Inexplicable beauty, otherworldly surroundings, are just a few words that spring to mind when trying to explain why everyone should visit Halong Bay. Exploring best things what to do in Halong Bay Tours from Hanoi.
Many of the islands are also home to famous caves where you can go spelunking and although Halong Bay can get quite busy during the high season, there are still some secluded spots to uncover if you are willing to island hop. If you prefer to stay in the thick of things, then you can enjoy seafood barbecues, sea kayaking and a whole host of attractions in the main towns such as forts and other monuments.
Take a cruise
If you truly want to see all the beauty of Halong Bay then you need to take to the water and sign up for a boat cruise
There are a huge number of companies to choose from and you can go island hopping in Halong Bay
With some 2,000 islands to choose from, you will have lots of different options about where you want to go and what you want to see, from the main ‘big hits’ to less well known and smaller islands.
Many of the boats used are built in the traditional style and are known as ‘junk boats’. Depending on the tour operator you can also enjoy a buffet meal as part of the cruise or even stay on the boat overnight for a truly memorable cruising experience.
Read more: How to choose best Halong Bay cruise
Halong bay cave
Halong Bay Cave is located at Bon Hon Island and you will need to hike up a steep path to get here, although it is worth the effort for the inner views.
There are two different chambers in the cave which soar to a height of some 30 meters
The inner chamber is known for having a number of stone formations that are said to look like sentries lining up and there is even a stone in the center of the cave that looks like a general talking to his troops.
As the light streams across the water and makes flickering patterns on the inside of the cave, it looks as if the formations are coming to life.
Visit Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island is the most popular attraction in Halong Bay and it is also the biggest island in this part of Vietnam.
The island sits around an ancient fisherman’s port and as such has a relaxed atmosphere that makes it the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
One of the best things to do here is to rent a bicycle and ride to the idyllic countryside just outside the main town
This is also the spot where many of the boats leave for island trips so it makes a good place to base yourself while you are in Halong Bay.
Read more: What to do in Cat Ba island
Recommended Tour from Hanoi: Ninh Binh Halong Bay Tour 4 Days
Take a cycling tour
Halong Bay is well known for its laid back atmosphere and if you want to check this out for yourself then you need to rent yourself a bicycle.
There are bicycle tours that you can take all over the region, or you can go it alone and explore at your leisure.
There is no better way to tour Halong Bay than by cycling down to the various beaches on Cat Ba Island and the going for a refreshing swim at the end of a long bike ride.
Check out Fighting Cocks Island
Fighting Cocks Island is called Hon Ga Choi in Vietnamese and this is also one of the best known landmarks in the Halong Bay area
The island is made up of two large rocks that jut out of the sea and resemble two cockerels fighting
The best time to visit the island is at sunset as the sky looks stunning when it sets behind the two pretty stone formations.
Go night squid fishing
Anyone who is a night owl should consider a popular night time activity in Halong Bay which is night squid fishing.
When you sign up, you will be provided with a fishing rod and you will be able to take in large shoals of squid which swim around in these waters after darkness falls.
One you have caught the fish, you can also enjoy a barbecue as the staff will show you how to barbecue these delicious sea creatures.
Visit Lan Ha Bay
Halong Bay is a very popular destination in Vietnam which means that many of the islands get crowded in the high season.
With that in mind, if you want to explore a quieter part of the region, then consider a trip to Lan Ha Bay. The island is known for white sandy beaches and there are a plethora of activities on offer here.
These include swimming, rock climbing and sea kayaking and you can also visit the Cai Beo Floating Village.
This is one of the oldest floating residential areas in Vietnam so if you want to see a slice of history then this is not to be missed.
Recommended Tour: Ninh Binh Lan Ha Bay Tour 4 Days from Hanoi
Dine on seafood barbecue
Halong Bay is located by the sea, and so it stands to reason that there is a plethora of seafood on offer here.
Many of the restaurants here are located along the central beaches and you can dine with your feet in the sand and sample the freshest catch of the day.
Just some of these include baked king prawns as well as squid, crab, and lobster.
If you prefer there are also self-barbecue fire pits where you can have a go at cooking your own dinner.
