Halong Bay has to be the most popular tourist destination in Vietnam, and it’s really no surprise why. The emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests create some of the most impressive landscapes in the world and make for great photo opportunities. Visitors to Halong Bay love exploring the Bay by boat and sea kayak. But there is so much more to do in Halong Bay.
The great thing about visiting Halong Bay is that you can stay in 5-star resorts and cruise ships, or you can get by on a budget if you wish.
This is a guide to the top 10 things to do in Halong Bay.
1.Take a cruise through Halong Bay
The most popular thing to do in Halong Bay is taking a cruise through the impressive limestone formations scattered across the bay. You can choose from 1, 2 or 3-day cruise packages, inclusive of hotel pick up, food, kayaking and other activities and accommodation. The benefit of taking a cruise through Halong Bay is the fact that you don’t need to worry about travel plans, activities, accommodation or food. Everything will be arranged for you.
You can book a cruise through Halong Bay here.
If you’re looking for a budget cruise, the ferry from Halong to Cat Ba Islands passes the stunning scenery. It only lasts 30 minutes but it only costs 80,000 VND ($3.50USD), in comparison to other cruises that start at $40USD for a single day trip.
2. Visit Bai Tho Mountain Lookout
Bai Tho Mountain offers one of the best views of Halong Bay.
Getting to Bai Tho Mountain, however, is an adventure. As we arrived we made our way to the entrance to find the gate was closed. Feeling disappointed, we stood at the entrance for a couple of minutes trying to find another way in. Locals pointed us down the road, so we followed their instructions and ended in a local ladies home. This lady took us through her house, out the back and helped us through a small hole in a fence where we started the hike up Bai Tho Mountain. We paid the lady 50,000 VND per person.
The hike starts out relatively flat but does get quite steep towards the end. Caution is recommended as you reach the top as it is steep.
3. Day trip to Cat Ba
Cat Ba is an island in Halong Bay known for caves, hikes, lush rainforest and mountainous terrain. A day trip to Cat Ba from Halong can be easily arranged by your hotel or tour desk. Alternatively, you could spend a or two night in Cat Ba. Key attractions on Cat Ba include Hospital Caves, Cat Ba National Park and Cannon Fort lookout. Exploring Cat Ba is a great way to experience more of what Halong bay has to offer.
4. Sun World Halong Park
Another popular attraction in Halong is the Sun World Ha Long Park. On one side of Sun Work Halong Park, you will find a roller coaster, fit for adrenaline junkies and daredevils. On the other side of Sun World Halong Park, accessible by cable car, you will find the highest Ferris wheels in the world. I can only imagine how beautiful the view is from the top.
The Sun Work Ha Long Park is within walking distance to Wyndham Legend Halong.
5. Snorkel and Scuba Dive in Ha Long Bay
Halong Bay is an ideal place for travellers to try snorkelling and scuba diving. Halong Bay hosts a tremendously diverse ecosystem and coral reef. The Bay has up to around 120 hectares of coral reefs and over 100 marine life species. The coral reefs in Halong Bay are largely concentrated in the areas of Cong Do Island, Van Gio Island, and Trai Cave.
6. Kayak in Ha Long Bay
You can expect some of the most beautiful scenery in the world as you paddle your way through Halong Bay. Kayaking is offered by most boat/cruise tours through Halong Bay.
7. Hike in Halong Bay
Although Halong Bay isn’t really a popular hiking destination, it’s actually one of the best places to hike. There are a number of stunning lookouts and viewpoints accessible only by foot in Halong Bay. Some of these include Bai Tho Mountain and Titop Mountain.
8. Take a seaplane over Ha Long Bay
A seaplane tour over Halong Bay will give you a unique experience in one of the most scenic destinations in the world. Taking off from the Tuan Chau Island Marina, this 25-minute sightseeing flight takes in all the best views of Halong Bay, with amazing highlights over the magnificent landscape of limestone pillars reaching up from the green waters.
9. Halong City tour by electric car
If you’re staying in Halong (I recommend staying at Wyndham Legend Halong), you may wish to tour Halong City. Most Halong City tours will take you over the Bai Chai route, the Hau Can route, to the Ong Giap Hill, Cai Lan Temple and Cai Dam Market for some shopping. You can be sure that you will experience the highlights of Halong with a city tour.
10. Yen Duc Village Tour
Experience the countryside of Halong with a tour to Yen Duc Village. This village has preserved traditional customs. Visitors are engaged in agricultural activities such as growing vegetables and catching fish. You will also experience a puppet show, ancient house, pagoda and cave 73. The Yen Duc village tour includes round-trip transport to the village, located 60kms from Ha Long.
There you have it, 10 things to do in Halong Bay. If you are in the process of planning a trip to Vietnam, this is everything you need to know.
Book a tour in Halong
Getting to Ha Long Bay
If you plan to visit Halong Bay, you would be best to fly into Hanoi Airport. Ha Long Bay is a 3 – 4 hour bus ride from Hanoi, depending on traffic. Once in Ha Long, you will likely board a boat to tour the islands.
Places to stay in Halong
There are lots of accommodation options in Uluwatu, ranging from guest houses, bed and breakfasts, Airbnb, hotels and luxury resorts. I recommend using booking.com to search for accommodation. If you book using this link, you will receive a $25 cash back after your stay.
Wyndham Legend Halong is one hotel I can personally recommend.
Travel Insurance for Halong
Travel insurance is a necessity. I recommend World Nomads.
Safety in Halong
In terms of crime, Halong is relatively safe. Regardless, you should always:
- WEAR A HELMET
- Avoid flashing your valuables
- Keep an eye on your belongings at all times
- Lock your belongings in the hotel safe
- Remain aware of your surrounding
- Avoid unknown streets at night
- Don’t drink too much