Cruising in Lan Ha Bay- A guide for beginners
Thinking of choosing a Lan Ha Bay cruise 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 from different tour agencies, all offering a slightly different take on a cruise of Lan Ha Bay. A lot of the offers are given only locally, so doing research in advance is a bit tricky. We hope that the below tips will help you break down the different itineraries available.
Overview Lan Ha Bay
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 to each other.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 at a more relaxed pace.
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.
How to choose the right Lan Ha Bay tour for you
Suitable Duration for a Lan Ha bay tour
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 when you see 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 in to 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.
Itinerary Selection for Lan Ha Bay
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 own travel or travel independently, you can decide to take the bus.
When to go to take a Lan Ha bay trip
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 take a gamble on potential weather-related cancellations you will have a less crowded space in which 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.
Useful information and Handy Hints for planning a wonderful Lan Ha Bay journey
How to see as much as possible:
A quirk of local council rules means that unfortunately tourists are unable to 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.
Managing your budget
Be prepared to spend a little money on these tours, but with a little bit of careful research you will be able to not 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 come to a decision about good quality versus price.
How much does a Lan Ha bay tour cost?
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 on Monkey island or 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 iis from $350 to $700 for a seat in coach tour
Departing Cat Ba
Day trip from Cat Ba island starts from $22 to $35
2 days one nights starts from $135 to $165
3 days trip starsts from $225 to $370
Ensuring you are getting the best deal
Most of the tours on offer to Lan Ha Bay will be on an all-inclusive basis. 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 tours even include the journey from Hanoi which makes your choice even easier!
Check the boat you will be on
As there is a big variation on what is provided across different tours, it is important to do a bit of research into 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 that serves 50 people you may be competing for space at dinner and for 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.
Choose your tour operator wisely
Make sure 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.
Things to do on a Lan Ha Bay tour
Tour the charming villages that float over the bay
Cool off in the crystal clear waters
Go bouldering on Cat Ba Island
Tour monkey island
Take a cooking class with a local chef
Enjoy a relaxing Tai Chi session*
Stop at Viet Hai settlement and disembark to tour its sights
Spend time out on a boat with fishermen or try to catch some squid
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:
Cat Ba ventures
Cat Ba travels
Blue swimmer adventure
Lan Ha tours with Hanoi Eco Tours, a reliable agent for eco tours in Lan Ha Bay
Lan Ha Legend cruise
Hope you guys pick a right Lan Ha Bay cruise and tours with this insightful tips.