Ha Long Bay has to be one of the most visited sites in Vietnam. Its sheer beauty is a major draw card for millions of visitors each year who spend time on boat cruises drifting in and out of the thousands of islands. While most tours involve cave visits, kayaking and swimming, there are a few activities which have passed underneath the radar despite how amazing they are. Here are four of the top underrated experiences you should check out when touring Ha Long Bay in the future.
While most of the area’s activities are water based, few realise that there are actually some larger islands which you can explore on bike. Cat Ba is the best of these as there are a number of trails to choose from. You can also see plenty of wild animals while there. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll spot a Cat Ba Langur, a primate unique to the island and one of the most endangered in the world. While touring the island, also remember to stop in at villages such as Viet Hai for a unique look at the local culture and lifestyle. Bicycles can be rented on the island so you don’t need to bring your own!
Since Ha Long Bay is primarily a water based natural wonder, it’s not surprising that fishing is a popular activity here. Saying that, how many tourists actually try their hand at squid fishing? In fact, although this activity is offered on the tour boats, not too many people attempt it. This is a real shame as landing your first squid can be a great experience!
Taking place at night, lights are placed on the side of the boat to attract the squid. Enthusiastic anglers can then try and land one of these unusual sea creatures. Just remember that some patience is definitely needed as squid aren’t too eager to get themselves hooked.
If you’ve got some money to burn, you can also hire a helicopter for the day and go out for an aerial view of Ha Long Bay. Since you’re up above the karsts, you’ll get to witness superb panoramas of some of the region’s best islands including:
- Tuan Chau Island
- Thein Cung Island
- Vung Dai Island
- Chan Voi Island
Just remember that these tours are then continued with a typical cruise ride. The helicopter excursion is just the first leg, typically taking travellers from Ha Noi to the pier in Ha Long with aerial views of the landscape there (minus the traffic in between these locations of course!)
Lastly, we return to land for the final most underrated activity in Ha Long Bay: trekking. While this is primarily done on Cat Ba, you can also find smaller trails on other islands around the bay. Generally, these will lead either to caves or hilltops where you can get magnificent views of the surrounding area.
It’s important to keep an eye on the weather if you’re hiking in Ha Long, especially in the summer. During this season, conditions can be hot and humid so we’d advise bringing plenty of water and sun protection. Also grab a photocopy of the island map if you’re heading out on Cat Ba as the trails can be quite long.
When booking a tour to Ha Long, make sure that your package includes at least some of these activities. You can choose between small group tours and tailored journeys. After you’ve enjoyed a long needed holiday, then you can say you’ve received an experience that was vastly different from the experienced of most foreign visitors. This is what travelling is all about, isn’t it? Getting something unique from some of the most exotic locations on Earth.