Top 25 Fabulous Things to Do in Halong Bay [Never Miss]

Last updated: August 30, 2021 /5537 Views

Halong Bayis known as one of the most famous tourist destinations in Vietnam and has been recognized many times by UNESCO as the world's natural heritage. It can be said that Ha Long Bay is a paradise with a mysterious and majestic beauty that everyone must admire. Here, tourists can join a great diversity of Halong Bay activities that can’t be found anywhere in Vietnam. Halong is home to thousands of limestone caves to go spelunking, plenty of untouched places to go swimming and kayaking, a handful of floating villages to visit, some uninhabited islands to go hiking, a variety of food and drink to savor, etc. Never get bored in this wonderland as here are thesetop 25 best things to do in Halong Bay!

Top things to do in Halong Bay

Top 25 things to do in Halong Bay

1. Take a Halong Bay overnight cruise

Above all, one of the best things to do in Halong Bay is to stay at least one night on the cruise, the most expected experience to admire the bay much closer up in a more special manner. With a natural complex of some 2,000 islands and islets, the bay is best discovered through waterways by a 3d2n or 2d1n cruise tour to call on either well-known or less-touristy Halong Bay attractions. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about where to go and what to do in Halong Bay as the cruise itinerary has already covered transportation, activities, food, accommodation, and other services.

Up to date, there are various choices ofHalong overnight cruisewhich are categorized by different length of excursion(half-day, full-day, 1-night, or 2-night), budget(cheap, mid-range, or luxury), destinations(Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay, or Cat Ba Island), types of boats(modern style, wooden junk, or small boat), and purposes of your holiday(family outing, honeymoon vacation, or private trip). Also, you can opt for the highlights of each cruise, such as large cabins, kid-friendly itinerary, Halal food certificate, Michelin-starred dining, Jacuzzi/ swimming pool, Royal-styled dinner, and other more.

If you are a newbie to cruising in Ha Long, the followingtips for choosing the best Halong Bay cruisesmay be of use.

Take an overnight Halong Bay cruise


2. Do Taichi in Halong cruises

If you are looking to further enhance the sense of calm, then attending theTaichi morning classis the best way to start your new day. Tai-chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that has been performed for thousands of years characterized by controlled and soft movements. As you join the Taichi morning class on a Halong cruise, the master will help you improve the health of your mind by preventing the ills of aging and the stresses and strains of modern life. Hence, is it a great idea of practising Tai Chi when being surrounded by the sublime natural beauty of Halong Bay?

Cruising - Things to Do in Halong Bay

Tai-chi exercise on Halong Cruise


3. Attend a cooking class

The majority of Halong Bay boats offer a cooking class to teach you how to make the most basic traditional Vietnamese dishes. Some cruises hold a cooking class of making spring rolls, while the others offer demonstration lessons on decorating fruit and vegetables. Whichever type of the class is, this is one of the best things to do in Halong Bay with a view to learning about Vietnamese traditional cuisine and culinary.

For more details ofHalong Bay Cooking Class

Cooking class - Things to do in Halong Bay

Join a Halong cooking class onboard


4. Join the sunset party on the sun deck

Sunset and sunrise moments are two things you should have never missed for Halong Bay sightseeing. It goes without saying that the sunset is much more stunning from the cruise view. You can choose to sit back and sip a cup of tea amid the scenic atmosphere at dusk. Or you can decide on joining the amusing sunset party on the sun deck. Please note that most of the luxury cruises in Halong Bay offer the “Happy Hours” promotion which allows you to enjoy “buy-1-get-1 free” for drinks during the sunset party.

Sunset - Best things to do in Halong Bay

Catch the sight of mesmerizing sunset in Halong Bay


5. Check in with amazing karst formations

Known for the magnificent land of million-year-old karst formations, Halong Bay offers a lot of photogenic attractions. You can find the rock formations amazing in different shapes and sizes. For example, one represents a couple of Fighting Cocks, one illustrates Chopstick Islet, and another demonstrates Thumb Islet. The best way to check in with awe-inspiring formations in Halong is to take a cruise into the middle of the bay. You will be shown around and catch the best sight in the close distance.

