Famous throughout the world for its staggering scenery and rich culture, visitors can experience this by visiting any number of the top Halong Bay attractions.
The Halong Bay region is home to nearly 2,000 islands, 59 discovered caves and grottoes, and hundreds of beaches- many of which remain vastly undisturbed by modern tourism. Nature lovers and adventurous travelers are drawn to Halong for its wild exploration potential and to appreciate the rich wildlife, flora, fauna, marine life, and coral reefs (to name just a few).
The natural world aside, there are so many things that travelers can do while visiting the bay; from workshops and masterclasses, to activities and explorations; the best way to get involved with these experiences is to visit some of the best Halong Bay attractions – here’s our top 10:
1. Bai Tu Long Bay
Sitting to the northeast of Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay is the lesser known neighbour of the famous World Heritage site. Boasting hundreds of its own karst formations, Bai Tu Long Bay easily challenges the scenic beauty of Halong and yet far fewer tourists make the trip this far north- in effect, this part of the Halong region is much less populous.
Caves, grottoes, beaches and islands are among the top Halong Bay attractions, and Bai Tu Long Bay has plenty of each- without the crowds. Highlights of the area include the ancient Thien Canh Son Cave, the colourful houses at Vung Vieng floating village, the untouched paradise of Ban Chan Beach, and Cong Do area.
Cruises that go here: Azalea Cruise, Dragon Pearl Cruise, Garden Bay Luxury Cruise, Garden Bay Premium Cruise, Glory Legend Cruise, Orchid Cruise, Pelican Cruise, Royal Wings Cruise, Signature Cruise, Signature Royal Cruise
2. Lan Ha Bay
Not unlike Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay is a quieter, less touristy alternative to the main area in Halong. Lan Ha Bay has its own collection of nearly 400 limestone karsts, as well as a staggering 139 beaches scattered throughout.
Belonging to the larger Cat Ba archipelago, Lan Ha Bay is best explored by kayak or sail boat, both of which can easily be rented on Cat Ba Island. Taking to the waters yourself is the ideal way to explore some of the more secluded areas of the coastline and access the hard-to-reach spots that the cruises tend to avoid.
3. Vung Vieng Fishing Village
Floating villages are one of the most popular Halong Bay attractions, and of the four remaining intact, Vung Vieng Fishing Village is easily the favourite. The village’s colourful houses sit nestled in between a collection of towering limestone mountains, floating on their own in the vast, misty scenery.
Travelers tend to come to Vung Vieng seeking an ‘authentic’ experience and a glimpse at traditional Halong culture, which the locals here are more than happy to share through their assorted workshops and displays. Visitors can try their own hand at traditional fishing techniques, net weaving, and even learn a few things about pearl harvesting.
4. Cat Ba Island
The largest of all the islands in Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island< is a haven for landscape lovers and active travelers looking to get in amongst nature. As the largest island in the region, Cat Ba Island is also the main part of the larger archipelago of the same name.
Most of the island is comprised of the Cat Ba National Park, and so a vast portion of the wildlife here falls under the protection of the park. The area is filled with winding hiking trails- some gentle, some challenging- and a handful of truly impressive vantage points from which to view the entire island.
Cat Ba Island has become one of the top Halong Bay attractions not only for its staggering natural beauty, but also for its ecological work; the island is home to the world’s most endangered primate- the golden-headed langur (keep an eye out for them while you’re there, you’ve got about 70 chances to spot one!).
Cruises that go here: Azalea Cruise
5. Titop Island
Titop Island has long been included on many cruises itineraries as one of the ‘must-see’ Halong Bay attractions, thanks to the view from the vantage point at the center of the island as well as the tourist-friendly beach down below.
The island itself is rather small, and these days due to the increasing numbers of tourist boats that stop here it tends to be quite full. However, arriving in the morning will give you a head start against the crowds, and ample chance to hike up to 400 odd steps to reach the viewpoint where you can kick back in the gazebo for a little while and enjoy the awesome views of the surrounding bay.
6. Sung Sot Cave
The caves and grottoes are among the most coveted Halong Bay attractions, and while there are 59 discovered caves already on the official registrar, experts reckon that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sung Sot Cave holds a special place among the other 58 as one of the largest caves in all of the Halong Bay region.
The inner caverns are wide, tall, and surprisingly spacious, which makes walking around inside comfortable and easy. Stalactites and stalagmites adorn the cave’s interior, some of which meet to form full pillars and all sorts of interesting shapes; the locals will take any chance they can get to share the ‘legend’ of each one of these formations (dragons, demons, and dwarves all play a part, so get ready to be imaginative!).
7. Thien Cung Cave
Just a few short kilometers to the north of another Halong Bay attraction- Da Gau Island- is Thien Cung Cave, yet another of Halong’s legend-laden grottoes. This is where finding a good cruise guide comes in handy; while in Thien Cung, quiz them about the “Dragon King’s Palace” and find out all about the myth surrounding this cave.
Cruises that go here: Coming soon!
8. Tuan Chau Island
The entire area only covers 2.2 kilometers, but despite its size, Tuan Chau Island packs a punch. A newly developed tourist zone just outside Halong City, Tuan Chau is one of the top Halong Bay attractions for those looking to enjoy some recreational activities and beachside resorts.
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is one of the island’s most important features, built in honour of the man himself who used to visit Tuan Chau on his holidays.
9. Ban Chan Beach
If solitude on a beautiful beach is what you’re looking for, Ban Chan Beach will tick all your boxes. Tucked away in a back corner of Bai Tu Long Bay, Ban Chan offers white sands, crystalline waters, and a break from the crowds of the main Halong Bay area.
Swimming, snorkeling, and beach volleyball are all on the cards here, but our top recommendation is to take out a kayak and cruise around the coastline a little bit- it won’t be difficult to find yourself a piece of paradise all for yourself.
10. Co To Island
Co To Island is a name only passed around by people who are “in the know”, as they say, and that’s exactly why it’s retained a sense of authenticity, isolation, and undisturbed natural scenery to this day.
Between the white sandy beaches, the turquoise water, the craggy cliff faces, the cheap and delicious seafood, Co To Island is so much more than just another Halong Bay attraction. Beach activities, trekking, and motorbike road trips are the list-toppers while visiting Co To.
Cruises that go here: Coming soon!
Did we miss anything? What do you think are the most magnificent Halong Bay attractions? Let us know!