Story: Le Anh
Photos: Amachau

Discover the serene beauty of Lan Ha Bay, one of the best-kept secrets in northern Vietnam

While Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam’s most famous tourist attractions, the nearby bay of Lan Ha remains relatively unknown, delighting visitors with its natural landscape of limestone islands and its peaceful ambiance.

Seen from above, Lan Ha Bay is formed by clusters of lushly forested islands of various sizes sprinkled across a deep blue sea. The bay is dotted with around 400 islands of various shapes, many of which have evocative names, such as Chuong Islet, Rua Islet, Guoc Islet, But Islet, Thap Nghieng Islet and Khi Island, etc.

The limestone peaks of Lan Ha Bay are dense and unspoiled, breaking the sea into many bays and lagoons. Most tourists take boat cruises to explore this magical landscape.

Kayaks are a wonderful way to discover Lan Ha, allowing visitors to stop at hidden corners. Kayakers can sneak through narrow passages and sea caves and discover empty beaches. Lan Ha Bay has over 100 fine beaches hidden in its limestone mountains. The narrow passages between islets feature clear and calm green water perfect for snorkeling over coral reefs. Decent snorkeling sites include the Sen Islands, Cu Islands or Van Ha and Van Boi Beaches.

When visiting Lan Ha, visitors usually stop at Vem and Cat Dua Beach and at Tung Gau Grotto. To enjoy the solitude of this bay after dark, visitors can also camp.

Lan Ha is becoming a favorite destination for keen hikers who traverse the island’s steep cliffs. Popular hiking spots include Tien Ong Island, Yen Ngua Island and But Islet. The hiking trails on these islands are relatively short and easy, making them suitable for all ages.  Hikers often trek to the Ca Cave – three closed lakes behind a cave. This hike offers stunning views of the ocean.

 Summer is the best time to enjoy water sports in Lan Ha Bay. Tours often combine visits to Cat Ba Island or Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay. If departing from Cat Ba, visitors can travel to Beo Harbor, which lies just 1km from Cat Ba town, and buy tickets to Lan Ha Bay. It takes roughly 15 minutes from Beo Harbor to Lan Ha Bay by boat.