Bai Tu Long Bay
Just northeast of Halong Bay is Bai Tu Long Bay which is just as spectacular as neighbouring Halong and yet it remains refreshingly untouched by tourism. Sail to Bai Tu Long Bay, passing through extraordinarily shaped islands with other such evocative names as Poem Mountain, Teapot Islet and Goat’s Head Islet. Swim in the pristine water here before heading to the tranquility of Cong Do and the hidden wonder of Thay Cave.
Vung Vieng Fishing Village
Vung Vieng is located in the heart of Bai Tu Long Bay, 24 km from the mainland. Take a rowboat to visit the Vung Vieng fishing village, where you can interact with the local fishermen and see them at work. You will not only be immersed in the quiet and peaceful location viewing the charming landscape, and discovering the cultural life of the fishermen but also will be instructed in the fine arts of sailing and casting fish nets.
Join a Taichi class in the sunrise
One of the benefits of staying on board a junk in Halong Bay is the chance to be on the water as the sun rises. It’s worth emerging early from your cabin - the crew will often have tea and coffee waiting - to see the peach-pink sky reflected by the limestone.
Many junks offer an early morning tai chi class, held up on deck. An experienced teacher instructs you in a series of relaxing, gentle movements accompanied by the sounds of waves lapping against the boat’s hull.
Hike up Titov Island
Most photographs of Halong Bay are taken from the water, but the top of Ti Top Island offers a different viewpoint. You can hike up to the summit of the island, which is named after Russian astronaut Gherman Titov (who relaxed on the Island during an official visit) to smooth relations with the Soviet Union in the 60s.
The island is a jungle-covered wedge of rock with a flight of steps leading right to its peak. Here you’ll find a wooden viewing platform from where you can take in views right across the bay. After the steep climb and descent, you can relax on the island’s small crescent beach.
Try your hand at rocking climbing
There are enough different routes in the bay to keep climbing junkies entertained for weeks if not months, and newbies can also learn here with easier roped climbs available on some of the small islands. DWS, or deep water soloing, is a form of rock climbing that needs no ropes, and is becoming increasingly popular in beautiful Ha Long, especially on Butterfly Island.
Explore Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island lies just to the south of Halong Bay. Its densely jungled interior offers the opportunity to spot some of the 32 animal and 70 plus bird species that call it home. Those who trek in the island’s interior have a small but more realistic chance of seeing one of three macaque species, civets, deer and squirrel. Hiking opportunities abound, with the chance to climb to the island’s highest peak or trek to a remote village before taking a ferry ride back to Cat Ba town. Another great pleasures of a Cat Ba trip is hiring a bicycle and exploring. Head up to the Cannon Fort, not far from town for a slice of military history together with awe inspiring views over Lan Ha Bay.