25 Best Things To Do In Ha Long Bay, Vietnam - Updated 2024

| 10 min read

Clad with jungles and dotted with limestone pinnacles rising out of emerald-green waters is one of Vietnam’s most picturesque towns and largest attractions, Ha Long Bay. The region attracts millions of tourists each year and has come to be known as a popular getaway destination, not just in Southeast Asia, but across the world. Due to its rising popularity and increasing tourism, the Vietnamese government has imposed some strict regulations to retain the natural beauty of the place. Regardless, Ha Long Bay does not disappoint. Use this list of things to do in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam and return home thoroughly rejuvenated.

Tip from Content Creator

Ha Long Bay

Photo of Ha Long Bay shared by content creator from the UK, Leah.

1. Explore the Drum and Virgin Caves

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you’re in Ha Long Bay, don’t miss out on visiting Drum and Virgin Cave, which are popular among both locals and tourists. Although they are loved because of their natural beauty, the Drum and Virgin caves are considered curious places to visit, thanks to their legendary story. The Drum and Virgin Caves are two different caves that are just a few meters apart. These two caves represent a symbol of love. In Virgin Cave, visitors get to see a statue of a lying girl who is looking out at the sea towards Drum Cave, waiting for her lover, and in Drum Cave, you’ll see a boy-shaped statue looking out towards Virgin Cave searching for his lover.

Drum and Virgin Cave

Address: Tuần Châu, Thành phố Hạ Long, Quảng Ninh, Vietnam

Visited this place?

2. Grab a meal at Papas BBQ Restaurant

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Uyen Papas on Sunday, May 3, 2020

Papas BBQ Restaurant is considered as one of the top restaurants in the Ha Long Bay area and for a reason. This restaurant is home to German and Vietnamese cuisines. And you can pick your favorites from the menu that mainly features shrimp, sausage, and steak. Some of the crowd favorites include lamb chops grilled, tenderloins steak, pork knuckle, frikadelle, and schnitzel mushroom, to name a few.

Papas BBQ Restaurant

Address: C346 Sun World Area: Road: Công Vien, Hạ Long, Bãi Cháy, Thành phố Hạ Long, Quảng Ninh 200000, Vietnam

Website: Papas BBQ Restaurant

Opening hours: 5am - 10pm (daily)

Visited this place?

3. Admire the beauty of Cai Bau Pagoda

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Nestled on the base of Truc Lam Giac Tam Zen Monastery, Cai Bau Pagoda is situated on the mountainside that overlooks Bai Tu Long Bay. 700 years ago, this pagoda was called Phuc Linh Tu Pagoda, but now it has become one of the popular spiritual destinations featuring thousands of islets. The pagoda exudes a cozy ambiance, and you will hear occasional chants and temple bells that add to the quaint atmosphere.

Visited this place?

4. Go Squid fishing with Halong Bay Tours

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

You love squids, but have you ever considered the thought of squid fishing? Squid fishing in Vietnam is one of the most popular activities, and most cruises organize this activity in the evenings. Now, if you want to catch the biggest squid and also eat it, opt for the evening cruise with Ha Long Bay Tours. Here, along with fishing, you’ll be able to enjoy a fancy dinner onboard, and if you’re one of the lucky ones, you may be able to catch around 20 squids in one night. But, know that the fishing can be done only if the weather permits.

Halong Bay Tours

Address: 72 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam

Website: Halong Bay Tours

Visited this place?

5. Get a massage at Massage Flowers

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Massage Xông hơi Flowers on Monday, December 7, 2020

Now, who wouldn’t enjoy a really good, stress-relieving massage, while out and about in a new place? After all the walking around exploring the new place, your body will thank you when you pamper it after a long day. Get to Massage Flowers while in Ha Long Bay and pick from a variety of services - it could be a stone spa, full-body massage, head massage, oil massage, etc.

Massage Flowers

Address: Công Viên, C319 - C320 Sun World road, Hạ Long, Bãi Cháy, Thành phố Hạ Long, Quảng Ninh, Vietnam

Website: Massage Flowers

Opening hours: 9am - 12am (daily)

Visited this place?

