Category: Travel

Lan Ha Bay - Photo from Arcady Cruise

Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay, where should we go?

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You may have heard of Ha Long Bay – our famous world heritage site. Sometimes when talking about most famous bays in the northern Vietnam, you may hear a lot of names like Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay. These names may make you confused a bit. In this article, we will help you differentiate these bays. Let’s see what’s in their names.


bai tu long bay - lan ha bay or halong bay
Map of Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay – Photo from wyndhamhalong. com

1. Where are these bays – Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay?

1.1. Halong Bay:

halong bay
Halong Bay – Photo from vietnamtourism

The well-known bay is in the northeast Vietnam and is well-known for its emerald water and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. Administratively, the bay belongs to Halong City, Cam Pha City, a part of Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province. In 2011, Halong Bay has been claimed as one of 7 new wonders of the world.


1.2. Bai Tu Long Bay:

bai tu long bay - lan ha bay or halong bay
Bai Tu Long Bay – Photo from quangmuoi.nhaxe. vn

The bay is in the Gulf of Tonkin in the northeast of Vietnam. Bai Tu Long consists of a sea area of Halong City, Cam Pha City and Van Don Island District. The southwest side of Bai Tu Long borders Halong Bay, the east borders the sea, the west borders the mainland to Cam Pha City and the northeast borders Co To Island District. The bay is home to hundreds of large and small islands and many of which are large and inhabited.


1.3. Lan Ha Bay:

cai beo floating village on lan ha bay - lan ha bay or halong bay
Cai Beo Floating Village on Lan Ha Bay – Photo from Getty images

Lan Ha Bay is located to the south of Halong Bay and to the east of Cat Ba Island. The total area of the bay is more than 7,000 ha, with outstanding beauty of about 400 islands, large and small, with many unique shapes. Different from Halong Bay in Quang Ninh, all islands in Lan Ha Bay are covered with green trees, even though they are very small islands.

To learn more about the bay, keep on reading another article we have on Lan Ha Bay here.


2. What are the differences between these bays – Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay?

To help you differentiate these bays and book a good and proper trip, let’s make some comparisons between these bays.

2.1. Halong Bay:

a. The pros:

cua van floating village - lan ha bay or halong bay
Cua Van Floating Village – Photo from luciano mortula – Fotolia

The UNESCO bay owns an immense natural beauty with more than 1,900 towering karst islands and islets emerging from the lush green water. Halong also has the largest and most impressive caves among all these bays with the largest selection of white-sandy beaches. Moreover, Halong is the only bay having a fully inhabited floating village with some famous names of Cua Van, Vung Vieng, Ba Hang, Cong Dam. As it covers a vast area so if visitors want to explore the bay view, it is advisable that you should spend at least a day overnight on the bay.

b. The cons:

Bai Chay Beach
Bai Chay Beach – Photo from vanhien. vn

Thanks to its worldwide fame, Halong Bay attracts plenty of visitors to come and visit the bay throughout the year. In recent years, Halong Bay is facing the risk of overcrowding when the bay receives a flock of tourists coming. If you visit the bay especially in its high season, it is hard for us to find a kinda private or less crowded beach to swim or do kayaking activity. Besides, most beaches in Halong Bay is artificially made with its most famous of Tuan Chau and Bai Chay beaches which has now become one of the most attractive entertaining places for both foreign and domestic visitors. Its large area also requires a longest travel time to reach and discover the bay to the fullest. That means, if you are limited to just one day to visit the bay, a Lan Ha Bay 1 day tour can be a great alternative.


2.2. Bai Tu Long Bay:

a. The pros:

bai tu long bay
Bai Tu Long Bay – Photo from zing. vn

Originally, Bai Tu Long Bay was made accessible to ease the traffic flood into Halong Bay. The waters are calmer here with fewer tourist boats giving the bay a more relaxing atmosphere than in Halong Bay. Talking about beaches, Bai Tu Long can boast some of the best and most isolated of the three bays. Some famous beaches here include Ngoc Vung, Quan Lan, Minh Chau, Tra Gioi and Ban Chan bringing about the closest representation of undiscovered sands in the region. However, many of these beaches are difficult to reach and suitable for cruise itineraries. The more privacy of Bai Tu Long gives visitors more relaxation for kayaking activities with less disturb from other cruises.

b. The cons:

thien long son cave
Thien Long Son Cave – Photo from cam nang du lich

Unlike Halong Bay which possesses the most impressive cave system, Bai Tu Long has fewer interesting caves in which the impressive Thien Canh Son Cave is the most accessible to cruises. Compared to the other bays, Bai Tu Long is the most distant from Hanoi. Therefore, for those who are short on time should consider visiting Lan Ha Bay instead. Cruises leaving for Bai Tu Long Bay from a nearby port to that of Halong, the time it takes to the reach the first of the limestone mountains is quite considerable. Due to that, the day cruise here often finishes at around 18:00 and when you come back to Hanoi, the clock may strike 21:00.