Karst formations - Things to do in Halong Bay

Check-in with karst formations in Halong


6. Go spelunking at Halong Bay caves

Halong Bay is home to numerous beautifully breathtaking caves that are worth paying a visit to. Undergoing millions of years of the formation of stalactites and stalagmites, Halong caves possess exquisite beauty and valuable archaeology systems. Considered the best Halong Bay attractions, the top must-visit grottoes include: 

  • Thien Cung Cave – one of the most massive in Ha Long’s cave systems with three ponds offering in-depth adventures. 
  • Sung Sot Cave – a highlight of Halong Bay sightseeing with a steep pathway to hike up for spectacular views. 
  • Dau Go Grotto – a beautiful cave with a maximum height of 25 meters. 
  • Virgin Cave – a mysterious cave with the legend of a young woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. 
  • Hospital Cave – an underground cave once used as a secret hospital during the Vietnam War. 

All Halong Bay caves and grottoes are decorated with colorful artificial lights to illuminate the rock formations and certain areas.

Come to the 9 worth-visiting caves in Ha Long, you can discover a lot of mysteries and feast your eyes on the magnificent gifts of Mother Nature.

Explore Cave - Things to Do in Halong Bay

Thien Cung Cave is perfect for Halong Bay sightseeing


7. Explore Cat Ba Island

Cat Bais the largest one in Halong Bay and is on top of the must-visit attractions here. This island is home to a national park covering one-third of the area, a number of adorable hotels and resorts, a handful of historical tourist attractions, some rustic local villages, and three main beaches. All makes it a perfect place to join numerous things to do on Cat Ba Island. You canexplore Cat Ba with a Halong Bay cruise trip, go swimming and soak up the sun on the beach, snorkel around the island, get a kayak to explore the untouched areas, go rock climbing, take off on a hike through the off-the-beaten-path trail, go cycling to the scenic countryside, or simply walk around the greenery.

Just don’t miss out on our recommendation of top Cat Ba Island things to do. You’ll never get stuck on what to do in Halong Bay.

Cat Ba Island - Things to do in Halong Bay

Explore Cat Ba Island with a Halong Bay cruise trip


8. Cruise to the less-touristy Lan Ha Bay

For those who are not keen on the crowds,Lan Ha Bayis a favourable alternative to enjoy the best things to do in Halong Bay. Located in the southwest of Halong, the bay possesses similar geological and cultural characteristics that offer more tranquil and authentic ways to discover. It is home to 400 limestone cliffs scattered throughout the emerald waters, pristine beaches, lush vegetation, several fishing villages, rocky mountains, and peaceful islands. Here you can enjoy a fantastic seascape with plenty of activities: swimming, kayaking, overnight camp, private beach BBQ, sea kayaking, rock climbing, and more. Don’t hesitate to take a 2-day or 3-dayLan Ha Bay cruiseas you will regret not visiting this underrated attraction.

Lan Ha Bay - Halong Bay sightseeing

Visit Lan Ha Bay on a cruise trip from Halong


9. Admire the primitive Bai Tu Long Bay

Another alternative among worth-visiting Halong Bay attractions isBai Tu Long, located in the east of Halong. Covering an entire area of 15,000 ha, the bay boasts a massive natural complexity of uninhabited islands, a national park, and the rich biodiversity of ecosystems. There are some highlights of Halong Bay sightseeing you should not miss, including Quan Lan Island, Ngoc Vung Island, Ang Du Area, Vung Vieng Fishing, Thien Canh Son Cave, Ban Chan Beach, etc. Bai Tu Long is worth spending at least 1 night immersing in the tranquillity and admiring the hidden charm of this natural heritage. For further details, let’s check the top-ratedBai Tu Long Bay cruisesout.

Bai Tu Long - Things to do in Halong

Cruise to Bai Tu Long Bay from Halong


10. Pay a visit to Halong floating villages

Remaining only a few existing sites, the floating villages are among the top Halong Bay attractions which offer you a fascinating and genuine experience. Take a boat ride to these villages and you will see how isolated the local life here goes on day by day. The local fishermen earn a living from the sustainable fishing industry and tourism. Some of them live in small boathouses while others live inland but spend most of their time in floating villages for work.