6. Explore the area on a rented bike

Posted by Ha long Motorbike for Rent on Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Spend a day exploring around Ha Long Bay on a bike, with the place’s lovely weather and superb landscape adding to the feel of the experience. Several hotels offer bikes that can be rented for an entire day, or certain hours, depending on how you’d like to plan your tour. Else, you can also head up to Ha long Motorbike for Rent and get yourself one. Find the details below. It is a great way to explore the deeper pockets where access by cars can be slightly difficult.

Ha long Motorbike for Rent

Address: Sunworld Ha long, Bai Chay Ha Long

Website: Ha long Motorbike for Rent

Visited this place?

7. Spend an eventful day at Sun World Ha Long Complex (from USD 32.0)

Set in Northern Vietnam, the Sun World Ha Long Complex is among the leading amusement parks in the region. It features several sprawling parks, but its highlight are the recreational complexes which attract many tourists and locals alike. There’s a beach amusement complex and also what they call a Mystic Mountain complex. Both are linked with a 2-km (1.2-mile) cable car routing the two sides of the sea and offering some amazing views of the skyline. The Mystic Mountain complex has a Fame Hall with wax figures, a Zen garden, a Kidoland playground for children, and the Sun Wheel, a ferris wheel among several other fun things to do. Then there’s also the Typhoon Water Park, the largest water park in Southeast Asia.

Visited this place?

Sunworld Halong theme park ticket with roundtrip transfer

Duration: 1 day

8. Discover the iconic Cua Van floating village

things to do in halong bay | discover the iconic cua van floating village
Source: instagram

Making for an absolutely spell-binding experience is a trip to the unique Cua Van floating village, the largest among all of Ha Long Bay’s floating villages. Tucked in between sunken mountains and karst formations, it is a boat journey of about 20 km (12 miles) from the city’s wharf. This mini-township of boats, home to hundreds of local Vietnamese fishermen, is famous for its handicrafts so remember to pick up a thing or two. If you’re lucky, you might even get to hear fishermen singing songs! You can even head to the Floating Cultural Center which has been setup by the Ha Long Ecological Museum to preserve this village’s prominence.

Cua Van floating village

Address: Cát Hải, Hai Phong

Visited this place?

9. Head to the Van Gia floating village on kayaks or rowboats (from USD 269.0)

Hitch this three-day cruise and explore the quaintness that the Van Gia floating village is. Also a fishing village about 20 km (12 miles) from Ha Long Bay’s wharf, you’ll find the Van Gia floating village enveloped in an air of serenity and quietude. The floating houses make for quite a sight and interaction with their inhabitants makes for quite an interesting experience. Get talking to them and they’ll take you through their community’s intriguing history and give you insight into several of their local customs. The Van Gia floating village has become a popular attraction for tourists nowadays so you’re likely to find some crowds, but the experience remains unmarred.

Visited this place?

3-Day Cruise on Ha Long Bay with Kayaking, Swimming, Cooking Class,...

Duration: 2 days

14 reviews

10. Set sail on a scenic cruise trip in and around Ha Long Bay (from USD 48.39)

Add a touch of exotic to your itinerary and book yourself on a cruise trip, exploring the best of Ha Long Bay and its vicinity. Book yourself on a luxurious one-night or two-night cruise and enjoy the best of ambience – both of the cruise and the surrounding natural wonders. If you’re not willing to go in for the overnight ones, there’s some day cruises that ply as well.

Tip from Content Creator

Ha Long Bay Ha Long Bay

Chinese junks cruise along the tranquil waters of Ha Long Bay, located right in the middle of Tonkin Gulf. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to more than 1600 islets and lofty karst monoliths.

Visited this place?

Book Halong Bay Luxury Cruise Trip Online | Deluxe Cruise Tour

2766 reviews

11. Visit the impressive Sung Sot Cave (from USD 106.0)

A visit to the Sung Sot Cave will make for a thoroughly rewarding experience. Originally known as the Grotte des Surprises, this cave system is located on the Bon Ho Island, northwest of Ha Long Bay, and is truly nature’s work of art with the stalactites, stalagmites, and columns making for an artistic sight. About 30 m (98 ft) high, the interior of Sung Sot Cave and its many chambers is an intriguing play of light and nature. The crowd here is at its peak during the months of June to July and December to February so if your visit is also around the same time, be prepared for a flurry of tourists and slightly hiked prices.

