Lan Ha Bay - Photo from Arcady Cruise



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

Posted By : quản trị viên/ 830 0

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

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