Lying south and east of Cat Ba Town, the 300 or so karst islands and limestone outcrops of Lan Ha are just as beautiful as those of Halong Bay and have the additional attraction of numerous white-sand beaches.
Due to being a fair way from Halong City, not so many tourist boats venture here, meaning Lan Ha Bay has a more isolated appeal. Sailing and kayak trips here are best organised in Cat Ba Town.
Why choose Lan Ha Bay?
Halong Bay is polluted and crowded with boats as far as the eye can see.
Lan Ha Bay is at the southern end of Halong Bay – well away from the boat crush to the north. It has the same karst limestone outcrops and in addition, it even has white sandy beaches.
Hanoi to Halong Bay trips via Halong City are mostly mini-bus/Halong/mini-bus back to Hanoi. Only a small amount of luggage is allowed – the rest being left behind in Hanoi. These buses are notorious for stopping at tourist shops along the way. We wanted to continue on to Ninh Binh after the boat trip and not back-track to Hanoi, so we needed to bring all of our luggage with us.
Hoang Long Bus Company had a service leaving from Cat Ba City to Ninh Binh our next destination. Everything fell into place – we decided to visit Lan Ha Bay instead of Halong Bay.