Top 25 Fabulous Things to Do in Halong Bay [Never Miss]
Halong Bay is 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. Here, tourists can join a great diversity of activities that can’t be found anywhere in Vietnam. Never get bored in this wonderland as here are these top 25 best things to do in Halong Bay!
Table of Contents
- Things to Do in Halong Bay Cruise
- Halong Bay Sightseeing
- Things to Do in Halong Bay Other Than Cruise
- Halong Bay Activities in Water
- Cat Ba Island Things to Do
- Things to Do in Halong Bay at Night
Halong Bay 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.
Let's learn the best things to do in Halong Bay by following our article below.
Things to Do in Halong Bay Cruise
1. Take A Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
- Where to do: 2-day or 3-day cruise to Halong, Bai Tu Long, or Lan Ha Bay
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 is 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 attractions. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about where to go and what to do as the cruise itinerary has already covered transportation, activities, food, accommodation, and other services.
Take an overnight Halong Bay cruise
Up to date, there are various choices of Halong overnight cruises which are categorized by:
- Lengths 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 boat: modern style, wooden junk, or small boat
- 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 following tips for choosing the best Halong Bay cruises may be of use.
2. Do Taichi on Halong Cruises
If you are looking to further enhance the sense of calm, then attending the Taichi morning class is 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.
Tai-chi exercise on Halong Cruise
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?
Read more about Halong Bay Tai Chi on an overnight cruise
3. Attend A Vietnamese 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 Halong Bay cooking class on 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.
Join a Halong cooking class onboard
Read more about Halong Bay cooking class on an overnight cruise
4. Join the Sunset Party on Sun Deck
- Where to do: Some luxury cruises in Halong Bay like Heritage Binh Chuan, Athena Luxury, Queen Luxury Day Cruise, etc.
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.
Catch the sight of mesmerizing sunset in Halong Bay
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.
Halong Bay Sightseeing
5. Check in with Amazing Karst Formations
- Where to do: All Halong Bay Cruises
Known for the magnificent land of million-year-old karst formations, Halong Bay offers a lot of photogenic attractions. You can find 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 a close distance.
Check-in with karst formations in Halong
6. Go Spelunking at Halong Bay Caves
- Where to do: One of the top 9 worth-visiting caves in Ha Long
Halong Bay is home to numerous beautifully breathtaking caves that are worth paying a visit. Undergoing millions of years of the formation of stalactites and stalagmites, Halong caves possess exquisite beauty and valuable archaeological systems. Considered the best Halong Bay attractions, the top must-visit grottoes include:
- Thien Cung Cave: a massive one 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. Here, you can discover a lot of mysteries and feast your eyes on the magnificent gifts of Mother Nature.
Thien Cung Cave is perfect for Halong Bay sightseeing
7. Admire the Primitive Bai Tu Long Bay
- Where to do: Recommended Bai Tu Long Bay cruises including Paloma Cruise, Signature Cruise, Emperor Cruise
Another alternative worth-visiting Halong Bay attractions is Bai 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.
Cruise to Bai Tu Long Bay from Halong
For further details, let’s check the top-rated Bai Tu Long Bay Cruises out
8. Pay A Visit to Halong Floating Villages
- Where to do: Halong Bay floating villages, such as Cua Van, Vung Vieng, Ba Hang Floating Village, and Cong Dam Fishing Village
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.
Call on Vung Vieng floating village
9. Behold Halong Aerial Views from Seaplane
- Where to do: Seaplane from Hanoi to Halong Bay
Whenever you want to splurge on extraordinary things to do, taking a seaplane 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.
Admire the magnificent aerial views from the Halong seaplane
Provided exclusively by Hai Au Aviation, the cost of a scenic flight in Halong is 95 USD per person while a round trip between Hanoi and Halong costs at least 400 USD. Despite the high fare, many travelers desire to try out the Halong seaplane ride at least once due to its unique experiences, professional services, and magnificent views.
Things to Do in Halong Bay Other Than Cruise
10. Have A Romantic Cave Dining
- Where to do: Trong Cave, Trinh Nu Grotto, and Thien Canh Son Cave
For those who are desired to experience brand-new feelings, try out a once-in-a-blue-moon dinner in a magnificent cave. Halong Bay cave dining 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's 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.
NOTE: Dinning in Caves are banned in Halong since 2017 to protect nature.
