Top 10+ must-try things to do in Halong bay

Probably, you have heard about Halong bay, the most fabulous bay in Asia, which should not be missed by any travellers.Halong is a naturally beautiful bay with almost two thousand islands and islets that dot the turquoise-green waters – what an awesome place to leisure when travelling to Vietnam.Don’t miss any part of this natural gem by discovering the 10 + top-rated things to do in Halong Bay…


1. Take a cruise, the best way to admire Halong bay’s beauty.

Halong’s sea & limestone pillars includes three adjacent bays : Halong bayBai Tu Long bay and Lan Ha bay.In general, these three bays all share the same geographical and geomorphological features. They all have limestone pillars, karst caves and grottos, and turquoise water.With its off-shored landscapes, the best way to immense the bay’s beauty is from the water on a day cruise or overnight Halong bay junks, gliding along the tiny islands and towering limestone cliffs scattered on the ocean, stopping between for the cave exploration, kayaking to the hidden corner of the bay, swimming on the pristine beaches.For more sightseeing & activities to take on the bay, it is highly recommended that you should go on a 2 day Halong bay cruise, spend your ultimate night on a luxury cruise, taste mouth – watering dishes of local sea foods, and feel truly beauty of Halong bay. That is surely the best things to do in Halong bay

Things to do in Halong bay - cruise

>>>>>>> You may need to know :  8 steps to select the best Halong bay cruise

Besides the mentioned main features, each bay possesses its own charming characteristics.While Halong bay is touristy, Lan Ha  & Halong bay are on their early stage of tourism development so the landscapes still remain untouched & pristine.On a 2 day/1 night Halong bay trip, you can only visit one bay following the cruise’s regulated itinerary. Get to know more about each bay, see what you love to experience, then select the cruise doing that route – a smart way to plan your trip to Halong bay.

a. Halong Bay, the biggest bay recognized as UNESCO Natural Heritage.

This is the most well-known bay among tourists and therefore, the most crowded one. Cruises will depart from Tuan Chau Harbor or Bai Chay pier and start a voyage around the famous tourist attractions in Halong Bay. You will visit the well-known islets, caves, and beaches that appear a lot on media such as Ba Hang floating village, Fighting Cock islets, Sung Sot cave, Ti Top island, Hang Luon cave….. However, as it is the famous name among tourists, Halong is usually crowded with flocks of tourists.

Halong bay

The majority of cruise lines operate their route to Halong bay.Some outstanding names to be considered are Glory Legend Cruise, Pelican Cruise, Syrena Cruise, Paradise Cruises, Bhaya Cruises, Legend Cruises, Au Co Cruises

b. Lan Ha Bay – The hidden gem with pristine beauty

Located in the south of the Halong bay, Lan Ha bay boasts its pristine landscapes and still in less touristy state – as beautiful as Halong bay itself.Despite covering not so large an area, the bay is home to breathtaking beaches and clean sea water. Lan Ha also steals tourists’ hearts with the beautiful Cat Ba Island, where exists evergreen forests with extraordinary bio-ecological systems. Lan Ha Bay cruises normally start from Binh Pier or Beo Pier in Cat Ba. It is the perfect destination for a get-off-the-beaten-track tour.

Lan ha bay - Halong

La Regina Legend Cruise, Genenis Regal Cruise, Serinity Cruise, Era Cruise, Mon Cheri Cruise are some great names to consider in this Lan Ha bay route.

c. Bai Tu Long bay – The hideaway to enjoy tranquil landscapes.

Bai Tu Long bay is locally known as the place where baby dragons descended down and knowtowed their mother dragon ( in Halong bay).This bay locates to the northeast of Halong bay, covers a large area including Bai Tu Long national park. The bay is featured typically with endless craggy & towering islets, scattered with many white sandy beaches & floating villages, and in the early stage of tourism exploitation.When it comes to comparisions, Bai Tu Long bay truly offers the most magnificent views out of all three bays, earn itself a reputation as one of the top off – the – beaten path destinations in Vietnam.Bai Tu Long bay will be a smart choice if you expect to treasure the wild nature, appreciate the tranquility and stay away from the touristy crowd.

