When Halong Bay is more and more crowed, taking a Lan Ha Bay Cruise is a new tren now to avoide the crowded area and enjoy the trip more
Lan Ha Bay, the southern sister of Vietnam’s famous Halong Bay is an unblemished land of the same outstanding topography as its well-known sibling. The maze of limestone spires jutting high out of the lapping water is as emblematic of Halong Bay as it is of Lan Ha Bay, but Lan Ha’s growing revere around the country and internationally is because of its more open spaces and untainted shores. As tourism continues to develop in Halong Bay, the watery plateau finds itself with less and less free capacity to offer incoming tourists, giving tour operators a reason to consider the sweeping geological wonder of Lan Ha Bay.
Lan Ha Bay’s proximity to the wonderful Cat Ba Island provides many more opportunities for visitors. Cat Ba has a wonderful buzz amongst its residents and visitors, providing a fantastic starting, ending and point of excursion for the tours that operate in the area. There is much trekking, cycling and even climbing to do around the villages, rice fields and rainforests of Cat Ba and nowhere else in the Gulf of Tonkin is this possible than Lan Ha Bay.
Joining any of the luxury, deluxe or budget Lan Ha Bay cruises listed below will be your gateway to enjoying the beauty of a UNESCO World Heritage site without the crowds. The following Lan Ha Bay cruises show you the various colourful fishing villages, spectacular caves, untouched beaches and towering, forested mountains of this beautiful and largely overlooked area. At Incredible Asia Journeys, we choose the most trusted tour companies that have a history of both excellent reviews and proven safety records.
As a generally unknown bay, it goes without saying that the wealth of life both current and pre-historic in Lan Ha Bay is mostly off the tourist radar as well. The more condensed size of the bay compared to Halong is its lure; because its various attractions are all within easier reach, you have more options for excursions at your disposal.
Matching Cua Van in Halong Bay and Vung Vieng in Bai Tu Long Bay, Cai Beo is Lan Ha Bay’s own colourful floating community, full of resident fishermen and their families. Archeological evidence has suggested that this has been the way of life in Cai Beo for over 7,000 years and, remarkably, very little has changed about the lifestyle since. As they always have been, gigantic fishing farms are their main source of income, but growing tourism in Lan Ha Bay is sure to have huge effects on the standard of living here.
A favoured trip for luxury Lan Ha Bay cruises is to the wonderful village of Viet Hai on Cat Ba Island, where smiling locals live in truly luxuriant surrounds. The charm of Viet Hai lies in its rustic houses built of wood and topped with thatched roofs. The small collection of residences that comprises Viet Hai Village sits before very fertile hills brimming with trees and crowned by streaked limestone rock at their peaks. Cycling tours of Viet Hai take you to the rest of its natural assets, including rice paddies stretching to the far-off mountain range and verdant rainforests teeming with life.
Despite the singular name, the Dark and Bright Cave is two separate wet cave systems with one obvious difference in the amount of light each one contains. The Bright Cave is a short corridor of water flanked for about 50m by limestone walls and the hanging stalactites on the low ceiling. In contrast, the Dark Cave is long and the exit cannot be seen from the start, meaning kayakers must use torches to find their way through the serene grotto. The magic of both caves is the wonderful ‘garden’ that they back onto; an emerald lake enclosed with stretching limestone walls adorned with Benjamin figs and occasional golden-tailed monkeys.
A picture of pure serenity in Lan Ha Bay. ‘Ba Ham’ translates to ‘three pits’, signalling the make-up of 3 large lakes connected by tunnels through the mountains that encircle it. The high limestone walls surrounding Ba Ham ensure that hardly a sound enters from the ‘outside world’, making the lake a truly magical area in which Lan Ha Bay cruises allow for kayaking and swimming expeditions.
The three mountains that overlook Ba Trai Dao beach were the precursors for its adorable name. Translating to ‘Three Peach Beach’ because of the squat appearance of the rounded mountains that resemble peaches. The rocks themselves belong to local folklore in a story where the daughter of a god tried to give three heavenly peaches to her human lover in order to make him immortal. The god got angry and turned the peaches into the iconic stones you can see today. Ba Trai Dao beach is one of Lan Ha Bay’s less-explored beaches, but that just adds to the feeling of discovery when stepping onto its curved white sand.
Here is an example of one of the 3-day and 2-night Lan Ha Bay cruises offered by Incredible Asia Journeys.
09:10 : Board the shuttle bus outside of your hotel in Hanoi. We will drive you to Hai Phong to join your awaiting Lan Ha Bay cruise.
12:15 : Take your welcome drink around your new surroundings once you are on board. The first part of our cruise will pass Da Chong Islet and its ancient French lighthouse.
12:40 : Sit down for a wonderful lunch in the dining room.
15:00 : Our first stop is the ever-beautiful Ba Trai Dao, an island with a perfect white sand beach and crystal waters offering a wealth of relaxing, kayaking and swimming opportunities.
18:00 : We try a local delicacy in ‘Ba Kich’, a strong but tasty local liquor.
18:30 : Re-board your Lan Ha Bay cruise to the introduction of Happy Hour, as well as a cooking class led by one of our chefs. You can book a massage through our Cruise Manager from this point on (this is an additional service with an additional cost).
19:30 : Enjoy dinner in the sparkling moonlight of Lan Ha.
21:30 : Take up your seat at the bar or relax with a few board games as evening descends on Lan Ha Bay. Have your pick of evening activities before you head back to your cabin for the night.
06:00 : Our onboard Sifu (Tai Chi teacher) will show you the basics of his/her martial art in the new morning light of Lan Ha Bay from the sundeck. Enjoy a Western breakfast downstairs.
08:30 : Our day boat will transfer us to Viet Hai Village, giving us the opportunity for cycling and trekking through rainforests and around stretching rice paddies. We will meet locals at the village who will tell us about life in these beautiful, rural surrounds.
There is an electric buggy service available for those who do not want to cycle, available at a small additional cost.
13:30 : We will enjoy lunch before heading to Ba Ham Lake, one of Lan Ha Bay’s most magical areas with an incredibly unique atmosphere created by the enclosing of the lake on all sides by huge limestone karsts.
16:00 : Rejoining your main Lan Ha Bay cruise, we relax in the late afternoon with Happy Hour and another cooking demonstration out on the top deck.
19:30 : Your last dinner in Lan Ha Bay will be one of elegant seafood fare. Afterwards, feel free to indulge in our Movie Night held in the dining room, try your hand at squid fishing or retire to your cabin early to read before bed.
06:00 : Light breakfast and Tai Chi are the order for the early morning on the last day of your Lan Ha Bay cruise.
08:00 : We head through the Dark and Bright Cave via kayak. This is actually two separate systems that open up wonderfully onto an enclosed emerald lake.
10:00 : Check-out of your cabin and proceed to the dining room where we have one final brunch before you depart.
10:30 : We have an informative and traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony to follow, where you can learn of this country’s proud traditions involving tea.
11:35 : Step off your Lan Ha Bay cruise for the last time and jump into the shuttle bus that will take you back to Hanoi. Thank you and we hope to see you again!
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