Cave diving in Halong Bay Cruise
Read more about the fascinating experience of Halong Bay dining
11. Go Adventurous With Rock Climbing
- Where to do: Butterfly Valley, Hidden Valley, and Ben Beo Harbour
Continuing with another venturesome thing to do, Halong Bay rock climbing must 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!
Adventurous rock climbing in Halong Bay
Read more about the adventurous experience of Halong Bay rock climbing
12. Have Seafood BBQ on the Beach
- Where to do: Soi Sim Beach, Ba Trai Dao 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 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.
Have a private BBQ lunch on Halong Bay beach
13. Explore Ha Long City on Land
- Where to do: Halong Night Market, Old Quarter, Bai Chay Bridge, etc.
In contrast to the laid-back landscapes over the bay, Halong 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.
Bai Chay Bridge in Ha Long City
Find out more Top 20+ Amazing Places to Visit in Halong Bay
14. Feel A Thrill at Sun World Halong Complex
- Where to do: Sun World Halong Complex
Sun World Halong 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 thrilling roller coaster rides and water slides, Sun World Park is a perfect destination to cool off.
Get thrilling at Sun World Dragon Park
Learn more about the Top 15 Amazing Things to do in Halong Bay other Than Cruise
15. Visit the Quang Ninh Museum
- Where to do: Quang Ninh Museum
Located right in the central heart of Halong City, Quang Ninh Museum is a complex 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.
Visit Quang Ninh Museum
Halong Bay Activities in Water
16. Soak Up the Sun on Halong Beaches
- Where to do: Top 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Halong Bay
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 enjoy swimming in Halong Bay.
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.
Soak up the sun on Halong Bay beach
Read more about the must-do Halong Bay swimming
17. Go Kayaking Around the Limestone Karsts
- Where to do: Dark & Light Cave, Dragon Eye Island, Cong Do, Ao Ech Area
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 Halong'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
18. Go Diving/Snorkeling in the Underwater
- Where to do: Cong Do, Vung Ha Island
Diving and snorkeling 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 snorkeling 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.).
Go snorkeling in Halong Bay
Read more about Halong Bay Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
Cat Ba Island Things to Do
19. Explore Cat Ba Island
- Where to do: Cat Ba Island Cruise
Cat Ba is 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.
Explore Cat Ba Island with a Halong Bay cruise trip
You can explore 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. You’ll never get stuck on what to do in Halong Bay.
20. Cruise to the Less-touristy Lan Ha Bay
- Where to do: Recommended Lan Ha Bay cruises including Mon Cheri, Heritage Binh Chuan, Scarlet Pearl Cruise
For those who are not keen on crowds, Lan Ha Bay is a favorable 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.
Visit Lan Ha Bay on a cruise trip from Halong
Don’t hesitate to take a 2-day or 3-day Lan Ha Bay cruise as you will regret not visiting this underrated attraction.
21. Cycle Along the Off-the-beaten-track Path
- Where to do: Viet Hai Village
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 routes of Halong Bay biking 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.
Cycling is great for a family outing in Halong Bay
Learn more about beautiful routes of Halong Bay biking
22. Get On the Hiking Trails in Ha Long
- Where to do: Cat Ba National Park
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 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-kilometer 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.
Go off-the-beaten-track at Cat Ba National Park
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
Just don’t miss out on our recommendation of top Cat Ba Island things to do.
Things to Do in Halong Bay at Night
23. Get A Fishing Experience With the Locals
- Where to do: Halong Bay overnight cruise
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 in Halong 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 squid in the sea. Interestingly, the caught squids will be cooked to make supper for you.
Night squid fishing on Halong
Read more about night squid fishing in Halong on an overnight cruise
24. Have Fun at Halong Bay Nightlife
- Where to do: Halong City, Halong Bay overnight cruise
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, 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.
Lively Halong City by night
Never get monotonous at nightlife as you can experience one of the best night activities in Halong Bay!
25. Sample the Local Street Food
- Where to do: Top 5 Recommended Halong Bay Restaurants
As a coastal city, Halong's specialties mostly include seafood dishes varying from crab, prawn, squid, and 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.
Taste Halong Bay street food
You may also like Best of 5 Street Foods in Halong Bay
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 BestPrice 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 tours.
You might also like: Halong Bay Tourist: Useful Information for First-time Visitors
(Image sources: Internet)