Many travellers to majestic Halong Bay spend a day cruising the emerald waters admiring the mysterious limestone rocks that rise up majestically. But there is so much more to do in Halong Bay such as kayaking, exploring the caves and hiking on the islands.
Over 3,000 amazing islands rise up from the Gulf of Tonkin, some with their own caves, beaches and inlets. It’s this stunning and mystic landscape that earns Halong Bay its place on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. Many visitors spend a day or two on a traditional junk, bobbing along on the serene waters, watching everyday Vietnamese life going by.
Spot the Wildlife and Birdlife on Cat Ba Island
There are many larger islands within Halong Bay, including Cat Ba Island, which is the largest and home to a lush national park, teeming with over 30 different mammal species and 70 bird species. The Cat Ba National Park offers fantastic opportunities for hiking and maybe spotting the rare golden-headed ‘Cat Ba Langur’ monkey. The primate is thought to number less than 100 and is officially the most engendered monkey in the world, despite local conservation efforts. The park covers both land and water and keen walkers can spot giant oriental squirrels, wild boar, the civet cat and deer. Bird species include cuckoos, hornbills and hawks. Try climbing the peak viewing tower which is a two hour round trip, cool off at one of the many pristine beaches and take a boat trip over to Monkey Island.
Chill out on Lan Ha Bay’s beautiful beaches
Whilst Halong Bay has many inlets and caves, it doesn’t have many real beaches, except at Lan Ha Bay, which has around 100 deliciously sandy stretches of beach. Pitch up for a few days to take in the stunning views, explore the floating villages and enjoy rock climbing, scuba diving, swimming and kayaking. Or simply chill out on one of the beaches and watch daily life go by
Walk through the Cave of Wonders
Don your most comfortable walking shoes and climb through the Dau Go Caves, aka the Cave of Wonders. Lit up in various colours, the caves systems offer an insight into the intriguing natural rock formations. The caves offer respite from the fierce hit with their eerie atmosphere, where natural daylight rarely pokes through the rocks.
Spend a day kayaking in Halong Bay
Slow the pace down somewhat with a kayaking trip, which allows you to meander through the giant limestone rocks. It’s a great opportunity to get away from the crowds, explore some of the quieter caves, inlets and beaches. Paddle to Ti Top Island, admire the views and hone your kayaking skills in a unique location. Find out for yourself why Halong Bay is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature!
Traverse the Sung Sot Grottoes
In the heart of Halong Bay are the Sung Sot Caves, which are also known as the ‘Surprise Grottoes’. Located on Bo Hon Island, these are widely touted as both the widest and best cave systems in Halong Bay. You’ll take a short hike up to the grottoes through forest and the caves themselves are separated into two natural sections. Admire the forms of the stalactites and the rock formations.
Try hiking on Ban Sen Island
To really get off the beaten tourist trail, try a hiking adventure on Ban Sen Island. The island is thickly forested and just about uninhabited which makes for a peaceful getaway! Take a ferry to Quan Lan from Cai Rong to enjoy your own little piece of paradise. Hire a local guide for the day who will regale you with stories of local folklore including mysterious monster sightings!
Take a Halong Bay Cruise
The ubiquitous cruise on Halong Bay is an absolute must-do! Opt for a traditional junk for that really authentic experience. And to really get into the local spirit, opt to stay for several days, sleeping overnight on the calm emerald waters. You’ll pass floating villages where families, livestock and pets live and trade as part of their daily life. You can also stop off at swimming and snorkelling spots.