Escape to tranquil Lan Ha bay

It’s easy to find information about Halong bay budget travel around the net, however there is little information about Halong’s next door neighbor Lan Ha bay. In this article I would like to share some experience about how to rent a boat to Lan Ha bay when you have a chance to visit Cat Ba island.

Lan Ha bay

Lan Ha bay

Lan Ha bay is seen as a princess located in the south of Halong Bay with thousands of scattered islands. The special thing of Lan Ha Bay, you can take a boat to visit the mountains on the islands that have extremely beautiful sandy beaches at the foot.

Lan Ha bay is also famous for Van Gia fishing village about 15 minutes by boat from Cat Ba town, this is an old floating village over one hundred years with thousands of households living mainly by fishing. Also, when cruising on Lan Ha Bay, visitors can swim at beaches of Monkey Island or if you like walking in the forest you can take the boat to visit Viet Hai village, located deep in Cat Ba national park, separated from the outside world.

Price list to rent a boat to visi Lan Ha bay from Cat Ba island or from Monkey island resort (For 20-30 seater boat)
– From the beach at Monkey island is 50 usd/boat in 2 hours
– From Cat Ba to Lan Ha bay, beaching at Monkey island: 70 usd for 3 hours
– From Cat Ba to Van Gia fishing village (Lan Ha bay) and beaching at Monkey island is 100 usd for 4 hours
– From Cat Ba to Lan Ha bay and then to Viet Hai village: 90 usd for 3 hours
– From Cat Ba to Long Chau lighthouse is 120 usd for 4 hours
– From Cat Ba to Lan Ha bay, fishing in 3 hours: 90 usd.

You can rent a boat from Cat Ba to Halong bay, 120 usd – 150 usd depending on number of visitors.



Quan Y cave in Cat Ba island

Quan Y cave, or Military Hospital cave in Cat Ba island, built in the American war has become the pride of Vietnam Military Medicine. Today, the hospital is no longer there , but the historical value of the cave still remains. Furthermore, there are traces of a historic time Halong bay cruise tours from Hanoi

Quan Y cave in Cat Ba island

Quan Y cave in Cat Ba island

Located about 15km from centre of Cat Ba town, Military Hospital cave is built in the area of Tran Chau ward, belongs to Catba National Park, exit from the cave is on the other side of the mountain with a sloping path surrounded by trees. The cave was built with special structure with limestone powder and quartz formed by coastal sediments plus sparkling stalactites of natural shapes, creating misterious and romantic space.

Previously the cave was named Hung Son after a general of Tran Dynasty who fought in the historic Bach Dang battle and who discovered the cave. In American War, around 1960s the cave was built into a hospital for wounded soldiers and sheltering place to stay away from bombings for local people as well as people from nearby Bach Long Vy island, the hospital was able to host 100 patients. In addition to 17 function rooms there are also swimming pools, cinema and a gymnasium. After the war time local people still came here in typhoons as a shelter.

Military Hospital cave is really a master piece of the war time, because the construction was completely built inside the mountain, a makeshift hospital built in the cave with a capacity to treat up to 100 peope. The construction is about 120m above the sea level with the main entrance facing Khe Sau valley, the hospital is an ideal place for rehabilitation. The hospital was built with assistance from Chinese construction experts.

Through the ups and downs of history, Military Hostpital cave structures are still intact. The construction works are self contained with reinforced concrete, the length between the two caves about 200 meters, designed to have the front door in the west and back door facing east. Over three thick layers of entrance door is the hospital with 3 floors, of which 1st floor is the main area with 14 function rooms such as operating rooms, waiting rooms and medicinal room, 2nd floor is cinema and practising room, fitness test, 3rd floor is reception, rooms for guards and officers. Built as a hospital of war time, Military Hospital cave is equiped with a system of entrances and exits, drainage, ventilation … perfect. In the cave are traces of the wood stick to the wall as medicine cabinets, emergency exit from 3rd floor to the first floor leading to back door is hidden behind big stalagmites on the back side of the mountain. The Military Hospital cave represents a big military hospital of the war time with full equipments and treatment area for hundreds of people.

