Lan Ha Bay, Vịnh Lan Ha

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Overview Lan Ha Bay

Located south of Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay is by far the smallest of the three primary bays in the area. It comprises around 400 limestone islets spread over 76 km2, and is just as pleasing to the eye as Halong Bay.

Lan Ha Bay features the same jaw-dropping landscape of towering karst outcrops that tourists typically associate with Ha Long and if it weren’t for the conspicuous absence of crowds in Lan Ha Bay, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two bays.

Because of its distance from Halong City and the main tourist wharf, the popularity of Lan Ha Bay never really took off as it did for Halong Bay in the 1990s, and Lan Ha has remained in the shadow of its celebrity neighbor ever since.

This is good news for you – Lan Ha Bay remains an untouched gem, with isolated areas, pristine waters, and caves to discover. Of course, it is most famed for its clean white beaches, a rarity in Halong.

With no less than 139 white sandy beaches in the bay, it doesn’t take much effort to find your perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling and, for the more adventurous – cliff jumping!

Home to Cat Ba Island, the largest island in the area. Rugged, craggy, it showcases all the dramatic features of Halong. Many cruises start from Cat Ba, making it a great destination to start your trip. Enjoy the seafood market, the lovely beaches, and the national park.

View Lan Ha Bay-Smiletravel
Lan Ha Bay-Smiletravel

Must-Visit Places in Lan Ha Bay

Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park is a tourist attraction to millions of domestic and overseas visitors. Coming to the Park, travellers can enjoy the beauty of the vast landscapes and seascapes. Visitors can choose to relax on isolated beaches in Lan Ha Bay, trek through primeval tropical rain forest or mangrove forest, discover many unique animal and plant species, and immerse themselves in the local culture.

Cat Ba National Park is situated in Cat Hai District, Hai Phong City of northern Vietnam. The Park is located in a group of some 366 islands of the Cat Ba Archipelago – 45km east of Hai Phong City, 150km south – east of HaNoi and borders with Ha long Bay to the north. The Park was established on the 31st March 1986 and now covers some 17,362.96 ha; approximately 10,912.51 ha are terrestrial ecosystems (islands), and 6,450.45 ha are marine ecosystems. It was the first ever national park to be established in Vietnam and is divided into three zones: strict protection; ecological recovery; and administrative services.

The key functions and tasks of the National Park include: conservation; scientific research; ecotourism & environmental education; and assistance to local community development

Cat Ba Island

The largest island in the Cat Ba Archipelago, Cat Ba Island is one of the main features of Lan Ha Bay. It is a tourist hub for the Halong Bay area as many tourists who choose not to opt for a cruise use Cat Ba as their base to explore this bay area, and can also have a great time exploring Cat Ba’s jungle and caves and enjoying its beautiful sunsets.

Monkey Island

Cat Dua Island, more famously known as Monkey Island, is famous for two things, firstly for its monkeys and secondly for its wonderful view of the bay. Monkey Island features on many cruise itineraries and can also be accessed by tour from Cat Ba Island. The peak of the island offers some of the best views of Lan Ha Bay and is reached by a short trek from the beach.

Dark Cave And Bright Cave

Dark and Bright Cave is one of the largest and the most beautiful caves in Halong – Lan Ha Bay. Nothing is more enjoyable than free kayaking on the crystal blue water and then finding yourself under the low roof of the cave.

Dark and Bright Cave is located where Lan Ha Bay Vietnam meets Halong Bay and it belongs to Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve. It is usually likened to Surprise Cave (Hang Sửng Sốt).

Dark & Bridge Cave in Lan Ha Bay
Dark & Bridge Cave in Lan Ha Bay

Ba Trai Dao Beach Area

The local residents of Lan Ha Bay Vietnam now still tell the old story about the origination of Ba Trai Dao Islet. Story has it that the youngest daughter of the God fell in love with a poor fisherman. As she wanted him to be immortal to be with her forever, she stole three peaches in heaven for him. God noticed and was very angry. He turned three peaches into three stone mountains on the sea. Therefore, the locals named the islet as “Ba Trai Dao” Islet (Three Peaches Islet).

Ba Trai Dao- Three Peaches Beach
Ba Trai Dao- Three Peaches Beach

Cannon Fort

Overlooking Lan Ha Bay like a watchful parent, the Cannon Fort is the perfect place to get a stunning panoramic view of the bay. The Cannon Fort sits on top of a 177-meter-high hilltop and is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. There is an entrance fee of around $2.00 USD for adults.

