Lan Ha Bay Travel Guide

Lan Ha Bay is blessed by nature with over 100 small, secluded beaches resembling “blue straits.” Many of these beaches stretch out between limestone mountains, offering tranquility and calm waters, making them ideal swimming spots for visitors. In May 2020, the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club awarded Lan Ha Bay a certificate, recognizing it as one of the world’s most beautiful bays. This is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Cat Ba Island.

Halan Bay overview. Ảnh: Phạm Huy Trung

1. Season

Lan Ha Bay experiences all four seasons typical of northern Vietnam. Usually, from May to August, it is summer with calm seas, clear blue skies, abundant sunshine, and gentle breezes, making it perfect for swimming, yachting, and exploring the bay. This is also the peak tourist season. From around September to November, the bay becomes more tranquil, ideal for those seeking a peaceful retreat. During this period, the weather is cool, and swimming is still possible. The remaining months are suitable for visitors interested in forest activities and enjoying the fresh air.

 Lan Ha Bay Aerial View. Photo: Quy Coc Tu

2. Routes

Touring Lan Ha Bay is typically done by boat. Visitors arrive at Cat Ba Island and purchase tickets at Ben Beo, located in the center of the island, to explore Lan Ha Bay. The ticket prices are 80,000 VND for adults and 40,000 VND for children per trip.

For group tours, visitors can rent a private boat. For groups of 10 to 20 people, the rental price ranges from 1.6 million to 5 million VND per boat. For groups of 25 to 50 people, the rental price ranges from 2.2 million to 7 million VND per boat. The rental cost depends on the type of boat and the duration of the tour.

Ben Beo, the Starting Point for Tourist Boats Exploring Lan Ha Bay. Photo: Tam Anh

Here are some tour routes for exploring Lan Ha Bay:

Route 1: Ben Beo – Fishing Village – Monkey Island
Route 2: Ben Beo – Monkey Island – Turtle Islet – Viet Hai Wharf – Ba Trai Dao Islet – Dark Cave – Bright Cave
Route 3: Ben Got – Gia Luan – Tra Bau – Ang Ong Cam – Dark Cave – Bright Cave
Route 4: Cat Ba Tourism Center Wharf – Cat Ong Island – Thien Ung Pagoda

3. Hotel & Resort

        Freedom Island with Two-sided Beaches. Photo: Shenelle Rodrigo

Previously, Lan Ha Bay had many makeshift accommodations on its islands. However, since the end of 2022, these establishments have been dismantled to help preserve the marine ecosystem. Currently, visitors can choose hotels on Cat Ba Island with views of the bay. Two high-end accommodations are Flamingo Cat Ba Beach Resort and Hôtel Perle d’Orient Cat Ba – MGallery, which are 1 km apart and connected by a coastal road along Cat Co Beach.

Flamingo Cat Ba Beach Resort features three buildings overlooking Lan Ha Bay, with 756 rooms located at Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 2 beaches. The resort offers a skywalk, event and conference facilities, an all-season swimming pool, high-speed water slides, and thrilling activities such as parasailing, water sledding, jet skiing, and kayaking. Room rates start at 2 million VND per night.

Hôtel Perle d’Orient Cat Ba – MGallery is a boutique hotel with an Asian-inspired design. All rooms have balconies with views of Lan Ha Bay. It is the most luxurious hotel in the Cat Ba area, offering amenities such as a terrace restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, a bar, a rooftop pool, a spa, a gym, and a private beach. Room rates start at 3.5 million VND per night.

tudo2-2974-1691060179.jpg

Tudo1-7146-1691060179.jpg

tudo3-1591-1691060179.jpg

Freedom Island Retreat on Tu Do Island is one of the rare accommodations in Lan Ha Bay. This retreat offers a beautiful setting with a unique beach featuring two shorelines separated by a narrow strip of sand. Guests can walk from one side to the other to enjoy different views. This destination primarily attracts foreign tourists and those who love pristine, natural experiences.

Overnight cruises on Lan Ha Bay are quite popular, with well-known names such as Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan, Mon Cheri, Scarlet Pearl, Stellar of the Seas, and Paradise Grand. These cruises are modern and fully equipped, providing all meals for guests. Typical itineraries are 2 days and 1 night or 3 days and 2 nights, with prices starting from 2.5 million VND per person per night.

Overnight Cruise on Lan Ha Bay. Photo by: Lux Cruises

LH4-8394-1691125738.jpg

Viet Hai Fishing Village is an ideal accommodation spot for nature enthusiasts. There are no large hotels in the village; instead, visitors can stay at homestays such as Viet Hai Lan, Lan, Lotus, Whisper Nature Bungalow, and Long Phuong Guesthouse. Room rates range from approximately 200,000 VND to 700,000 VND.

4. Things to Do

Cat Ba National Park

CB3-2839-1691120925.jpg

CB1-6331-1691120926.jpg

CB2-6637-1691120926.jpg

This national park is a must-visit attraction in the area, offering a rich biodiversity and numerous hiking trails for nature lovers to explore. Visitors can enjoy trekking, bird watching, and experiencing the lush, tropical environment. The park is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including the endangered Cat Ba langur.

