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10 things to do in Lan Ha bay – an untouched paradise in the northern Vietnam

10 things to do in Lan Ha bay – an untouched paradise in the northern Vietnam

Sit to the south of Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha is a perfect alternative to this increasingly touristy destination. Less known than Ha Long, Lan Ha is still a place of exquisite beauty. People knowing about Lan Ha Bay call it a hidden paradise. And it truly deserves the title for good reasons. Lan Ha Bay offers a wide variety of options for the “things to do”. Check out this article for all must-do Lan Ha Bay activities. They will help a lot in planning your trip to this gorgeous bay.

Table of Contents

10 things to do in Lan Ha bay – an untouched paradise in the northern Vietnam

Swimming & Diving

Lan Ha Bay is blessed with more than 300 islets. You thus have so many options for places to swim and dive. Some of the most well-known beaches where you can participate in these activities are Monkey Island, Nam Cat Island, and Turtle Island.

Many islands in Lan Ha Bay offer swimming and diving gears. Among all islands, you may be interested in Nam Cat as it is an ideal destination for scuba diving.

Serene water, white-sand beaches, and cool weather will further leverage your swimming and diving experiences.

When visiting Lan Ha Bay, swimming is always one of the best activities to enjoy. The temperature is comfortable unless it is winter (December – February). So if you are traveling to the North of Vietnam during its winter time, you may want to thank again about swimming in Lan Ha Bay.

An important note for your plan to visit Lan Ha Bay is the storm time. Storm normally occurs between August and October. You should consider this time not a prior time for your trip to Lan Ha Bay, especially if you are interested in swimming and diving. Let’s find out the best time to visit Lan Ha Bay!

Taking a cruise

Exploring the beauty of Lan Ha Bay will not be complete if you do not take on a cruise here. Lan Ha Bay cruises come in many options from low-cost, boutique to classic. There are also many companies offering cruises in Lan Ha Bay. You can either book with them or with a travel agency.

With more than 300 islands and islets to choose from, you will have many different choices for where to go and what to see. From the main big hits to the smaller remote ones, Lan Ha Bay has them all for you.

You can choose from many cruises in Cat Bat Island and start your trip there. And depending on the length of your trip, you can choose how long you want to spend on a memorable cruising experience.

Most of the cruises in Cat Ba Island come with good quality. And it does not take you a long time to move from the island to Lan Ha Bay. If you do not have much time for your trip, it is better to take a day trip from Hanoi to Lan Ha Bay (Read our article about how to get to Lan Ha Bay from Hanoi, Hai Phong, Halong Bay..v.v). You will then have more time on the cruise than going from Ha Long Bay which already more than 6 hours for transferring.


With hundreds of small islands, Lan Ha Bay is one of a paradise in Vietnam for kayaking. Clean and calm water in Lan Ha Bay, along with wild nature here are what you need for a tranquil time kayaking through Monkey Island, Van Boi beach, and Cai Beo village.

Floating on the serene water in Lan Ha Bay, you are free to discover the beauty of the Cat Ba Island’s nature. This bay is a perfect alternative for Ha Long Bay, which is suitable for those in love with adventurous kayaking. During your trip in Lan Ha Bay, you can also contemplate the beauty of the eerie rising karst formations.

Paddling around the limestone, you can immerse yourself in the chill vibe from the weather, calm tides, and green sceneries. Along with swimming and diving, kayaking is undoubtedly one of the most favorite things to do in Lan Ha Bay.

Rock climbing

When it comes to rock climbing in Lan Ha Bay, Pirate’s Belly, Screw Loose, and Moody Beach are the three most common options. Screw Loose is a good choice for medium difficult level of rock climbing. But if you want something for challenging, Pirate’s Belly and Moody Beach are what you will fancy.

For those who really want something tough, there is a spot which is 1 and a half hour basket boat ride from the north of Lan Ha Bay. It is called “The Face”. This spot is a perfect place for taking breathtaking photos during your climb.

From Lan Ha Bay, you can go back to Cat Ba Island for mountain climbing. Ben Beo and The cave are the two must-try. Ben Beo is unique in the way that it overlooks the main fishing harbors of the island. And The Cave comes with many interesting lines on tufas, making this crag very worth climbing.

There are also many tour operators and travel agents in Lan Ha Bay organizing tours with rock and mountain climbing. The tours usually include an experienced guide and in-need gears for your trip.

Cave exploring

Besides islands and islets, Lan Ha Bay gives you many options for cave exploring. So if you are looking for some adventurous activities in Lan Ha Bay, this should be on the list.

From Lan ha Bay, you can either kayak or use a rowboat to explore the caves. The Bright and Dark Cave is most favored. And by tiny bamboo boats or kayaks, you can easily flip through the creeks for your own excursion. Covered with the limestone, this cave will bring you across a tranquil round lake.

