Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay: Which one is the best choice?

Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay are two stunning destinations located in the northeastern part of Vietnam that offer a haven of untouched natural beauty. However, these breathtaking locations are often overshadowed by their more famous neighbor, Halong Bay. If you’re not sure whether to visit Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay, this blog will compare their geography, accessibility, travel experiences, natural beauty, attractions, budget and travel tips to help you make the most suitable choice.


Bai Tu Long Bay is located in the northeast of Vietnam and is a part of the larger Ha Long Bay, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It spans approximately 157.83 square miles and is characterized by its stunning limestone karst formations, including caves, tunnels, and grottoes.

On the other hand, Lan Ha Bay is situated south of Ha Long Bay and covers an area of over 30 square miles. Like Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay is renowned for its impressive karst landscape. However, what sets it apart is the lush vegetation found both on the islands and underwater.


To reach Bai Tu Long Bay, you need to travel from Hanoi to Hanoi’s International Cruise Port Gai Port. Many cruises also offer transportation from Hanoi for an additional fee, making it convenient for travelers.

To get to Lan Ha Bay, you will need to start your journey from Hanoi and travel to the GOT Port. The bus journey takes around 2 hours. Once you arrive at the port, you will take a thrilling 10-minute speedboat ride to reach Cat Ba Island where Lan Ha Bay is located.

Natural beauty

Most of the islands in Bai Tu Long Bay are uninhabited, adding to its natural beauty and tranquility. The bay offers calm and clear waters, allowing you to enjoy a picturesque view of marine life. The geography of Bai Tu Long Bay seamlessly combines land and water, creating a diverse and thriving ecosystem.

With over 400 islets covered in dense greenery, Lan Ha Bay offers warm and calm waters that are teeming with marine life. Additionally, Lan Ha Bay features several small sandy beaches hidden among the karst islets.

Lan Ha bay or Bai Tu Long bay


Bai Tu Long Bay provides a serene beauty, away from the crowds of tourists.

  • Thien Canh Son Cave is renowned for its breathtaking stalactite formations.
  • Vung Vieng fishing village, where you can experience the traditional Vietnamese lifestyle.
  • Bai Tu Long National Park is also a highlight, boasting a diverse range of flora and fauna.
  • Cong Do Island captivates you with its natural beauty, featuring numerous limestone islands, caves, and calm waters.

In contrast, Lan Ha Bay is a vibrant destination bursting with life. Nature lovers will find it to be a paradise, showcasing rich biodiversity both on land and underwater.

  • Cat Ba Island is the largest island in the bay and a habitat for the endangered Cat Ba Langur.
  • Cai Beo floating village, one of Vietnam’s oldest floating villages, offers a glimpse into the unique local way of life.
  • Exploring Bright Cave is a must, where you can navigate the inside lagoon by taking a local bamboo boat.

Travel experience

In Bai Tu Long Bay, you can enjoy activities such as cruising, kayaking through narrow grottoes and caves, squid fishing, and exploring the islands on local bamboo boats. These activities allow for exploration and appreciation of the bay’s scenic beauty.

cruise in Bai Tu Long Bay
Bai Tu Long Bay is ideal for taking a cruise

In Lan Ha Bay, the warm waters and diverse marine life make it an excellent destination for water sports. It’s a paradise for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts and provides a perfect opportunity for relaxation and sunbathing. Swimming you visitors to discover the vibrant underwater world while kayaking and boat cruising offer alternative ways to appreciate the bay’s natural beauty. For a deeper cultural experience, a visit to the floating villages is highly recommended.

Kayak in Lan Ha bay
Kayaking is the best way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Lan Ha Bay

Budget considerations

Bai Tu Long Bay provides a more exclusive and upscale experience. The accommodation options in this area are primarily luxury resorts and cruises, which are comparatively more expensive than those in Lan Ha Bay. The activities and excursions in Bai Tu Long Bay are also more premium and exclusive, which is why they may have higher price tags.

On the other hand, Lan Ha Bay has plenty of accommodation options, activities, and dining choices to suit different budgets. You can choose from affordable guesthouses, hostels, mid-range hotels, and luxury resorts. Similarly, the activities available in Lan Ha Bay have varying prices to cater to different budgets.

Helpful tips

The best time to visit

The best time to visit Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay is during the dry season from October to April. At this time, the weather is pleasant, temperatures are mild, and rainfall is less likely. November to March is especially popular due to cooler weather.

However, you can still visit during the wet season from May to September, although there’s a higher chance of rain and storms. The bay’s beauty remains impressive even in wet weather, and you may encounter fewer crowds.

Which bay to choose: Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay?

If you are looking for a beach getaway without the hassle of finding a spot, desire ample time to explore at your own pace, and prefer the utmost seclusion among the options available, Bai Tu Long Bay is the ideal choice for you.

Choose Lan Ha Bay if you’re coming from Cat Ba Island, crave adventurous excursions like longer hikes and night kayaking, and prefer a lively, social cruise atmosphere popular among younger crowds and backpackers.

Readmore our blogs to prepare for your unforgettable trip in Halong Bay:

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