Looking for an alternative to Ha Long Bay? Then look no further than Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam. Whether you’re looking for an overnight cruise or a kayaking trip, Lan Ha Bay is great non touristy option for those looking for a little more off the beaten path experience in Vietnam.
From junk boats to luxury cruises there is a Lan Ha Bay cruise for everyone and in our opinion, a cruise on Lan Ha Bay is a must have experience when visiting Vietnam.
Lan Ha Bay Cruise, An Alternative to Ha Long Bay
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Lan Ha Bay vs. Ha Long Bay
Before you freak out over the idea of not kayaking or cruising in THE Ha Long Bay, hear us out. Ha Long Bay is beautiful but with the influx of tourism, it has become crowded and polluted.
The boats that operate in and out of Ha Long Bay cruise on the same schedule which means you’ll encounter crowds every inch of the way. Do you really want to be surrounded by boats and crowds all day? We sure didn’t which is why we were willing to switch it up.
If you’re looking for something less chaotic, check out Bai Tu Long Bay or Lan Ha Bay. Both bays are actually apart of the greater Ha Long Bay. Bai Tu Long Bay is nestled just to the east of Halong Bay while Lan Ha Bay is just to the south.
Both options are away from the hordes of boats and home to some white sandy beaches for you to enjoy. We booked a tour in Lan Ha Bay and it was astoundingly beautiful.
Getting There – Where Is Lan Ha Bay?
Lan Ha Bay is located about 2 1/2 hours from Hanoi making it an easily accessible day trip, overnight trip or multi-day trip for tourists visiting Vietnam.
If you’re looking to book a Lan Ha Bay cruise, you have two options when coming from Hanoi…
- Book your Lan Ha Bay cruise from Hanoi
- Book your Lan Ha Bay cruise from Cat Ba
If you’re coming from another location in Vietnam that is not Hanoi, the closest airports to Lan Ha Bay are Van Don Airport and Cat Bi Airport.
Van Don Airport is 60 miles closer than Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi where as Cat Bi Airport is the closest airpot to Cat Hai and Cat Ba islands. If you’re looking to save some time, consider flying into either of these airports.
Lan Ha Bay Tour From Hanoi
The easiest and most direct route will be booking your cruise from Hanoi and arranging transfers directly with your cruise company. Depending which cruise company you book with, a transfer fee may already be included in your price. Be sure to check ahead of time.
Booking a cruise from Hanoi takes the hassle of getting to your cruise ships departure point and then back to the city. You may pay a little more, but you don’t have to worry about missing your cruise.
Lan Ha Bay Tour From Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island is one of the official jumping off points for cruises heading out to Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam. The island of Cat Ba itself actually makes up the southeastern edge of Lan Ha Bay.
If you’re looking to head further south in Vietnam or, just wanting to spend a few days in the area, staying on Cat Ba before or after your Lan Ha Bay cruise is a great option.
From Hanoi, you can arrange transport to Cat Ba Island. The journey is about 4-5 hours in a bus and then a ferry. Once on Cat Ba, you can spend a day or two exploring Cat Ba National Park before departing on your cruise.
Lan Ha Bay Weather – The Best Time To Visit
While boats operate all year long, Vietnam does experience a wet and dry season.
- Dry Season: October – March is historically Vietnams dry season. While the temps are a little cooler, making swimming a little chilly, you’re likely to avoid cloudy skies and rainfall.
- Rainy Season: April – September is what is normally classified as Vietnams rainy season. The temperatures are hot, perfect for swimming, you may encounter a thunderstorm or two.
We took our Lan Ha Bay cruise in mid-April and while there was some overcast skies in the late afternoon/evening, the days were bright and sunny!
How Many Days in Lan Ha Bay?
This depends on your schedule and budget but at a minimum, we think everyone should spend one night in the bay. So, for planning purposes, you should look at booking a 2 day, 1 night cruise.
We did a 2 day, 1 night Lan Ha Bay cruise and loved it! To caveat that statement, if you’re looking for a more relaxed trip, consider booking a 3 day, 2 night trip.
As great as the 2 day, 1 night cruise is, it is a more jam packed schedule.
Lan Ha Bay Luxury Cruises
From an overnight cruise in Lan Ha Bay to a 3 day, 2 night cruise, the below list of luxury cruises are some of the best cruises in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam.
The Perla Dawn is one of the best luxury cruise companies to operate in the Lan Ha Bay. With its modern feel combined with classic Vietnamese design, you’ll feel content and cozy in one of their 18 cabins.
Offering luxurious facilities like an on ship spa, restaurant, bar and 3rd floor sundeck, let’s just say you wont be spending too much time in your room.
Perla Dawn Sails offers both a 2-day, 1-night and a 3-day, 2-night cruise of Lan Ha Bay.
Hop aboard Doris Cruise, a 5 star cruise boat that cruises the waters of Lan Ha Bay. From fine luxury touches like a swimming pool to private cabins that have balconies with ocean views, your stay on Doris is bound to be unforgettable.
After a day of swimming, kayaking, cave exploring, and biking to remote villages, unwind in Doris’s restaurant and bar as you watch the sunset.
Doris Cruise offers both a 2-day, 1-night and a 3-day, 2-night cruise of Lan Ha Bay.
