Almost every traveler who visits Southeast Asia makes it a point to visit Halong Bay: a picturesque bay set amidst emerald waters and craggy limestone cliffs. Next to Ho Chi Minh City, Halong Bay is right up the list of must-see destinations for travelers in the region.
So what can one do around Halong Bay besides taking that once-in-a-lifetime cruise into the UNESCO World Heritage site here? Fear no more as I had one extra day around Halong City when I visited Halong Bay, Vietnam recently. So here are 5 things you can do around Halong Bay if you have time to kill waiting for your junk boat cruise.
Bai Chay Tourist Wharf and Jetty
It is here that most of the travelers will arrive at before heading out on the Halong Bay Overnight Cruise. Depending on your departure time, you may or may not have time to explore the area.
Try some Vietnamese Coffee the Cafe 555 opposite the Bai Chay Tourist Wharf. Well, you need to walk about 100 meters to your right if you exit Bai Chay. The cafe is located in between a row of shops by the main road. They serve some potent coffee here so if you are a coffee lover, you hit jackpot here. If you don’t drink coffee, they have other drinks there too.
A number of stalls sell them and they are reasonably cheap and quite tasty. If you walk around the wet market area, you will come across various local foods and delicacies. One of them, the deep fried mini crabs sold cooked or raw. Also, if you have an iron stomach, try some of the local mixed rice dishes and finally wash it down with some local Vietnamese Herbal Drinks. Don’t forget to buy some local fruits for your Halong Bay Overnight Cruise trip.
Karaoke anytime of the day
Take a taxi to Halong City and visit the Halong Market. This market is right in the heart of Halong City and you cannot walk there unless you have a few hours to spare. Best would be to take a taxi there. Once here, explore the dry and wet market. A number of interesting items can be seen here while it would be wise to stock up on snacks and drinks for your Halong Bay Cruise.
Halong Bay Casino
Take a walk to the Halong Bay Casino (Royal International Casino). This super small and only casino in Halong Bay can be seen just located by the main road to Bai Chay. Walking here can take you about 10-15 minutes from the wharf. Foreigners need to show your passport to enter and there is no deposit required.
A coffee lounge with slot machines on the ground floor is open to all while there are two gambling halls, one on the ground floor which is closed on weekdays while the main hall is up on the first floor. So small that I walked round it in less than two minutes. So if you’re feeling lucky, head on to the Halong Bay Casino.