Skip to Content

Lan Ha Bay Vs Halong Bay – Which One Should You Pick For A Cruise?

If you’re looking to book a cruise in Halong Bay, whether it be a day cruise or an overnight one, you may come across some cruise ship itineraries that go to Lan Ha Bay and wonder what the difference between Halong Bay vs Lan Ha Bay is.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Here’s all you need to know to decide whether to pick a Lan Ha Bay cruise vs a Halong Bay cruise, from price to accessibility, landscapes, cruise activity options and crowds.

I’ll tell you the similarities, the differences, what to expect, and what’s the best in my opinion as I’ve done cruises in both Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay!

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Where Is Halong Bay?

The famous UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay is located in northeast Vietnam in the Gulf Of Tonkin. It lies around 160 km (100 miles) east of Vietnam’s capital city Hanoi.

Halong Bay’s stunning seascape is home to over 1,600 dramatic limestone islands and a cruise through the emerald green waters is a must-visit on any Vietnam itinerary or South East Asia bucket list trip.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Where Is Lan Ha Bay In Relation To Halong Bay?

The whole bay is known as Halong Bay. But Halong Bay is actually made up of 3 different bays (Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay).

Lan Ha Bay lies just south of Halong Bay, and Bai Tu Long Bay is north east of Halong Bay.

The three bays are almost identical in terms of their landscapes, with their limestone karst mountains and emerald waters.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Plus they can all be accessed from the same port, so for this reason all cruises to the area can be advertised as Halong Bay cruises.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Therefore it can make it quite confusing to know which cruise ship to book.

Not only because there are so many companies, which makes the process very overwhelming, but also because there are several different routes the cruises can take, yet they all say they are a Halong Bay cruise!

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

For that reason, you’ll want to check the cruise ship itinerary beforehand to see what stops the ship makes.

Does the cruise spend more time in the main Halong Bay area – where most of the cruise ships are, or does it go out further to Lan Ha Bay? And which spots are even best to see?

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Why Visit Lan Ha Bay Instead Of Halong Bay?

Over the years, Halong Bay has become an incredibly popular place to visit. For this reason, Halong Bay has become extremely overcrowded with boats and is now suffering from over tourism.

Around 300 operators conduct daily cruises around the waters here!

Therefore nowadays many people are searching for an alternative way to explore the world-famous Halong Bay landscape without the crowds.

Lan Ha Bay, which is the southern part of Halong Bay, has become the preferred choice for many to experience Halong Bay in a peaceful and responsible way.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Like Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay has hundreds of limestone karst mountains and also covers a huge area, plus it has the same topography as Halong Bay so it is the ideal alternative place to visit instead.

The landscapes are pretty identical at Lan Ha Bay and Halong Bay, so as your boat passes through Halong Bay to get to Lan Ha Bay, you won’t even notice a difference in the landscape – just a much more pleasant environment as there are far less tourists in Lan Ha Bay! 

There are so many reasons to visit Lan Ha Bay instead of the more famous Halong Bay. Here are some more in detail reasons:

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam     

Fewer Crowds

While Halong Bay is renowned and draws significant tourist attention, Lan Ha Bay offers a more tranquil alternative. 

Lan Ha Bay is a lot quieter as there are significantly fewer crowds and visitors, so you can really enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the bay without all the tourists that Halong Bay sees.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

So many people come away from a Halong Bay boat trip saying how the landscape was lovely, but there were just so many boats (and rubbish!) everywhere to really enjoy it – plus the boats were overcrowded with people.

In Lan Ha Bay, it’s a lot more peaceful so you’ll have a much more pleasant experience without all the congestion.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam   

Untouched Landscape

The landscapes in Lan Ha Bay are more untouched, yet the scenery is just as breath taking – if not even more beautiful than Halong Bay as it hasn’t been impacted by tourism.

At Lan Ha Bay you really get the opportunity to explore lesser visited places. With over 300 karst islands and limestone islets, there are so many untouched places to explore in Lan Ha Bay. 

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

More Luxurious Cruises

There are many options for cruises around Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay – from one day cruises to 2 or 3 day overnight cruises, and from commercial ones to luxury ones.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

If you have the time, an overnight cruise in Lan Ha Bay is definitely worth it as you’ll get to go further into the bay away from the crowds.

The overnight cruises in Lan Ha Bay tend to be smaller and more intimate compared to the larger, more commercial cruises in Halong Bay.

This means a more personalised service, fewer guests on board, and a more luxurious experience – now who can say no to that?!

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Our favourite cruise in Lan Ha Bay is the Paradise Grand Cruise – the ship is so luxurious and modern, the food is incredible, and all excursions are included!

You can read about our experience onboard the Paradise Grand overnight cruise in Lan Ha Bay here.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Price

You’ll be glad to know that the price of cruises in Lan Ha Bay is significantly less than those in Halong Bay!

Most likely because Lan Ha Bay isn’t as famous as Halong Bay and because Halong Bay is considered an unofficial wonder of the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

More Beautiful Beaches & Cleaner Water

Because there are less boats cruising around the waters of Lan Ha Bay, the water is a lot clearer and the marine life is more diverse, making it ideal for some snorkelling if you are keen.

There are also several white sandy beaches, which are perfect for swimming and relaxation! 

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Unique Activities

Lan Ha Bay offers some really unique experiences such as going kayaking through hidden caves and grottos, as well as visiting remote local Vietnamese fishing villages.

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Easy To Get To

It used to be that Halong Bay could be reached directly from Hanoi but Lan Ha Bay couldn’t, and that if you wanted to visit Lan Ha Bay then you had to get a ferry from Hai Phong to Cat Ba Island first, and then get another boat, which took a lot more time.

Nowadays however, there are overnight cruises to Lan Ha Bay that depart from Tuan Chau Marina in Ha Long City, just like the cruises to Halong Bay, meaning it is even easier to explore Lan Ha Bay than ever!

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam paradise suites hotel beach ha long city

Powered by GetYourGuide

 

Cat Ba Island is still a popular spot for budget travellers to visit as you can get some really budget-friendly accommodation such as homestays, as well as cheap day trip boats here.

Plus Cat Ba National Park is a great place to explore if you’re into trekking!

If you want some options for overnight trips to Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay from Hanoi, check out the tours below:

Powered by GetYourGuide

 

paradise cruise halong bay lan ha bay overnight vietnam

Alternatively, if you have more time you may choose to stay overnight in Halong City, where the cruises depart from.

If you’re an adventure traveller, Poem Mountain in Halong City offers stunning views over Halong Bay – but beware this is an extremely challenging hike!

Final Thoughts On Lan Ha Bay Vs Halong Bay

Overall, we loved our visit to Lan Ha Bay and I much preferred it to the overcrowded boats I have experienced in the past in Halong Bay.

Lan Ha Bay is a stunning place to visit and I would definitely recommend heading there before all the crowds beat you to it!