09 Nov 2020
Located in the Northeast coast of North Vietnam, to the west of Tonkin Gulf, Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long bay form a string of wonders stretching hundreds of kilometers vertically from the border between Vietnam and China to the city of Haiphong.
Ha Long Bay has long been well-known worldwide as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, which attracts millions of tourists every year. Her sisters, Lan Ha and Bai Tu Long, however, are still far from popular as their sister despite being no less charming.
This article will help you have a closer look at these three magnificent bays especially the less well-known Lan Ha and Bai Tu Long so that you may have a better choice when considering a travel to North Vietnam.
Before focusing on the beauty of the bays, we would like to provide some information regarding options that you may take to get to these destinations.
For the case of Halong bay, tourists would gather at Tuan Chau marina before taking the cruise. Going there from Hanoi city center using a shuttle bus or car could take you 2 hours and 25’. Taking the Noi Bai route, you may either travel by bus or car for 3 hours or use seaplane for only 45’. And taking a private car or taxi from Cat Bi airport would be 1.75 hours.
For Lan Ha bay, you can get around through Got ferry. To get there, you may take the route from Hanoi city center using shuttle bus or car which will take about 2 hours or the other way from Noi Bai international airport using shuttle bus or car but that would be 30 minutes longer. You could also fly straight to Cat Bi international airport and then travel by taxi or private car to Got ferry, which would be only 40 minutes.
For Bai Tu Long Bay, there will also be 3 options, all of which lead you to the port of Hon Gai where you will start your expedition. Travelling from Hanoi city center using a shuttle bus or car would be 3.25 hours while taking the Noi Bai route using the same means of transport would be 5-10 minutes longer. Taking off at Cat Bi and going by car or taxi will only take 2 hours.
Lan Ha Bay
Located 16km to the East of Cat Ba island, south of her two sisters, Lan Ha bay is the smallest among three but that doesn’t mean you would have a fewer choice when exploring this wonderful bay.
Lan Ha is famous for its natural beauty. The bay consists of more than 400 limestone islets standing strongly out of the emerald green water. In addition, Lan Ha was also granted by the divine creator with estimated 139 pristine beaches, which makes the bay an ideal spot for not only sightseeing also aquatic sports like swimming, snorkeling or water surfing.
Despite as charming as Halong bay, Lan Ha bay is surprisingly less touristic, less inhabited and cleaner. Moving out of Halong, entering the bay, you would immediately spot this striking difference. Lan Ha is like of chance to find peace, to explore the original beauty of nature without much interfere of humans. It’s not exaggerated to say Lan Ha is a hidden gem among many other natural treasures of Gulf of Tonkin.
The bay of Lan Ha is also noticeable for her cruise. As tourism is still new there compared to Halong, most of cruise ships are modern and high-quality.
Lan Ha Bay
Visiting Lan Ha bay, tourists can choose and enjoy a variety of beautiful destinations.
1. Monkey Island
Only 1 km off the town of Cat Ba, Monkey Island is a must-see spot for tourists going to Lan Ha. The island was previously known as “Pineapple Island” as it used to be covered in bushes of wild pineapple and was renamed “Monkey Island” for the fact that the island is where a troop of around 20 monkeys reside. However, the island is more famous thanks to its beautiful white sand beach that is one of the most beautiful in the area. It is ideal for group picnics and camping.
2. Ba Trai Dao
Ba Trai Dao is a beach, located 20 km to the Southeast of Bai Chay. The name literally means 3 peaches. Bai Trai Dao is renowned as one of the most romantic beaches in Lan Ha thanks to its wild and original beauty. Being a pristine white beach, 3 sides facing limestone mountains, it is ideal for sunbathing, and beach sports and taking photos, especially among about-to-wed couples.
3. Cat ba National Park
Cat Ba National Park was established in 1986, one of earliest national park in Vietnam and consists of a variety of ecosystems including marine ecosystem, inland forest ecosystem and mangrove forest ecosystem.
Covering 26,240 ha, both land and sea, the park stretches over different terrains but mainly high limestone mountains between narrow valleys. Famous of its diversity in fauna and flora, Cat Ba national park attracts thousands of visitors, not only tourists but also biologists, every year.
4. Light and Dark Cave (hang Sáng tối)
Situated in the border between Halong bay and Lan Ha bay, Light and Dark cave is a popular destination for tourists. Often called “The Surprising Cave underwater” due to its special geographical structure, Light and Dark Cave is a “hot” spot for sport lovers. Tourists often go through the cave using Kayak, which is a great way to observe all of the beauty that it hides as they are free to move around the cave.
