Taking a cruise is the first thing people think of when planning a trip to Halong Bay. However, Halong Bay has more than that to offer. Read the below article about the best things to do in Halong Bay other than cruising, and you may want to extend your stay in this charming bay.
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If you are short on time, we have fifteen interesting suggestions other than going on a cruise to keep you occupied while experiencing the best of Halong Bay — UNESCO's World Natural Heritage. Depending on your budget and preferences, you can either explore the bay by flying on a seaplane to see Halong Bay from the sky or hire a bike to get around Halong Bay. Scuba diving, snorkeling, and rock climbing are available for people who are looking for adventure. Besides, those looking for a relaxing weekend retreat can go sightseeing and admire natural beauty while learning about the traditional culture in the land of Halong through floating villages and farms.
Top 15 Amazing Things to Do in Halong Bay other than Cruise
If you want to see Halong Bay differently, a seaplane tour is a unique opportunity worth checking out. This activity has been made popular in recent years. During the 25-minute flight, you will get the chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of Halong Bay from above, with thousands of islands and islets. They are scattered beside the Gulf of Tonkin. The incredible view also covers beaches, lagoons, and towering sea cliffs.
Scenic flight over Halong Bay
A scenic flight in Halong Bay departs from and ends in Tuan Chau Marina. Departure time is 10:30, 14:00, and 14:40, so you can choose a convenient time for you. The price for a scenic flight on a seaplane is less than 100 USD. The price can be higher than other activities, but flying on a seaplane over Halong Bay is something to cross off your bucket list.
Some tourists might be interested in flying on a scenic flight directly to Halong Bay from Hanoi after exploring the charming capital city. It is possible via Seaplane from Hanoi to Halong Bay and would be the experience of a lifetime.
Halong Bay is also a suitable place for people who expect to explore the fascinating underwater world. You can snorkel or scuba dive to see by their own eyes tremendously diverse ecosystem, including both tropical evergreen bio-system and the magnificent undersea life.
The most impressive feature of Halong Bay is the coral reef ecosystem, which is around 120 hectares and not less than 100 species. Coral reefs are mostly seen in Cong Do Island, Van Gio Island, and Trai Cave, making them ideal places for snorkeling or scuba diving. You can see sparkling life under the sea and admire coral reef displaying a myriad of colors at the bottom of Halong Bay. Snorkeling in the beautiful surroundings of Halong Bay is a unique opportunity and will create meaningful memories.
The best time of the year to go snorkeling and diving in the bay is May to September when the water temperature is warm enough.
Read more: Scuba Diving & snorkeling
Halong Bay might be known for its spectacular natural caves and enjoyable tourist entertainment services. But adventure seekers would be excited knowing that rock climbing is quite an activity to try out on the island. Spend a day discovering the climbing path, sit on top of a bay and take in the panoramic view that makes Halong Bay a world-famous attraction. There are thousands of limestone islands, so there is something for everyone regardless of their experience level. The most important thing to keep in mind is always to seek help and guidance from a local! This way, you will not only be able to explore the best climbing paths, but you will also be assured to have a safe vacation!
One crucial factor to take into consideration is the time of the year. The best time to climb is May to June and the last months of the year, which is also the best months to visit Halong Bay in general. Rock climbing should be done in enjoyable weather conditions without excessive summer heat or sudden thunderstorms. For adventure lovers, consider rock climbing on your next Vietnam trip and discover the beauty for yourself.
For more detailed information, check out our article on Halong Bay Rock Climbing
Visiting a market is the best way to know about an area, especially if you travel to Asia. If time allows an evening out in the city, visiting the local markets would be an amazing activity to spend the time and shop for gifts to bring home. There are many places to scroll around in Halong Bay like Ha Long Market, Ha Long Night Market, Hon Gai Market, Bai Chay Market. You can shop in any market which is closest to you.
Hon Gai Market
Halong Bay's markets sell fruits and vegetables, plenty of local products, and items such as clothing and textiles. It is the ideal destination for seafood lovers, as you can buy plentiful here at different terrains. As the oldest and most famous market in Ha Long, the Hon Gai seafood market, is the largest trading place of fresh seafood in the city. Trying the street food is also a refreshing experience from dining a full-course meal on a cruise.
Most of the products are at a reasonable price, but it is possible to bargain and ask for a discount from the locals while going to different stalls.
You might also like: Top 5 Best Shopping Places In Halong Bay
Cycling is one of the best ways to freely explore what Halong Bay has to offer. You can stop at any place you are interested in and also admire the natural surroundings. Aside from cycling tours, some cruise packages also include a bike ride to cycle around the area. For those who want to go cycling in Halong Bay, it is highly recommended to include Viet Hai Village during your bike journey.
