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Thinking of choosing the best Lan Ha Bay cruises and tour? You’re probably feeling a little confused about which one you should pick! There are lots of options on offer for every taste, so read our tips below and hopefully, you will find the perfect one for you!
There is just so much on offer amongst the cruise companies serving Lan Ha Bay that you could be forgiven for feeling like you just don’t know how to make a decision. There are literally dozens of competing overnight tours offered by different tour agencies, all offering a slightly different take on a cruise of Lan Ha Bay.
Many offers are given only locally, so doing research in advance is a bit tricky. Hanoi Eco Tour hopes the tips below will help you break down the available itineraries.
The beautiful Lan Ha Bay is found a bit further south of the famous Halong Bay. Here you will find the gorgeous Cat Ba Island amongst other stunning treasures and islets amongst the Cat Ba National Park.
There are plenty of options for cruises in the area, and you can even couple them with a tour of Halong Bay to see both splendors together, as the areas are easily accessible.Lan Ha Bay is a good option for those wanting to take a trip away from the major tourist route. Halong Bay is well known and often quite crowded, and you can enjoy Lan Ha Bay more relaxedly.
For the best value, we recommend you book yourself a complete all-inclusive itinerary – this will ensure all your meals, accommodation and excursion activities are included and you can enjoy your trip without worrying about what happens next. A cruise really is the only way to explore this beautiful bay, and under the guide of your experienced tour leaders and captain you will be able to get to parts of the bay that are unreachable by foot.
You have numerous things to take in to consideration as you plan your cruise of Lan Ha Bay. There are multiple durations available so you can pick what best fits in to your tour of Vietnam. For those with limited time, pick the half day cruises that depart from the beautiful Cat Ba Island. This means you can even come from Hanoi and back within the same day – perfect for those on a tight timeline.
These short cruises will give you a little glimpse into the stunning area around Lan Ha Bay. You will be delighted seeing the little islets dotted around the bay. If you are coming directly from Hanoi for a half day cruise you will be trying to pack a lot into a short time, and you may leave feeling like you wish you could stay forever, or at least for more than a few hours.
If you can spare the time to spend a night or two we definitely recommend it for the experience of sleeping on a boat alone and awaking to the sounds and views of the Bay. You will have more time to get your bearings and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
There are a selection of overnight cruises available, starting at a simple overnighter and those that last 3 nights and 4 days and include a longer stretch of time on the bay, and a trip to Cat Ba Island. These slightly longer cruises will get you right into the bay, exploring more hidden areas and are definitely a great option for those wanting to relax away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.
Overall, 2 days work for those with limited time and 3 days for those who want to relax cruise.
The area in which Lan Ha Bay is found is overshadowed by the more well-known Halong Bay, however each of the three bays in this area is equally stunning – Halong, Bai Tu Long and Lan Ha. Surrounded by limestone mountains, little coves and pristine sands they are all worth a visit. As Halong Bay is often overcrowded, Lan Ha Bay is a real contender for those wanting to see similar scenery at a more relaxed pace. There is the added bonus of a visit to Cat Bay Island with its gorgeous beaches and rolling hills to boot, so Lan Ha Bay really offers everything the discerning tourist can wish for.
Most visitors will pick a cruise that stops at the Ti Top Island, Surprising Cave and the enchanting floating village at Van Gia. Overnight cruises are popular, but are much less crowded in Lan Ha than competing Halong Bay, and offer visitors the chance to take in the sights with less tour boats in the vicinity. Ohers opt for a trip around Bai Tu Long Bay, however this often works out more expensive. As a result we recommend Lan Ha Bay!
Most visitors arrive after spending some time in Hanoi. The journey is about 3 ½ hours – 1 hour is by boat. Many of the tour operators will include the journey in the price of the tour. If you prefer to arrange your travel or travel independently, you can decide to take the bus.
There are some companies offer buses from Hanoi to Cat Ba such as Cat Ba express, Daichi Travel, Good morning Cat Ba
Rate : $13 per person
Duration : 3 hours and 30 minutes
Read more : Getting to Cat island from Hanoi
Take a bus with The Long or Daiichi bus company for 2.5 hours bus drive at $8 per person
With tours available year-round, you should pick your time of year depending on what you intend to see and do, but the best time to visit is usually spring as the weather is nice. However, with the nice weather comes crowds of tourists, so if you can brave the rainy season and gamble on potential weather-related cancellations, you will have a less crowded space to tour. Autumn is also a good time to visit however, again the weather is unpredictable, and in winter the weather is colder so you may not be able to take advantage of the beautiful swimming options.
A quirk of local council rules means that unfortunately tourists cannot do a “double tour” of both Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu, or both Lan Ha and Halong. However, if you are set on taking in both bays, you could just take a tour of each separately. The best way to do this is to book an official tour of Halong Bay, and then the next day head over by hydrofoil to Cat Ba Island. Spend some time getting to know this island before you then take the half day cruise to Lan Ha.
Read more : Cat Ba island transfer guide from Hanoi
Be prepared to spend a little money on these tours, but with a little bit of careful research, you cannot break the bank. If you are tempted to take the cheapest option available to you, make sure you read all the reviews you can find about the accommodation, especially if you are taking an overnight cruise. No one wants to be stranded on the water in sub-standard accommodation. Once you have reviewed the potential vessel, coupled with your findings on the best all-inclusive deal, you should be able to decide good quality versus price.
Departing Hanoi :
Day trip to Lan Ha Bay starts from $28 for a seat in coach tour and $80-120 for a private tour
2 days trips in Lan Ha Bay with an overnight on board starts from
Standard quality starts from $130 to $165 for a group tour and $380 to $495 for a private charter cruise for a group of 4 persons above
Medium and high quality starts from $250 to $350 per person for a group tour
3 days trips in Lan Ha Bay with 1 night on board and 1 night either in Viet Hai village or a hotel in Cat Ba island
Group tour starts from $195 to $225
Lan Ha 3 days 2 nights tour with 2 nights on a cruise is from $350 to $450 for a seat in coach tour
Departing Cat Ba
Day trip from Cat Ba island starts from $30 to $50
2 days one nights starts from $135 to $185
3 days trip starsts from $270 to $370
Most of the tours on offer to Lan Ha Bay will be all-inclusive. This would mean all your meals, any overnight stays, excursions and the services of an experienced guide. It usually doesn’t include alcoholic beverages however, and we recommend you take a look over the included options as detailed in your itinerary to ensure you are getting the best deal and will not be hit with any hidden extras. Some Lan Ha Bay tours even include the journey from Hanoi, making your choice even easier!
As there is a big variation on what is provided across different tours, it is important to research the vessel that will be provided on your tour. Spend some time checking out the vessel online, or perhaps reading some reviews. Check also the boat’s capacity – if it is a huge boat serving 50 people, you may compete for dinner space and views. If you have the cash, you could commandeer your own personal tour, but for the majority of people, a shared tour will be the only option.
Accommodation too should be checked before you book – are you sharing a cabin with others or is it a private space.
Ensure your tour operator is recognized on Trip Advisor as a reputable firm. Unfortunately, there are some agencies who target tourists with scams. Your hotel may also be able to recommend the best ones to use, and ensure they have an operating website, active phone line and good reviews from fellow travelers.
Organized tours don’t suit everyone, but they are a great option for a cruise of Lan Ha Bay. You can let your tour leader organize everything, and you will be sure that you don’t have to think about sorting dinner or entertaining yourself if you book an all-inclusive option. Hopefully, this handy guide will give you good enough advice to help you pick the tour of a lifetime. To help you on your way take a look at these tour providers and see if there is one for you!
Departing Cat Ba:
Lan Ha tours with Hanoi Eco Tours, a reliable agent for eco tours in Lan Ha Bay
Cruise from Got Pier/Tuan Chau
If you are in search of something similar to Halong bay but less-touristy bay and enjoying more outdoor activities, Lan Ha Bay is a perfect choice. On the other hand, you can also access the deserted beach, kayaking in the hidden lagoon and jump off the boat for swimming or unwind on a private beach.
Which is the closet airport to Lan Ha Bay?
Van Don Airport and Cat Bi airport is the closest one for Lan Ha Bay. It takes 1.5 hour to Van Don airport and half an hour to Cai Bi airport
Which port to go for a Lan Ha bay cruise?
Got pier is the only one for taking a cruise in Lan Ha bay, with 2.5 hours drive via the new Expressway
What to do after a cruise tour?
If you have some free time, exploring Hai Phong city is an interesting to do. The city has a lot to offer such as sightseeing, food, local living and more.
Is there any problem with seasick when cruising?
No, it isn’t. The seawater is calm, gentle to make sure you’ll have a safe and sound trip.
Can I see Lan Ha bay without staying on board?
You can easily join a day tour from Hanoi or Cat Ba island. The option is to stay in a hotel in Cat Ba after the tour.
See the very best pictures taken by a drone in Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba island by @Vu Ngoc Son
Hope you guys pick the best Lan Ha Bay cruises and tours with this insightful tips.
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Thanks for reading!
David from Hanoi Eco Tour