Sleep on a boat
When you book a hotel in Halong Bay, you may not realize that there are a whole host of different options.
You can of course stay in a traditional hotel, but if you fancy a change then you can also sleep on a boat.
There are a number of boats that also operate as hotels and you can choose from large cruisers to smaller, traditional junks.
You can star gaze from the deck of the boat and drift off to sleep lulled by the ocean waves for a completely unique hotel experience in Halong Bay.
Shop at Bai Chay Market
If you want to sample some of the local produce in Halong Bay then one of the best places to do this is at Bai Chay Market.
This is a local Vietnamese market in Halong Bay and you will find huge heaps of fresh fruit and vegetables here as well as plenty of seafood.
You can also buy other local items like clothing and textiles so this is a good spot to visit if you want to stock up on souvenirs.
Take a sea plane
If you want to splash out and see Halong Bay from a height then consider signing up for a tour on a sea plane.
This part of Vietnam is known for its karst formations, and there is no better way to see these than from the air.
The seaplane rides in Halong Bay will take you up to a height of 300 meters above the water and you will fly over spots of interest like Dau Go Cave, Tuan Chau Island and plenty of other highlights.
Go kayaking around the karst formations
Anyone looking for an adventure at Halong Bay should consider going kayaking
This is kayaking with a twist however, as the sea here is studded with eerie rising karst formations that jut out of the water.
If you want to explore these up close therefore, then you need to get into a kayak and get out on the water, and the conditions in Halong Bay are perfect as the seas are calm and the visibility is excellent.
Tuan Chau Island
The island is considered as the most beautiful of the nearly 2,000 islands in Ha Long Bay, and is also the only island inhabited. Therefore, Tuan Chau Island is one of the most attractive places for tourists to Ha Long. Any tourist coming to Halong should spend a day here to discover what to do in Halong bay. There are also lots of famous restaurant in Tuan Chau where you can enjoy the most fresh seafood.
Co To island
Co Island attracts tourists by nature as beautiful as poetry, a place for people to go after being busy with life. This place has been inspired for many poets and musicians. Along with that, beautiful coral reefs in the sea will stimulate your desire of exploration. Moreover, experiencing scuba diving to admire coral reefs in Co To makes you satisfied.
Co To is a remote island. You might feel a little inconvenient when you first come here. But, then you will feel good because there is nothing to bother you here. No phone, no email, no work, no traffic. All you do here is relaxing and breathing.
Visit Floating Villages
Floating village is a interesting feature of the daily life of Halong Bay locals. For most of us, a cruise on the emerald clear green water of Halong Bay is a unique experience, so it might be hard to imagining living everyday life surrounded by the beauty of this well-known bay. However, for a large number of families of the traditional floating fishing villages in Halong Bay, water world is their second hometown. This sounds strange but it does. Rising and falling with the natural tide, these floating villages have been “warm” homes to many generations of fishermen in Halong Bay.
Sail to the Cua Van Floating Village
Enjoy a boat ride to the largest floating village in Halong Bay. The amazing water-based collection of houses is surrounded by stunning natural landmarks and plays a major role in their protection.
Take a Stroll Over Bai Chay Bridge
If you’re wondering, “what’s so special about a bridge?”. The answer is: the view at night
Take a stroll through the city and along the bridge, where you can watch a spectacular light show as Halong is bathed in colour. The bridge is also wonderfully decorated and provides the perfect family photo spot.
Bai Chay Bridge connects the bay area and the city, making it a major landmark in Halong Bay
Enjoy the Sun World Ha Long Park
If you’re looking for one of the best things to do in Halong City with your kids, this coastal fun park is amazing.
The entertainment complex is made up of the Dragon Park, Typhoon Waterpark and a sea-crossing cable car that makes for the ultimate view.
Visit the ferris wheel, which is a fantastic sight as it changes colour during Halong City’s light show. Enjoy running around to ride after ride, while taking in the sounds and sights of the city.
How to get Halong Bay from Hanoi? Hanoi to Halong Bay Private transfer
Recommended Hanoi Airport Transfer: Hanoi Pickup
Read more: Things to do and see in Northern Vietnam