Traveler's tips

Sung Sot Cave Sung Sot Cave

The highlight of our day tour to Ha Long Bay was our visit to Sung Sot Cove. Its name, "Sung Sot," meaning surprise, is very fitting. With every turn, the cave unfolded a new wonder, from towering formations to delicate crystalline structures. The scale and intricacy of Sung Sot Cave were nothing short of awe-inspiring, leaving an indelible mark on my memory. It was a journey into the heart of the Earth, a reminder of the beauty that lies beneath the surface.

As we were on the cruise back to the bay, I couldn't help but be grateful to have had the privilege to see this majestic cave with my very own eyes.

Visited this place?

Hanoi to Halong Bay, Sung Sot Cave, Ti Top Island Day Cruise

Duration: 8 hours

6 reviews

12. Marvel at the stunning formations of Dau Go Cave

Dau Go Cave - Halong Bay, Vietnam
Source: Photo by Flickr user Bryon Lippincott used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Hidden within the Driftwood Island is the Dau Go Cave, a cave system with an almost magical and other-worldly feel to it. Step through its entrance and you’ll have streaks of light reflecting off its formations and making the whole place come alive with colours. Not just the interplay of light bu the formations itself are a sight to behold. Pouring down from the cave’s 25 m (82 ft) high ceiling, they give off an impression of a rock waterfall. There are three chambers that tourists primarily access and each of these are equally stunning.

Dau Go Cave

Address: Ha Long Bay Quang Ninh, Halong Bay, Vietnam

Website: Dau Go Cave

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Visited this place?

13. Delve into history at the Quang Ninh Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Built as a celebratory mark at the 50th anniversary of Ha Long Bay’s establishment, the Quang Ninh Museum is bold architecture and sleek design packed into one. The building sits along the bay’s coast and its glass- and mirror-clad exterior serves as a giant mirror to Ha Long Bay’s stunning scenery. Inside, it is spread across three floors and offers some great insight into the area’s history and culture. Not just a museum, the building also houses the Quang Ninh Library and a convention centre.

Quang Ninh Museum

Address: Tran Quoc Nghien, Bach Dang, tp. Ha Long, Quang Ninh, Vietnam, Ha Long Bay

Website: Quang Ninh Museum

Opening hours: 8am - 11:30am, 1:30pm - 5pm (daily)

Visited this place?

14. Head over to the Ha Long night market

Here’s a local market in Ha Long Bay that you should really consider visiting. Oozing a true-blue Vietnamese vibe in its atmosphere and all the items sold there is the Ha Long Night Market, a colourful camaraderie of people and trade. There’s over hundreds of stalls selling everything from fresh poultry or veggie produce to inexpensive clothing. Quite a big hit with the tourists, the market also sells many kinds of souvenirs for you to take back home. Get your haggling skills in order and guarantee yourself a fun shopping experience here. If not shopping, you can just chat up with the locals and learn interesting stuff about the place.

Ha Long Night Market

Address: Dai Io Ha Long Marine, Bai Chay, Thanh pho Ha Long, Quang Ninh, Vietnam

Website: Ha Long Night Market

Opening hours: 6 / 6:30pm - 12am (daily)

Visited this place?

15. Quench your thirst for thrill by hiking the Ban Sen Island

Sur le bâteau enroute pour Quan Lan Island (Baie d'Ha Long)

Posted by Lesplezistes on Sunday, 5 August 2018

Rife with lush greenery and an exceptional landscape is yet another one of these islands near Ha Long Bay, Ban Sen Island. Still uninhabited, mostly people head here to engage in some outdoor activities or for agricultural purposes. If you’re not willing to be too adventurous, just a hiking trip through its dense jungles would also be great. There’s quite a bit of farming that’s done here as well so you can hike through or along the fields and see how Sen oranges or Van tea is grown! Just hitch a ferry ride to Quan Lan Island from the Cai Rong Island port and you’re good to move ahead with your hike. There are many guides available at the point tourists get off the ferries so you can ask one to take you around.