Bai Tu Long bay

The following cruises are typical ones operating their daily route to Bai Tu Long bay : Victory Star Cruise, Bai Tho Cruise, La Regina Royal Cruise, Indochina Junk, Dragon Legend Cruise, Emperor Cruise…

2. Explore the breathtaking Caves

Want to explore the cave in Halong Bay? Halong bay is home to plentiful stunning caves & grottos hidden among Halong’s limstone mountains. The must-see caves in Halong bay can’t be missed in Halong bay are Thien Cung Cave – one of the most massive 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, and Hospital Cave – an underground cave once used as a secret hospital during the Vietnam War. On a cruise excursion to Halong bay, you can visit among these grottos and feast your eye on the magnificent gifts of Mother Nature

Things to do in halong - caves

3.Kayak between Karst Limestone Outcrops

It’s regrettable if you visit Halong without trying kayaking. Paddling on the incredible green sea water to see the splendid nature with your own eyes would be a once-in-a-life-time experience.With instructions from trained and attentive tour guides on how to paddle and remain in a safe area, you can take your kayak and explore the breathtaking beauty of Halong Bay, visiting caves, hidden lagoons, deserted beaches and floating villages along the way. Amazing sites for kayaking in Halong bay including Luon cave area, Vung Vieng fishing village, Van Boi beach in Lan Ha bay, Dark Cave- Bright Cave area….Do not miss this activity if you have chance to visit Halong bay!

Things to do in halong bay- kayak

4.Have a glimpse of the unique lifestyle in the floating villages

Scattered all over the bay, there are a number of floating villages, the home of local fisherman in remote corners of Halong bay.During your cruise on the bay, your ship will navigate to one of this villages : Cua Van, Ba Hang, Cong Dam, Hoa Cuong, Van Boi or Vung Vieng…. These villages still maintain the style of a fishing village where you can experience the locals’ unique lifestyle, get to know about their daily life at sea : they live on floating houses, rely on their boats for their daily living, working, and communication with each other. Pay a visit to one of those charming villages, meet playful kids, and meet some grinning fishermen. This way, you are experiencing the most interesting things to do in Halong Bay.

halong bay things to do

5.Trekking up to Titop island for wonderful panorama of Halong bay

Located in the middle of Halong bay,Ti Top Island has a crescent-shaped sand beach.The sand here is washed white in four seasons by the tide – awesome place for swimming & water sports.In addition, the island is designed with the multi-layered top view points, where you can conquer on a steep 500- step trails, but worth your try to admire panoramic view of the bay.

On November 22,1962, President Ho Chi Minh and Soviet cosmonaut Giéc Man Ti Top visited the island.To commemorate that trip, President Ho Chi Minh named the island Ti Top.For those reasons, that’s why it’s listed as one of top 10 things to Do in Halong Bay

Tip top island -thing to do in Halong

6.Swimming on pristine beaches of Halong bay

Feel sweating with Vietnam’s hot summer? Let’s cruise around the bay & stop by a sandy beach.You will enjoy the fresh sea breeze & indulge in crystal clear water.The top highlight is Titop beach as we listed above. Another beach attraction is Soi Sim, which is well-known for its emerald waters, verdant foliage, and the ultimate display of flora and fauna. Moreover, there are many other must-visit beaches including Dao Khi, Ba Trai Dao, Van Boi and Tuan Chau Beach. Most of them give refreshing air, crystal water, and idyllic sands; so you can sunbathe & relax while enjoying the bay’s beauty.

Halong beach- swimming in Halong bay

7. Visit Cat Ba island, the largest one in Halong bay.

Cat Ba Island is the biggest island of Halong bay & the best stop if you want to do something else besides exploring the deep turquoise waters.You can join a 3 day/2 night Lan Ha bay cruise, with one night on the cruise & another night in the hotel of Cat Ba island, where you can find some nice hotels & other interesting activities to do with short / long treks to explore Cat Ba national park, uniquely biking across the core area of the park to Viet Hai fishing village, conquering the peaks for picturesque photos of Cat Ba island at Canon Fort, Ngu Lam & Hai Quan peaks…..
Canon Fort - things to do in Halong bay

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 cruise tour including Cat Ba National Park in the itinerary.