There used to be an old soldier working as a guide in the cave, he entertained tourists with his attactive stories of war time, the soldier is no longer there due to his old age. Visitors coming to the cave find it hard to believe there is such a modern hospital in the harsh days of war.

In recent years, cave discovery in Cat Ba is attracting more and more tourists, the system of caves with eco tours, community, hiking trips… in Viet Hai, Tran Chau…is practically contributing to overcome the seasonality of Cat Ba tourism. In particular, the historical value and architectural values formed by a combination of natural and human hands, Military Hospital cave is becoming an attractive place in itinerary of the journeys to the beautiful Catba island. A trip to Catba island can be combined with a tour to Halong bay as part of the package.


Visit Phu Long cave in Cat Ba island

Phu Long is the name of a big cave recently discovered and exploited on Cat Ba island. Phu Long also has other names like Khau Quy, Thien Long…

Phu Long cave

Phu Long cave

The cave is located in Phu Long commune, Cat Hai district. Before the August revolution in 1945, Phu Long was a commune of Ha Sen administration, Cat Hai district. Phu Long cave is inside a limestone mountain in the form of Holy Turtle (A big turtle reaching out to the sea)

Phu Long as well as many other caves on Cat Ba Island in Ha Long Bay is the valuable “tourism resources”. Visitors to the cave will have more scientific understanding of the process of formation of limestone caves by the creator, the rise and fall of sea level over the period of geological movement that its mark left behind in ancient sediments or water traces on the cave walls. Coming further into the cave one sees all the beauty and excitement of the art sculptures in natural light vanity lamps, torches. Halong bay tour itinerary

Phu Long cave has multiple layers, gradually rising from the outside like a maze in the place of eternity. The door is narrow, undulating the signs of nature, looking out to the south breezes blowing in from the sea. Over the entrance is an open space, the cave ceiling is low, about 1.5 to 2 meters, the arch was formed by big rocks that runs winding and curving, this first chamber has the structure of a big stone roof, from the ground rises a giant pillar, 1.5 meters high appearing it is trying to push the dome higher. Visit the cave, tourists will have a chance to think about the process of creating a painting as seen traces of the creator hundreds of millions of years ago.

From the entrance to the cave there are many layers, formed by stalactites and stone shoots, the main door has the shape of an arch, from the ceilings the stalagmites create a forest of milk pounding the holy water falls. The second cave is a world of the living species. Stalactites form the elephants, dogs, deers, crocodiles, horses…gather at one place. Inside the second cave there are many large roots descending from the top of the mountain, like the natural ladders. The cave dome is high and large, gleaming like it is plated with silver or the sky full of stars, from above the gold mountain, silver streams pouring down.

Through the door of second cave is the entrance to the third cave, along the sides are tigers and elephants guarding. To get into the cave visitors have to climb over a big turtle with white stalactites. The centre of the cave is divided into 2 sections, on the left is Heaven Palace, on the right is Buddist Palace. Heaven Palace has golden dragon thrones, statues, day dream goddess with long hair, four holy animals are on the heaven dragon pillar…all are formed by stalactites and the immense imagination of humans.

Phu Long cave is also a place to keep the bones of the primitive people, with hiddend mysteries, a pirate refuge of one time. In front of Phu Long cave is a large pond with potential for seafood. Around the cave is primitive forest, vegetation diversity and abundance, including many rare herbs. Phu Long cave is an ideal place for the study of prehistoric archeology and ecotourism development. The administration of the Cat Hai district is planning to build infrastructure, general planning of the whole area, protect the landscape and environment, creating favorable conditions for tourists sightseeing.


