Top 13 things to do in Halong Bay

Last updated - January 26, 2024
Top 13 things to do in Halong Bay

Halong Bay, located in Vietnam, is a world-renowned destination that is home to over 2000 impressive limestone islands. These islands are adorned with lush vegetation, making them perfect for leisurely walks. Many of the islands also house magnificent caves, adding to the allure of the region. Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it's not difficult to see why.

One of the best ways to experience Halong Bay is by taking a cruise. This allows visitors to get up close and personal with the islands and explore the many caves and floating villages that can be found in the area. The beauty of Halong Bay is truly breathtaking and should not be missed by any traveller looking to experience the best that Vietnam has to offer.

With its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Halong Bay is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Vietnam. Whether you're interested in exploring the many islands, taking a dip in the crystal-clear waters, or simply relaxing on a boat and enjoying the scenery, Halong Bay has something for everyone. Don't wait, Book your trip today and experience the magic of Halong Bay for yourself!


The reason to visit Halong Bay

There are multiple reasons why you should consider visiting Halong Bay.

Firstly, embark on a fantastic cruise and witness the stunning landscape that surrounds you.

The gorgeous landscape of Halong Bay

Secondly, engage in an adventurous activity such as kayaking or rock climbing to get your adrenaline pumping.

Thirdly, immerse yourself in the local life by visiting the floating villages and observing the unique way of life.

Fourthly, explore various islands with viewpoints and caves that will leave you in awe of the natural beauty.

Lastly, indulge in a romantic experience by opting for a luxury cruise, spa and dining in a cave that will create unforgettable memories.

Halong Bay offers a plethora of activities and experiences that cater to all types of travelers, making it an ideal destination for anyone seeking adventure, culture, and relaxation.

When is the best time to visit Halong Bay

When planning a trip to Halong Bay, it is important to consider the best time to visit in order to fully enjoy all that this stunning destination has to offer. For optimal weather conditions and comfortable temperatures, the ideal travel times are during the spring months of March and April, as well as the fall months of September and October. During these times, visitors can expect cool weather and the opportunity to experience the best of what Halong Bay has to offer.

For those who enjoy warm weather and swimming, the summer months from May to early September are a great time to visit. The bay is sunny and warm, with clear blue skies perfect for swimming and other water activities. However, it is important to note that there may be occasional light rain or even unexpected typhoons that could disrupt your cruise plans.

On the other hand, the winter months from November to March can be quite chilly, particularly in January and February, making it less than ideal for swimming. Additionally, foggy days and strong monsoons can be common during this period, making it important to plan accordingly.

The best time to visit Halong Bay depends on your personal preferences and what you hope to experience during your trip. Whether you prefer cool weather and sightseeing or warm weather and water activities, there is a time of year that will suit your needs. By carefully considering the weather patterns and planning accordingly, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable trip to this breathtaking destination.

Things to do in Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a destination that offers visitors an unforgettable experience with its thousands of islands and floating villages. However, there is more to discover beyond these sights. It is important to carefully select the cruise you book in order to make the most of your visit.

Many of the top attractions are included in the cruise package, so it is important to pay attention to the details. To help you plan your trip, we have compiled a list of the best things to do at Halong Bay. Whether you are interested in exploring caves, kayaking through secluded lagoons, or simply taking in the stunning scenery, Halong Bay has something to offer for everyone. Don't miss out on the opportunity to discover this breathtaking destination and all that it has to offer.

1. Taking an overnight Cruise through the Bay

The most popular activity in Halong Bay is taking a cruise. With a wide range of options available, from small to large boats, luxury to budget-friendly, and day trips to multi-day excursions, there is something for every type of traveller.

The calm waters of the bay ensure a smooth sailing experience, without any worry of seasickness. Moreover, there are plenty of activities to keep you engaged during the cruise, such as kayaking, cave exploration, swimming (in the right season), visiting floating villages, and hiking on the larger islands.

Overnight on a cruise with a great view of  Halong Bay

For those seeking a more relaxed experience, simply soaking in the stunning scenery of uninhabited islands and karst formations jutting out of the water is a great way to unwind after an active Vietnam vacation. Overall, cruising through Halong Bay is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed.

2. Cave Explore

Exploring the caves in Halong Bay is an essential activity for visitors to this stunning location. The cave system, which dates back thousands of years, is renowned for its unique geological and archaeological values, making it a must-see for first-timers.

The caves and grottoes are truly awe-inspiring, with intricate stalactites and stalagmites, and winding, mysterious chambers. Among the most notable are Surprising Cave, Thien Cung Cave, and Luon Cave in Halong Bay, as well as Dark and Bright Cave in Lan Ha Bay, and Thien Canh Son Cave in Bai Tu Long Bay. These caves are located on prominent islands and can be easily accessed by tender boats, making them ideal for visitors of all ages.

