15 Fascinating Things To Do in Halong Bay

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, famed throughout the world for its scenic beauty, has long been regarded as a top destination for a relaxing cruise holiday. Apart from just cruising, there are so many things to do in Halong Bay. Here are our top 15 fascinating and fun activities to keep you busy on your next trip to Halong Bay.

Just as an extra titbit, we had the opportunity to chat with some of our avid traveler friends and they too loved their time in Halong Bay. So much so, they were happy to share some of their most cherished moments and experiences with us.

1. Seaplane Tours

A 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 USD. This is the way superstars see Halong Bay. Hai Au Aviation is currently the only company offering this stunning opportunity.

View Halong bay on seaplane
View Halong bay on seaplane

(1) Describe a defining moment or experience that will lock Halong Bay in your heart for years to come?

See what Sam Van den HauteCheckOutSam had to say about his seaplane experience. It could be you next!

This is not really an easy question to answer, because there is so much to see and explore around Halong Bay!

However, since I do love a great view, I think I have two experiences which made me fall in love with this place even more.

During my three day cruise, we hiked to the top of Titov Island. It sure is a heavy work-out this early in the morning, but the views that you get from this vantage point are absolutely stunning. The blue and green hues of Halong combined with the yellow, purple and orange colors of a sunrise, create even more spectacular scenery.

The earlier you get here, the longer you can enjoy it on your own. If you wish to cool down afterward, you can relax at the beach on this island. Perfect start of the morning!

Another experience that I absolutely loved, was my scenic flight over Halong Bay. With a small seaplane, you’ll soar up above Halong in just minutes. The landscapes that you’ll see are absolutely out of this world. Only from this high, you get to see the vastness of this region. Besides the lush green islands, you’ll also get to see Halong city from above. The ride only takes about half an hour, but it might just be the best thirty minutes of your whole visit!

sam-van-den-haute
Sam Van den Haute

(2) How is Halong Bay unique by comparison to any other destination you have ever visited?

The magic that is surrounding this place is incredible. Once you set sail and float right next to these tiny islands, you’ll fall in love right away. Or well, at least I did.

I don’t really get why people are talking about Halong Bay as being too crowded with boats, because I think that these are only contributing to the magic of this place. Especially the traditional boats! It almost feels as if you’re part of an expedition that is out to discover a whole new world.

After a while, cruises tend to get boring but that definitely did not happen during my trip. There’s just way too much to see and do. Besides the boat ride, you can also rent a kayak, visit one of the (very interesting!) oyster farms and even visit the ‘insides’ of such an island. Honestly, there’s plenty to explore and there are still plenty of undiscovered places in this huge area.

2. 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. Contact any one of the Halong Hub travel agents, they would be more than happy to assist you with all your travel queries.

halon-bay-parasailing

3. Make a Whistle-stop at Cat Ba Island

This island is usually a short visit frequently made by passers-by to Halong Bay and for good reason. Everyone marvels at the ancient fishing port before moving on to other parts of the island. The Jurassic Park-like feel to the island creates a sense of exploration not usually experienced in other islands across Vietnam. One of the things to do in Halong Bay is to grab a rental bike, explore some of the scenic spots and get some home-cooked lunch around some of the local villages on the island.

biking-cat-ba-island

Insider tip: Find out why the famed Cat Ba Island is an adventure you don’t want to miss.

4. Go trekking

Cat Ba Island National Park has some very rich diversity. Go on a trek through its jungle-like terrain to see it in depth. This area is home to some very colorful wildlife and plants, one worth mentioning is the Langur mammal. The Langur is almost part of the landscape and a creature full of amusement. Visitors can also get fantastic hilltop views of the jungle-like scenery throughout the park. Another great part of this activity is the feeling of satisfaction after a healthy day trekking around natural wonders.

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5. 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 favorite, and one of the most popular things to do in Halong Bay. Why not try a cruise that offers a cooking class, or massage? Personalize the boat trip to make it a valuable memory for you.

cruises-halong-bay

Insider tip: Speak directly with a Halong Hub cruise travel agent and find out about all the latest cruise deals on offer.

Cruises are about relaxing, and that’s exactly what Sarah and NathanExploring Kiwis did on their family cruise trip in Halong Bay.

(1) Describe a defining moment or experience that will lock Halong Bay in your heart for years to come?