Ban Sen Island

Address: Quang Ninh

Visited this place?

16. Visit the famous Castaway Island

Give your holiday a luxurious twist and head over to chill in the opulence of Castaway Island. Primarily a private island, there’s about five open-air beach bungalows, offering an exceptional combination of indulgence, beauty, and peace. Wake up to the views of an endless vista of the horizon and call it a day with unobstructed views of the starlit skies. Stretched across an area of about 150 m (490 ft), this private beach also hosts dance parties to add to the fun of the experience. You can also go in for some water activities, it’s entirely up to you! Don’t miss this one, guys, it truly makes for an exquisite experience!

Castaway Island

Address: Viet Hai, Duong Kinh, Hai Phong, Vietnam

Visited this place?

17. Admire the Fighting Cocks Island

Good morning from Halong Bay! How Fighting Cocks Island beautiful is!

Posted by Tours Halong on Friday, 29 November 2013

Is the place just as interesting as the name? Every bit, yes! Almost a symbol of Ha Long Bay, the Fighting Cocks Island is located towards the southwest of the city and is a 5 km (3 miles) ride from the Bai Chay Tourism Wharf. The Fighting Cocks Island is a pair of limestone islets where one resembles a rooster and the other, a hen. Some look at them and say they’re fighting and others say they may even be kissing – it’s all a matter of perspective, really! The two islets have stood firm since thousands of years and due to their unique shape, have also begun being used to attract more tourism. One can’t get off at the islets so they really can only be admired from boats.

Fighting Cocks Island

Address: Halong, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam

Visited this place?

18. Travel back in time at the Hospital Cave

How can a hospital be a cave or a cave be a hospital? Intrigued? Well, let us tell you how. Hidden deep within the islets of the Cat Ba Island, these caverns are not only a work of art with their natural beauty, but also served a practical purpose during the Vietnam-American War. The cavern space is built of concrete and is completely bomb-proof. Their location is such that the caves are not visible from air or even road! These caves are spread over three storeys, out of which the bottom two were meant as relaxation spaces and as a hospital for the war soldiers. Hence, the name. Even though the caves are empty now, one can see the several recovery rooms, the operating theatre, the doctor’s room, and also a large natural cavern that was once a cinema room. Usually, a two-wheeler ride is the easiest way to access these caves.

Hospital Cave

Address: Cat Ba, Vietnam

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

Visited this place?

19. Go rock climbing in the Cat Ba cliffs

QD Catba
Source: Photo by user Viethavvh used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

While you are in Cat Ba, why not get your hands dirty, doing some rock climbing? Bringing hordes of tourists and locals to the Cat Ba Island are its challenging yet fun cliffs that make for some of the best and most picturesque rock climbing trails. Cat Ba is an archipelago of 367 islands, so there’s plenty of space for everyone to do any kind of rock climbing they prefer – easy, difficult, short, or long.

Cat Ba Climbing

Address: Cong Ty Tnhh Du Lich Tham Hiem Cat Ba Number 25, Duong Nui Ngoc, Cat Ba island, Viet Nam

Website: Cat Ba Climbing

Visited this place?

20. Tour through the dreamy Bai Tu Long Bay (from USD 210.0)

tour through the dreamy bai tu long bay

Take this two-day cruise from Hanoi and be ready to kayak through Ha Long Bay’s pristine waters, enjoy some delicious Vietnamese fare, chill at the on-board sunset party, and be left awestruck by Bai Tu Long Bay’s incredible scenery. This junk boat cruise plies from Hanoi and is all-inclusive. Don’t forget to bring your passport along though.

Visited this place?