There were many big and small Halong Bay floating villages in the middle of the bay. However, now you only can come to the only 4 left, includes:

  • Cua Van Fishing Village
  • Vung Vieng Floating Village
  • Ba Hang Floating Village
  • Cong Dam Fishing Village

Floating village - must-do in Halong Bay

Call on Vung Vieng floating village


11. Behold Halong aerial views from seaplane

Whenever you want to splurge on extraordinary things to do, taking a seaplane from Hanoi to Halong Bay is a not-to-be-missed experience. Flying over the scenic karst formations and emerald water, you will feast your eyes on an awe-inspiring bird’s-eye view of Halong Bay. There is no better way to go sightseeing here than from the height of 300 meters on the seaplane. In addition to scenic flights, you can book a scheduled flight between Hanoi and Halong for the fastest and most convenient transportation.

Provided exclusively by Hai Au Aviation, the cost of a scenic flight in Halong is 99 USD per person while a round trip between Hanoi and Halong costs at least 400 USD. Despite the high fare, many travellers desire to try out the Halong seaplane ride at least once due to its unique experiences, professional services, and magnificent views.

Halong seaplane - Top things to do in Ha Long Bay

Admire the magnificent aerial views from Halong seaplane


12. Soak up the sun on Halong beaches

Halong Bay is blessed with a calm sea and beautiful beaches to sit back on the white sand, get a tan, enjoy the fresh sea breeze, and indulge in crystal clear water. The top highlight is Titop beach which is located on a crescent-moon-shaped island. Just take a day cruise and you will have enough time to climb up to the top for the panoramic view of the bay and have a swim/kayak. 

Another beach attraction is Soi Sim, which is well-known for its emerald waters, verdant foliage, and the ultimate display of flora and fauna. Additionally, there are many other must-visit beaches including Quan Lan, Ngoc Vung, Ba Trai Dao, and Tuan Chau Beach. Most of them give refreshing air, crystal water, and idyllic sands; so you can let your hair down and take part in numerous interesting things to do here.

sunbathe - Top things to do in Halong Bay

Soak up the sun on Halong Bay beach


13. Go kayaking around the limestone karsts

Kayaking in Halong Bay is one of the amusing activities you definitely must do. This is the best way to explore the grandeur and magical beauty of Ha Long's nature at a close distance. Sitting on a small kayak, paddling slowly through the islets to discover cliffs beneath the waves, watching the birds on the cliff, feeling the calm water, wriggling into water caves, or touching stalactites, what's more amazing than that? With the specific instructions about how to paddle and guide on the safe area, you’ll find kayaking extremely simple and fun. So, why don’t you put kayaking into the list of your must-try things to do in Halong Bay?

Kayaking is a must-try thing to do in Halong Bay


14. Cycle around the off-the-beaten-track path

Another among the top-recommended Halong Bay activities is cycling to explore the mesmerizing biking trails and enjoy the physical experience. To gain the best experience, renting a bike/double bike is the perfect choice for you. The cost of a rental bike/ double bike is about 20,000 VND (~ 1.00 USD) per hour. Tourists can rent right at the hotel or services along the city road. 

Besides, fishing villages provide tourists with beautiful biking routes as well as deep insight into the local life in Halong Bay. A lot of cruise ships will anchor near a fishing village so that you can take the opportunity to pay a visit on a cycling tour. Taking your time to cycle around the village, chat with local people, and meet playful kids, you can experience the most authentic thing to do in this land.

Read more:A Guide to Halong Bay Biking

Cycling - Things to Do in Halong Bay

Cycling is great for a family outing in Halong Bay


15. Get on the hiking trails in Ha Long

Not only does Halong boast spectacular water-wise landscapes, but it also possesses adventurous scenery to get on a hiking route. The top suggestion is Cat Ba National Park, a common stop of some Halong Bay cruise itineraries. The park is home to the wildlife flora and fauna with a collection of distinct species like civets, macaques, hawks, hornbills, cuckoos, and the world's most endangered golden-headed langurs. You can go hiking along the amazing trails with an 18-kilometre climb to the mountain top, but it requires a lot of time and endurance. So, you can go on a soft adventure to a few viewpoints.

