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Lan Ha Bay | The Best Alternative to Halong Bay

Are you planning a visit to Lan Ha Bay, or looking for an excellent alternative to the busy Halong Bay? Are you searching for something less touristy and more authentic? Continue reading for our guide to this beautiful bay that is the perfect place to get away from the crowds and enjoying a relaxed atmosphere that Lan Ha Bay offers.

Travelers visiting Vietnam are increasingly becoming aware of the effect that mass tourism is having on Ha Long Bay. Polluted waters and sometimes excessive noise coming from the numerous party cruises at night is becoming an escalating problem. 


The good news is that there is a lesser-known alternative to Ha Long Bay. Located just off of the south side of Cat Ba Island is the beautiful and less-known Lan Ha Bay. Lan Ha Bay offers you a chance to see the same striking limestone karst scenery, caves, and grottos in a more relaxed way.

Kayak in Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay Facts

  • 16 km to the east of Cat Ba Island
  • Consist of almost 400 islands and islets
  • 76 square kilometers
  • 150 km from Hanoi (2h30 in shuttle/taxi)

Lan Ha Bay has almost 400 extraordinary karst stone formations standing magnificently in the emerald green waters. Lan Ha Bay is less touristy, cleaner, and just as beautiful as Halong Bay.

The bay has plenty of beaches, making it the ideal place to go swimming, snorkeling, or just relaxing with a drink. Lan Ha Bay also has some of the best spots in Vietnam for rock climbing.

Lan Ha Bay at Night

Highlights of Lan Ha Bay Trip

Unlike its famous neighbor, Lan Ha Bay reserves a more pristine scenery with an intense concentration of limestone mountains, which the sea has formed into smaller bays and gulfs. 

With over a hundred beautiful, small beaches lying at the feet of the mountains, there is no problem finding the right spot for swimming, organizing a private beach BBQ, or an overnight camp. After a long day of cave explorations and other activities, you can relax while bathing in the azure waters and breathe in the salty sea breeze of Lan Ha Bay.

Lan Ha Bay is gradually gaining popularity, thanks to its unspoiled and magnificent natural beauty. The bay is located just 30 minutes by boat from the stunning Cat Ba Island. 

Lan Ha Bay, among the three bays in the Halong Bay area, is considered to have the best water quality for diving and excellent conditions for rock-climbing, both on Cat Ba Island and the endless islets.

For overnight stays, Lan Ha Bay offers many options of hotels, hostels, and bungalows on Cat Ba Island, Viet Hai Village, and Monkey Island, or you can choose to spend your night on a cruise or junk boat, surrounded by kartstone islets and clear waters of the bay.

Trung Trang Cave

Trung Trang Cave is 300 meters long natural cave dating back thousands of years. The magnificent cave has hundreds of natural stalactites with unique shapes and sizes. The cave is easily accessible, and the admission fee is included in the national park entrance fee. 

Trung Trang Cave contains narrow paths, so be careful with your head when walking through. The cave has its unique small ecosystem with bats, birds, and insects.

Cai Beo Floating Village

The floating fishing village of Cai Beo has been around for around 200 years, dating back to the 19th century. The 450 or so families that call the Cai Beo fishing village home make their living fishing and fish farming in Lan Ha Bay.

There are three fishing villages in the Ha Long Bay area. The families that live here have developed a unique lifestyle that is ubiquitous only to this area. 

Best Tours in Lan Ha Bay

There are currently only a handful of cruises that sail to Lan Ha Bay. But you can expect this number to increase dramatically over the next few years as people become increasingly aware of what this charming bay has to offer.

The operators are all highly regarded and have been sailing in the area for many years. They vary in terms of comfort and prices, but the below tours and highly recommended.

Cruise Lan Ha Bay & Discover its Hidden Gems in this Full-Day Tour from Hanoi.

Avoid the crowds on Halong bay and jump on a cruise to the neighboring and more pristine Lan Ha Bay. With over 300 limestone islands and islets, it offers equally magnificent sceneries but less crowded. Spend the day sailing, kayaking, and swimming in this paradise that is amongst Southeast Asia’s most beautiful hidden gems.

Lan Ha Bay Cruise

Luxury 3-Day Cruise in Lan Ha Bay

Sail amongst the beautiful limestone karst scenery of Lan Ha Bay in a floating 5-star hotel. From the luxurious interior design of the ship to the quality dining experience and the full range of activities available on board. You will feel like royalty onboard this cruise. For the ultimate luxury Lan Ha Bay experience, look no further.