Things to Do in Halong Bay
Amid the lush islands and karst cliffs of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay; Surprise Cave (Hang Sung Sot) is one of the most memorable highlights. The bay’s largest cave earned its name for its startling natural scenery—a trio of immense caverns adorned with stalactites, stalagmites, and karst formations.
Remote Lan Ha Bay (Vịnh Lan Hạ), situated off the southeast coast of Cat Ba Island, is an idyllic spot and quieter alternative to the popular and often busy Halong Bay. The area features some 300 karst islands and limestone outcrops, as well as several white-sand beaches. Active travelers come here for swimming, rock climbing, hiking, and kayaking.
Just half a mile (800 meters from Tuan Chau Pier, Dau Go Cave (Hang Đầu Gỗ is one of Halong Bay’s most popular caves, praised by colonial-era tourists and Vietnamese emperors alike. Ninety steps lead from the jetty to three distinct chambers, dripping with stalactites: the last, which is colorfully lit, boasts a freshwater lake.
The fairy-tale limestone seascapes that made UNESCO-listed Halong Bay famous continue into Bai Tu Long Bay (Vinh Bai Tu Long). Quieter, less developed, and more difficult to reach than its famous sibling, Bai Tu Long Bay is an increasingly popular choice for day cruises and overnight adventures.
A national park made up of dense jungle canvasses half of mountainous Cát Bà Island, the largest island in Halong Bay. Recognized by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve and known for its golden sand beaches, the park is home to an extraordinary diversity of animals, including the endangered Cát Bà langur.
Named in honor of Russian astronaut Gherman Titov during his 1962 visit to Halong Bay, Titop Island (Đảo Titop) offers a striking sight from a distance—a swooping tower of limestone rising out of the sea and blanketed with thick rain forest. Its main highlight is the crescent of pristine white sand lining its shore.
Hon Ga Choi Island is usually translated into English as Fighting Cocks Island or Cock and Hen Island, as the two adjacent rock formations that comprise the island resemble these birds from some angles, and in a certain light. Located in Northern Vietnam’s picturesque Halong Bay, the jagged rocks are a popular landmark and photo subject.
With its primeval forest and stretches of white sand, it’s easy to see why little Soi Sim Island (Đảo Soi Sim) has become a firm favorite among cruise visitors. Soi Sim, which takes its name from the native sim trees that cover much of its landscape, is located near Titop Island at the heart of Halong Bay and most often visited on overnight cruises.
One of a cluster of islets to the south of Cát Bà Island in Lan Ha Bay, Monkey Island (Đảo Cát Dứa takes its name from the wild macaques that play in beaches and bush alike. Many Lan Ha Bay cruises stop by here, for a swim on a golden beach, a photo with the monkeys, or to capture the ocean views from the island’s mountainous spine.
Bai Chay (Bãi Cháy) translates as “Scorched Beach,” a nod to the 13th-century forest fire that swept across the mainland. Though most visitors come to Bai Chay as the departure point for Halong Bay cruises, it’s worth stopping to visit its wide sandy beach and lively waterfront, which buzzes with activity day and night.
More Things to Do in Halong Bay
Quang Ninh Museum (Bảo Tàng Quảng Ninh) is housed in a striking modern building located along the coast of Halong Bay. Spread across three blocks, the structure includes the main museum, a library, and a convention center, all connected by an overhead bridge system. The ground floor is dedicated to the flora and fauna of the region, and the second floor focuses on the history of the province, with displays of US wartime military and some fascinating ancient artifacts dating back to 2000 BC. The third floor of the museum is predominantly about the coal industry in the province, covering its history with stories of the miners and displays of various artifacts.
To get a real insight into the history and culture of this region, join a full-day Halong City tour and visit all of the important landmarks, such as Hon Gai Church, Long Tien Pagoda, and Quang Ninh Museum and Library. If you’re short on time, you can include a visit to the museum on a private half-day Halong City tour, where you can enjoy the stunning views over Halong Bay from Bai Tho Mountain — the highest point in the city.
Maze Cave (Hang Mê Cung or Động Mê Cung in Viatnamese) stands out among the many caves of Halong Bay for more than just its beauty—it’s also an important archaeological site where significant prehistoric remains have been found that date back as far as 7,000 to 10,000 years. It is occasionally called "Bewitching Grotto".
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