Hiking tips in Halong Bay

  • Bring a water bottle to keep you hydrated on the hike up
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes. And say NO to flip-flops!
  • Hire a tour guide who can show you around, tell you the history, and give you some safety tips.
  • Book a tour from Halong Bay or a cruise tour including Cat Ba National Park in the itinerary.

Hiking - Top things to do in Halong Bay

Go off-the-beaten-track at Cat Ba National Park


16. Go diving/snorkelling into the underwater

Diving and snorkelling are among the best water-based activities in Halong Bay. Thanks to the crystal clear water and the scenic underwater delights, this area offers a range of lesser-known diving and snorkelling spots. The sea around Cong Do Island and Van Gio Island make it perfect to dive/ snorkel around and explore the diverse ecosystem as a home to unique corals, seagrass beds, and living spaces for aquatic creatures (sea turtles, sea horses, stone crabs, lizards, hornbills, etc.).

For further details Diving and Snorkeling in Halong Bay

Snorkeling - Best things to do in Halong Bay

Go snorkeling in Halong Bay


17. Get a fishing experience with the locals

Fishing is one of the daily activities that local fishermen do for a living in Halong Bay. To tourists, fishing is an interesting activity to experience the feeling of being a true fisherman. Here, fishing trips with the locals are one of Halong Bay’s top things to do. You can learn a little about the local fishing legend and try your luck going out with them at dawn. During the trip, visitors will not only enjoy the scenic beauty of this land and its surrounding sceneries but also witness how local people catch fish, and listen to stories about their experiences.

Night squid fishing is another enjoyable activity here. If you are actually a night owl, you can spend tranquil night fishing with lights hanging on the side of boats to attract the squids. You’ll be guided by the instructions from local fishermen about how to use a fishing rod and how to catch a squid in the sea. Interestingly, the caught squids will be cooked to make supper for you.

Fishing - Things to Do in Halong Bay at night

Night squid fishing on Halong


18. Have a romantic cave dining

For those who are desired to experience brand-new feelings, try out a once-in-a-blue-moon dinner in a magnificent cave. This activity in Halong Bay is definitely perfect for couples since the mystical scenery with thousands of sparkling candlelight creates a romantic space and unforgettable sweet moments together. After an amazing day full of activities, you will have a chance to indulge in the mysterious night relaxation.

Normally, Trong Cave and Trinh Nu Grotto have drawn many tourist attractions thanks to their legend of two lovers. Also, foreign visitors can seek a chance to try cave dinners in Thien Canh Son Cave, noted for its magnificent seascapes. Dinners in the cave are mainly held by luxury cruises with a 3-day itinerary or chartered boat. The additional price is high as it includes: cave hiring, set-up fee, food, and personnel. But this activity is quite special and still worth paying extra money for.

Dinner in Cave - Things to Do in Halong Bay

Cave diving in Halong Bay Cruise


19. Go adventurous with rock climbing

Continuing with another venturesome thing to do,Halong Bay rock climbingmust give the most thrilling experiences. Halong Bay is naturally gifted with a few sport climbing routes which offer much potential for additional development. It is your decision on what level of difficulty you wish to take on as a challenge. The level of difficulty, however, does not affect the level of safety. All you have to prepare is a healthy body, an adventurous mind, and much endurance. Let’s engage in the challenging activities to conquer the rock formations here!

Rock Climbing - Things to Do in Halong Bay

Adventurous rock climbing in Halong Bay


20. Have seafood BBQ on the beach

Gifted with an abundance of seafood and many calm beaches, Halong Bay is such an ideal spot to hold a beach barbeque with baked king prawns, squid, crab, lobster, and more. There are various choices of beach BBQ in Halong, from restaurants along the coast to a 3-day cruise itinerary. You can either join a BBQ lunch to grill seafood with self-barbecue fire pits or treat yourself to a private barbecue under the candlelight. Both are worth trying to soak up the chilly atmosphere on the beaches. If you are traveling in a group, a BBQ lunch is the best fit. In case you travel in couples, nothing is better than the dreamy ambiance of a private barbecue in the melody of waves and wind songs.