Explore the Sung Sot or Surprising cave in Halong Bay

Visiting these caves is a fascinating experience that provides a glimpse into the natural wonders of Halong Bay. Whether you are a seasoned explorer or a first-time visitor, the caves are sure to leave a lasting impression. So if you're planning a trip to Halong Bay, be sure to add cave exploring to your list of must-do activities.

3. Discover Lan Ha or Bai Tu Long

When you come to exploring the beautiful bays of Vietnam, most people think of Halong Bay. However, there are two other hidden gems that are equally stunning - Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay. Although smaller in size, these two bays are just as picturesque as Halong Bay, but with the added benefit of fewer tourists.

One of the biggest advantages of visiting Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay is that there are far fewer boats and visitors compared to Halong Bay. This means that you can enjoy the beauty of the bays without having to share it with a large crowd of travellers. You can explore the caves, beaches, and floating fishing villages at your own pace without feeling rushed or crowded.

The beauty of Lan Ha bay

It's true that both Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay are a bit further from the pier, which means you'll have to spend more time on the cruise to get there. However, the journey is worth it as you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views and a peaceful atmosphere that is hard to find in more popular tourist destinations.

About activities, both bays offer similar experiences to Halong Bay such as kayaking, exploring caves, and visiting local fishing villages. You can also enjoy fresh seafood and local cuisine, which is a must-try when you're in Vietnam.
If you're looking for a more peaceful and less crowded alternative to Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay are definitely worth considering. With their stunning landscapes and unique experiences, they offer a different perspective on the natural beauty of Vietnam.

4. Flight over the Bay

One of the most impressive ways to witness the grandeur of the UNESCO site in Halong Bay is by embarking on a scenic flight. This option is ideal for those who wish to take in the beauty of the bay in a short amount of time or for those whose budget allows them to combine it with a cruise.

The seaplane for Halong Bay visiting from above

The flight lasts for approximately 25 minutes and commences from the water in Halong City via seaplane. The experience of taking off and landing on water alone is a remarkable one, but the true highlight of the journey is undoubtedly when you soar above the islands and rocks.

During the flight, it is possible to capture this extraordinary experience by taking pictures with a camera or mobile device. This allows you to preserve the memory of this unique adventure for years to come.

5. Adventure Kayak tasting

Kayaking in Halong Bay is an activity that offers a unique perspective of the stunning landscape. Unlike cruising, kayaking allows you to explore areas that boats cannot reach. It is a serene and peaceful experience, with calm waters and no waves. For these reasons, kayaking is considered one of the best things to do in Halong Bay.

One of the highlights of kayaking in Halong Bay is the opportunity to paddle through caves and discover hidden parts of the bay. You can also visit secluded beaches that are inaccessible by boat. Most cruise boats, whether it's a day trip or a multi-day excursion, include kayaking in their itinerary. However, if you prefer not to participate or if the weather is unfavourable, you can always opt-out.

Do kayaking in Halong Bay is a great activity

Kayaking in Halong Bay is an eco-friendly activity that allows you to appreciate the natural beauty of the area up close. It's a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the stunning scenery. Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or a beginner, there are options for everyone. You can choose to paddle on your own or join a guided tour.

Kayaking in Halong Bay is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed. It offers a unique perspective of the area and allows you to explore hidden gems that are not accessible by boat. It's a peaceful and eco-friendly activity that can be enjoyed by all.

6. Visit the local Floating Village

The Vietnamese have a strong affinity for seafood, which is evident from the high demand for sea delicacies. This has led to the proliferation of fishing boats along the coast, to meet the needs of the populace. Halong Bay is particularly notable for its still waters, which has given rise to floating fishing villages. These villages are home to people who live and work on the water, creating a unique experience for visitors.

A floating village in Halong Bay

The floating platforms in Halong Bay are primarily used for fish and shellfish farming. It is a fascinating sight to witness the locals at work, as they go about their daily routines in this unusual setting. Some even choose to live on these platforms for days at a time.
Visiting a floating village is a one-of-a-kind experience, where one can observe the daily lives of the people who inhabit them. It is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the Vietnamese people, who have found a way to thrive in their natural environment.

7. Leisure on Beach

Halong Bay, with its numerous islands off the coast, may not be the most popular beach destination in Vietnam. This is primarily due to the fact that many of the islands lack beaches altogether, while others have small beaches that are difficult to access. As a result, the only way to visit these beaches is by taking a cruise, which makes the experience all the more special.

Titop beach in Halong bay

However, if you prefer to visit beaches without relying on a cruise, then the Cat Ba Island is your best bet or Titop Island. Those islands offer numerous beaches that you can explore on your own, and it also provides accommodation options for those who wish to stay longer.