Swan Cruises Bai Tu Long Bay : 2 Days 1 Night

Duration: 2.0 day

11 reviews

21. Pay a visit to the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi (4016818067)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user M M used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you are heading to Hanoi for the cruises, we’d also suggest making a trip to the famous Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in the city. You’ll find this massive granite structure in the Ba Dinh Square. It is the final resting place of the famous Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, and was setup in 1973 as the locals’ way of commemorating their leader’s contributions. The museum also houses the leader’s embalmed remains so the place is treated almost like a temple. Do note that a strict dress code is followed here so entry won’t be allowed if you’re wearing shorts, sleeveless tops, or mini skirts. Also, the museum is usually shut for maintenance sometime following October so it’s best to check with the locals before heading there.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Address: 8 Hung Vuong, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi 100000, Vietnam

Opening hours: Mon: 8am - 11am; Tue - Fri, Sun: 8am - 5pm; Sat: 8am - 5:15pm

Visited this place?

22. Get adventurous by caving and kayaking in Ha Long Bay (from USD 59.0)

The innumerable islands and islets of Ha Long Bay hide many a natural gems within them and what would be better than going about exploring them. This caving and kayaking guided tour is an all-inclusive, day-long program that begins in Hanoi at the Hanoi Opera House and then takes you through Ha Long Bay’s many islands. During this time, you’ll also be treated to a lunch on-board the cruise, followed by a trip to the Cung Cave and finally leaving you to kayak or hitch a bamboo boat ride in the Ba Hang area.

Visited this place?

Discover Ha Long Bay with Kayaking and Caving activities

Duration: 12 hours

1 review

23. Explore the picturesque Cat Ba Island

explore the picturesque cat ba island

Here’s a three-day tour that you can take to explore the best of Cat Ba Island, Three Peaches Island, Monkey Island, Ba Ham lake, Dark and Light Cave, and floating villages. This cruise plies from Hanoi, about two hours’ drive from Ha Long Bay, and its trip accounts for enough time for the guests to enjoy the several stops along the cruise’s way.

Visited this place?

Cat Ba Island: Three-Day Tour from Hanoi

Duration: 3 day

3 reviews

24. Scuba dive through Ha Long Bay's marine diversity (from USD 18.0)

scuba dive through ha long bay's marine diversity
Source: www.viator.com

Scuba diving in Ha Long Bay’s pristine waters easily makes for one of the top-rated experiences in the place. There’s a whole world of underwater life to be discovered, and what makes it better? Ha Long Bay’s tempered waters and assisted scuba diving sessions. April to December is considered the best time to do this because of the ideal weather, water, and breeding conditions. The diving companies provide all essential information and gear, so all you really need to do is take the plunge! Swim through the colourful corals and the playful packs of fish, and add a touch of awesome to your Vietnamese getaway.

Visited this place?

Daily Boat Tour - Ha Long Bay - trekking, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming

25. Enjoy panoramic views of Ha Long Bay from a seaplane (from USD 110.0)

enjoy panoramic views of ha long bay from a seaplane
Source: www.viator.com

Ha Long Bay seaplane tours are quite the hit. Hop on to one of them and the 25-minute journey will allow you to soak in some of the most breathtaking views of the area. Scattered across the Gulf of Tonkin, the many islets and islands make for a pretty striking sight against the hues of the sky. One tour can accommodate up to 12 people at a time and can be hitched in the mornings at 11:30am or the afternoons at 2:30pm. Don’t forget your cameras, folks! There’s many a picture-worthy frames you’ll find from up there.

Visited this place?

Halong Bay Seaplane Sightseeing Tour

The magic of Vietnam

Ha Long Bay will not only leave you refreshed and ready for the everyday hustle and bustle, but also completely awe-struck. The jungle-topped islands, craggy limestone pinnacles, and an unending seascape make a trifecta of the ideal getaway destination. Use this list of things to do in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam and experience the best of nature, food, entertainment, and complete relaxation.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we use your data

Priyanjali, a writer and traveler, identifies as a self-proclaimed aesthete dedicated to achieving fulfillment in her personal and professional life. Her skill lies in transforming intangible...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Halong Bay
Good things are meant to be shared!
Back to top
Visited any of these places? Click this button to activate our "Add a Tip" feature to share your experience.