For the first time in a long time, we traveled with my family and it really was a pleasure sitting up on the top deck, enjoying the sunset with my mum, stepdad, hubby and all of our new-found friends. What a magical way to end the day.

sarah-and-nathan
Sarah and Nathan

(2) How is Halong Bay unique by comparison to any other destination you have ever visited?

With its towering limestone cliffs, the bays really were unlike anywhere else we’d been. We’d certainly recommend a visit to Halong Bay (or even better, Bai Tu Long Bay where you’ll see fewer tourists and cleaner oceans).

More about cruising from Jessica Norah – a travel blogger at Independent Travel Cats.

(1) Describe a defining moment or experience that will lock Halong Bay in your heart for years to come?

We really enjoyed staying overnight during our boat cruise at Halong Bay. It was wonderful to have plenty of time to relax, do activities like kayaking, hiking, and cooking classes, and to really enjoy the beautiful scenery.

jessica-norah
Jessica Norah

(2) How is Halong Bay unique by comparison to any other destination you have ever visited?

It was our first overnight boat cruise in Asia at that point so that was a unique thing about it for us. But also it is amazing to see the wonderful unique beauty of this area with its rock formations, little islands, and beautiful bays.

6. 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. Perhaps even taking a speedboat into some of these caves can offer an adventurous way to explore these wonderful grottos.

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Sung Sot Cave – Supprise Cave

Insider Trip: If you are crazy about caves check out the Top 5 Halong Bay caves worth visiting.

7. 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 upon 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 going deep in the underwater territory of others, you will capture some of the most Insta-worthy photos of your trip yet.

photography-halong-bay

8. Eating Fresh Seafood

Lovers of great seafood will find their haven in Halong Bay; the food on board some of the cruise boats is exceptional. Seafood is the staple cuisine for many of the cruise boat menus. Simply stopping off on an island and enjoying barbecued fish and squid on a quiet beach will give you an even bigger appetite to explore the wonders of Halong Bay. 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.

hai san halong bay foods
Many kinds of seafood can be found in Halong

9. See life under the bay: Diving and Snorkeling

Diving and snorkeling are definitely two of the things to do in Halong Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage Site portrays vivid images of up to 163 kinds of colourful coral, in addition to a diverse ecosystem of marine life, unique to the area. Most enjoy taking a boat trip and using a snorkel to see the fascinating world below. It’s a breath-taking experience. For a more tantalising view, why not take a deep dive into the sea? There are a variety of PADI authorised operators around Halong Bay. These guys will help you enjoy a safe and memorable experience. Don’t forget the underwater camera!

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10. Watersports: Kayaking and Canoeing

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.

halong bay weather in july is perfect for kayaking

What better way to experience the bay than slowly drifting across the glassy waters in a kayak soaking up your surrounds? We think Nathaniel HakeTravel Lemming would concur.

(1) Describe a defining moment or experience that will lock Halong Bay in your heart for years to come?

My favorite memory of Halong Bay is simply kayaking through the still waters of Bai Tu Long Bay (my favorite part of the bay – and one that I think many people forget about). I love simply listening to the sounds of the waves and birds as the mist slowly lifts off the water, slowly revealing Halong Bay’s majestic karsts as I softly paddle through the water. Tranquil. Natural. Gorgeous. Really, there aren’t enough adjectives to describe the beauty of the bay.

nathaniel-hake
Nathaniel Hake

(2) How is Halong Bay unique by comparison to any other destination you have ever visited?

The limestone karsts are obviously the key attraction at Halong Bay and, while you can find them elsewhere (for example in Krabi, Thailand), you won’t find them in the same concentration or this far out in the water anywhere else. The bay is certainly deserving of its UNESCO status and the tourism it’s receiving, though I hope that visitors will be respectful of the bay so that we can preserve it for generations to come.

Drew Unsworth, the travel blogger behind the website Points Brotherhood, also took an unforgettable experience!

(1) Describe a defining moment or experience that will lock Halong Bay in your heart for years to come?

I went for the morning kayak and within five minutes I was totally on my own with not a person in sight. The islands are like a giant maze and all the other visitors and boats disappeared in it. It was such a unique experience.

drew-unsworth
Drew Unsworth

(2) How is Halong Bay unique by comparison to any other destination you have ever visited?