2.3. Lan Ha Bay:

a. The pros:

The newcomer has current cruises appeared in 2018 and 2019, therefore, visitors can enjoy a wonderfully tranquil time while cruising on the bay. Traveling to Lan Ha Bay requires the shortest time compared to Halong Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay. Possibly, the biggest advantage to choosing Lan Ha Bay over Halong and Bai Tu Long bays is Cat Ba Island. Cat Ba is by far the largest island in the Halong Archipelago and is vast enough to explore over a few days. It contains some of Halong’s best beaches: Cat Co 3, Tung Thu and Woodstock, a wealth of historical attractions: Hospital Cave, Canon Fort, Viet Hai Village.

Arcady Cruise on Lan Ha Bay
Arcady Cruise on Lan Ha Bay – Photo from Arcady Cruise

Moreover, Lan Ha Bay is easily the most accessible and it takes about 2.5 hours from Hanoi to Got Pier in Hai Phong City. In order to reduce the transfer time and maximize the travel time to explore the majestic bay, a Lan Ha Bay 1 day tour is such a right option for you. Another plus point for Lan Ha is that the bay still can preserve the calm atmosphere. That offers a great area for visitors to swim, join kayaking or sit on a bamboo boat and roam on the lush bay water to discover the spectacular limestone islands.

b. The cons:

When cruising on the bay, visitors can see some floating houses. They are fisherman who farm fish on the bay. Cai Beo is the famous floating village on Lan Ha but the it lacks permanent residents and doesn’t convey much about the old way of life existing here for centuries.

Objectively, we have introduced to you the differences between these three bays. It is now time for you to choose whether Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay is suitable for your travelling time and purposes. For more instant support, please contact us via our:

See you soon in a trip to the Wonderland with Arcady Cruise.

Lan Ha Bay - Photo from Arcady Cruise
Lan Ha Bay – Photo from Arcady Cruise
lan ha bay 1 day tour

Lan Ha Bay 1 day tour – A journey to the Wonderland

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Home to the breathtaking limestone landscape like its world-famous sister – Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay is going to get more attention of international and domestic visitors thanks to its scenic bay view, the fresh air plus with the clear and lush green water. If you prefer somewhere less touristy then Lan Ha is such an ideal place where you can immerse yourself into the cool atmosphere, the giant nature. Spend your day with us in a Lan Ha Bay 1 day tour.


      1. What awaits you on a Lan Ha Bay 1 day tour with Arcady Cruise?

      1.1. The mind-blowing karst landscape of Lan Ha Bay:

lan ha bay 1 day tour
Lan Ha Bay view – Photo from Arcady Cruise

Lan Ha owns a unique beauty with blue sea, clean water, imposing karst islands and islets. There are more than 400 islands and islets on the bay and most of them have been given names by the locals like the Sandal Islet, the Bat Islet, the Candle Islet, etc. With 139 wild sandy beaches with crystal clear water, the stunning bay can delight any swimming lovers. With the sand banks between two blocks of mountains, the gentle slopes of sand along with clear blue sea to the bottom like the “blue straits” will be safe beaches and extremely ideal for the passionate travelers. Lan Ha also houses a lot of stunning beaches like Ang Vem, Monkey Beach (Cat Dua Beach), Van Boi Beach, etc.

Learn more about the charming Lan Ha Bay with us.


      1.2. Delectable Vietnamese cuisine served by our friendly and skillful staff:

While you are cruising through hundreds of limestone cliffs standing on the bay, our chiefs are preparing for lunch with traditional and yummy Vietnam food. Let’s see some highlights we have for lunch.

      Seafood spring rolls:

seafood spring rolls with arcady
Seafood spring rolls with Arcady Cruise

The golden yellow color of these seafood spring rolls will attract you at the first sight. When eating, dip these rolls into the sour and sweet fish sauce dotted with some chili and garlic pieces.


      Vietnamese grilled chopped squid:

Vietnam grilled chopped squid

Seafood lovers can’t miss out the chance to enjoy this tasty food. This food requires a careful cooking so let’s enjoy it until the last part.