BBQ lunch - Top Things to Do in Halong Bay

Have a private BBQ lunch on Halong Bay beach


21. Explore Ha Long City on land

In contrast to the laid-back landscapes over the bay, Ha Long City is far more vibrant and exciting with a great collection of must-do activities. Contemplate the Bai Chay Bridge, sample the authentic dishes at local restaurants, taste the street food dishes, enjoy nightlife activities, visit Halong night markets, shop for local souvenirs, etc. All make them the best things to do in Halong Bay. Let’s see the differences between rural life in floating villages and urban life in the provincial city.

Halong City - Things to do in Halong

Bai Chay Bridge in Ha Long City


22. Feel a thrill at Sun World Halong Complex

Sun World Halong Complex is one of the rare amusement parks in North Vietnam, so what a miss if you set this attraction aside. Covering an area of 214 ha, Sun World Halong Park is separated into 2 sections: the Mystic Mountain Complex and the Coastal Amusement Complex. The two parts are connected by the Queen Cable Car, also called the Sun Wheel Halong, which offers captivating aerial views by a 12-minute ride. This option is one of the top-rated things to do in Halong Bay for families with kids. There must be endless fun of entertainment at the Dragon Park, Typhoon Waterpark, Sun Wheel, Zen Garden, and so on. If you aren't afraid of the thrilling roller coaster rides and water slides, the Sun World Park is a perfect destination to cool off.

Sun World - Top things to do in Halong City

Get thrilling at Sun World Dragon Park


23. Visit the Quang Ninh Museum

Located right in the central heart of Halong City, Quang Ninh Museum is a complex of museum, library, and exhibition space. From the outside, you can be amazed by the unique architecture designed to function as a massive mirror. When it comes to the inside, you can find an extensive collection of cultural items depicting the Buddhist culture and the effort against French Colonialism. However, the most outstanding attractions include a giant whale skeleton, a massive book collection, and sailboat models. Also, you can sit back in the reading room or coffee shop at the library. If you are tired of the hustling outdoors, you should find your own space at Quang Ninh Museum, where you can get an in-depth knowledge of Vietnamese history and culture.

Quang Ninh museum - Top things to do in Halong Bay

Visit Quang Ninh Museum


24. Have fun at Halong Bay nightlife

As a dynamic city in Vietnam, Halong offers a wide range of things to do at night both onboard and on the mainland. On the overnight cruise, the evening is time for interesting board games and puzzles, drinking at a bar, spa, and massages, and night squid fishing. In contrast, Halong City is somehow more exciting with energetic local pubs and bars, luxurious casinos, lively night markets, and more. You will find the city sparkling and exciting even at midnight. Never get monotonous at nightlife as you can experience one of thesebest night activities in Halong Bay.

Nightlife - Things to do in Halong at night

Lively Halong City by night


25. Sample the local street food

As a coastal city, Halong specialties mostly include seafood dishes varying from crab, prawn, squid, snail to oysters. Everyone visiting Halong Bay definitely must try the following 5 best street food dishes: chả mực (squid sausage), sam (horseshoe crab), ngán (austriella corrugate), sá sùng (sipunculus nudus), and gật gù cake. These specialties can’t be found anywhere else in Vietnam. Hence, a street food tour is absolutely a must-try thing to do in Halong Bay.

You may also like: Best of 5 Street Foods in Halong Bay

Street food - Top things to do in Halong

Taste Halong Bay street food

So there you have it, a list of the top must-try things to do in Halong Bay. You can participate in one of them or all if you have enough time. If you are unsure which to opt for, check out Best Price Travel to find inspiration, and a guide on popular things to do during your vacation in Halong Bay. Check this out for various types of Halong Bay package tours.

You might also like: Halong Bay Tourist: Useful Information for First-time Visitors


(Image sources: Internet)


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