Halong Bay is the #1 tourist attraction in Vietnam. The bay is rich in unique fishing villages, picturesque islands, natural stalactite caves, and 1000's of limestone islets rising from the emerald waters. Plus, it is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage site that is easily explored on the Vietnam tours, while there are also plenty of other things to see and do in the local area.
Here are a few of the best things to see and do in Halong Bay:
Explore the local city
Every visitor to Halong Bay is looking to explore its superb waters, but while in the area it is worth visiting Halong City. A few of the worthwhile destinations include Bai Chay Market with its rich and varied stalls that sell everything from cheap clothing to fresh produce, as well as the local restaurants. Linh Dan and Tuan Huong restaurant are well known for serving the authentic dishes. The local authentic cuisine is rich in seafood dishes that include lamprey, lobsters, prawns, clams, crab, and more. The freshness and closeness to the sea means the food in Halong Bay is rarely likely to disappoint.
The local aerial tramway which is the worlds biggest has the ability to carry hundreds of passengers at a time. The tram cars travel between Bai Chay/Ba Deo Hill. An observation platform is waiting for those arriving to give perfect views of the surrounding bay.
Relax on the beach
Halong Bay has several nearby beaches including Soi Sim, Ngoc Vung, Ba Trai Dao, TipTop and Tuan Chau. They make a great place to relax and sunbathe while getting a stunning view of the bay. The beaches are located on many different islands that are located throughout the bay area. Also, it can be difficult to visit the respective islands on your own, so you will need to organise a single-day or multiple-day tour that includes a little time spent relaxing on a beach, as well as other activities, such as visiting floating villages, caves, scuba diving and kayaking.
Explore the grottoes
Vietnam has plenty of majestic cave systems throughout the country. One of the largest cave systems - Hang Son Doong Cave - is well hidden in Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, but there are also many small, intimate caves to see in Halong Bay.
Well concealed in the jungle-covered peaks of the limestone islets are the fascinating caves and grottoes of all sizes and shapes. A few of the good cave systems in the area include Dau Go Cave and Thien Cung Cave (Heavenly Palace Cave), which are easy to reach for tourists that plan to use a boat departing or anchoring at Tuan Chau Port.
Cruise the floating villages
A tour of the local floating villages in Halong Bay can give a humbling and fascinating experience. The main floating villages to see on the family tours in Vietnam include Ba Hang, Cong Dam, Vung Vieng and Cua Van. They continue to be a major attraction for visitors and give a great chance to not only learn about the unique culture and seascape on Halong Bay, but also to interact with the friendly local people that have learnt to live and work in this environment.
Plus, it is worth visiting early in the day to get the most out of the floating markets that sell a wide range of goods including fresh fruits, such as durians, lychees and dragon fruits.
Short excursion to Cat Ba Island
Most of the south of the bay is made up by the Cat Ba Archipelago, which consists of a total of 367 islands. One of the most beautiful and biggest of all is Cat Ba Island. This island is appreciated for its natural beauty that consists of the Cat Ba National Park. A visit to Cat Ba Island on the Vietnam holiday is certain to appeal to those in search of a little adventure with its climbing and trekking opportunities. Exploring this island is possible by foot or bicycle, but there is also the option to sign up for more adventurous activities.
Scuba diving and kayaking
Halong Bay is a very friendly destination for water sports with its calm tides and clean blue water. One of the favourite pastimes on the bay is using a kayak to reach the many different limestone outcrops and sometimes to venture inside the cave systems. A great place for kayaking is the Dark Cave and Light Cave, which are typically featured on most itineraries for a planned cruise.
For the scuba diving enthusiasts, the underwater scenes are stunning and comparable to what can be seen on top. Snorkelling and scuba diving can range from the half-day to full-day excursions to explore the coral reefs and also see many of the local marine life in Halong.
Step aboard a seaplane
Flying over Halong Bay with its scattered islands and glittering waters is certain to be one of the most scenic and thrilling activities to do on the Vietnam luxury tours. The seaplane departs from Hanoi's international airport (Noi Bai), so there is no need to travel to Halong Bay before getting to enjoy the flying experience. The birds-eye view of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is truly stunning and offers the chance to see the limestone peaks in their entirety. Alternatively, a helicopter tour gives an equally exciting opportunity to see this marvel of nature. However, a seaplane or helicopter tour can be a little expensive and likely to cost in the region of $650 per person.
See the wildlife
Halong Bay is home to a long list of diverse and interesting wildlife, as well as many different flora and fauna species that exist above and below the sea level. Any trip to Halong Bay is certain to please the nature lover. A few of the most common things to spot include the exotic plants, monkeys, squirrels, deer and fish.