The land of stunning natural beauty, diverse cultural complexities and food to-die-for, Vietnam in two words is – exotic and mesmerizing! There are so many places to explore and so many things to experience – from roaming around on the streets of metropolitan cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi to exploring the world’s most stunning caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam is a sensory and visual delight. Nestled in northern Vietnam approximately 165 kilometres away from Hanoi, is Ha Long Bay – one of the top 3 tourist destinations of the country. The bay is a collection of more than 1600 islets in the Gulf of Tonkin, which are made up of precipitous limestone towers topped with rich flora and fauna, thriving in all kinds of shapes and sizes. In 1994, Ha Long Bay was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, owing to its one-of-its-kind unique natural splendour. Here are the top 7 things to do in Ha Long Bay:
1. A cruise trip to get close to floating villages
A large number of tourists opt for half-day to three-day cruise tours in Ha Long Bay since besides enjoying the views of the sea and the islands, a cruise tour allows you to explore the ethereal floating villages of this part of the country. Opting for a cruise tour in Ha Long Bay is also a wonderful idea since you no longer have to worry about finding a hotel or a restaurant nor do you have to face the hassles of arranging for transportation to see the local attractions.
2. Kayak to access hidden lagoons and caverns
Go for kayaking and enjoy an intimate affair with the emerald green waters of Halong Bay. Kayaking allows you to explore the enthralling beauty of this place from really close quarters. It is the best way to discover the hidden lagoons and the caverns spread throughout the length and breadth of the bay. If you are opting for a cruise tour, ask beforehand whether they offer kayaking as a part of the trip or not. Usually they do.
3. Dine in a floating restaurant
As I’ve mentioned earlier that Vietnamese food is to-die-for! And what’s the best way to enjoy Vietnamese food? I’ll say – on a floating restaurant with the gorgeous views of the ocean in front of you. These restaurants serve all kinds of Vietnamese cuisines, but if you are in Halong Bay, try some seafood delicacies, freshly caught and freshly prepared!
4. Explore the island caves
There’s something really exciting about visiting an ancient cave and learning about its history. Here in Ha Long Bay, there are thousands of caves which one can explore and be awestruck for the rest of his/her life. The caves in Bo Hon Island are particularly popular. Some of them were Vietcong headquarters, while some served as hospitals during the Vietnam War. Many of these caves like the Sung Sot Cave and the Dau Go Cave are abodes to daunting assemblies of stalagmites and stalactites and are absolutely worth a visit.
5. Snorkeling and scuba diving
Deep sea adventures await you in Halong Bay! If you have deep sea diving on your priority list, visiting Dau Be Island is my top recommendation. Cong Do and Van Gio are other two popular destinations where you can enjoy activities like scuba diving and snorkeling. Coral reefs around all these islands are full of colorful marine life and the water is sparklingly clear.
6. Trek through lush jungles
If being encompassed by water all the time makes you miss the land, go for a trekking expedition in the Ha Long Bay. There are many excellent hiking trails on the islands which are surrounded by stunning beauty. Cat Ba Island is particularly popular for its amazing trekking trails. Other places where you can enjoy trekking include – Lan Ha Bay and the Bai Tho Mountain.
7. Take a seaplane tour for a bird’s eye view
Even though a bit expensive, experiencing the striking beauty of the Ha Long Bay from a bird’s eye view is definitely worth every penny spent. The panoramic views of the seascape stretching all the way to the horizon makes you feel you are in a different realm altogether. Besides the above mentioned adventures, you can also enjoy activities like parasailing, biking and bird watching. And if nothing else, visit Ha Long Bay to enjoy its serenity and unmatched beauty. Take some time off and simply admire the spectacular landscape that is there in front of you.