Been there, taken a junk-boat cruise? Here's what else you can do at Vietnam's world-famous bay
A visit to Vietnam wouldn't be complete without a traditional junk boat cruise around spectacular Halong Bay, with its iconic limestone peaks and emerald green waters.
While a peaceful cruise is the perfect way to kick back, relax and take in the iconic views that this UNESCO World Heritage site has to offer, there is plenty else to keep you busy in Halong Bay.
The ancient martial art of Tai Chi has been practised for generations in China to promote the health of mind, body and soul through its soft, controlled movements. It is said that practising Tai Chi in the peace and tranquillity of the great outdoors aids in the deep concentration and inner peace many hope to achieve through this art form – and what better place to do it than surrounded by the sublime beauty of Halong Bay?
Guided by an experienced Tai Chi master, you can learn how to control your body and mind on the deck of your junk boat cruise, as you breathe in the fresh air and watch the sun rise behind jungle clad peaks.
For most of us a cruise on the emerald green waters of Halong Bay is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it may be difficult to imagine living day-to-day life surrounded by the incredible beauty of this famous bay. But for the families of Halong Bay’s floating fishing villages living in a water world is second nature. Rising and falling with the tide, these villages have been home to generation after generation of fishermen who earn their living from the bay’s bountiful supply of marine life and growing tourism in the region.
Pay a visit to one of these charming villages, meet grinning fishermen and playful children and learn about their fascinating way of life in Halong Bay.
As if being the largest island in Halong Bay was not enough, Cat Ba also possesses some of the most impressive natural beauty found in the region, and not to mention an incredible range of species and fascinating natural habitats. Forming part of the Cat Ba archipelago on the south-eastern edge of Halong Bay, this beautiful isle can be reached by boat and is best explored on foot or bicycle (rented locally).
Explore the limestone hills and discover hidden waterfalls, lakes and grottos; spot wildlife (like the Cat Ba langur) hidden in coastal limestone forests and mangroves; or go snorkelling off the coast in search of underwater life – the possibilities are endless!
Hidden among the thousands of jungle-covered peaks rising dramatically out of the emerald waters of Halong Bay are illuminated caves, isolated grottos and picturesque hidden coves of all shapes and sizes. Hop on board a row boat and venture out to explore these hidden gems for yourself, such as the beautiful Thien Cung Cave – nicknamed the Heavenly Palace Cave, famed for its many stalagmites and stalactites, and Dau Go Cave – known as the Cave of Wonders, featuring fascinating rock formations illuminated by a kaleidoscope of colour.
While a traditional junk boat cruise is an excellent way to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Halong Bay at a relaxed pace, the active among you can get your paddle out on an off-boat excursion and explore the beauty of the bay up close on a kayaking adventure.
Paddle out to the calmer, less-visited corners of the bay, which the bigger boats cannot manoeuvre, and discover hidden caves, isolated lagoons, unspoiled islands and much more with the direction of a local guide.Christine Fleitz is from On the Go tours, a tour operator offering adventure trips and tailor-made holidays to far-flung destinations worldwide. They have recently launched holidays to Thailand and are currently offering 2-for-1 trips. Find out more here.