A UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular day trip from the capital Hanoi, Halong Bay is famous for its limestone karsts and almost two thousand islands and islets that dot the turquoise-green waters. While most of these islands are just towering rocks emerging from the ocean, with no place to land, many make for great climbing destinations or have caves that can be approached with boats.

Only 40 of the islands in Halong Bay are inhabited, and only a few of those are developed enough to offer hotels, restaurants, and recreational opportunities for visitors—including the larger Cat Ba Island, where most of the cruise boats dock. Still, many visitors that arrive in Halong Bay via a cruise spend their nights onboard, using the daytime to snorkel, kayak, or sunbathe.

If you’re considering a trip to the area, discover the best things to do with our list of the top attractions in Halong Bay.

Take a cruise tour

Cruise boat in Halong BayCruise boats on Halong Bay

There’s no better way to see the beauty of Halong Bay than from the water, zigzagging among the tiny islands and towering limestone cliffs that populate the bay. But what type of cruise experience you want makes a world of difference, and the options go from quick half-day tours around the day to overnight trips leaving from the capital Hanoi.

You also have a choice of amenities: you can take a traditional junk-boat cruise with sails or a more modern yacht-style boat that’s faster but less charming. These two-day, one-night trips are perfect if you want to just kick back and relax without having to make any plans on your own: food, accommodation, and sightseeing will all be part of the cruise ticket.

Halong Bay cruises are usually air-conditioned and offer sun loungers for an open view of the waters as you get to and then explore Halong Bay. If you get a cruise trip for two to three nights, you will probably also get the option of sleeping at a resort on one of the islands (usually Cat Ba).

When choosing a cruise, always ask what activities are included—most offer a combination of kayaking, swimming, cave exploring, onboard cooking classes, and sometimes excursions to floating villages.

We offer cruise tour with comparative rate, please contact us for further consultant. 

Kayak in Bai Tu Long Bay

Kayaks on the beach in Bai Tu Long Bay
Kayaks on the beach in Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long is technically right next to Halong Bay, but it’s an area that until recently wasn’t part of the normal cruise tours. While more and more visitors are now making their way to this corner of the bay, it still mostly remains off-the-beaten-track—mainly because accessing it through the labyrinth of limestone mountains is a little trickier, so only those on a longer cruise (at least three days) will find their way here.

Since the waters around Bai Tu Long Bay aren’t as crowded with large ships, you can easily (and safely) explore the area in a kayak. Bai Tu Long has a number of caves that can only be accessed from the water, as well as hidden pockets of stunning untouched beauty around almost every corner.

The island itself is covered in rain forest and mangroves, and it’s home to a number of endangered species, including the leopard cat and the large Indian civet.

Sunbathe in Titov (Ti Top) Beach/Island

Ti Top Beach
Ti Top Beach

This crescent-moon shaped beach might not be the largest in Halong Bay, but it’s definitely one of the most stunning. Tip Top island is a tiny islet with white sands and calm waters and can only be reached by boat from Halong Bay.

popular rock climbing destination, the island is also a common stop for day cruises—however, boats only stop here for a couple of hours, so if you want a longer visit, rent your own boat and spend some extra time just sitting on the sand, admiring the majestic bay around you.

The island has a small shop that doubles as a mini café and also rents equipment for snorkeling and swimming, as well as beach chairs. This is one part of Halong Bay day-tour itinerary we offer, so you can easily reach up here everyday.

Explore Caves 

The Beauty of Sung Sot Cave (Surprising Cave - Amazing Cave)
The Beauty of Surprising Cave (Amazing Cave)

With cliffs and mountains everywhere, it’s no surprise that Halong Bay also has an abundance of caves—and Driftwood Island is a particularly good spot to discover some of them.

This small island in the southwest of Halong Bay is home to two caves: the massive Thien Cung cave and the tall but less deep Dau Go grotto. Both caves are at least two million years old and have some impressive chambers—the entrance of Dau Go cave, for example, is “just” 12 meters high, but the highest dome inside reaches 25 meters tall, and it’s covered in stone pillars and stalagmites. 

Artificial lights have been arranged all around the caves to illuminate certain areas, especially rock formations that seem to mimic animal forms and even a deep well of clear, blue water.

Otherwise, you cannot ignore Surprising Cave, which is home to three ponds, and it’s illuminated with colorful lights, which creates a dancing of ghostly images on the walls as visitors walk by. Openings in the ceiling also let in natural light, and there are narrow passageways connecting different rooms for those who are more adventurous and want to explore deeper. You can get here by Halong Bay day-tour every morning or afternoon.

