Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay area: Top 5 tourist attraction islands

Ha Long Bay is one of the most sought after and most visited tourist destinations in Vietnam. A unique UNESCO World Heritage Site, the bay receives an astounding 6 million tourists a year – and for a number of good reasons. Literally “the Bay of Descending Dragons”, it features a 120-kilometer coastline, some 2,000 limestone islands, 59 discovered caves and grottoes, and dozens of beaches – many of which remain untouched by modern tourism.

Nature lovers and adventure-seekers are drawn to Halong Bay to appreciate its captivating landscape and diverse wildlife – both flora and fauna. But aside from the natural world, there’s a plethora of things that travelers can do while touring the bay – from workshops and master classes on board the ship to water sports and cave exploration. The best way to experience all these is to visit some of the best attractions that Halong Bay has to offer, so let’s take a look at 5 favourite islands in Ha Long Bay and area!

1. Cat Ba Island

A World Heritage Site designated as a biosphere reserve, Cat Ba National Park is home to 32 species of mammals, including majority of the 65 remaining golden-headed langur, the most endangered primate in the world. Seventy species of birds and more than a thousand plant species have been documented in the park, including 160 with medicinal value.

Most tourists actually prefer to explore the island on organized tours. You’ll get to explore its natural beauty highlighted by caves, limestone forests, cascading waterfalls, small streams flowing to the sea and beautiful beachs.

2. Co To Island

Co To Island falls within the much-heard mantra of “Go now before everything changes.” Anchored comfortably in the aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, the island is indeed little else than white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, craggy cliff faces and cheap but delicious food – and yes, few other people, so by all means go there now!

Co To Island is part of a larger archipelago and is surrounded by a cluster of some 40-50 small islands. The island itself is composed of a scattering of hills, and much of the coastline is rocky cliff faces. The beaches, however, will likely satisfy even the most insatiable seaside addicts.

3. Titop Island

Named in honor of Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titov who visited Halong Bay in 1962, Titop Island and its surrounding waters offer a stunning sight from afar – an imposing tower of limestone jutting out of the water and shrouded with thick rainforest.

It has long been part of the itinerary of many cruises as it is considered as one of the ‘must-see’ attractions in Halong Bay, thanks to the mesmerizing views and the tourist-friendly beach at its base.

Titop Island is pretty small, covering a total area of 3.7 hectares. Because of its immaculate white sands and the calm azure blue waters, the beach is ideal for recreational activities like swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, and other water sports. Adventurous tourists also hike up the 427 steps to the mountaintop gazebo, where they are rewarded with awesome views of the surrounding bay.

4. Tuan Chau Island

Tuan Chau once served as a vacation spot for former President Ho Chi Minh. In fact, Tuan Chau is home to a Ho Chi Minh mausoleum which is one of its most important landmarks. The island is connected to Halong City by both roads and waterways so it is easy to reach. Over the past two decades, Tuan Chau has seen significant growth and is now a fully developed tourist zone that is known for its majestic mountains, beaches, and a wide variety of tourist services including resorts, restaurants, entertainment venues and a recreational park.

Two of the beaches in Tuan Chau are artificial with white sand and a generous amount of sunshine for the entire duration of summer. Not surprisingly, it hosted the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in May 2019. You can indulge in other watersports like fishing, windsurfing, jet-skiing, parasailing, among others.

5. Soi Sim Island

An untouched island only recently discovered by tourists, Soi Sim Island is located in the southwest of Halong Bay – around 700 metres from Titop Island. With its name literally meaning “look for sim” (“sim” being rose myrtle – a local fruit to be found on the island in the summer), it owes the weird name to the fact that “sim” is much sought after by locals. But other than munch on the sweet, juicy fruit, expect to be surrounded by thick jungle, pristine beaches with clean sandbanks and few other visitors.

Soi Sim island is a perfect destination if you’re a fan of water activities such as kayaking and swimming. The emerald water here is so clean that you can see shoals of small fish swimming around. There is also water motorcycle renting service on the island if you are up for some thrills. Besides, you can also go trekking, sightseeing and relaxing in the wilderness.