Nam Cat island

To reach Nam Cat island, you go from Beo dock heading to Lan Ha Bay way in about 15 minutes. Among many islands of the bay, Nam cat is a great choice for nature lovers with pure crystals sand area, less crowded swimming areas, dim light to take a nap with sea win blowing your ears.

Van Boi swimming area

Van Boi swimming area is located on a small island opposite Rua Giong island in Lan Ha Bay. You can rent a wooden boat, or kayak to make your way through many beautiful small islands of the bay. You can enjoy your private time here as it’s not so crowded.

Cua Van fishing village

This is a must in your trip to Lan Ha Bay. Located 12 kilometers away from Beo dock, it takes you 1 and a half hours to go to Cua Van fishing village. You can take part in many interesting daily activities with the villagers such as: riding a boat, using a net to catch a fish, go catch shrimp or squid…

Viet Hai fishing village

Visiting Viet Hai fishing village in which the fishermen and their families preserve traditions of fishing and self-supply life. The visit will bring you pleasant cultural experiences by learning how villagers live, somehow in a way separated from the outside world.

Viet Hai Village Orchid Classic Cruise Halong Bay, Du thuyền 5 sao Orchid Classic Cruise
Viet Hai Village

Cai Beo floating village

Exploring the ancient Cai Beo floating village which is just adjacent to Beo pier. There, you will be fond of watching around 300 floating houses, their fishing and seafood farming, and the locals’ hospitable nature.

Lan Ha Bay Weather & climate

Truly you can visit Lan Ha Bay at any time of the year and have a great experience but the perfect time to visit Lan Ha Bay is between March and June or October and November.

From March to June the weather stays mostly sunny, and it doesn’t get as blisteringly hot nor does it rain as much as it does during summer. Having good weather like this will give you great conditions to enjoy the many activities on offer. Although you should keep in mind that this time is also peak season for domestic tourists. After June, the weather becomes a lot more volatile and typhoons and tropical storms become more likely.

How to Get to Lan Ha Bay

The most common starting point for trips to Lan Ha Bay is from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam approximately 134 km from Hanoi.

Another increasingly popular base is the port city of Hai Phong. From Got Pier in Hai Phong, you can easily connect to Cat Ba Island, which is the gateway to Lan Ha Bay.

  •         Travel time from Hanoi to Hai Phong (Got Pier) is around 2 hours, and your options include a shuttle bus or a private car and limousine. This makes Lan Hay Bay possible for a day trip.
  •         An alternative access point is through Halong City and its Tuan Chau Island. Rather than get to Lan Ha through Cat Ba Island, in that scenario you will arrive at the destination by cruising through Halong Bay first.
  •         Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi is the second biggest transportation hub in Vietnam, and it is also the most popular choice for HaLong visitors, offering convenient transport to Hanoi city center and to the Halong Bay area.
  •         By cruise: There are several cruise tours (2 days, 3 days) that operate from Halong Bay (Stellar of the Seas, Elite of the Seas) and Bai Tu Long Bay (La Siesta Superyacht) to Lan Ha Bay. These tours usually include a bus or minivan transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay, and then overnight cruise ride to Lan Ha Bay.
  •         Lan Ha Bay is a lesser-known but equally beautiful alternative to the more popular Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay, located in Cat Ba island, Vietnam. You can visit Lan Ha bay in one of the two options below:
  •         By bus: From Hanoi, you can take a bus to Hai Phong city (Niem Nghia bus station at 275 Tran Nguyen Han, Le Chan) and then transfer to a ferry that will take you to Cat Ba island.

How to Get to Lan Ha Bay from Cat Bi Airport

Your second option is to fly straight to the airport in Hai Phong, the Cat Bi International Airport. There are direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Hai Phong daily. The city is located 60 km from Halong Bay. From Cat Bi, you can take a taxi or private car to Got Pier. Travel time is around 40 minutes.

  •         Transportation to Lan Ha Bay – At a Glance
  •         Embarkation point: Got Ferry Terminal (HaiPhong)
  •         From Hanoi city center: 153 km – bus / car (2h)
  •         From Noi Bai airport: 150 km – bus / car (2h30′)
  •         From Cat Bi airport: 28 km – car / taxi (40′)

Looking for more detailed information on reaching the destination in an efficient way? Take a look at our post on transportation to the 3 bays, as well as our breakdown of the 3 airports in the vicinity of Halong Bay.