Romantic beauty of Lan Ha bay

Lan Ha bay

Lan Ha bay

Lan Ha Bay is located in the east of Cat Ba Island, looking to the Cua Van fishing village, adjacent to Halong bay. Lan Ha bay is more than 7000 ha in area, of which 5400 ha is under management of Catba National Park. This is a very quiet bay in the shape of a crescent with approximately 400 large and small islands.

Lan Ha bay should have become famous if it is not close to another tourist destination Halong bay. It is indeed divided by administrative frontiers that Lan Ha is a separate part of Halong bay complex. One journalist, after a day visiting Lan Ha has compared the bay as a virgin girl whe hasn’t seen the man of her life, despite it’s breathing sceneries, there are quite a few tourist boats can be seen in Lan Ha. A peaceful sea area with small fishing villages is like separate from the rest of the world. There are hundreds of beach, beautiful and desolate as the “green straits” invites visitors to explore

Unlike Halong Bay, all islands in Lan Ha Bay are covered with trees and vegetation. The density of limestone is quite thick and is still wild, dividing the sea into small lagoons and lakes, many caves and places haven’t been explored. There are hundreds of mountains in different shapes and sizes depending on the imagination of visitors such as Shoe rock, Bat rock (looks like a bat), the caves in Lan Ha have many stalagmites and stone shoots like Ham Rong cave, Ca cave. Compared to Halong bay, Lan Ha bay has over 100 small beautiful sandy beaches, pristine water, the beaches stretch out between the rocks, quiet without big waves, ideal for travelers.

To be able to feel the full beauty of the limestone islands and spectacular scenery of the romantic Lan Ha Bay, many travelers choose kayaking facilities, explore which tourists vessels cannot bring. Over the small islands, the kayak can take visitors to the foot of the mountain close to the rocks, watching countless scenes of vivid underwater world of green sea. In the vast sea of blue sky appearing red and yellow colors. Some visitors see the bay as a silk band, other see it like a young girl, what ever it is like Lan Ha always has a feminine beauty, even the name of the bay sounds very soft and gentle

Under clear blue water are colorful coral reefs such as Van Boi, Van Ha. The calm waters in the islands like Sen, Cu, Monkey island is where visitors can go snorkeling and diving. Going on small boats, travelers can dodge between mountain gorges into lakes and lagoons, visiting hidden caves and grottoes, relax on the beaches in the middle of the ocean. Cat Dua beach, also called Monkey island raises many monkeys for scientific research, there are pearl farms on the sea, which draw a lot of attention from visitors. In Lan Ha bay there is Rua Giong island, with 2 open fronts with long stretching beach coupled with wild bushes of pineapple which are many years old, the island is surrounded by mountains forming a closed area, the tide withdraws in the morning reveals holothurians, a specialty of this area.

Lan Ha bay is quiet with fishing villages living in peace. Appearing behind the groups of island are floating fish cages breeding local specialties such as sentinels, crabs, prawns…Many fish cages in the bay supply seafood, shrimps, fishes to visitors’ requirements. The bay’s ecotourism in the past few years were invested by Hai Phong city, it takes only 5 minutes from Beo wharf to Cat Dua island with many travel services, attracting a great deal of foreign visitors.

Visiting Lan Ha Bay travelers should take a trek through Cat Ba national park which is home to many precious animals, of which are white langurs and Kim Giao forest. Over the Ngu Lam peak, at the end of the journey is Viet Hai fishing village, the most natural and wild village in Catba archipelago, this is where visitors can discover interesting features of a fishing village in the Tonkin gulf.

A trip to Lan Ha bay can be combined with tours to Halong bay and Catba island in 3 or 4 days, some travel companies offer package tours including 1 night on board cruiser and 1 night at hotel in Catba island, travelers will spend the whole 2nd day kayaking in Lan Ha area, another way is travel by high speed boat from Hai Phong sea port city to Catba, visit Lan Ha bay and return to Hanoi via Halong bay.

With it’s potential, Lan Ha bay is developing forms of tourism, ecosystem services in the forests and islands in order to serve domestic and international tourists.