Think of Vietnam, after removing the war, the first thing you usually think of is Halong Bay. Known throughout the world for its fabulous landscape, not in vain, Halong Bay in northern Vietnam was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994 and, recently, was chosen as one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Legend has it that the Jade Emperor sent a family of dragons to protect the region from Chinese invasion. The dragons spat jewellery and jade which then became the islands and islets, and formed an insurmountable wall blocking the enemy ships. In reality, the landscape is the result of several geological states of natural disasters, erosion, rising and falling of the sea level which have happened during 500 million years; created a gigantic labyrinth full of islands and islets, nearly two thousands. These islands give the bay a strange and magical appearance.
To get to know this natural wonder, the best option is to sail its calm waters through the maze of islands on a traditional junk-style boat. A cruise brings endless opportunities to treat yourself like lazing around and enjoying the sceneries passing by. Does the idea of big seafood meals and cold beers have you fearing for your shape? For sure, no one wants to think about diet during a vacation. So try these outdoor activities to stay active during your Halong Bay cruise.
Tai Chi Exercise
Tai Chi class is an ideal activity at sunrise on the boat. To date, these exercises are an important part of Chinese medicine. After spending a night onboard, get up early then head to the sundeck and enjoy the fresh atmosphere in the bay. With the help of a teacher, you can do the traditional Tai Chi exercises. A good way to start a new day!
Thousands of limestone islands rising out of the sea creating beautifully evocative scenes, and there is no better way to experience it than from the water. To really experience Halong Bay in all its splendor, you have to take a kayak – an experience that allows you to reach some secret places that can not be reached by the junk boat. The tranquil waters of Ha Long Bay make it a hospitable environment for most “kayakers”.
The Luon grotto is a good example, a tunnel on Hon Bo Island which leads to an isolated lagoon, bordered by limestone walls. Another ideal place to practice kayaking is Ho Ba Ham Cave area, located on the western side of Dau Be island. Ho Ba Ham is an entrance to three lakes, but can only be entered at low tide. Other popular kayak destinations in Halong Bay are Ba Trai Dao Lagoon and “Bright” and “Dark” caves in Lan Ha Bay. Of course, if you are not accustomed to doing arm exercises, it is possible to appear good muscle stiffness in the following day.
Halong Bay is blessed with calm sea water, ideal for swimming both in the open sea and at the beach. There are countless places to stop for swimming. On some islands, there is a small secluded sandy beach. Titop Island is the most popular one, however, the beach is overcrowded. Beaches in the lesser-known part area like Hon Co Island, Soi Sim Beach, Ba Trai Dao Beach or Ban Chan Beach are so much cleaner. In Halong Bay, tourists don’t have to worry about shark when swimming.
Cycling, Rock Climbing and Trekking on Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba is the largest island in the south-eastern edge of Halong Bay. It has stunning views of the famous bay and limestone karsts, richly diverse natural ecosystems, and friendly, welcoming people.
The island really offers a lot for the adventurous minded people. You can choose to cross the island by bicycle, trek and climb a mountain with a military fort to enjoy the unbeatable view, swim and play on the beach or paddle with the kayak through floating fishing villages and around the infamous limestone cliffs. Most of these activities are practised in the Cat Ba National Park while the trails and beaches provide some of the most breathtaking views of Halong Bay.
Cat Ba trails can be done with the help of the park rangers in the National Park site, about 30 minutes’ walk from the center of Cat Ba Town. One of the most challenging trails will take between 6 and 8 hours to complete, crossing the mountains and ending in Viet Hai, a village in the outskirts of the National Park.
Tourists who are looking for the adventure might be interested in climbing imposing limestone cliff formations. In the vicinity of Cat Ba there are two large climbing areas, the Butterfly Valley and the climbing area in the Bay. The number one stop for the most experienced climbers is Butterfly Valley near the bucolic village of Lien Minh. It is an unpolished karst wall that has fifty individual climbing routes. If you like the deep sea, venture into Tiger Beach (accessible by kayak) and Polish Pillar – a limestone peak comes out of the sea. Before venturing into either of these two points, we must take the tides into account, more than anything to ensure that there is enough water in case we fall. It is best to ask travel agents and organize it with their help.
After reading this article, you might agree that in Halong Bay we can find a lot of space to engage in exciting outdoor activities that will get you sweating. Sailing on a boat in the middle of the legendary bay may be one of the nicest things to do in Vietnam. You may have seen hundreds of photos and videos about it. You may have imagined what it will be like and dreamed of being there someday. But there is no picture or image that can truly describe what it feels like sailing Halong Bay. Don’t miss it!