Everyone is talking about Halong Bay, but most people miss out the fact that Halong Bay is actually the center of a large limestone karst zone, which includes Bai Tu Long Bay to the northeast and Lan Ha Bay to the southwest. Sine Halong Bay is getting more crowded recently with tourist boats, Lan Ha Bay is coming up as a great alternative, with much quieter cruising routes, more sandy-beaches, and an abundant of deserted lagoons.
The bay is truly a paradise for nature and adventure lovers, it is a perfect destination for travelers looking for less touristy areas in where once known as the emerald waters of the Tonkin Gulf.
Geologically, Lan Ha Bay is an extension of Halong Bay to the southwest, so most travelers on 3-day and 2-night programs do get taken down south from the center of the bay. They get moved to a smaller boat after their breakfast on the second day to cruise to the waters known as Lan Ha Bay, where they have a day to kayak and play before being taken back to their main boat in the afternoon. It seems to be the only chance for those booked for Halong Bay tour to see the beauty of the serene Lan Ha Bay, but there is still a better way to fully enjoy the sleepy and charming Lan Ha Bay without going through the touristy Halong areas.
Administratively, Lan Ha Bay belongs to Hai Phong City, Hai Phong Province. Most of the bay is the water area of Cat Ba National Park, which is famous for its endemic primate called Cat Ba langur. Unlike Halong Bay, all islands in Lan Ha Bay are verdant and extremely tiny rising out of green ocean waters. But it is still not well-known by tourists, though it is considered as one of the most beautiful bays in Vietnam.
Lan Ha Bay is also known as a sleepy, now awakening bay with some tourist boats coming in and out, but still remains largely wild and untouched. It is home to a multitude of beaches, lagoons, caves and jungle terrains.
Spanning 260 km2 (100 sq. mi) featuring by a spectacular beauty of 367 islands, which is characterized by limestone cliffs and rock formations, most famous islands in Lan Ha bay are Cat Ba, Turtle, and Dark Cave. The bay’s waters are also dotted with peaceful floating villages, fishing boats, and oyster farms.
You can travel to Lan Ha Bay all year around, however it’s really hot and crowded with domestic tourists during the summer time (Apr to Sep). Ideal season to enjoy a cool and fresh weather with quiet bay is from beginning of October to the end of March. It’s when the day is long with beautiful sun set, not too hot, and mild with cool breeze from the open sea, allowing its visitors enjoy the refreshing and the beauty of the bay.
The distinctive feature of Lan Ha Bay are the sheer limestone formations that just vertically rising out of the emerald green water of the Tonkin Gulf. By far the best mean of enjoying the spectacular scenery is to take one of the boat trips from Cat Ba Island. A leisurely cruising trip through the dramatic limestone islets, occasionally stopping to enjoy quiet beaches or explore a lagoon, is far more rewarding than a standard join-boat tour in Halong Bay.
Incense Travel’s trips to Lan Ha Bay include the Kayaking in Lan Ha Bay and Cruising Cat Ba National Park & Cruising Lan Ha Bay. Both of those are great options to see the beauty of Halong archipelago, the itinerary can be easily altering to better suits your travel tastes.