The best things to do in Ha Long Bay revolve around the fact that this part of Vietnam is a unique UNESCO World Heritage site. Thanks to its striking natural landscapes that are popular with tourists, large parts of it are officially protected from development, meaning that generations to come can continue to enjoy the seemingly endless parades of sheer limestone karsts rising from the sea.

    The islands of Ha Long Bay vary greatly in size and shape as well as structure. Visitors should allow a few days to explore this magical bay as its attractions are extremely numerous. Here are some of the must-sees among them.

    What are the best things to do in Ha Long Bay?

    1

    Cat Ba Island

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    Cat Ba Island is the most popular destination in Ha Long Bay and every tour company offers a trip to the island. Cat Ba is full of the usual tourist trappings: hotels, restaurants, and bars. Even so, the locals have carried on doing exactly what their ancestors did for generations before – fishing. 

    All these features add up to make Cat Ba Island a great destination to see traditional local life while still enjoying the comfort of modern conveniences.

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    2

    Dau Go Island

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    Dau Go Island is known for its large and colorful cave, which has many stalactites and stalagmites. Some of them are more than 20 meters high.

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    3

    Ha Long Bay floating villages and fish farms

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    The floating villages and fish farms of Ha Long Bay draw a lot of attention and are among the highlights of any visit. Locals have been living in these floating houses for many generations as fishing is still the villagers' main source of income. 

    Some communities in Ha Long Bay offer reasonably priced homestays to visitors, too. If you pass by them on your cruise, don’t be surprised if the boat's onboard chef stops to shop for fresh seafood.

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    4

    Hung Sung Sot Cave at Bo Hon Island

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    Hung Sung Sot Cave is located on the same island as Virgin Cave and has a steep path lined with shady trees. There are 2 chambers in the cave, with a square-shaped outer chamber and a ceiling about 30 meters high. 

    The inner chamber formations look like sentries conversing with one another. Another formation resembling a general surveying his troops lies in the middle of the chamber. The moving light reflected from the water outside seems to bring these formations to life.

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    5

    Virgin Cave at Bo Hon Island

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    The Virgin Cave (known locally as Hang Trinh Nu) is one of the most famous caves in Ha Long Bay. It is probably best known for its shrine. Legend claims that a beautiful woman committed suicide in the cave, unable to return home after being forced to marry an old Mandarin. Her body turned into stone here.

    A variation of the legend says that this girl escaped from a Mandarin that forced her to marry him because her father could not pay a debt. When fishermen found her body, they buried her here and built a small shrine inside the grotto.

    6

    Dau Be Island

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    Dau Be Island is a very popular bathing and diving spot because of its rich corals and deep grottoes, as well as 3 inland lakes. The grottoes and caves can only be visited by rowing a boat at low tide as they are inaccessible when the water level is higher.

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    7

    Pelican Cave at Bo Hon Island

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    Pelican Cave (Hang Bo Nau) is popular with tourists. Many of them love to take photos of this cave and its spectacular stalactites hanging from the ceiling.

    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveler

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