      Grilled oysters with onion:

Grilled oysters with onion
Grilled oysters with onion

The fresh grilled oysters are grilled and added with some onion to boost the taste. Very easy yet tasty.


fried croaker fish - lan ha bay 1 day tour
Fried Croaker Fish

Other yummy food in the menu: fried croaker fish and sautéed beef in hot pot.


      Vegetables stew:

Vegetables stew with Arcady cruise
Vegetables stew

While enjoying these scrumptious seafood dishes, let’s try some vegetable stew to balance the taste. Remember that if you are vegetarian or halal eater, please let us know when booking a Lan Ha Bay 1 day tour with us. And now enjoy your meal!


      1.3. The enticing history of Hospital Cave:

After having lunch, we are about to get on a bus and depart for Hospital Cave. On the way, our experienced tour guide will introduce to you plenty of information about our country – Vietnam, some interesting fun facts and about the diverse Cat Ba Island. Get off the bus, you will climb about 70 steps to get to the cave gate. Now follow our guide and let’s explore the enticing Hospital Cave.

Hospital Cave

Built between 1963 and 1965, Hospital Cave was both a secret bomb-proof hospital during Vietnam War and a safe house for Viet Cong leaders. The cave has 17 rooms, including an old operating theater, a huge natural cavern, a kitchen and many functional rooms.


      1.4. Exciting kayaking, swimming and bamboo boat experiences:

And now it’s time for some water activities. There are two options for you. You can choose whether to join kayaking or bamboo boat to explore the surrounding of Lan Ha Bay. Which one do you prefer?

After kayaking and bamboo boat experience, let’s come back to Arcady Cruise, head on the 2nd deck and jump into the fresh bay. Ready? 1 2 3, let’s go.


      1.5. Tea break:

tea break with Arcady Cruise
Tea break

How do you feel after some time soaking in the cool bay water? Let’s dry yourself and enjoy some hot coffee, fruits and cookies prepared by our staff. Take this time to talk and share with your friends about your today experiences or just simply watch the green limestone islets passing by.


      1.6. Summer rolls in cooking class:

summer rolls making with Arcady cruise
Summer rolls – Cooking demonstration

While you are roaming on Lan Ha Bay, our staff are preparing ingredients for cooking class. The lesson is how to make summer rolls. Let’s see how fast you can make one and how beautiful it looks. The ingredients for making summer rolls are rice papers, thin rice noodles, butter lettuce, red cabbage or green cabbage, bean spouts, carrot, cucumber, green onion, cilantro and mint. Don’t overlook these ingredients as when they are wrapped into rice papers and dipped the roll into tasty fish sauce, we bet that you can’t say no to the 2nd roll.


      1.7. Stunning sunset on the bay:

sunset view on lan ha bay
Sunset view on Lan Ha Bay

Sunset on Lan Ha Bay is peaceful and spectacular. The giant orange sun seems gradually sink into the bay creating such a vivid sunset view. Take up your phone or camera to capture this stunning moment.


2. What should I choose: a Lan Ha Bay 1 day tour, 2 day tour or 3 day tour?

If you are wondering whether a Lan Ha Bay 1 day tour is enough to discovering the bay. Our answer is totally yes. With the well-organized itinerary planned by our experienced travel consultants, you will have a worthy and memorable Lan Ha – Halong Bay trip. For those who don’t have much time in Vietnam and you still have a lot of attractions on your travelling list, spending a day on the bay can perfectly fit your schedule. For more instant support, please contact us via our:

See you soon in a trip to the Wonderland with Arcady Cruise.

lan ha bay 1 day tour with Arcady Cruise
Lan Ha Bay 1 day tour with Arcady Cruise
arcady cruise - lan ha bay

Lan Ha Bay – Explore the untouched sister of Halong Bay

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Have you ever heard of Lan Ha Bay – a new attractive destination to explore the breathtaking limestone landscape in Vietnam. Located quite near Halong Bay, Lan Ha is less touristy and promises to be more well-known among those who prefer somewhere more untouched. Ready to explore the charming bay with us?