There is so much you can pack into 24 hours at Halong Bay: Kayaking, fine dining, visiting caves, cooking class, tai chi, swimming, happy hour and of course seeing Halong Bay itself. It that gets too much you can always retreat to your private balcony and watch the the islands of Halong Bay float by. We had heard from our friends and seen picture but they do not reflect the natural wonder of the bay. 

11. A panoramic view of the bay

Budding landscape photographers head to the Sunworld Amusement Park in their droves. It offers one of the best all-embracing views of the UNESCO Site. The big attraction is the Queen’s Cable Car from which panoramic views abound. It was awarded the cabin with the largest capacity in the world, 230 people, and the highest cable car in the world, 188.88 meters, by the Guinness World Records Organizations. It’s no surprise Vietnamese tourists have coined the Sunworld Amusement park as one of the top things to do in Halong Bay. Not only is it a comfortable ride but it is very affordable, at 300k for adults and 200k for children (under 1.3m). It’s free for small children. Just head to Ba Deo Park and follow the Halong Bay sky route!

panoramic-view-queen-cable-car
Photo by @march.rain

Insider tip: if it’s the golden hour you’re chasing, we know just the places to capture the best sunrise and sunset in Halong Bay.

12. Climb those bewildering hills: Bai Tho Mountain

People are considering that one of the things to do in Halong Bay is to go rock climbing. The hills are alive and ready for rock climbers. Imagine seeing one of the Natural Wonders of the World from atop of one of those rocks! Better yet, imagine getting a selfie there! Bai Tho is the mountain of choice. There are plenty of hills around to get you to the top and find that moment that no one has had before. Have a look around for routes and journeys to the peak of different hills in the area. Climbing solo or group climbs, guides and equipment are available to help you gain this amazing one-off experience in Halong Bay.

bai-tho-mountain

13. The legendary fable of Trinh Nu caves

Sitting proud on the list of things to do in Halong Bay, myth and folklore enthusiasts travel from far and wide to visit the famed Trinh Nu caves. The fable of the Trinh Nu cave remains a treasured memory amongst the locals. The story is that of a beautiful girl who fell in love with a fisherman. The fisherman worked hard to save money for their future life together. However, the girl’s family were controlled by the rich landlord in the area. This landlord was captivated by the girl’s exuberant beauty and wanted the girl as a concubine. The girl refused and so she was banished to an isolated island. She never saw anyone again and had to salvage for food and water on the island. After a terrible storm, it is said the girl froze and turned to stone. Her shape is rumored to be in this cave, which we now know as the Virgin Cave.

trinh-nu-cave
Photo by @callmekadin

14. 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.

Cua Van floating village Halong Bay
Cua Van floating village is the most well known as well as the biggest village among all. Source: IG @mypontofview

Recently, the government directed the residents to move inland in an 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. Truly live like a local for the day and learn about their way of life.

Authentic experiences are what make vacations unique. The floating villages were certainly a first for Bruno BarrosoGeeky Explorer.

(1) Describe a defining moment or experience that will lock Halong Bay in your heart for years to come?

For me, kayaking amongst the towering limestone cliffs was my favorite time in Halong Bay.

I love kayaking itself, but doing it in such an amazing scenario in a quiet area of the Bay with no boats, was truly memorable.

bruno-barroso
Bruno Barroso

(2) How is Halong Bay unique by comparison to any other destination you have ever visited?

Well, I’m sure there aren’t many places like this in the world! Obviously, the landscape is magnificent and it’s not every day that you see beautiful limestone islands scattered all the way until the horizon. Personally, I loved the fishing villages and the pearl farms, something I’ve never seen anywhere else. I’m usually a fan of independent trips, but Halong Bay is a unique place to board a boat, sit down, and enjoy the ride.

15. 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 opportunity to try your hand at squid fishing – A lovely way to enjoy the beautiful evenings in Halong Bay while surrounded by exciting forms of life that make their appearance only at night. The squid will be attracted to the light and hopefully take the bait. Certain times of the year are better than others, but it is always fun to be out on the deck in the still of the night, enjoying a beer and trying to catch these local delicacies.

halong-bay-squid-fishing

Finding things to do in Halong Bay will be the least of your worries, but rather how many days will I need in this magnificent part of the world. Contact Halong Hub today and let one of our Travel advisors assist you with a Halong Bay cruise getaway of a lifetime.

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