In a country of highs, Halong bay rises to the top as the crowning jewel. It’s a dazzling formation of limestone pillars, dramatically jutting out of the emerald sea below.
With a diverse ecosystem spread over 2,000 limestone outcrops, the bay has endured a 500-million-year evolution to stand today as a breathtaking example of Vietnam’s natural allure. Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable as we take you on a journey of what to do in Halong Bay. In this article, we’ll guide you through your trip to this spectacular part of the world. You’ll be hard-pressed to find yourself at a loose end.
Things to do in Halong Bay
Inexplicable beauty, otherworldly surroundings, are just a few words that spring to mind when trying to explain why everyone should visit Halong Bay. Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s everything you need to know about this special part of the world. What to do, how to get there, and so much more.
Cruise over glossy waters
Meandering through the limestone bay, watching the dwindling light disappear over the islands and islets is an experience that will live long in the memory of even the most intrepid explorer. From diesel powered party junks to luxurious cruisers, there is something to cater to any budget and taste. Cruises typically include transfers, English speaking guides, meals, entrance fees, activities, and entertainment. So, you’re free to sit back and take in everything the bay has to offer.
Insider tip: You can tailor-make all your cruises by selecting your favorite cruise activities with Halong Hub.
Witnessing the misty sunrise on Halong Bay is a must. The sun rises lazily over the water, exposing jungle-clad cliffs shrouded in an ethereal mist. It’s an eerily beautiful way to begin your morning and a rare moment of seclusion in the bustling bay. Take part in a tai chi session or simply enjoy the incredible views. Being witness to the morning mist will by far be one of the highlights of your trip.
The caves of Vietnam are world-famous. If they haven’t yet featured on your list of what to do in Halong Bay, then now would be a good time to include them. The hundreds of caves allow you to delve into the hollow underworld of these towering islets. Amongst these, the largest is Sung Sot, or ‘Surprise Cave’ – a huge maze of stalactites and steps. Located on Bo Hon Island, the cave is dramatically lit and at its largest, over 30 meters high.
The charm of the floating villages
If you do nothing else, some would say that visiting the floating villages should be on the top of your list. For the authentic experience that we often dream of before coming to Vietnam, visit a floating village, where life has remained unchanged for generations. Some locals live their entire lives on these waters, never setting foot on dry land. Schools, shops, restaurants, and even a police station are bound together to create a unique floating community.
From island to island
The largest island in the Halong archipelago, Cat Ba is an inevitable stop on the cruise boat trail. Development of the once stunning Cat Ba bay has dented its charm. But most of the island remains untouched, teeming with wildlife and waterfalls. Visit nearby Monkey Island. Despite the name, this place is far more than just monkeys. Many people come here to relax on the stunning beach, while hiking is also readily available. If the thought of peaceful sunsets and tranquil lagoons doesn’t appeal, then venture to Castaway Island for some unadulterated party action.
Try your hand at pearl farming
Cultivating pearls has long been a tradition in Halong Bay. It’s only more recently that visitors can witness the process themselves. Tourists can watch local craftsmen prize open the shells in search of pearls, before turning helpful staff themselves, by farming and selecting the oysters. Finally, you have the opportunity to purchase the pearls at a discounted rate and preserve the memory of your trip in the form of this precious gem. The ladies will certainly have an idea of what to do in Halong Bay.
Kayak through paradise
Halong Bay is a paradise for active adventurers. Taking a kayak tour gives you the freedom to explore the limestone karsts from an entirely different perspective, and without the constant thrum of a diesel engine in the background. You’ll explore mystical caves and hidden lagoons that are otherwise unreachable by boat – all at a leisurely pace and under the protective wing of your tour guide.
Insider Tip: Check out this extensive list of fascinating things to do in Halong Bay.
I seafood I eat it
When it comes to indulging in the local fare, what to do in Halong Bay is a no brainer. It should be considered a federal crime to visit Halong Bay and not try the delicious local seafood. An array of crab, shrimp, lobster, and many other local dishes will scintillate your taste buds and leaves you wanting more. Served everywhere, this is some the freshest seafood the world over.
Is Halong Bay safe?
Halong Bay is a safe destination for both male and female tourists in terms of violent crime, assaults, and bag snatching. However, common sense and travelers’ intuition is essential, as they are in any other destination. Choosing a trustworthy cruise company is also essential. In this instance, online reviews are your friends. Also, the highest-ranked cruise companies can be found on the official website of Quang Ninh Tourism to help guide your decision.
How many days do you need to visit Halong Bay?
Planning out your list of what to do in Halong Bay will help you to determine how many days you need to visit this beautiful gem. Generally, a 3-day 2-night cruise is the perfect amount of time to explore what Halong Bay has to offer. If you prefer life at a slower pace, 4 and 5-day tours are available. For those with limited time, you can see plenty in a 2-day 1-night cruise. It’s even possible to take a day trip around the bay. Many operators cater to this, allowing time to visit some of the main sights and the chance to sample the local cuisine with lunch included.
Insider tip: Halong Hub has the biggest cruise collection with the best deals to suit all your cruising needs.
Is there a best time to visit Halong Bay?
Unlike the South of Vietnam, Halong Bay may be weather dependent as it has four full seasons. Good news – there are varying benefits to visiting Halong Bay all year round.
It runs from October to December, where rainfall and humidity are low, and sunny days are frequent. However, visitors also double at this time of year, so that you may be fighting off crowds at the main sights.
From January to February, Halong takes on an entirely different feel. Afternoon mist drapes the bay where the mystical rock formations hide under blankets of cloud and fog. The temperatures are low, so don’t expect to be diving into the emerald waters. Instead, cozy up in a jumper, sip on lotus tea and marvel over the jungle-covered peaks.
March to May perhaps encompasses the best of all worlds. It’s an ideal time to visit Halong Bay as the weather is pleasant and the crowds are as low as the prices. This is a great alternative to the high season.
The low season is defined as June to September due to the lurking threat of rain and storms. However, many visitors will relish this time. The prices are lower, and with temperatures in the high 20’s, swimming and sunbathing are always on the cards.
Insider Tip: Let’s take a closer look at the best time to visit Halong Bay.
How do I get to Halong Bay?
The nearest airport to Halong bay is Noi Bai International Airport, just outside Hanoi. Halong Bay is located approximately 165 kilometers from Hanoi. A road trip between these destinations will take travelers around 3.5 to 4 hours, where a local coach should cost between 100,000 VND and 200,000 VND. Alternatively, you can book a private car to visit Halong Bay – where the price will, of course, be higher, at between 1,800,000 VND – 3,200,000 VND (around $80 USD – $100 USD). Catching a train is the cheapest option, but will take you by far the longest at around 7 hours. You can grab this train from Yen Vien train station and it will cost around 70,000 VND.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Crowned as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, the bay’s unique seascape has become internationally recognizable, synonymous with the mystique and beauty of Vietnam. In 2011, it was recognized as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the world, catapulting the bay into the world’s spotlight. Your trip to Vietnam simply wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t visit Halong Bay. Family trips or solo trips discovering what to do in Halong Bay will be the least of worries. With tourism to the area ever increasing, now is the time to explore this fabled natural wonder at its peak, before its charm is stolen.
So don’t waste time contact Halong Hub today to find out availability for your next trip.