Highlight Activities in Lan Ha Bay


Kayaking would be a great experience in Lan Ha, because there are so many tiny and small islands on the bay that you cannot enjoy their beauty if you go on a cruise. Kayaking helps to get you closer to nature to see how unique their rock shapes can be and how cool our nature could be.

Below are some places that allow you to rent a kayak:

        Manh Nu house

        Cat Ba Venture

        Kayak for rent area on Monkey island with unlimited time for kayaking

Ambassador Cruise II, Ambassador II Day Cruise, Du Thuyền 5 Sao Ambassador II Day Cruise

Sunbathing on the beach & discover the beautiful coral system of this island

It sounds very weird if you visit a bay without getting yourself to the beach, isn’t it? Come one, bikini/short on, let your office fair skin be tanned under the beautiful sunlight here. Also, dive deep under the water to see how marvelous & incredible our oceanic scenes can be with the system of coral in the bay.

You can book this diving service at the diving center of Monkey Island Resort. There are many options for you to choose from: 30-minute diving with a personal coach (1.000.000 VND per passenger) or you can choose a snorkeling service to discover on your own with 600.000 VND.

Exciting rock climbing activity

If you are an adventurous person, try rock climbing in the bay. Conquer harsh and challenging cliffs. There are many types and levels of climbing for you to try so don’t worry. There are 3 favorite climbing spots on the bay which is Dau Be island (2 hours of travel boat far away from Cat Ba island); a cliff located at Beo dock (2km far away from Cat Ba center) and Ba Trai Dao island (Three Peaches island, 22 kilometers away from the travel port).

Visit a Floating Fishing Village

Rich in history, Halong Bay was a busy seaport in the 12th century, and thus home to many floating fish villages.

Make a stop at the nearby Cai Beo floating village to gain some knowledge about Lan Ha Bay’s deep-rooted culture and traditions. Fishing the waters of the deep sea bay and navigating around its limestone mountains have long been a way of life for the locals.


Lan Ha Bay has about 400 islets and limestone karst formations. Lose yourself in the amazing underwater world with a snorkeling experience.

Enjoy the myriad of marine life and be awed by the coral reefs. With waters more pristine and less polluted than Halong Bay, snorkeling here is such a treat.

Turtle Island, Monkey Island, and Nam Cat Island are two of the best spots, where calm waters and sea life awaits you!


Lan Ha Bay Cruise suggestion

– High-end: Ylang/ Ginger – about 390 USD/cabin (2 pax)

– Luxury: Stellar of the Seas/ Orchid Cruise/ Azalea Cruise: from 250 USD/pax

– Deluxe: Sealife Legend/ Era Cruise/ Peony/La Regina Legend: from 210USD/pax

– Superior: Sena/V’Spirit Premier: from 195 USD/pax

View Orchid Trendy Cruise Halong Bay-Lan Ha Bay, Du Thuyền 5 Sao Orchid Trendy Cruise
View Orchid Trendy Cruise Halong Bay-Lan Ha Bay, Du Thuyền 5 Sao Orchid Trendy Cruise

Is Lan Ha Bay in Halong Bay?

A deceptively difficult question, the answer really depends on how you choose to look at it. Yes and no at the same time!

In geological terms, Lan Ha Bay is part of the same sinking plateau as both HaLong and Bai Tu Long Bay. As you sail around the area, you will be hard-pressed to notice any significant change in the scenery around you as you move from HaLong Bay to Lan Ha Bay. That said, the 3 bays do have clearly delineated borders, and Lan Ha Bay actually sits in a different province.

For the sake of simplicity but also adding to the confusion, most travel guides and websites put some of the attractions of both Lan Ha and Bai Tu Long under one Halong Bay umbrella.

Should I Visit Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay?

Make no mistake about it – both bays are absolute stunners, guaranteed to impress even the most seasoned travelers. In both Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay you will be able to feast your eyes on some of the best views Mother Nature has to offer. She certainly took her time to create them; the landscape you’ll see there took over 500 million years to form.

The choice you’re looking at is of a different nature, it has more to do with your preferred style of traveling. If you are arriving on a tight schedule or a tight budget and need the most convenient, affordable cruise deal out there, then you are likely going to visit Halong Bay. You will have by far the greatest choice of deals and activities at your disposal. Of course, you will also get to enjoy the spectacular headline attractions of Halong Bay such as Ti Top Island or Sung Sot Cave.

Whereas, if you prefer a more off-the-beaten-road style of travel, or are looking for something quieter and focussed on nature, then Lan Ha Bay is probably much more in tune with your needs.

For more insight, take a look at our in-depth comparison of the three bays – Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay.

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