land and is divided into two sections:

  • The Mystic Mountain Complex is known as the Ba Deo Hill Park.
  • The Coastal Amusement Complex.

The Queen Cable Car connects the two sections of the park and stretches 2km over the sea to reach Ba Deo Amusement Park.

Some must-visit attractions on Ba Deo Hill include the Zen Garden, the indoor game zone, and the Mysterious Castle. Of particular note is the Sun Wheel Halong, one of the tallest Ferris wheels in the world.

Sun World is a great family activity, as it has rides for every thrill tolerance, from gentle rides to white-knuckle roller coasters. As such, it’s a great way to reacustom yourselves to the land after a family cruise in Halong.

Sun World Halong Complex
Sun World Halong park and Bai Chay bridge.

14. Visit A Floating Village – Explore Life On The Water!

Visit the floating villages of Halong Bay to understand the unique culture of the people living within a UNESCO Heritage site.

Floating villages have existed for hundreds of years. By far one of the most famous is Cua Van floating village, with its brightly-painted huts and fishing boats. It has over 700 villagers and about 170 families, most of whom rely on fishing.

Come here to experience local life for yourself! Go to a tranquil and peaceful area, Cua Van Village to experience local life for yourself. Join the fisherman to take a boat trip and try your hand at night squid fishing, dragging fishing nets, and prawning.

Have a look at The Story Behind Halong Bay’s Floating Villages if you are interested.

Floating Village in halong bay
Floating houses at the Cua Van floating village, Halong Bay, Vietnam

15. Go Night Squid Fishing

As night falls on Halong Bay, flashlights can be seen all over the place, displaying the activity of night squid fishing. Most tour boats offer you the opportunity to test your skills at catching squid, providing a lovely way to enjoy the beautiful evenings in the Bay while surrounded by the huge squids that only make an appearance at night.

The squids are attracted to the light and will hopefully take the bait. Certain times of the year are better than others, but it is always fun to be out on deck in the stillness of the night, enjoying a beer and trying to catch these local delicacies.

Squid Fishing
Catch squid with local help and have your cruise ship chefs prepare it for dinner!

16. Find Serenity On Lan Ha Bay Beaches And Islands

Lan Ha Bay, located just off the south and east coasts of Cat Ba Island, is the next big thing in the world of UNESCO heritage sites. Due to its sustainability and eco-friendly tourism policies, Lan Ha is unspoiled and uncrowded in comparison to Ha Long, with a number of ‘hidden gem’ locations still left to explore!

Lan Ha Bay certainly rivals Halong Bay when it comes to its stunning natural beauty, with the bonus of being much quieter and less touristy. Encompassing over 300 karst islands and islets, the bay has some absolutely gorgeous pristine beaches for you to enjoy. It is a perfect spot if you are looking to do some rock climbing too.

The best way to experience the bay is on one of Lan Ha Bay’s luxury cuises.

Not sure if a long-day cruise is for you? Why not try a Halong Bay day cruise first!

auco activities 8
Lounging at a Lan Ha Bay beach with a glass of wine is the highlight of many cruise-goers!

17. Get Lost In Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay is located in the far east of Halong Bay. The bay is very quiet since it is not as famous as Halong Bay or Cat Ba Island. Bai Tu Long Bay caters to fewer tourists than the other attractions in the region, which makes it perfect for people looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience.

Make sure to visit Vung Vieng Floating Village, one of the famous floating villages in the area. It is located in the center of Bai Tu Long Bay and is about 40 km from Halong City. Bai Tu Long Bay was a trade gateway between Vietnam and China, making this village a prime spot for traders and merchants.

Not sure which bay suits you? Consult our guide to the big 3 bays in Halong!

bai tu long bay
Bai Tu Long Bay is one of the most stunning things to see and should be on everyone’s bucket list. // Photo by Kristine T Pham Photography

18. Discover The Hidden Underground Wonders Of Cannon Fort!

Cannon Fort can be found on Cat Ba Island. For the best panoramic views of the island, head to the top of the 177-meter hill where the fort is located.

Constructed during the Japanese occupation, Cannon Fort was later used by the French and Vietnamese during more recent conflicts. Visitors can explore two preserved artillery gun emplacements, a small museum, and underground tunnels.

Learn insider tips on how to save money on your Halong Bay cruise?

Cannon Fort
See models of soldiers on the battlefield in Cannon Fort.

