A visit to Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without a traditional junk boat cruise around spectacular Halong Bay, with its iconic limestone peaks and emerald green waters.
While a peaceful cruise is the perfect way to kick back, relax and take in the iconic views that this UNESCO World Heritage site has to offer, there is plenty else to keep you busy in Halong Bay.
1. Discover hidden caves and grottos
Hidden among the thousands of jungle-covered peaks rising dramatically out of the emerald waters of Halong Bay are illuminated caves, isolated grottos and picturesque hidden coves of all shapes and sizes. Hop on board a row boat and venture out to explore these hidden gems for yourself, such as the beautiful Thien Cung Cave – nicknamed the Heavenly Palace Cave, famed for its many stalagmites and stalactites, and Dau Go Cave – known as the Cave of Wonders, featuring fascinating rock formations illuminated by a kaleidoscope of colour.
2. Kayak between karst limestone outcrops
While a traditional junk boat cruise is an excellent way to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Halong Bay at a relaxed pace, the active among you can get your paddle out on an off-boat excursion and explore the beauty of the bay up close on a kayaking adventure.
Paddle out to the calmer, less-visited corners of the bay, which the bigger boats cannot maneuver, and discover hidden caves, isolated lagoons, unspoiled islands and much more with the direction of a local guide.
3. Visit a traditional floating village
For most of us a cruise on the emerald green waters of Halong Bay is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it may be difficult to imagine living day-to-day life surrounded by the incredible beauty of this famous bay. But for the families of Halong Bay’s floating fishing villages living in a water world is second nature. Rising and falling with the tide, these villages have been home to generation after generation of fishermen who earn their living from the bay’s bountiful supply of marine life and growing tourism in the region.
Pay a visit to one of these charming villages, meet grinning fishermen and playful children and learn about their fascinating way of life in Halong Bay.
4. Squid fishing at night
Squid fishing on Halong Bay at night is an interesting activity at which tourists can experience the feeling of being a fisherman. Night Squid fishing is the most interesting activity and wonderful pleasure of the night journey on Halong Bay. Especially, during the squid season, it would be common to see large shoals of squids surrounding the cruiser and each tourist may catch an average of 30 squids for each squid fishing night.
The squids caught will be used to make dishes for tourists. This is also an ideal time to gaze Halong bay by night. The sea water surface is sparkling with reflected light from cruises anchored on the bay. Foreign tourists are extremely fond of boiled whole squids because when eating, they can enjoy the interesting feeling of ink line breaking out pitch-black in the mouth, splashing all over the face and taking pictures.
5. Learn Tai Chi on deck
The ancient martial art of Tai Chi has been practiced for generations in China to promote the health of mind, body and soul through its soft, controlled movements. It is said that practicing Tai Chi in the peace and tranquility of the great outdoors aids in the deep concentration and inner peace many hope to achieve through this art form – and what better place to do it than surrounded by the sublime beauty of Halong Bay?
Guided by an experienced Tai Chi master, you can learn how to control your body and mind on the deck of your junk boat cruise, as you breathe in the fresh air and watch the sun rise behind jungle clad peaks.
6. Go cycling on Cat Ba Island
As if being the largest island in Halong Bay was not enough, Cat Ba also possesses some of the most impressive natural beauty found in the region, and not to mention an incredible range of species and fascinating natural habitats. Forming part of the Cat Ba archipelago on the south-eastern edge of Halong Bay, this beautiful isle can be reached by boat and is best explored on foot or bicycle (rented locally).
Explore the limestone hills and discover hidden waterfalls, lakes and grottos; spot wildlife (like the Cat Ba langue) hidden in coastal limestone forests and mangroves; or go snorkeling off the coast in search of underwater life – the possibilities are endless!
7. Cruising around Bai Tu Long Bay
Bai Tu Long Bay occupies three quarters of Halong Bay World Heritage site and many islands in Van Don, Cam Pha district. Travelling to Bai Tu Long Bay is off the beaten track and promise to deliver many unique experiences, being far away from touristy sites.
Canfind a pristine beautiful natural landscape. Until now, Bai Tu Long still remains a wide unexplored area. Being as beautiful as neighbor Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long has many attractions to visit: Cong Do area, Vung Vieng fishing village, Da Xep Park, Cong Dam area, Thien Canh Son cave, Tra Gioi beach… There are some islands that people living there: Quan Lan Island, Ngoc Vung Island, Cong Dong, Cong Tay Island with many beautiful beaches. In addition, Bai Tu Long bay national park is rich in biological diversity, home of many different flora and fauna.