      1. Lan Ha Bay at glance:

A sister of well-known Ha Long Bay, is amazingly pristine, peaceful among the most beautiful bay in the world. Located at the south west of Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay means The Orchid Bay, compared with the beauty of Orchid Flower. The beauty of Lan Ha is unique with blue sea, clean water, imposing islands and islets. There are over 400 islands and islets and most of them have been given names by the imaginative locals, such as the Sandal Islet, the Bat Islet, the Candle Islet, etc. With 139 wild sandy beaches with crystal clear water, the stunning bay can delight any swimming lovers.

lan ha bay
Lan Ha Bay – Photo from Arcady Cruise

      2. Where is Lan Ha Bay?

Lan Ha Bay is located off the beautiful coastal city of Hai Phong and is about 30 km from the city center. The bay is on the east of Cai Ba Island and plays the role as the bridge between Cat Ba Island and the World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. From the pier of Cat Ba Island, it takes about 30 minutes by train to there. Lan Ha Bay looks like a lovely silk strip which is woven by clear blue sea to the bottom and green vegetation. It covers an area of over 7,000 ha with more than 5,400 ha is under the management of UNESCO-recognized biosphere reserve – Cat Ba National Park.

sunset on lan ha bay
Sunset on Lan Ha Bay – Photo from Arcady Cruise

      3. What makes Lan Ha Bay special?

Lan Ha doesn’t have a large number of karst islands as that in Halong Bay. The newcomer, however, has the highlight of having 139 small and pure sandy beaches surrounding. With the sand banks between two blocks of mountains, the gentle slopes of sand along with clear blue sea to the bottom like the “blue straits” will be safe beaches and extremely ideal for the passionate travelers. When visiting the bay, you can immerse yourselves into the clear blue water, lie and sunbathe on the stunning beaches like Ang Vem, Monkey Beach (Cat Dua Beach), Van Boi Beach or visit some amazing places on the bay. Let’s explore one by one with us:


      3.1. Luon Cave:

Luon Cave
Luon Cave – Photo from Wikimedia Commons


The cave is located on Bo Hon Island with Con Rua Islet in the front, Heaven Gate on the right. The cave features with some rocky cliffs and the clear blue water in four seasons bringing a unique beauty which can appeal any tourists when coming here.


      3.2. Nam Cat Island:

Nam Cat Island - Lan Ha Bay
Nam Cat Island – Photo from Vietnammoi


The island attracts visitors with its rustic and pristine charms of green forests and enchanting beaches. From Ben Beo, it takes about 15 minutes to reach Nam Cat Island. Visitors to Lan Ha Bay can admire the peaceful feeling and pristine looks of the island. Human intervention here on the island is severely restricted to preserve the natural values. With 3 large wooden stilt houses and 6 bamboo houses, we can experience the feeling of living in harmony with the nature. Besides, you can join some other watersports activities like kayaking, scuba diving, fishing or campfires.


      3.3. Monkey Island (Cat Dua Island):

Monkey Island
Monkey Island – Photo from baomoi


Also from Ben Beo, you can take a 10 minute boat to Monkey Island. Monkey Island was called Cat Dua Island in the past because there were many wild pineapples on the island with their good look but cannot eaten. Cat Dua Island now has changed its name to Monkey Island. The reason is that there are more than 20 monkeys brought here by the rangers of Cat Ba National Park here. They then often go to the beach to play with tourists, eat food of visitors such as bananas, apples, tangerines, candies. Some funny monkeys can play, climb to impress those who have come to the island and gradually the island has been renamed Monkey Island.


      3.4. Van Boi Beach:

Van Boi Beach
Van Boi Beach – Photo from baolau


This is a destination chosen by tourists to kayak and swim because it is located in the calm part of the bay with green water and beautiful landscapes.


      3.5. Rua Island (Turtle Island):

Located opposite Van Boi Beach, Rua Island or Turtle Island is small and looks like the turtle swimming on the water surface. The island is considered a masterpiece in the “forgotten paradise”.


      3.6. Hon Chuong Island:

Hon Chuong also has some other names: But Pen, Candle, Corn Banana. Is a small island on the way from Cat Ba to Cua Van fishing village.

cat ba island - lan ha bay
Cat Ba Island – Photo from Vietnamplus

      4. What is the best time to visit Lan Ha Bay?

The visitors can travel to Lan Ha at any time during the year thanks to the cool and fresh climate here. Each season brings us different feelings and experiences. If you love swimming in the breathtaking bay, travelling to Lan Ha Bay in summer is such a great option. But don’t worry if you plan to visit the bay in winter. The cool atmosphere on the bay can bring us comfortable feeling and experience.

The incredible bay is waiting for you to discover. Join us in a Journey to the Wonderland with Lan Ha Bay 1 day tour. And don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any further information:

arcady cruise - lan ha bay
Arcady Cruise on Lan Ha Bay – Photo from Arcady Cruise