Experience the Thrills of Sun World Halong Park

Sun World Halong Park
Sun World Halong Park

Sun World is Vietnam’s largest amusement park, a mega recreational complex that covers 214 hectares and is divided into two sections: the Mystic Mountain Complex (also known as the Ba Deo Hill Park) and the Coastal Amusement Complex, which also includes the Typhoon Water Park.

The two sections of the park are connected by the Queen Cable Car, which rides high up over the bay and the island for two kilometers of beautiful photo opportunities.

The Coastal section of the park offers plenty of thrill rides, including a roller coaster, water rides, giant slides, and lots of options to cool off—all surrounded by its own sandy beach that gently slopes into the turquoise waters around.

At the Ba Deo park, you’ll find one of the world’s tallest Ferris wheels, the Sun Wheel Halong, which offers stunning views of the bay from its 64 cabins. There’s also an arcade; an indoor game zone; a wax museum; and a Zen garden complete with bonsai trees, waterfalls, and a miniature Mount Fuji.

Stop by the Quang Ninh Museum & Library

Quang Ninh Museum and Library

Quang Ninh Museum & Library

Covering an area of 24,000 square meters in Halong City, this mix of museum, library, and exhibition space offers a very eclectic collection that includes everything from sailboat models to items connected to Buddhist culture and the resistance effort against the French Colonial empire.

While the exhibits are clearly marked, this isn’t meant to be a typical museum where you can find large collections organized into specific groups, but more of a wide insight into the land and people (including minority ethnic groups) of Halong Bay.

In addition to a massive book collection, the library also offers a screening room, theater, coffee shop, and bookstore. With reading rooms, special rooms for kids, and areas where rotating exhibits are available, this is a great complex to learn more about the city, but also a good place for a quiet break from the heat when you’re in the area.

Opening time: All day except the last Monday of moth

Morning: 8:00 – 12:00 AM

Afternoon: 13:00-17:00 PM

Price: 40,000/Adult & 10.000/Children

Visit Tuan Chau Island

King Kong Park - Tuan Chau Island
King Kong Park – Tuan Chau Island

Located just off the coast of Halong City, this tiny island of just 1,500 residents is one of the most developed tourist destinations in the area. Tuan Chau can be reached via a two-kilometer-long road that connects it to the mainland, which has made it a lot easier and convenient for visitors to stay here and get “the island experience” without having to worry about transportation.

A well-developed resort destination, the island has a golf course; beach villas; a number of restaurants; and a beautiful marina, where cruises often stop so travelers can catch a dance performance or grab some souvenirs.

A nature reserve on the island offers chances for trekking and camping, while the coastline is perfect for kayakingwater skiing, and parasailing.

Walk the Grounds of the Cai Bau Pagoda

Cai Bau Pagoda
Cai Bau Pagoda

Located high up on a hill overlooking Bai Tu Long Bay, the large pagoda occupies an area of 20 hectares, where shrines, gates, and towers offer a spiritual break and plenty of opportunities for photo taking. Although there were temples in this location over 700 years ago, the current pagoda was completely reconstructed and expanded in 2007.

The manicured gardens of the pagoda include small ponds, bells, statues (including two large mythological creatures guarding the entrance through the gate), and plenty of secluded spots to sit and enjoy the cool breeze and the stunning views over the water.

Visit Cat Ba Island

Aerial view of Cat Ba Island
Aerial view of Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island is Halong Bay’s largest island and the best stop if you want to do something else besides exploring the deep turquoise waters. The island is home to some nice hotels; Cat Ba National Park that covers one-third of the island; and a number of tourist attractions connected to the Vietnam War—more notably the Hospital Cave, an underground, bomb-proof hospital and safe house.

Cat Ba is also the starting point for adventurers wishing to get up close and personal with Halong Bay. This is the best place to get a kayak, join a tour to explore the caves on the island, take off on a hike through the national park (trails are clearly marked so you won’t get lost), or do some rock climbing. Organized tours are available if you want to try something not included in your cruise package, but many visitors just pay a local for a ride on their boat.

Cat Ba doesn’t have many roads, so walking and biking are not only the easiest and greenest ways to get around but also the best options to make sure you don’t miss out on anything—including opportunities to run into giant lizards or catch sight of a rare eagle in flight.

Cat Ba also has its own three beaches that are perfect for swimming and quiet in the mornings, before cruises arrive. Between May and September, it’s also possible to snorkel around the island.

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