While Halong Bay may not be the go-to destination for beach lovers in Vietnam, it still offers a unique experience that can only be had on a cruise. Alternatively, if you prefer to explore beaches independently, then Cat Ba Island is the ideal choice with its many accessible and beautiful beaches.

8. Discover the Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba, the largest island in Halong Bay, offers visitors a unique opportunity to stay on the island and explore its natural beauty. The island is home to a stunning national park, which boasts an array of wildlife and breathtaking views of the jungle. Take a leisurely stroll through the park or embark on an adventurous hike to experience the island's natural wonders.

Cat Ba island with resorts and beaches

In addition to exploring the national park, visitors can enjoy a variety of other activities on Cat Ba. Rent a bicycle or scooter and explore the island at your own pace, or take to the water with a kayaking excursion. For those looking for a more relaxed experience, the island's beaches offer the perfect place to unwind and soak up the sun.

If you're looking to explore more of Halong Bay, Cat Ba also offers day tours by boat. These tours provide an opportunity to see more of the bay's stunning scenery and learn about the area's rich history and culture.

9. Explore the Night Market

To fully immerse oneself in the local culture, taking a leisurely stroll through the Halong night market is highly recommended. With over 300 stalls, visitors can peruse a wide array of merchandise ranging from clothing to souvenirs, and even sample local delicacies. The market is particularly renowned for its grilled chopped squid, horseshoe crab, and nodding cake, which are must-tries for any food enthusiast.

Exploring Halong night market

Despite its bustling atmosphere, the night market is generally considered a safe place to visit. However, it is still advisable to exercise caution and be mindful of one's personal belongings. Additionally, haggling is a common practice in the market, and visitors should not hesitate to negotiate for better prices.

10. Enjoy at Sun World

The Sun World Halong Park is a world well-known amusement complex situated in northern Vietnam that offers a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience. Regardless of your preferences, you will undoubtedly be entertained at this park, which is open year-round, but the best time to visit is between May and September.

Located in the city center, the park is just a short walk from the Bai Chay area and comprises three major areas: Queen Cable Car & Mystic Mountain, Dragon Park, and Typhoon Water Park. The park offers a wide range of water-based activities, thrilling games with varying difficulty levels, and extreme experiences such as Mystery Journey, Cyclone Dance, and Reptile Army.

The Sun Wheel at Sun World Halong Park

The ticket prices for the park vary depending on the package chosen. A full combo package for an adult or child above 1.3m costs VND 750,000, while a child below 1.3m costs VND 550,000.

11. Adventure Range

Rock climbing activity in Lan Ha Bay - Halong Bay

For those willing to exert some effort to reach a scenic viewpoint, Halong Bay offers an exhilarating rock climbing experience. The climb is not only rewarding for the stunning aerial view it provides but also for the entire adventure it presents. The rocks in the bay are ideal for climbers, making it one of the top destinations for this activity worldwide. Additionally, those seeking more thrills can opt for deep-water soloing. Halong Bay rock climbing is an adventure that should not be missed by those who enjoy a challenge and breathtaking scenery.

12. Taking Snorkelling

Participating in underwater activities such as snorkelling or scuba diving is a must-do when visiting Halong Bay. The bay's stunning emerald waters are home to a plethora of marine life, including hundreds of coral reefs and sea creatures that contribute to the area's rich sea biodiversity.

Scuba diving in Halong Bay

For the best snorkelling and scuba diving experiences, Cat Ba island, Lan Ha Bay, Cong Do area, Vung Ha island, and Co To island are the ideal locations to explore. Combining a snorkelling or scuba diving tour with a stay in a rustic-style resort on Cat Ba island is highly recommended for an even more enjoyable experience.

13. Tasting local Seafood

This destination is a popular destination for those seeking fresh seafood and a variety of local cuisine. One dish that stands out is the grilled chopped seafood, known as "cha muc," which can be found at local markets. Other seafood options include horseshoe crab, oyster, and austriella corrugata.

The grilled chopped seafood - Cha Muc

For those looking for a more adventurous culinary experience, Halong offers unique dishes such as nodding cake, sipunculus nudus, and their famous yogurt. With a diverse range of options, Halong is a must-visit for food enthusiasts looking to explore the flavours of Vietnam.

Halong Bay is a popular tourist destination in Vietnam, known for its stunning natural beauty and unique limestone formations. There are plenty of things to do in Halong Bay, ranging from cruising on the emerald waters to exploring the local fishing villages.

Visitors can also go kayaking, rock climbing, or simply relax on the beach. One of the most popular activities is visiting the various caves and grottoes that dot the bay, each with its own fascinating history and geological features.

For those interested in culture and history, there are several temples and pagodas to visit, as well as opportunities to learn about the local way of life. With so many options available, Halong Bay is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Vietnam.

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