5. Dau Be island (đảo đầu bê)
28 Km away from Bay Chay, on the mouth of Lan Ha Bay, Dau Be Island is also a very famous tourist attraction. The island is well-known thanks to Ba Dam lake, a system consisting of three big ocean basins connected via a winding narrow cave. Visiting Dau Be and enjoying the beauty of nature would be an unforgettable experience for anyone.
6. Viet Hai Village
Viet Hai is the name of a village located in the high mountain range of the Cat Ba National Park. Used to be isolated from the outside world due to its geographical separation, the village is
becoming a rising travel destination. Going to Viet Hai, tourists can experience the beauty of wildlife, rural lifestyle as well as many local specialties.
Kayaking in Lan Ha Bay
1. Kayaking: in Dau Be island or Dark Light Cave
Kayaking would be a must if you wish to observe the spectacular beauty of Lan Ha. There are many choices for where to go on a kayak trip but Dau Be island and Dark Light cave would be the most ideal candidates as the water in these places is relatively peaceful and the views are also breathtaking.
2. Cycling on Viet Hai Village
There are so many things you can do in Viet Ha thanks to its original beauty and authentically local culture, but going on a bicycle trip is highly recommended. As the village is connected by a very sophisticated network of tracks, it is simple but wonderful to get around the place and feel yourself close to nature using a bicycle.
3. Hiking in Monkey island
Hiking is a “specialty” of Monkey Island. As the island is granted with diversity in landscapes, hiking in Monkey Island would bring you constant change in the way that you interact with the nature, from the pristine white beach to the high rocky and dangerous mountain. Also, you would be amazed when encountering the monkeys on the island as these cuties would not be shy but often seem curious if identifying the presence of unfamiliar faces.
Cruise in Lan Ha Bay
1. Mon Cheri Cruise:
This is one of the most luxurious cruise trips which feature the latest and fastest non-wooden vessel in Lan Ha Bay. Many interesting activities including kayaking in Dark Light Cave and expedition to Cat Ba National Park are offered to tourists, which would be an unforgettable experience for you.
2. Sunlight Boutique:
This cruise features high-end accommodations which would bring you the best service in the bay. Tourists can participate in many activities including swimming, cooking, partying and squid fishing. The cruise also offers a kayaking trip to Dau Be Island and cycling trip in Viet Ha village.
3. Sunlight Boutique Lan Ha: kayaking in Hang sáng tối, cycling in Viet Hai Village
Featuring kayaking trip to Dark Light Cave and cycling trip in Viet Ha village, Sunlight Boutique Lan Ha offers a traditional cruise experience for high-class travellers. Click here if you want to book a cruise in Lan Ha Bay
Bai Tu Long Bay
Covering three quarters of Halong Bay World Heritage site, Bai Tu Long Bay is the largest among the three, but it’s also the least well-known.
The reason is that Bai Tu Long is developed to become a wildlife reservation, which means that tourism activities are often restricted to protect its ecosystem. Therefore, even swimming is prohibited.
But thanks to that, Bai Tu long still preserves its original beauty out of human’s influence, earning itself the reputation as one of the top off – the – beaten track destinations in the northern part of the country.
Bai Tu Long
1. Thien Canh Son Cave
Located in Bai Tu Long bay, among 59 caves discovered in the region, Thien Canh Son is special in its own way. Despite being much smaller than Surprising Cave, the cave is magnificent with its collection of stalagmites that resemble a baby elephant, or the lotus flower, or the group of gnomes holding a meeting.
2. Floating Villages:
Bai Tu Long is also famous for its floating villages.
3. Thay Cave
One of the many caves in Bai Tu Long bay is called Thay cave. The name literally means “Teacher” cave due to lots of book- sized and quill –sized stalactites, and a small stone like a table for reading inside the cave which makes people think of a teacher’s office. As we go deeper into the cave, it’s easy to notice a gradual drop in temperature. Standing on one side of the cave is a small lake filled with water from the watershed of mountain flowing down at night and day. Wide dome with stalactites hang down all strange shapes. Reflected in the natural stalactites along with the streams gurgling, the light from the cave’s door gives tourists a sense of mystery and charm.
1. Discover the life of fishermen at floating villages:
One of the many activities that tourists love to do when arriving in Bai Tu Long is to experience the life of fishermen in floating villages. Although living in floating houses can be not really comfortable with the lack of electricity and fresh water, learning how to catch fish or cultivate lobsters can a really fun and unforgettable experience.
2. Admire the stunning Limestone karst Thien Son Cave:
The formation of karst cave itself is a wonder of nature as it may takes millions of years so that stalagmites could grow up to this size. Therefore, paying a visit and seeing those beautiful crafts of nature could be something you wouldn’t want to miss.
