Visiting the World Heritage Site of Halong Bay has proudly topped globe trotter’s lists of “must-sees” for a considerable time now, and for good reason. Now recognised as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Halong Bay welcomes millions of tourists every year who come with a desire to explore the otherworldly landscape engendered by the towering limestone karsts and cerulean waters. There are a whole host of different activities and attractions in the world famous bay, so in order for you to get a good idea of what’s on offer in lieu of your trip, we have compiled a list of the top 5 things to do in Halong Bay that you can’t simply miss.
Cruising: one of the most popular things to do in Halong Bay!
Getting in amongst the landscape at water level and meandering through the submerged mountains is, and always has been, one of the most spectacular visual experiences you can have in Vietnam. As tourism in the region increases rapidly year on year, so too do the number of cruises ready and waiting to take tourists sailing through the bay. There are plenty of options to suit every budget, so whether you’re a backpacker on a shoestring, a family cruising with kids, or a traveler who prefers a taste of luxury- there’s something for everyone. In terms of cruise options you can go for a day cruise if you’re on a tight timetable, but judging from the thousands of TripAdvisor reviews and feedback from those who have been already, a day cruise is never enough. Take it from us, there are few views in the world that beat waking up on a traditional junk boat in the middle of Halong Bay to watch the sunrise… If you have time, check out the overnight options (either one or two nights), and if you need any more info you can read more on which cruises come in highly recommended by travelers.
Exploring Caves: they are magnificent!
The landscape and ecosystem that comprise Halong Bay are considered by specialists to be one of the most valuable natural assets of Vietnam. What makes it so unique is, of course, the submergence of these very well known limestone towers- which, over millions of years of erosion has lead to the formation of a number of caves and grottoes. There are 59 officially listed (this includes a recent discovery of 23 more) on the registrar, but experts suppose that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The majority of Halong Bay cruises will include at least a couple of caves on their routes and will give you the chance to hop off the cruise ship and explore the caves yourself, and believe us- there are definitely a few that are worth visiting. It has become somewhat of a Halong Bay tradition to attribute legends and folklore to each cave (everything from demons, dragons, and tragic love stories), so if you manage to find yourself a cruise with a tour guide who knows their stuff, you’ll be in for a treat.
Kayaking: explore Halong Bay by yourself!
If you’re the sort of person who likes to take the action into their own hands, renting a kayak and paddling through the impressive Halong landscape is one of the best things to do in Halong Bay. Kayak rentals are plentiful, and a lot of the cruises will organise this for you. There are a myriad of secluded beaches, tunnels, and caves that are only accessible by kayak, so choosing to navigate the waters yourself is bound to open up a whole new side of the bay that you would never have seen otherwise.
Visiting Floating Villages: learn more about Halong Bay culture
The floating villages of Halong Bay are where day to day life is carried out by the locals, and getting in amongst them is a wonderful way to get some insight into the local culture and traditions. Halong Bay’s rich marine resources served as the basis for these fishing communities to thrive, they are the original inhabitants of Halong Bay and have already lived here for many generations. Among the most popular fishing villages for visitors are Vong Vieng Village, Cua Van Village, Ba Hang Village and Cap De Village in the Hung Thang Commune. The largest of all is Cua Van, which homes a respectable 600 residents between 130 houses.
Enjoying the Scenery: sit back and relax
Of course, all these popular things to do in Halong Bay are merely supporting acts for the real show- the outstanding beauty of the landscape. So whether you choose to go full on adventure style exploring Halong’s ancient caves by kayak, or if sipping a cocktail on board the top deck at sunset is more your speed, guaranteed the landscape you find yourself in will not disappoint.