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.



Amazing cave in Halong, masterpiece of Creator

When you set your foot in Vietnam land and wonder where should you visit. Halong Bay is no doubt one of the most beautiful places on earth. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has won just about every award available to it. Thousands flock here every year to sail around the hundreds of limestone islands, take in the magnificent views and indulge in a bit of luxury on board the many tour boats that sail through the bay. There is much to see and do in Halong Bay many come for total relaxation on board their chosen cruise boat. Others, come in search of adventure and it comes in many guises. Kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, fishing, rock climbing, cycling and trekking are all hugely popular here.

Amazing cave

Amazing cave

One of the most popular excursions is to visit the Amazing Cave, which is to be found on Bo Hon Island. It was first discovered by the French in 1901. It is the most popular cave in the whole of northern Vietnam. The name means the Amazing Cave and it certainly lives up to its name. It is an incredible place to visit. It is reached by climbing steps up the side of a hill on the island. There are lovely trees offering shade all the way up to the entrance. The view from the entrance across the bay, is worth the climb on its own.

Thousands of years of development have seen magnificent stalagmite and stalactite formations created. The cave is illuminated to create a wonderful visual effect. The main chamber here is absolutely huge, the ceiling towering above visitors who stand in awe some 100 feet below its highest point. This chamber is called the Serene Castle. Some of the rock formations resemble troops of soldiers and another looks like a man drawing a sword. Though many are more than quick to liken this to a phallic shape.

There is a five hundred yard long paved passageway that guides tourists along between to of the chambers. These incredible formations were created between the years of 68,000-9,000 BC. Water seeped through cracks in the rock and eroded the limestone. The holes created, allowed more water in, the erosion increased and the caves grew larger. As some of the calcium rich water seeped down to the cave ceiling, it slowly dripped and deposited sediment which created stalactites, stalagmites and other formations in the caves. Then, from 9,000-1,000 BC, the sea advanced and its effects can be seen on the ceiling of the caves in interesting ‘wave’ effects.

These trips out to the cave are exceptional. They have become extremely popular over the years and it is not difficult to understand why. Fascinating and exciting in equal measure, they show the true wonders that nature can create. Anyone taking a cruise in the wonderful Halong tours, should include the Amazing Cave on their itinerary, it is excellent.

Halong bay tour from Hanoi

Halong bay fishing village

Halong bay fishing village

We arrived in Hanoi after a long and tiring trip in Sapa, we spent a few days in Hanoi and took a trip to Halong Bay

The drive to about 180 kilometers away from Hanoi, Ha Long Bay takes you past endless rice fields and the field of Vietnamese coal-mining. Here the streets are sometimes black from the dust of the coal, and in some places the coal is also called “manual mode” smelted in small plants, operated directly on the street, from one or two men.

The Port of Halong is full of pleasure boats that will take visitors to the limestone cliffs. To that end we pass some distance transport heavily laden barges. The sky consists of a dense cloud cover, it’s foggy – and now and then a slight fall from the sky. the boats, all decorated with a dragon head figurehead, almost empty.

Our first destination, the island’s Hang Sung Sot , the “Amazing cave” a two-high dense rock formation, somewhat larger than the neighboring islands. And smooth – – stone steps to the entrance of the grotto where we go ashore, the steep climb. 30 meters high the ceiling of this “underground cathedral” is “supported” by a mighty stalactite pillars, now lit up in all sorts of psychedelic colors. There are aisles and “vault”, and an entire village would find comfortable shelter.

Nexe our ship cruise to a “floating fishing village”, a village consisting of interconnected life-boats in which fishermen and their families are in the long run. There is even a school here. But in any case, here are is a floating fish farm between the islands. In the underwater cages that hang between the bars, arm-length romp just a few fish still enjoy their lives. This fish farm is visited mainly by Japanese and Koreans who eat the fish raised here also like raw.

We stopped at Vung Vieng, a floating village, and we get four of each order in small boats. Local women to row us close to the dwellings. About 300 people live in Halong Bay in floating villages. It may look quiet, almost every house has a veranda with a hammock scurry, dogs around on the platforms, in between playing children or men-fishing. But as in the Hmong in the mountains, the idyll is deceptive. Even here, people struggle to survive, because the income from fishing and tourism are not very profitable, is also their habitat due to increased shipping and marine pollution threat.