19. Go Trekking or Camping Off the Grid

Ha Long Bay is surrounded by a few islands, like Ban Sen Island and Van Gio Island, that are totally off the grid. They are not even mentioned by most tourist publications, so many people — even Halong City locals — may not have heard of them. The islands make great spots for trekking and even setting up camp for the night, as they’re both safer and less regulated than the more popular islands like Cat Ba Island or Tuan Chau Island.

Ban Sen Island is a thickly forested island with only a few inhabitants. Trekking on the island can make you feel like you’ve gone back in time to a prehistoric era.

Van Gio Island is less forested and more of a beach-lovers paradise, with white sand beaches and limestone pillars making it a beautiful spot. It’s still just as secluded, however. The island has hiking opportunities, exploring local villages, and enjoying the natural beauty of the area without the crowds typically found in more popular spots in Ha Long Bay.

Go Trekking in Halong Bay

20. Visit Quang Ninh Museum

Most things to do in Halong Bay or the surrounding area are about enjoying the natural beauty in the great outdoors, so it will likely be a welcome change to head inside for a more intellectual form of stimulation. The Quang Ninh Museum is spread out over several floors and houses a diverse range of exhibits.

One section of the museum is dedicated to the natural history of Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This includes geological formations, local flora and fauna, and information on the ecological system of the bay.

Another wing of the museum showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the various ethnic groups that inhabit the region, providing visitors with an understanding of the area’s rich cultural diversity.

The Quang Ninh Museum building itself is pretty spectacular, too. The building’s exterior resembles a giant mirror reflecting the bay and sky. This design integrates the museum seamlessly with its surroundings in Ha Long City.

Quang Ninh Museum

Frequently Asked Questions

With so much to see and do, it’s no surprise that visitors frequently inquire about the best activities and attractions in the region. We’ll address some of the most commonly asked questions about the best things to do in Halong Bay in this area so you can make the most of your visit.

Getting to Halong is now a lot easier than it used to be, thanks to recent upgrades in infrastructure, particularly roadworks. By far, the most commonly used departure cities are the capital, Hanoi, and the industrial city of Hai Phong.

From Hanoi, you can book a cruise package that includes a two-way transfer. Via Halong Hub, you may also book a private car transfer or travel in style by going on a seaplane tour.

From Hai Phong, there are three options: taxi, bus, and ferry. To travel by ferry, you will need to go to Ben Binh Terminal, and then the ferry will take you to Cai Vieng or Cat Ba.

The best way to decide whether to go to Halong Bay from Hai Phong or Hanoi is by first booking your cruise. The cruise will often advise on and even include complimentary transfers from their destination of choice.

Read on for more tips on getting to Halong Bay.

For most travelers planning to visit Vietnam’s top tourist destination, a commonly asked question is “How many days should I stay in Halong Bay?”

While there is no right or wrong answer, most tourists who visit Halong Bay go on a 1 to 2-night cruise and often spend another night on Cat Ba island. If you have a tight timeline, you will probably only get to visit Halong Bay. However, if you have the luxury of time, you should look for a cruise ship that goes to Lan Ha or Bai Tu Long Bays. This will allow you to explore and see the hidden side of this UNESCO gem.

Get more travelers’ insights on how many days to stay in Halong Bay!

Swimming in Halong Bay is so much fun! Have you ever tried jumping off a luxury cruise ship into its pristine waters?

Definitely! This World Heritage Site is widely regarded as one of the best places to swim in Vietnam, thanks to its numerous clear and unpolluted waters. Halong Bay is not only perfect for sunbathing, but it’s also an ideal spot for taking a refreshing dip in the emerald-colored waters.

The best locations for swimming are areas where the water is calm and the beaches are not overcrowded. Swimming in Halong Bay is a unique and unforgettable experience that you shouldn’t miss, and it’s even better when you do it from a cruise ship!

swimming in halong bay
Swimming in Halong Bay is full of fun. Have you ever jumped off a luxury cruise ship before?

Find The Best Cruise In Halong Bay With Halong Hub!

Halong Bay is an astonishingly beautiful and breathtaking place. Whether you love sitting by the beach, looking for adrenaline thrills, or hoping to try your hand at a cooking class, there is something for you at Halong Bay on your cruise. We also interviewed some travel bloggers for an insider’s look at Halong Bay!

Visit our About Us page to learn why we are the experts, And, if you’re not sure which cruise options suit you, don’t hesitate to request a quote. We’ll help you find the best cruise to make your dream vacation a reality!

Visiting this great destination should be on everyone’s bucket list. You will find that the activities to do here are endless – be sure to pick your favorites from our list!

If you are ready to set sail, simply choose your cruise and let the adventure begin!

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