It’s one thing to be among the thousands of rainforest topped limestone islands of Halong Bay, but to totally immerse yourself in all that this natural wonder has to offer is another story entirely. If you will be visiting Halong Bay then chances are you will opt for an overnight cruise, but even if you don’t and decide to stay in Halong city instead by doing the day cruise of Halong Bay instead, there are ample activities for anyone visiting the bay. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to list out the best things to do in Halong Bay. 🙂

1. Kayaking

There’s no better way to see the bay then on a kayak, mostly becuase you are in full control and kayaks can go to places where the bigger boats can’t. In particular, there are plenty of hidden lagoons in the bay, and to get to most of them you will have to paddle through low hanging limestone caves – talk about an adventure! 🙂 You can also visit some of the fishing villages. Remember to always follow the instructions of your guide for safety, the waters are relatively calm but you should always be aware of the surroundings.

Halong Bay, kayaking

Kayaking on Halong Bay – azwegers

2. Tai Chi

An inescapable sense of calm and serenity inevitably comes over anyone who visits Halong Bay. And if it hasn’t or you’re looking to further enhance the feeling then attending the Tai Chi classes that cruises hold on their decks every morning is the best way to start the day. Did I mention, you will also witness a spectacular sunrise over the bay? 😉
Climbing: For the restless who will be visiting the bay, there will be ample opportunity for you to ascend one of the islands and get a 360 view of the entire bay. Looking at the steep steps may seem daunting at first but it’s a quick ascent and within 15-20 minutes you will find yourself on the top. Don’t forget to bring your cameras along for this one.

3. Go for a Swim

Yes, you read that right! With all that open water between the magnificent islands of Halong, why would you not want to take a dip?! A lot of visitors take the opportunity to actually jump of their cruises at quite the height, not recommended those scared of heights but it’s an option. Note that, if you’re visiting during the winter months (November through March) then this may not exactly be the best idea.

Halong Bay

Swimming in the bay – dielis

4. Visit a Cave

Don’t let the solid looking structure of the islands fool you, these islands on the bay are primarily made of limestone, most of which have given way owing to aeons of erosion. The limestone caves of Halong Bay are nothing short of spectacular, some of the caves have chambers more than 100 meters long and 50 meters in height. While not all of the caves are accessible to the public, if you get to talk to the captain of your cruise then you will countless tales of these caves – anything from mythological references to the war with America where some of them were used as hospitals.

cave 1

Limestone Cave – joeduck

5. Fly over the Bay

If you’re not exactly the seafaring type and prefer a bird’s eye view then fret not because a recent addition to the things you can do in Halong Bay is a seaplane that will take you on 25 minutes flight around most of the bay. Gonna set you back close to USD 300, but sure seems like a good bargain.

sea plane 2

Seaplane over the Bay – hai au aviation

6. Party on Halong Bay

Not quite what you expected on this list eh? But yes, there are cruises out there who specifically offer party cruises for the younger crowd. There are mixed reviews on the experience on these party cruises but could be something worth trying if you’re looking for more than just a quiet night on a cruise. The 2 night 3 day version of this experience also includes a night on Freedom Island (one of the islands of Halong Bay) and the company offering this claims it to be a private island.

halong party

Volleyball on Freedom Island – halongpartycruise

7. Squidding

A quiet way to spend your time on the cruise after dinner is served. The bay is known to have several squid squads visit during various times of the year so you could try your hand at it. This activity is mostly done at night with lights hanging on the side of boats to attract the squids. While we’ve yet to hear of anyone who’s caught one, the deck hands will have you know that they regularly catch them.

So there you have it, a list of all the popular things to do in Halong Bay.


Anil likes devouring copious amounts of Pho Cuon in Hanoi, Momos in Kathmandu and Kachoris in Udaipur. When not eating, you will find him bungy jumping off bridges or listening to talks by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Alan Watts.