We cruise past a series of rocky islands, which are like a cord strung together in the water, now in the mist only in its outlines visible, then turn to take back to the mainland.

Before we drive back to Hanoi, we pass through the tourist area of Halong city, this is actually no more than a beach promenade, some hotels and restaurants, but now seem to have only a few guests.


Best budget cruises in Halong bay

Many travel companies in Vietnam offer Halong bay tours from Hanoi, there are hundreds of cruisers in Halong bay ranging from cheap to luxury, visitors can take 2 or 3 day tours, the itineraries of all cruises are pretty similar, the trip will take you to the area of Halong or Bai Tu Long bay, visiting a mountain cave and a floating village, spend some time swimming or kayaking, watching sunset and stay the night on board…Within the frame of this entry I would like to give a list of 6 best budget cruises in Halong bay that I have been on, the list may be arguable as it is my own opinion, most of these boats offer prices under 100 usd/person for 2 day cruise by the time I made the survey however please double check again with the cruise as prices could have changed in the meantime.

1 – Dugong Sail cruise, good value for money

Halong bay junk cruise

Halong bay junk cruise

A mid range cruise with basic facilities such as air condition, en suite bathrooms, Dugong is my first choice for a trip to Halong bay with tight budget, although the boat was several years old and a bit run down the cabins are nicely designed and furnitured for an overnight stay, this cruise has a family cabin at the back of the boat with 2 large windows and an open balcony where you can relax over a drink and watch the sunset. Food on board is pretty good with Vietnamese seafood buffet, staff are very friendly and helpful despite their English is hard to understand.

2 – Poseidon cruise, clean and cozy
Poseidon is a small cruiser with only 8 passenger rooms however the boat has a unique design of ancient Greek warships, the cabins are not very big however comfortable and clean, each cabin has a window facing the ocean, please choose a room on upper deck for a nice view of the bay from your window. The boat was built only a few years ago and is very well maintained and facilities look quite new. Service is very good with friendly crew and food is a mix of Vietnamese – western. Good feedbacks for the guides.

3 – Albatross cruise, good feedback for the crew
A good choice for backpackers to enjoy and trip to Halong bay at low cost. The vessel is a bit worn out, the outside appearance is not very attractive but but cabins are clean and well attended. For the price you pay this boat offer a good value. The captain and crew is very friendly, food is plenty however not really tasty and you share with other group members, there is not much to do at night on board except the karaoke. If you are traveling Halong bay on a tight budget I would recommend it.

4 – Cristina cruise
From outside, Cristina cruise looks weathered and a bit old however once on board you will find it pleasantly different. There rooms are large and in very good condition, all cabins are equiped with air conditioner and heater, upper deck had a pleasant sun bathing area, what I don’t like on this boat and most other cruisers is price of drinks are just double of on shore price. Make sure to bring water! The itinerary is quite rigid and specific, but it seems like it has to be so that everything can be fit into the program, vegetarian food is available and a version of all meat dishes will be created for you

5 – Party cruise, a quiet party
The vessel is quite nice with pretty rooms however the bathroom is covered with only a curtain without door, pay a little more for a room on second floor if you can so that you will be far from the noisy generator. The food is served in variety however little in quantities and you may find it not very pleasant so share the small dishesh with the others. What I don’t like is the activities on boat at night, almost nothing and boring, Maybe for families with babies is okay but for young and mid-age people..boring! A good idea could be doing cruises targeted only in a type of people: only families only singles. One of the highlights of party cruise was the excellent service of the local guide on boat who provides concise information on culture, history and the Halong Bay experience

6 – Black Pearl junk cruise, you get what you pay for
One of the cheapest cruises in Halong bay, choose Black Pearl if you want to keep your budget to a miminum. The boat itself is ok and my advice is to stay away from the room close to the engine as it is very noisy and you will be awaken up at 5 o’clock in the morning. Food on board is alright but nothing special and a lot of fried stuff, dessert is humble, the crew is very friendly and work hard to get the best to satisfy customer for the food. Dont expect the too much from it and you will be fine.