>>>>>> You may love to know :  Top 10 things to do in Cat Ba island

8. Behold Halong bay’s aerial view from a sea plane or helicopter.

A not-to-be-missed experience to do in Halong bay is beholding Halong bay’s aerial views of Halong bay from a sea plane or helicopter.You can do this fast transfer service by flight with Hai Au carrier from Hanoi, it is great to get access to Halong bay faster & feast your eyes on facstinating captivation of Red River Delta & Halong bay.

Provided exclusively by Hai Au Aviation, the cost of a scenic flight in Halong is 99 USD per person (15 minutes) while a round trip between Hanoi and Halong costs from 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 - helicopter for view


Since the bay takes all the attention and highlight away, some might not even put an eye to its city – Halong city. However, the city can be a wonderful alternative spot to hang around in case the weather isn’t favorable for your cruise to sail.

9. Explore Halong city

In contrast to the laid-back landscapes over the bay, Ha Long city is far more vibrant and exciting with a great collection of must-do activities. Contemplate the Bai Chay Bridge,swimming at Bai Chay beach, sample the authentic dishes at local restaurants, taste the street food dishes, enjoy nightlife activities, visit Halong night markets for local souvenirs, etc. All makes them the best things to do in Halong bay, see the differences between rural life in floating villages and urban life in the provincial city.

Halong city- view

Places to visit in Halong city.

  • Bai Chay Beach: a decent artificial beach, 100m wide and 500m long,right at the front of Halong city
  • Bai Chay Bridge: sable-stayed bridge connecting two parts of the city (Bai Chay & Hon Gai). There’s a elevator at the bottom to take you to the top for sightseeing (2000VND/way)
  • Quang Ninh Provincial Museum: admission 30,000VND per adult, a huge, modern architecture building where you can learn a lot about the region
  • Hon Gai Roman Church: a historical landmark

10. Take part in thrilling activities at Sun World Halong Complex

As a new amusement parks recently built in Halong city, Sun World Halong Complex has made its big draw to tourists since it was operarated. The complex are separated into 2 sections: the Mystic Mountain Complex and the Coastal Amusement Complex, which are connected by the Queen Cable Car, also called the Sun Wheel Halong for captivating aerial views of Halong city & Halong bay.This amusement park is one of the best things to do in Ha Long bay for families with kids.It is thrilling to enjoy endless water sports at the Dragon Park, Typhoon Waterpark, Sun Wheel, Zen Garden, and so on to hang over with your kids & cool off while in Halong city.

things to do in Halong bay - Sun World

11. Conquer Bai Tho mountain for great panorama of Halong bay & Halong city.

If you love a wonderful adventure in Halong city, let’s conquer the peak of Bai Tho Mountain in Hon Gai part of Halong city, one of top recommended things to do in Halong city.The mountain has got its name since 1268 when King Le Thanh Tong carved a poem on a cliff at the mountain.Located at an altitude of 200m with half lying on land, half lying on the sea, conquering its summit, you will have stunning captivation over scenic Bai Tu Long bay, Halong bay & Halong city. It is quite a good spot for wonderful selfie photos beloved & shared among travel lovers.The best time to get here is early morning and evening. If you intend to catch the dawn, you should climb from about 4:30 am and 16:00 if you want to catch the sunset.

things to do in Halong bay- Bai Tho mountain

Halong bay exploration with Golden Holiday Travel

Above is our shared list of the top awesome things to do in Halong bay. Plan your trip well to explore some of them or all if you have enough time. As the first timers to Vietnam, you may need travel suggestions or local consultancy for your coming Halong bay vacation, don’t hesitage to drop us an email to : or whatsapp +84.988451530 (whatsapp), our travel experts will soon reply you back with useful support & travel advice….

Things to do in Halong bay

See you in Halong bay, Vietnam

Golden Holiday Travel Team

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Ban Vu Dinh

Start working in travel industry in Vietnam from 2003, I had the great chance to learn and see the change as well as the development of tourism in our country. After a few years working in different positions in some well-known international travel companies, together with some co-founders, we found Golden Holiday Travel in 2012 basing on our passion and knowledge with the dream to show tourists around the globe more about Vietnam’s beautiful attractions and to be the travellers’ best local partner for their enjoyable Vietnam holidays of unforgetable memory.

Hope this personsal blog do some help for your Vietnam trip plans ! Any questions or support you need, feel free to let me know.....

See you soon in Vietnam !

Ban Vu Dinh

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