3. Kayaking at Thay Cave
Kayaking to Thay Cave could also be a wonderful journey. As the water track to the cave is long and full of magnificent sceneries, you can enjoy the irresistible charm of nature. The door of Thay cave is also a masterpiece with many impressive limestone islets standing still like living creatures being petrified.
All cruises include Thien Canh Son Cave and Vung Vieng Fish Village as destinations for their two-day trip. For a three-day trip, they will go for Vung Vieng on the first day, Thay Cav on the second day and Thien Canh Son on the last day.
1. Victory Cruise:
The cruise ship was designed and built with traditional luxurious wooden material and equipped with modern and comfortable interiors. Catering 21 bedrooms with the best service, Victory Cruise is ideal for relaxing and enjoying the natural beauty of Bai Tu Long.
2. Victory Star Cruise:
Inspired by traditional and classical beauty of ancient junks of Halong Bay, Victory Star Cruise was designed in respect of traditional features but equipped in modern and luxury style. Most of the cabins feature private balconies for more privacy and better experience on board.
3. Paloma cruise:
Offering the most comfortable and unforgettable experience not only by the exquisite luxury and the intimate setting in decorating design but also by friendly, professional staff and excellent service, Paloma Cruise is something you should consider for you Bai Tu Long trip. Boarding on Paloma Cruise is an amazing way to witness the exceptional and serene natural beauty of Bai Tu Long bay.
4. Swan Cruise Bai Tu Long Bay:
Elegant design and incredibly good service are what you would describe Swan Cruise. The cruise also features many interesting activities for tourists to almost any famous destination in Bai Tu Long.
5. Emperor Cruise:
Luxury and top-notch service are what make Emperor Cruise stand out among many cruises on Bai Tu Long. Offering scheduled one or 2-night programs such as ‘Emperor Discovery’, ‘Emperor Experience’ and ‘Emperor Hideaway’, your experiences are ensured exclusive, intimate, memorable and safe.
6. Huong Hai Sealife:
With high-end facilities & professional service, Huong Hai Sealife is also a recommended cruise for visitors to Bai Tu Long. Their five-star rated cruise ships with incredible architecture and interiors will bring you absolute comfort and safety during your trip on the bay.
Ha Long Bay
Lying between Lan Ha and Bai Tu Long, Halong Bay is a well-known hub for tourists thanks to its breathtaking beauty which earned the title “One of the New 7 World Wonders of Nature”.
Every year, millions of visitors both domestically and internationally pay a visit to this wonder. That’s one of the reasons why people praise the charm of Halong bay as “the colorful bustling beauty”.
Thanks to waves of tourists, the bay is witnessing a boom in terms of tourism services including cruise, accommodation, food and entertainment, which also means that tourists have a wide range of choices that they might take to satisfy their need.
Ha Long Bay
1. Ti Top Island (Titov Island)
Named after the famous Russian cosmonaut, Gherman Stepanovich Titov who paid a visit there in the seventies, Ti Top Island is something you should put immediately on your travel list. The reason is that on top of the mountain, there is that observation deck which offers a panoramic view of the whole bay. Climbing up to the top can be a little bit tiring for some, but it’s worth the effort.
2. Pearl Farm:
Located in an isolated water area named Tung Sau, surrounded by undulating limestone islands, the pearl farm is the only one in Halong and has become a popular spot for tourists recently. Visiting the farm, tourists are fascinated as they can witness and be explained the process in which a beautiful and precious pearl is made, from how they implant the pearl into the oyster’s body to how they harvest and make magnificently beautiful jewelries out of these raw pearls.
3. Surprising Cave:
Located in Bo Hon Island, Surprising Cave is the biggest and most magnificent of all caves in Ha Long bay and perhaps even the whole area. First steps to the entrance of the cave may give you an impression of small, dark and not much surprising place as the name claims. But just as you pass through a rocky slot and go deeper inside, you will be amazed by how huge it can be. When French colonists first came to the cave, they were so amazed by the majestic beauty and the huge expansion of the cave (about 10,000 m2 in width) that somebody from their expedition exclaimed "Grotto des Surprises", which means a cave of the surprising things. From then on, the cave has been called Sung Sot Cave (translated into Surprising Cave in English).
4. Luon Cave:
Situated on Bo Hon Island, about 14km to the south of Bai Chay Tourist Wharf and 1 km away from Surprise Cave, Luon Cave is also a very popular destination for tourists. Luon Cave resembles the shape of an arc with 60 meters in length and 2.5 – 4 in height depending on the tide. Due to its limited height, the only way to visit is by using a small boat or a kayak.
1. Swimming and Trekking in Titov Island
The island and the surrounding water are ideal for aquatic sports like swimming as the tide here is low and the water is relative clear. Apart from swimming, mountain trekking is also recommended. The track from the beach to the mountain top is rough but breathtaking. Getting to the top, tourists can grasp an overview of the whole bay, which would be something shouldn’t be missed.