Located 18 kilometers away from Cat Ba Island, this tranquil village surrounded by high mountains and the jungle provides a peaceful oasis to the hustle-bustle and tourist crowds. While cycling around the village, tourists can get fresh air in the serene ambiance of the Northern Vietnam countryside and visit rural houses. Viet Hai Village maintains its integrated traditional beauty while also welcomes tourists keen on learning about the culture. Exploring the primitive beauty of Vietnamese nature as seen in many villages of Vietnam on an off the beaten track path is an experience to remember. Aside from Viet Hai, you can also cycle through the bay and enjoy the scenic greenery setting of the islets, trees, and coastal scenery.
For more information, check out our article on Halong Bay biking.
You might also be interested in The 5 BEST Vietnam Cycling Tours
Fishing is a primary task for many locals to this day, despite the rapid rise of tourism services in Halong Bay. Some rowboat tours allow you to engage with friendly local villagers and get a head start on fishing in the waters, surrounded by beautiful rural scenery of Vietnam countryside. Those who enjoy fishing back at home, let's take this opportunity to try out the activity in a foreign country. You will be surprised at the skillful fishermen who use different methods to catch a fish.
Combine your fishing excursion with a visit to one of the floating villages for an intimate insight into the traditional culture of Vietnam fishermen. This experience will leave you feeling whole and impressed — the true meaning of traveling outside of your comfort zone.
Cat Ba National Park is one of the must-visit national parks in Vietnam. Once you have tried your hands at water activities in Halong Bay, scrolling through Cat Ba National Park and learning about the wildlife is a worthwhile experience. Located about 50 kilometers away from Hai Phong city center, Cat Ba National Park is one of the highlights in this area with its rich biodiversity and natural scene, welcoming thousands of tourists each year.
Cat Ba National Park
This park is home to diverse flora and fauna, an important center to preserve marine ecosystems, forest ecosystems, and animals. By trekking through Cat Ba National Park, you will get to admire untouched beautiful scenery with mountains, forests, and streams, as well as take a breath from the hectic city life. There are many tour styles and accommodation options in Cat Ba National Park so there is something for everyone.
If you depart from Halong Bay, is advisable to take a ferry to Tuan Chau Island to get to Gia Luan harbor, Cat Ba Island, and go by taxi from there to reach Cat Ba National Park.
With the development of tourism throughout Vietnam, especially in Halong Bay, Sun World has made a list of one of the top recreational complexes in Halong Bay. This amusement park is widely loved by domestic and international travelers, with its spacious zones and a variety of activities suitable for all ages. There is Typhoon Water Park, Dragon Park, Mystic Mountain, and more that you can dedicate the whole day too. It is especially great for tourist groups who are not cramped on time and want to have a fun day out in the sun.
|Entrance ticket||Adult or children over 1.4 meters||Children from 1 meter to 1.4 meters|
|Queen Cable Car||350.000 VND||250.000 VND|
|Dragon Park||300.000 VND||200.000 VND|
|Typhoon Water Park||350.000 VND||250.000 VND|
|Combo (two-in-one)||500.000 VND||400.000 VND|
|Combo (all-in-one)||600.000 VND||500.000 VND|
Note: Ticket prices are subject to change at different periods of the year, and there is an additional surcharge on the weekends. Entrance is free for children under 1 meter.
Be sure to check with a travel agent or on Sun World Halong Park's website for discounts as there are several programs throughout the year. You can book tickets in three ways: on the official website, through a travel agent, or onsite.
For adventure and nature lovers, discover Bai Tho Mountain and see Halong Bay in a different light. Step out of the picturesque beaches and tourist overnight cruises scene of renowned Halong Bay, Bai Tho Mountain is the spot for curious travelers. Standing on top of the mountain, visitors are rewarded with a panoramic view of the tiny Halong City and fresh atmosphere.
Unfortunately, as of March 2020, this trekking path has been closed to the public for conservation purposes. However, there are still plenty of off the beaten track hiking trails for adventure seekers traveling to Halong Bay.
Pearl farms might not be what tourists think about at first when visiting Halong Bay in recent years, but if you have a couple of days to spare, keep yourself occupied with this interesting attraction! When visiting Tung Sau pearl farm, tourists can witness the entire process of making a valuable pearl — from the growing location to processing the natural pearls and finally creating beautiful pieces of jewelry. It is located near Vung Vieng fishing village. Therefore, the pearl farm would be a great stop after your visit.
The excursion will leave you impressed with local working life and admire the polished pearls through each step of cultivation by the skillful artisans. Not only those who are interested in pearls and jewelry will be able to admire this destination. It is an exciting experience for anyone coming to Halong Bay and finishing their cruise ship, at an inexpensive entrance fee of 30.000 VND (~1.5 USD).
Kayaking is one of the must-try activities in Halong Bay and is included in almost all Lan Ha Bay cruise packages. This unique and exciting excursion allows you to paddle through the islands and islands to endeavor the best of Halong's natural beauty, especially where large cruises cannot reach. You can discover the charms of hidden caves and grottos — what makes Halong Bay so popular — at a close distance while enjoying the sea breeze and fresh air. This activity is relaxing and calming that will make you forget all about the hustle-bustle. Therefore, do not hesitate to try it out, since you will be given clear instructions before embarking on the excursion of your own.
Read more: Lan Ha Bay Kayaking
Halong Bay is famous for its islets, caves, and grottos that took thousands of years to form. Each unique natural feature has its own story and legends told by locals that attract visitors from all over the world. Still, most cruises on Halong Bay usually cannot take you through the hidden, secluded caves due to the size difference. Despite this, do not miss out on the magnificent illuminated caves and hidden coves of distinct shapes and sizes on your visit by hopping on a rowboat or kayak through Halong Bay. There is no definite number of caves on the thousands of islands and islets in this World Heritage site so there is still room for imagination, but you will certainly not be disappointed with the famous ones.
You can discover the caves by walking the path or kayaking in some others.
The area's exceptional scenic beauty is not seen anywhere else, so witness it during your vacation and discover the special reason that makes Halong Bay so appealing. You can either choose to visit the most common ones such as Sung Sot Cave — Halong Bay's largest cave, Thien Cung Cave, Dau Go Cave or opt for less common ones with the help of locals. All in all, always remember to follow the safety procedures as the inside of the caves might be slippery or not exposed to sunlight.
You might also like: Top 9 Caves in Halong Bay Worth Visiting
Halong Bay is renowned for its magnificent natural sights of caves and various entertainment activities that attract millions of international and domestic tourists every year. Many people would be surprised to find out that Halong is also home to some floating villages that play a crucial part in the culture and daily life. Local people do all kinds of work on these floating villages every day. They also welcome tourists to come and explore their daily life in such unique conditions. Their authenticity remains despite the rapid rise of tourism development. It is what makes floating villages a worthwhile visit during your Halong Bay excursion.
Floating village in Halong Bay
Many cruises will stop nearby to let you pay a visit to the spots such as Vung Vieng Village, Cua Van Village, and more. Besides meeting locals with an integrated lifestyle and long-standing history of culture, you can also immerse yourself in the surrounding mountainous scenery. After all, this experience will leave you feeling whole and impressed — the true meaning of traveling outside of your comfort zone. It would be an incredible opportunity to explore traditional values and admire the unique sights of Vietnam. Why don't you include this activity in your travel itinerary?
Those who love spending their vacation lounging near the beach and sunbathing, look no further because Halong Bay has just that! Established in 2015, Vinpearl Resort is a five-star resort and spa sitting on Reu Island with a private beach. This luxurious facility offers everything you need on your holiday: restaurants with delicious food and great services, entertainment centers, high-quality hotel rooms, gift stores, etc. You will not have to worry about returning to the mainland for a couple of days staying here. What is better than swimming and participating in water sports on a private island away from tourist crowds?
Vinpearl Resort & Spa Halong on Reu Island
Though Halong's food and beverage scene might not be as blooming as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, it is great to hit the streets after a busy day and get a drink at one of the scenic coffee shops while enjoying the view of Halong. Several highly-rated cafes are worth visiting, so you should not worry about finding a place to lounge in the city. They offer tourists a peaceful escape from the hectic city life and a day full of travel plans. Check out our suggestions or wander around and search for your ideal cafe shop. You might find something that perfectly fits your taste. Additionally, you can discover Halong City nightlife on an evening out.
You might want to read: Top 10 Interesting Things to Do in Halong Bay at Night
Sky Bar, located on the 16th floor of the Royal Lotus Hotel, is a sophisticated cafe and bar in the heart of Halong. The ideal location covers a luxurious panoramic view of the city. Those who love urban life will certainly enjoy spending an evening in Sky Bar, lounging in comfortable seats, and tasting delicately-made drinks. The entire terrace is full of visitors coming for a luxurious hideaway on top of the city.
Wander Station is a gem in the heart of Halong City. Offering tasty coffee that leaves customers impressed, as well as well-executed Vietnamese food and Western breakfast at reasonable prices, Wander Station will relieve your worries about what to eat while hanging out in Halong. This secluded shop is great for groups and organizing intimate parties.
Impressing tourists with decorations and delicious food, Eco Cafe is one of the top-rated coffee shops in Halong City. Eco Cafe's first impression is the indoor setting surrounded by plants and a familial feeling, as well as the outdoor seating with plenty of space. This secluded cafe also offers a variety of Vietnamese food. You can spend a couple of hours away from the busy activity on the streets of Halong City.
No matter how you spend your time exploring the bay, you should definitely visit Halong Bay in your lifetime. If you need any assistance with booking a cruise or any service, feel free to contact us.
You might also want to read more: Top 25 Fabulous Things to Do in Halong Bay
Image source: Internet