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Top 5 Things To Do In Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a paradise for holiday-makers, travellers and photographers alike. As one of the top ten natural designations in the world, the truly stunning beauty of Halong Bay should be in your bucket list of the things to do before you die.

Most overnight cruises showcased on this site will stop at some or some of these fantastic must do sites in Halong Bay. Check the itineraries of the 3 star Halong Bay tours or 4 star Halong Bay tours for more information.

Here is the 5 top things to do whilst in Halong Bay.

1. Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba is known for its rugged limestone mountains, hot & cold springs, tropical rain forests and coral reefs, as well as its deserted beaches and casual island lifestyle. Cat Ba Island is a part of a 366 islands that lie within the larger area of Halong Bay and is the largest of this chain. Cat Ba island is situated a 50 km east of Hai Phong city in the north of Vietnam.

Approximately half of its area is covered by a National Park, which is one of the main reasons you would go there. If you have decided to go your own way and not do a Halong Bay tour then you can catch one of the many tourist boats down at the waterfront in Halong City or Hai Phong City.

There is also a ferry from Dao Tuan Chau, just outside of Halong City, running 3 times daily: 9:30,11:30 and 15:30 costing 50,000VND.

Once on the island there are multitude of services such as motorbikes, taxis and local buses to get you into town. Be warned there are many scrupulous operators who will rip you off with over inflated prices. Typically you should pay 10,000VND per person for a bus trip to town.

As far as accommodation is concerned there are not many in Cat Ba Hotels that are of decent standards. Most will be either 0 star or 1 star and would stay away from them for obvious reasons that are too many to mention here.

We have put together a list of 2 to 3 star Cat Ba hotels. There no 4 and 5 star hotels on the island. As you would most likely only stay overnight here a 3 star hotel will generally suffice.

2.Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park is 15 km towards the northwest from the town of Cat Ba. The National Park includes an area of 15,200 ha, which includes 9,800 ha of spectacular jungle, fresh water springs as well as grottoes, caves and numerous hiking trails.

The Cat Ba National Park is abundant with fauna and flora. You will find over 745 varieties of plant life and is also home to over 100 various species of wildlife, which includes mammals, birds and amphibians. Particularly,one of the most rarest animal in the world, the white-faced monkey. Which can only be found in this region of Vietnam and Cat Ba island.

Although a guide is not compulsory, it is certainly recommended if you want to go trekking around the vast walking trails. You can arrange a guide at the National Park office for a small fee. There are two caves in and around the national park which are a must see whilst in the park.

Open to visitors most days and one is quite close to Cat Ba town. And the other(Trung Trang Cave) is quite easily accessible within the park itself.

For the more hiking orientated tourist, there is a challenging 18km hike through the park and upwards to one of the many mountainous peaks of the island. It is best to organize a guide for this six-hour trek, and arrange a tour bus or boat transport to the start of the trail and then a boat to get back to Cat ba town. Again all of this can be easily organised with rangers at the national park headquarters.

A must see point of interest is the Viet Hai Village is situated in the remote edge of Cat Ba National Park. The local indigenous people still live like their ancient ancestors and it is an opportunity to encounter the Cat Ba culture which have preserved its roots for hundreds of years.

3.Sung Sot Cave

Sun Sot caveVisiting Sung Sot Cave is generally part of the many Halong Bay tours and is in the centre of Halong Bay, the Sung Sot (Surprise Grotto) is on Bo Hon Island, and is one of the finest and widest grottoes of Ha Long Bay. Ascending via a short walk to the grotto, the way is covered by trees and foliage, and consists of great paved stone path from the boat.

The cave ceiling is about 30 m high and is beautifully lit in different colours that blend with the setting of the area. With multiple rooms within the larger cave structure, the first one being similar to a wide theatre hall.

Many stalactites hang from the high ceiling and at deepest point of the grotto appears an opened area called the royal garden with a clear pond and a lush jungle foliage. It is generally considered that this cave is a must see before leaving Halong Bay.

4. Fishing Villages

HaLong Bay Fishing VillageWith a community of around 1,600 people spread over four floating fishing villages (Cua Van,Vong Vienne,Teluk Bhang & Cap La), throughout Halong Bay. These ancient people live on these floating houses and are sustained through fishing and aqua farming. Free from the hustle and bustle, traffic and high-rise buildings synonymous with Southeast Asia.  These quaint villages offer a truly unique experience you will get nowhere else in Vietnam.

Generally included in one of the many Halong Bay tours available. It is also recommended to stay overnight to truly experience the unique traditional culture and customs of the fishermen within these small floating villages.  A visit to these villages you will  have a chance to explore the beauty of the daily lives of the local fishermen and their culture.

If you decide to stay overnight there are many floating house accommodations on offer. Generally for groups up to 6 people. The guest rooms are typical of the village and are exactly the way the local sleep, but the for the experience roughing it for one night is totally worth it. Sightseeing activities include a fishing excursion, visiting a floating Vong Vieng school and discovering Bai Tu Long Bay where travelers rarely venture.

One of the most unusual and fascinating overnight stays in Halong Bay and is highly recommended.

5. Ti Top Island

Ti Top IslandSituated about 7-8 km southeast of Bai Chay lies the small island of Ti Top. With a beautiful crescent-shaped beach with snowy white sand, crystal blue waters and lush tropical landscape, this is quite popular with tourists and is generally part of most Halong Bay tours.

The beach is ideal for swimming nearly year round, even in winter the water temperature is still a pleasant at around 21 Deg C (65-70 degrees F).

Ti Top islands real attraction is the lookout point at its highest point. Consisting of 427 stone steps which winds up the mountain to its peak is the most incredible 360-degree view of Halong Bay. A must for all tourists as it gives you an idea of the sheer scale and grandeur of Halong bay.

An absolute must for photographers who are trying to capture the awe-inspiring beauty.