To superior service and unforgettable adventures, a trip on Rosy Cruise is a great way to see Lan Ha Bay.
Offering guests 22 cabins to choose from, you’ll enjoy spacious, beautifully decorated rooms. Enjoy the sunrise from your balcony as you sip coffee before heading down to the breakfast buffet.
After a day of kayaking, take a dip in the hot tub before you shower up and enjoy their evening entertainment.
Rosy Cruise offers both a 2-day, 1-night and a 3-day, 2-night cruise of Lan Ha Bay.
Genesis Cruise offers a 5-star accommodation on Lan Ha Bay. From their hot tub to their top deck terrace, you’ll find plenty of places to unwind and enjoy the views of Lan Ha Bay.
Offering continental breakfast every morning along with a restaurant serving Asian and Vietnamese cuisine, going hungry will be the least of your worries. Enjoy staying on the boat or kayaking around the bay, Genesis offers a variety of activities to keep you entertained.
Genesis Cruise offers both a 2-day, 1-night and a 3-day, 2-night cruise of Lan Ha Bay.
One of the most affordable luxury cruises in Lan Ha Bay is Calypso Cruises. This 12 cabin luxury cruiser offers a variety of activities from morning Tai Chi and cooking demonstrations to swimming and kayaking.
With it’s flexible itinerary, feel in control of your time on the water and decide how you want to spend your time. Relax on their top deck, eat delicious food and enjoy every second in Lan Ha Bay.
Calypso Cruise offers both a 2-day, 1-night and a 3-day, 2-night cruise of Lan Ha Bay.
Overnight Lan Ha Bay Budget Cruise
Now, you’re time on the water doesn’t have to be on luxurious cruise. We get it, some folks are not too worried about the ships interior as long as it’s safe and comfortable. If you’re looking for a slightly more budget cruise in Ha Lan Bay, check out a few of the below cruises.
All aboard this 11 passenger junk boat cruise though Lan Ha Bay! Operated by Sunlight Cruise, guests can enjoy kayaking and swimming in the bay as well as cooking classes, karaoke and squid fishing from the junk boat.
All activities are included but if you’re looking for a more relaxing time, no worries, opt out of any activity you like and lounge on the deck to get some sun and take in the views of Lan Ha Bay.
The smallest junk boat on our list, relax on the Sunlight Boutique’s 5 cabin cruiser for a more intimate experience.
Enjoy freshly prepared meals and comfortable cabins before heading out on the sun deck to relax and enjoy the amazing views of Lan Ha Bay. Offering an activity-filled itinerary including biking excursions, squid fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
Lan Ha Bay Day Trip & Tour
Limited on time and budget? No worries. A Lan Ha Bay day trip is completely doable. Get in a short cruise through the famous limestones karst and jump on a kayak to explore some of the best Lan Ha Bay has to offer.
It’ll be a jam packed day, but a day well spent if you ask us.
For more Lan Ha Bay day trips, check out the latest tours and prices here.
Kayaking Tour In Lan Ha Bay
Now, pretty much all the overnight cruises that operate in Lan Ha Bay offer a kayaking tour. For us, this was one of our favorite activities we got to experience during our time in Vietnam.
The day started with a boat cruise into the bay that allowed us to take in the beautiful views. We were introduced to our guide, went over some safety guidelines, life jacketed up and headed out!
We paddled past the beautiful limestone karsts that jut from the sea and try to touch the sky. You felt surrounded at times at how many there were. We paddled in and out of different bays and caves and through eroded openings in the karsts.
Our day continued as we kayaked by the floating fishing village of Ben Beo. We watched as locals tend to their fish farms, take care of their homes and enjoy their life on the bay.
After a few hours of paddling exploration, we headed back to the boat for lunch. What a spread it was. Loads of rice, tasty tofu, morning glory (green veggies) and a spread of other veggies to help us get our energy up for the second half of the day.
After lunch, we had some time for a quick rest then we were back at it again. We hop back in the kayaks and set off in a different direction to explore other areas.
We head over to a beach to jump out and take a swim and lay on the warm sand. The water was freezing but we never say no to an adventure!
After the day was done, we head back to the boat and where we were able to swim for a bit. Jesse and some other friends we made, took turns jumping from the top deck into the emerald green waters below.
Once it was time to go, we headed up to the top deck and had a few beers as we sailed into the sunset back to the dock.
A day full of new adventures that we are sure to never forget.
For The Budget Conscious: Located smack dat in the Cat Ba National Park, Hoi Lake Farmstay is a little oasis. Surrounded by mountains and overlooking a lake, this place is a serious magical getaway.
For The Luxury Inclined: Wanting to get out on the water and stay there? Then Ocean Cruise is just for you. Offering lovely accommodations and an amazing assortment of food, Ocean Cruise will leave you with one massive smile.
For Something In Between: Cat Ba Family Homestay hosts are super friendly and welcome you with smiles. To it’s clean rooms and easy-to-book tours, Cat Ba Family Homestay is a great choice when visiting Lan Ha or Ha Long Bays.
For Something Unique: If you are looking for one hell of an amazing experience, look no further than Xinh Floating House. Once here, you’ll be able to experience beauty and culture of the floating villages of Vietnam!
For more places to stay near Lan Ha Bay, you can check out the latest places and prices here.
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stü