Cat Ba National Park is located in Cat Hai District and is one of Vietnam’s largest special-use forests. The park is home to a wide variety of ecosystems, including marine, terrestrial, and mangrove forests, as well as many rare and precious plant and animal species. In 2004, UNESCO designated Cat Ba National Park as a world biosphere reserve.

Visitors can choose from various activities, such as mountain climbing, with options ranging from 4 to 8 hours or shorter routes of about 2 hours. Walking, cycling, motorbiking, or driving for 2-3 hours are also popular choices. Highlights include trekking through the Kim Giao forest, reaching the summit of Ngu Lam for panoramic views of the park, nighttime wildlife spotting, and exploring caves. The trekking route can also lead visitors to Viet Hai Village.

Entrance fees are 40,000 VND for adults and 20,000 VND for children.

Viet Hai Village

                   Cycling in Viet Hai Village. Photo by: Kieu Duong

Viet Hai Village is located within Cat Ba National Park in Cat Hai Island District, opening out to Lan Ha Bay. The village can be accessed either from the forest or from the bay. Due to its winding paths through the forest, the village was previously rarely visited and remained almost entirely isolated from the outside world.

Recently, Viet Hai has begun to see tourism investment and is now attracting a significant number of visitors, both domestic and international. It has become an ideal spot for eco-friendly activities such as cycling tours and trekking, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature.

Monkey Island

Monkey Island is the second-largest island in the Cat Ba archipelago. It is situated in the middle of Lan Ha Bay and was formerly known as Cat Dua Island due to the abundance of wild pineapple trees. Currently, the island is home to over 20 monkeys. These monkeys often come down to the beach, interact with tourists, and are quite friendly. However, they can sometimes take items from visitors or, if not approached carefully, may cause injuries.

Luon Cave

Luon Cave is located among a group of secluded islands in the bay, with a single entrance to the sea that is about 4 meters wide, 3 meters high, and 100 meters long. Inside, a brackish water lake is surrounded by mountains on all sides, covering an area of nearly 1 square kilometer. The cave walls still bear fossilized freshwater snail shells. Such caves are rare in Lan Ha Bay, making it an ideal spot for kayaking. Visitors can enjoy the serene natural surroundings after passing through the entrance of Luon Cave by boat.

Kayaking at Luon Cave in Lan Ha Bay. Photo by: Tam Anh

Vạn Bội Beach

Vạn Bội Beach stretches along the protruding part of a mountain range, attracting many tourists who come here to explore activities such as kayaking and swimming. The beach boasts stunning natural scenery with smooth white sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere.

Cai Beo Ancient Fishing Village

Cai Beo Fishing Village. Photo by: Pham Huy Trung

Cai Beo Fishing Village is located within the Cat Ba archipelago, in Cat Hai Island District. In 2009, Cai Beo was recognized as a national heritage site, making it one of the largest ancient fishing villages in Vietnam. It is home to over 500 households engaged in fishing and aquaculture activities in the bay. To reach Cai Beo Fishing Village, tourists typically depart from Cat Ba Island and travel approximately 20 kilometers to reach the village, where they will see the floating houses bobbing on the water, tightly clustered together like a miniature city.

Bright Cave – Dark Cave

sangtoi1-4399-1691125738.jpg

Hang Sáng Tối (also known as Bright Cave – Dark Cave) is located on the water surface, stretching 70 meters through the mountain, approximately 12 kilometers from Ben Beo. To visit the cave, tourists typically have to paddle a small boat or kayak. Hang Sáng Tối is an unmissable destination for tourists exploring and relaxing in Lan Ha Bay, especially for those staying overnight on cruises. It is also a popular stop for day-trip boats taking visitors around Lan Ha Bay.

Sports Activities

Climbing mountains on Cat Ba Island is a popular activity that attracts both domestic and international tourists. There are dozens of climbing spots on islands in Lan Ha Bay, on the mainland, and around the Cat Ba area. Here, climbers can find challenging rock faces that cater to those who enjoy this adventurous sport.

In addition, tourists can also swim and kayak. For convenient kayaking spots, it’s recommended to either rent a boat for exploring the bay or purchase a guided kayak tour. Typically, boats will take you to calm areas near the shore to facilitate easier paddling and ensure safety. Some convenient locations include Dark Cave – Bright Cave, Luon Cave, Secret Cave, and Ba Trai Dao Beach.

5. Dining

The cuisine in the Lan Ha Bay area mainly consists of seafood, with popular choices including sea cucumbers, abalones, mullets, clams, shrimp, and various types of shellfish. Seafood can also be purchased as souvenirs, with prices ranging from approximately 500,000 to 700,000 VND per pair of sea cucumbers and 200,000 to 250,000 VND per kilogram of abalones.

Previously, Lan Ha Bay had many seafood farms where tourists could dine on-site. However, nowadays, you’ll have to dine on the mainland, on Cat Ba Island, or organize BBQ meals with seafood purchased yourself on permitted beaches such as Monkey Island or Freedom Island.

6. Tips

When dining on seafood in the Lan Ha Bay area, tourists should inquire about the prices before purchasing, especially during the peak summer months from May to August.

Only swim in permitted areas, and be sure to wear a life jacket when swimming far from shore to ensure safety.

error: Content is protected !!