2. Kayaking at Luon Cave:
Don’t put kayaking off your list if you wish to have an unforgettable time to Luon Cave. On your kayak trip, you could not only observe the island’s diversity in floral system with thousands of different plant species but also encounter troops of mischievous monkeys jigging up and down around the cliffs.
3. Visiting Surprising Cave:
The beauty of Surprising Cave is tempting. That’s why you should at least visit it one time in your life. Going inside Sung Sot Cave, there are many surprising things waiting for tourists to explore such as stalactites having different and special shapes, an old banyan tree having luxuriant foliage, dinosaurs…. Reaching the highest peak of the cave, you also have the chance to admire the beautiful landscapes of clear water lakes, some types of trees and birds living here.
4. Finding out how pearl was made at Pearl Farm
Exploring the pearl farm is also a highlight of the trip to Halong. Pearl is something valuable and beautiful but also mysterious to many. Therefore, having a 101 lesson of the technique applied to make these shiny pearls can be a great pleasure. You can also buy pearl jewelry made right in the farm if you wish.
Cruise in Ha Long Bay
29 km away from Cat Bi international airport, Alisa Cruise offers high-end service with a lot of activities not only on board like Tai Chi class and cooking class but also activities to destinations of Halong bay. They are also highly praised for their professional staff and super delicious food.
The President Experience is an experience par excellence. Step aboard this sumptuous floating hotel as it glides through the world’s most magnificent seascape, with Michelin star dining, jazz band entertainment, your own private butler, and the most generous cabins found anywhere in Halong Bay.
3. Paradise luxury
Being a blend of Western and Oriental architecture, Paradise Luxury cruise is the first five-star wooden cruise ship brand in Halong. Paradise Cruise offers travellers the ultimate in flexibility: you can discover the beauty and magic of Halong Bay with specially designed itinerary, or you can opt to stay on board for pampering and relaxation.
4. Paradise elegance
Paradise Elegance cruise ship is the perfect mixture between classical sophistication and modern luxury. High-end facilities including 5 spas and 2 bars are what define the identity of Paradise Elegance among cruises on Halong bay.
Aphrodite Cruise offers tourists with eco and sustainable travel experience. That means they are trained to manage waste appropriately and encourage their customers to do the same through responsible trash disposal. The experience is also greatly enhanced by the presence of high-end modern comforts like Jacuzzi or sauna.
Pelican Cruise offers 5 star luxury. The rooms and amenities are designed in a manner that brings tourists the most luxurious feeling and comfortable experience. The view is also second to none as their cruise ship takes you to one of the most magnificent part of Halong bay.
7. Glory legend
Glory Legend Cruises brings a wonderful experience on modern and tastefully designed boats. The boats feature spacious, well-appointed cabins and suites with large en-suite bathrooms, large sundecks with comfortable lounging furniture and elegant dining rooms and bars. They also offer an elegant, relaxing and fulfilling ways to explore endless style in Halong bay. The cruise brings us into contact with local people in different floating villages of the Halong bay.
Majestic Halong Cruise is a three-star cruise in Halong Bay which combines charm and great comfort to meet the growing demand of travellers. Majestic cruise consists of three wooden vessels up to 30 cabins designed to give guests the best service they could wish for. All cabins are furnished elegantly with air-conditioning, wooden floor, mini-fridge and private bathroom with hairdryer and free toiletries. The activities that the cruises offer include the cooking class, kayaking, exploring caves, Tai Chi, swimming and squid fishing. The onboard restaurant serves Asian and international dishes.
The five-star luxury cruise – Margaret Cruises provides a relaxing haven for utmost adventure-seeking travellers on this precious pearl of Halong Bay. Step into this newly-launched cruise, guests will be pleased by its perfect balance of the classic and modern style representing throughout 25 spacious and beautifully refurbished cabins. Make your own choice of either refreshing your body and soul in the inviting bathroom after a dynamic excursion or in the fantastic spa and expansive sundeck. Besides complimentary mineral water and fresh fruits available in each room, the exquisite restaurant is a paradise providing different nuances of cuisine and a romantic dinner setting in a quiet place.
10. Genesis Royal
The Genesis Regal is a brand new superb luxurious cruise offering service in Halong-Lan Ha bay. The vessel has a traditional design with the ultimate luxury, inspired by the royal elegance of the French-Indochinese style. All rooms have balconies, bathtubs, super panoramic windows… along with detailed utilities and traditional meticulous decoration. If you want to book a cruise in Ha Long, we are willing to help you.
What is your choice after reading this post, Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay?