The best things to do in Halong Bay

A view of floating fishing village in the Halong Bay

This beautiful, natural wonder of the world is one of Vietnam’s most popular places to visit for foreigners and locals alike. Halong Bay started to form 500 million years ago and what we see now used to only be deep sea. What makes Halong Bay so unique are the 1,600 islands and islets surrounding the area. It is a spectacular sight. If you have any doubts about visiting Halong Bay, you will (hopefully!) change your mind after reading about all the things you can do here.

Halong Bay lies in the northeast of Vietnam and approximately 180 km away from the capital city Hanoi. In 1994 UNESCO declared this a World Heritage Site and the site’s outstanding scenic beauty is one of the reasons why so many people come here each year. Here are some of the best things to do in Halong Bay.

Go on a boat cruise

Beautiful view on tourist boats among limestone rocks of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Beautiful view on tourist boats among limestone rocks of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

See Halong Bay’s beauty by cruising around the thousands of islands and islets on a boat. This is one of the most popular ways to explore Halong Bay and you can choose to go on a day cruise, which lasts about 4 hours, or go on an overnight cruise. The overnight cruises are always more recommended since you get to see and do a lot. You won’t have many other chances waking up in the middle of the bay, surrounded by uninhabited islands.

Visit caves

Sung Sot Cave in Halong Bay, Vietnam
Sung Sot Cave in Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay is also known for having some of the most spectacular caves. One of the most well-known caves is Hang Sung Sot Cave. You can also hire a rowing boat if you want to explore the caves this way.

Sunbathe in one of many beaches

White wild beach on uninhabited tropical island in the Halong Bay

If you are going on a good month then you might as well check out one of many beaches in Halong Bay. Vietnam is a great destination if you want to get your suntanning on, because of its warm, mild weather and long stretches of white sand beaches. Halong Bay might not be the first place you think of if you want to go to a beach, but thanks to the clear, emerald water that Halong Bay is blessed with, their beaches is nothing but spectacular.

Take a ferry to Cat Ba Island

A view of Cat Ba Island Port
A view of Cat Ba Island Port

Cat Ba is still quite unexplored in comparison to many other places and many people tend to skip it when they visit Halong Bay. But I would highly advise you to hop on a ferry and come here. If you love nature and unspoilt beaches, you will love this island. Rent a motorbike and cruise around Cat Ba, see the majestic mountains surrounding this island and go to one of many beaches here and relax. You can also do some hiking here if you prefer to be more active.


Halong Bay has a very diverse ecosystem and the coral reef ecosystem is especially impressive.  For travelers who loves to snorkel or wants to do scuba diving, this is a great place to be. If you want to snorkel, you will most likely have to go to Cong Do Island, Van Gio Island or Trai Cave.

The sights are many in Halong Bay and you will definitely want to be here for a few nights. Besides these activities, there are plenty of other things to do in this area such as biking, kayaking, canoeing, climbing, cycling, do cooking classes… The list goes on! Take your time in this stunning place and appreciate the environment around you. It truly is a one-of-a-kind place.

Don’t forget to apply for your Vietnam visa before so you can enter the country. Depending on which country you are a citizen of, you can apply for an E-Visa. This is by far one of the simplest options but the E-Visa is only available for some countries. If you are not sure whether yours is, contact your embassy. The other two options is to apply for a Visa on Arrival or go to your local or nearest Vietnam Embassy or Consulate in order to get your Vietnam visa.