29 Best Things to Do in Halong Bay, Vietnam: Best Halong Bay Attractions & Activities

Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a stunning natural wonder in Vietnam known for its emerald waters, towering limestone islands, and enchanting caves. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or a culture enthusiast, Halong Bay offers an array of activities and attractions that cater to all tastes. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the 29 best things to do in Halong Bay, ensuring a memorable and enriching experience.

Top Attractions in Halong Bay

  1. Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave)

    • Exploration: Sung Sot Cave is the largest and most famous cave in Halong Bay. It spans approximately 10,000 square meters and is renowned for its stunning stalactites and stalagmites that create a mesmerizing underground landscape. The cave is divided into two main chambers, with the first chamber being smaller and featuring a collection of rock formations that resemble sentries. The second chamber is vast, with a high ceiling and formations that resemble a theater stage.
    • Significance: Besides its natural beauty, Sung Sot Cave holds significant scientific value as it is a typical karst cave formed by the dissolution of limestone over millions of years. The cave’s formations have been shaped by water erosion, creating unique and intricate patterns that captivate visitors.
  2. Cat Ba Island

    • Features: Cat Ba Island is the largest island in Halong Bay and a popular destination for tourists. It offers a blend of natural beauty and modern amenities, including clean beaches, hotels, restaurants, and bars. The island is also home to Cat Ba National Park, which is rich in biodiversity and offers various hiking trails.
    • Beaches: Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 2 beaches are ideal for sunbathing and swimming during the summer. For a quieter experience, visitors can head to Monkey Island, where the beaches are cleaner and less crowded. Monkey Island also offers opportunities for kayaking and speedboat rentals.
  3. Dau Be Island and National Park

    • Ba Ham Lake: Dau Be Island is famous for Ba Ham Lake, a system of three interconnected ocean basins surrounded by lush greenery. The lake is accessible through a narrow cave passage, making it a hidden gem within the island.
    • Flora and Fauna: The island’s diverse ecosystem includes species such as orchids, banyans, palm trees, gold monkeys, bats, flying squirrels, and various bird species. The presence of unique flora and fauna makes Dau Be Island a haven for nature enthusiasts.
  4. Me Cung Cave (Maze Cave)

    • Structure: Me Cung Cave, also known as Maze Cave, is an enchanting attraction with a palace-like entrance that carves deep into the island’s slopes. The cave’s interior is illuminated by natural light, creating a shimmering effect on the stalactites.
    • Scenic Beauty: Inside the cave, visitors can find Me Cung Lake, a picturesque blue water body that adds to the cave’s charm. The cave’s intricate formations and the serene lake make it a magical place to explore.
  5. Monkey Island

    • Activities: Monkey Island is a popular tourist attraction where visitors can swim in clear blue waters and interact with playful monkeys. The island offers a unique opportunity to observe these animals in their natural habitat and take memorable photos.
    • Accommodation: The island features bungalows that provide a cozy and rustic accommodation option for tourists. Staying on Monkey Island allows visitors to experience the island’s natural beauty and tranquility.
  6. Virgin Cave (Hang Trinh Nu)

    • Legend: Virgin Cave, also known as Hang Trinh Nu, is steeped in legend and romance. According to local folklore, the cave is dedicated to a woman who symbolizes pure and eternal love. Inside the cave, a shrine honors this woman, making it a place of cultural and historical significance.
    • Exploration: The cave’s entrance is located at the foot of a cliff, leading to tunnels that reach the middle of the island. The cave’s beauty and the legend behind its name make it a must-visit attraction in Halong Bay.
  7. Lan Ha Bay

    • Scenery: Lan Ha Bay, located to the south of Halong Bay, is known for its pristine scenery and dense concentration of limestone mountains. The bay covers an area of over 7,000 hectares and is home to numerous small, beautiful beaches.
    • Activities: Lan Ha Bay is ideal for overnight camping, private beach BBQs, and relaxation. The bay’s serene environment and stunning landscapes make it a perfect spot for unwinding after a day of exploration.
  8. Dau Go Island

    • Cave Exploration: Dau Go Island, also known as Wooden Head Island, is famous for Dau Go Cave. The cave features a jellyfish-like entrance with a 90-step staircase leading to its interior. Inside, visitors can marvel at the cave’s mysterious and beautiful formations, creating a fairy-tale atmosphere.
    • Significance: Dau Go Cave is one of the most significant caves in Halong Bay due to its historical and cultural importance. It was used as a hideout by General Tran Hung Dao during the Mongol invasion in the 13th century.
  9. Bai Tu Long Bay

    • Off-the-Beaten-Path: Bai Tu Long Bay is an off-the-beaten-path destination located east of Halong Bay. It is known for its stunning karst formations and limestone mountains.
    • Activities: Visitors can enjoy kayaking in Vung Vieng Fishing Village, snorkeling at Ban Chan Beach, relaxing in Ang Du area, and exploring the history of Thien Canh Son Cave. Bai Tu Long Bay offers a quieter and more secluded experience compared to the more touristy areas of Halong Bay.
  10. Poem Mountain (Nui Bai Tho)

    • Historical Significance: Poem Mountain, also known as Bai Tho Mountain, got its name in 1268 when King Le Thanh Tong carved a poem on a cliff at the mountain. The mountain’s historical significance and the poem add a cultural dimension to its natural beauty.
    • Views: The mountain offers panoramic views of Halong Bay, making it an ideal spot for photography and sightseeing. The cool air and lush vegetation add to the mountain’s appeal.
  11. Cua Van Floating Village

    • Cultural Experience: Cua Van is the largest fishing village in Halong Bay, home to 733 people who live by fishing. The village’s floating houses and serene surroundings create a unique and picturesque setting.
    • Activities: Visitors can learn about the daily life of fishermen, try their hand at making fishing traps and nets, and immerse themselves in the local culture.
  12. Ti Top Island

    • Beach: Ti Top Island is famous for its crescent moon-shaped beach with calm blue waters and white sands. The beach is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking.
    • Facilities: The island features a bar where visitors can rent swim gear and enjoy refreshments, adding convenience to their beach experience.
  13. Tuan Chau Island

    • Attractions: Tuan Chau Island is covered by pine forests and features sloping hills, two man-made beaches, and various attractions such as animal circus clubs, performing-seal clubs, and a cultural-sports center.
    • Activities: The island offers activities like jet skiing, sea fishing, and canoe parachuting, making it a hub of entertainment and adventure.
  14. Quan Lan Island

    • Historical Significance: In the 11th century, Quan Lan was an important trade route between Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and China. Today, the island retains its natural beauty and charm.
    • Activities: Visitors can explore the island’s beautiful forest areas, long white sandy beaches, and sample local seafood, including butterfish, mackerel, squid, and shrimp.

Best Activities in Halong Bay

  1. Overnight on Board

    • Experience: Spending the night on a boat is one of the best ways to enjoy Halong Bay. Visitors can experience the life of a fisherman, learn to cast fishing nets, paddle rowing boats, and enjoy fresh seafood.
    • Activities: Many boats offer activities such as cooking classes, squid fishing, and sunrise yoga, making the overnight stay a memorable experience.
  2. Visit Cannon Fort

    • Views: Located on Cat Ba Island, Cannon Fort offers breathtaking views of rolling hills, fishing boats, and karst formations. The fort also features underground tunnels and gun emplacements.
    • Historical Significance: The fort was built by the Japanese during World War II and later used by the Vietnamese army. It provides a glimpse into the region’s military history.
  3. Take a Cruise

    • Exploration: A boat cruise is the best way to discover Halong Bay’s 2,000 islands and islets. Visitors can choose from various routes and enjoy buffet meals or overnight stays on the boat.
    • Activities: Cruises often include activities such as visiting caves, kayaking, swimming, and cooking classes.
  4. Jump a Seaplane

    • Aerial View: A seaplane tour offers a unique perspective of Halong Bay from above. The 25-minute flight provides stunning views of the islands, beaches, lagoons, and sea cliffs.
    • Convenience: Seaplane tours are available in the morning and afternoon, allowing visitors to choose a convenient time for their sightseeing flight.
  1. Go Scuba Diving

  • Marine Life: Scuba diving in Halong Bay offers a thrilling opportunity to explore the underwater world. Divers can witness vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life, including colorful fish, sea anemones, and various species of crustaceans. The clear waters provide excellent visibility, making it an ideal spot for both beginner and experienced divers.
  • Diving Spots: Popular diving spots include Cong Do Island, where divers can explore underwater caves and rock formations, and the areas around Van Gio Island, known for its diverse marine ecosystem.
  1. Climb on Rocks

  • Adventure: Halong Bay is a paradise for rock climbing enthusiasts. The bay’s limestone karsts offer numerous climbing routes with varying levels of difficulty. Climbers can enjoy breathtaking views of the bay from the top of these towering formations.
  • Cat Ba National Park: For those who prefer hiking, Cat Ba National Park offers several trails that lead through dense forests and up to scenic viewpoints. The park is home to unique flora and fauna, making the hike both challenging and rewarding.
  1. Swim at Bai Chay Beach

  • Relaxation: Bai Chay Beach is a large artificial beach with clean, cool waters, perfect for swimming and relaxing. The beach is well-maintained and offers a safe environment for visitors of all ages.
  • Facilities: The beach area is equipped with sun loungers, umbrellas, and various water sports facilities, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable beach experience.
  1. Shop at Bai Chay Market

  • Local Flavors: Bai Chay Market is a bustling spot where visitors can buy fresh produce, seafood, and local souvenirs. The market is an excellent place to sample local delicacies, including dried squid, shrimp paste, and various street foods.
  • Cultural Experience: Shopping at the market provides a glimpse into the daily lives of the local people and offers an opportunity to interact with them and learn about their culture and traditions.
  1. Cycle Around

  • Scenic Rides: Halong Bay offers picturesque coastal roads that are perfect for cycling. Renting a bike and exploring the area at a leisurely pace allows visitors to soak in the natural beauty and tranquility of the bay.
  • Routes: Popular cycling routes include the road from Tuan Chau Island to the Bai Chay Bridge and the paths around Cat Ba Island, offering scenic views and a peaceful atmosphere.
  1. Sunbathe on the Beach

  • Relaxation: Sunbathing on the pristine beaches of Halong Bay is a perfect way to unwind. Beaches like Tuan Chau and Ti Top offer clean sands and clear waters, making them ideal spots for lounging under the sun.
  • Activities: In addition to sunbathing, visitors can indulge in various beach activities such as volleyball, paddleboarding, and beachcombing.
  1. Dine in the Caves

  • Unique Experience: Dining in one of Halong Bay’s caves offers a unique and romantic experience. Many cruise operators organize candlelit dinners inside the caves, providing an intimate setting surrounded by natural rock formations.
  • Ambiance: The ambiance of the cave, enhanced by soft lighting and the sound of gentle waves, creates a magical atmosphere perfect for special occasions or simply enjoying a memorable meal.
  1. Go Night Squid Fishing

  • Adventure: Night squid fishing is a popular activity in Halong Bay, offering a chance to experience the local fishing lifestyle. Equipped with nets and lights, visitors can try their hand at catching squid under the guidance of experienced fishermen.
  • BBQ: After the fishing excursion, many boats offer a BBQ where the catch is cooked and enjoyed, providing a fresh and delicious meal under the stars.
  1. Go Kayaking

  • Exploration: Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore Halong Bay’s hidden corners and tranquil waters. Visitors can paddle through blue waters, visit fishing villages, and navigate narrow channels between limestone islands.
  • Freedom: Kayaking offers the freedom to explore at your own pace, making it possible to discover secluded beaches and less-visited areas of the bay.
  1. Go Snorkeling

  • Underwater Beauty: Snorkeling in Halong Bay allows visitors to marvel at colorful coral reefs and diverse marine life. The bay’s clear waters provide excellent visibility, making it easy to observe the underwater ecosystem.
  • Popular Spots: Notable snorkeling spots include the areas around Cong Do and Van Gio Islands, where the coral reefs are particularly vibrant and well-preserved.
  1. Sleep on a Board

  • Unique Accommodation: Spending the night on a boat is an unforgettable experience in Halong Bay. Many cruise operators offer comfortable cabins with modern amenities, allowing guests to sleep on board and wake up to stunning views of the bay.
  • Activities: Overnight cruises often include a range of activities such as morning tai chi, cooking classes, and visits to local attractions, ensuring a comprehensive and enjoyable experience.

Conclusion

Halong Bay is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and adventure. From exploring majestic caves and islands to engaging in thrilling activities like kayaking, rock climbing, and scuba diving, there is something for everyone in this enchanting destination. Whether you choose to relax on pristine beaches, dine in mystical caves, or immerse yourself in the local culture, Halong Bay promises an unforgettable journey filled with unique experiences and breathtaking landscapes.