Travelers visiting Vietnam are increasingly becoming aware of the problems that mass tourism are having on Ha Long Bay. Polluted waters and sometimes excessive noise coming from the numerous party cruises every night is becoming an escalating problem. All is not lost for Ha Long bay however as there are environmental groups starting to take action to preserve the bay. The good news however is that there is an lesser known alternative to Ha Long Bay. Sitting just off of the south side of Cat Ba Island is Lan Ha Bay. To put it simply Lan Ha Bay offers you a chance to see the same striking limestone karst scenery without the crowds.
- 16 km to the east of Ca Ba Island
- 400 islets
- 76 km2
- 153 km from Hanoi (2h30 shuttle/taxi)
Located slightly to the south of the notorious Ha Long Bay and offers 400 impressive karst stone formation standing magnificently in the crystal clear waters. Less touristic, cleaner and just as beautiful as Ha Long is certainly the key selling point for this area. Also boasting 139 beaches it is the ideal place to go swimming, snorkeling. Lan Ha Bay also offers some of the best spots in Vietnam for rock climbing.
What Cruises Go to Lan Ha Bay?
- Orchid Cruise
- Azalea Cruise
- Mon Chéri Cruise
- Era Cruise
- Peony Cruise
- Perla Dawn Cruise
- Stellar of the Seas Cruise
- La Regina Cruise
- Ginger Cruise
Currently there are a handful of cruises that depart from Lan Ha Bay. Expect this number to come up in the next years as people become increasingly aware of the fallbacks of Ha Long Bay as a result of mass tourism. The operators are all highly regarded and have been sailing in the area for many years. They vary in terms of comfort so you will be sure to find one within your budget constraints.
Highlights of Lan Ha Bay Trip
Unlike its famous neighbour, Lan Ha Bay reserves a more pristine scenery with an intense concentration of limestone mountains, which the sea surface has partitioned into smaller bays and gulfs. With over a hundred beautiful, small beaches lying at the feet of the mountains, there is no problem finding a good spot for swimming, organizing a private beach BBQ, or an overnight camp. Just imagine, after a long day of exploration in caves and grottos, you can totally relax while bathing in the azure waters and breathing the salty sea breeze of Lan Ha Bay.
Lan Ha Bay has gradually gained popularity, thanks to its unspoiled and magnificent natural beauty, and as people look for pristine and less-crowded destinations. Just 30 minutes by boat from Cat Ba Island, you will be charmed by breath-taking views of the bay. A rock-climbing & deep water soloing or snorkelling & diving trip is also a great idea. Lan Ha Bay, among the three bays in Halong Bay zone, is considered to have the best water quality for diving and good conditions for rock-climbing (both on Cat Ba Island and on the bay). For overnight stays, Lan Ha Bay offers many options of hotels, hostels, and bungalows on Cat Ba Island, Viet Hai Village, and Monkey Island (Cat Dua Island), or you can choose to spend your night on a cruise or junk boat, surrounded by rock and water.
Trung Tran Cave
Trung trang cave is 300 meters long and is a natural cave that has been formed over a span of 2000 years. Having hundreds of natural stalactites with unique shapes, the cave is sometimes referred to as the “fairy cave”. The cave contains narrow paths so be careful with your head when walking through.
Cai Beo Fishing Village
The floating fishing village of Cai Beo has been around for upwards of 200 years dating back to the 19th century. The 450 families that call the Cai Beo fishing village home live unique lives. There are three fishing villages in the Ha Long Bay area. The families that live here have developed a lifestyle that is ubiquitous only to this area. As you can imagine, the people who live here are primarily fisherman and their families.