Going into the cave, you will need a torch to see what is inside. At the water level, you will see an arched entrance to the cave. Passing through it, there is a see-lake formed by the imposing islands protected from the blows of the sea wind.

Spectacular limestone mountains and green luxuriant trees are what you can expect to see when coming to Lan Ha Bay. Lan Ha Bay also comes with many other smaller caves waiting for your discovery. Paddling through the caves, you will be exposed to the hidden beauty of the bay, unlike any other “touristy” destination you have ever known about.

Visiting Viet Hai fishing village

From Lan Ha Bay, you can go to Viet Hai Harbor, then ride a motorbike or bicycle to Viet Ha Fishing village. This village is only about 6 kilometers from Viet Hai Harbor, and it is right in Cat Ba National Park.

This activity is ideal after kayaking. And renting a motorbike or a bicycle is easy and affordable. On the way to discover the village, you are free to enjoy the peaceful ambiance here.

Slowly riding on the road exposes you to many countryside sightseeing. There are many old traditional houses and paddy fields. Coming to Viet Hai fishing village, the atmosphere here will take you back in the old time. Everything looks traditional, antique, and beautiful in its own way.

You may also like: How to get to Viet Hai village

Visiting floating village

Another option for the things to do in Lan Ha Bay is visiting the floating village. Lan Ha Bay attracts the tourists by not only its spectacular sightseeing but also the exciting life of the fishermen on floating villages.

The most famous floating village in Lan Ha Bay is Cai Beo Village. It is a perfect place to stop off and learn about Lan Ha’s deep-rooted culture. You will many small floating houses with all kinds of fishing utensils.

People out there make their living by fishing, raising fishes and shellfishes. They all live in small communities in different scattering areas of the bay.

However, there is now plan from the government to resettle the residents from this village and other small floating villages to the mainland. The primary reason is to reduce the negative environmental impact caused by the waste.

The waste problem is actually getting more serious here. So if you are traveling to Lan Ha Bay, give it a hand by not leaving anything by your footsteps.

It is truly fascinating to see and experience a different way of life here. You will see many households raising big fishes in underwater cages. They keep raising the fishes for several years until they are good enough for selling to the local restaurants.

Relaxing on the beach

It is always a must-do in the Lan Ha Bay activities. And if you prefer relaxing to discover the bay, lying down chilling on the white-sand beaches is then an excellent option.

There are many private beaches including bungalows to stay overnight such as Nam Cat, Van Boi, and Turtle Island.  Seeing the sunset in Lan Ha Bay is especially interesting. And you will also enjoy walking on the beach and chilling in a romantic evening.

Most of the big beaches in Lan Ha Bay comes with local motels, hotels, and bungalows. You can thus spend more time here than in those smaller and remote islands.

Just lying down on the beach is relaxing enough, or you can bring your own stuff to have a BBQ or a camping party with your partners. From these beaches, you can also go kayaking, swimming, diving, etc.

Comparable to Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha is a great alternative with calm and clean water, cool weather yet much less touristy. You may then be much more interested in this destination than the iconic Ha Long.

Squid fishing

Anyone who is a night owl will love this activity. A night out on a local boat wandering out to the sea is ideal for squid fishing. You can book this activity with the tour operators and travel agents here.

As you sign up, you will be provided with a fishing rod and start your trip on a local boat. After darkness falls, you can catch big shoals of squids swimming around in the water.

And after catching some squids, you will enjoy a barbeque as the boat staffs will show you how to prepare and cook this delicious sea creature. Many cruises in Lan ha Bay also offer this activity on the trip.

It can be a highlight during your trip if you have enough patience as besides being a game, you will have your own squids for your meal. Coming to visit Lan Ha Bay, there are many local restaurants offering a plethora of seafood. And what is better than having your own fresh squid and having it cooked your way?

Hiking and trekking

Two popular trekking routes are Cat Ba National Park and the Cannon Fort.

Cat Ba National park is a favorite place as far as trekking and hiking are concerned. The range is diverse and you can choose the route depending on your time and ability.

The national park close at 5:00 PM so it is necessary to plan your timing. Most of the time trekking in the forest will not be so difficult. However, the route does get you high enough to look down to the densely forested valley.

The trek requires climbing sometimes but again not so difficult. You will not need to use your hand to maintain your balance. Still, it is advisable to have a local guide to make your trek and hike more comfortable and safe.

And if you want something more relaxing, a short hike to the Cannon Fort will help. It is more than 170 meters high hilltop overlooking the bay. Cannon Fort is ideal for short hiking and trekking to contemplate the panorama view of Lan Ha Bay with almost all of its features – beaches, mountains, tiny floating houses, and fishing boats.

The bottom line

Above are the must-try activities in Lan Ha Bay. Depending on your time, budget, and personal preference, you can include specific things to do on your own trip. And despite being less known by the tourists, Lan Ha Bay is always worth the try.


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