Halong Bay vs Lan Ha Bay: Where you should cruise ?

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Halong Bay vs Lan Ha Bay

Wondering whether Halong Bay or Lan Ha Bay is right for your next cruise in Vietnam? We’ve got the answer here. 

We’ve been asked many times by our customers the question: “Halong Bay vs Lan Ha Bay, where should I cruise?” and our answer every time is, “It completely depends on your travel preferences.”. 

If you’re looking for a visit to a UNESCO Heritage Site with tons of activities during your cruise, then Halong Bay is a good option for you.

On the other hand, if you’d prefer a more relaxing trip with less touristy and comfy facilities, then Lan Ha Bay is where you should sail. 

Let’s learn about the details in this article.


Halong Bay vs Lan Ha Bay summary
Halong Bay vs Lan Ha Bay summary


Which bay is easier to get to ?


Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay are both easy to get to. They both sit south of Hanoi and connected to the capital by highway.

Lan Ha Bay is closer to Hanoi, only about 134 kilometers from Vietnam’s capital. You might take a bus, limousine, or even a ferry. The whole trip is only around 2.5 hours.

Halong Bay seems to be further away (180 km), but this isn’t anything to worry about since it’s connected to Hanoi via 5B, Vietnam’s newest highway. Take a private car or a limousine van and get at the bay in only 3 hours.


Which bay is more beautiful?


Halong Bay has a magnificent beauty
Halong Bay has a magnificent beauty – @amee2012/Instagram

It’s hard to say which is more beautiful since each bay has its own unique beauty. 

Halong Bay is enormous. It’s like a big guy; it boasts an area of nearly 1555 km2 with 1969 islands and islets. The whole bay is filled with 500-year-old limestone and karst formations in different shapes, making the scenery look like heaven on earth from above. 

The bay is also famous for its beaches, like Bai Chay Beach or Tuan Chau Beach. They has various long-white sand beaches with ⅔ of the time are sunny days, perfect for a getaway relaxing. 

The vibrant cultural life is also a huge plus. Home to some famous fishing villages like Vung Vieng or Cua Van village, Halong offers a unique view into the ways of life of the locals and how they deal with living in the middle of the sea. 

Some famous attractions in Halong Bay: Sung Sot Cave, Ti Top Island, Tien Ong Cave.


Lan Ha Bay
Unspoiled beauty of Lan Ha Bay – @akari_sandwich

Lan Ha Bay is more quiet than its famous neighborhood. It’s like a pretty but quiet girl hiding in the Cat Ba archipelago. The size of Lan Ha is pretty small—only 76 km2. 

Lan Ha’s islands are what make it famous. There’re plenty of huge islands, like Monkey Island, Nam Cat Island, or the famous Cat Ba Island (with Cat Ba National Park). 

Some famous attraction in Lan Ha Bay: Ba Trai Dao Beach, Dark and Bright Cave, Luon Cave


Which bay is less touristy ?


Lan Ha Bay is less touristy than Halong Bay.

It’s primarily because Halong Bay has long been a symbol of Vietnam, while Lan Ha is a new rising destination. The number of cruises in Halong Bay, with over 2000 boats, is 3 times higher than Lan Ha Bay, which has only 66 cruises in total.

As such, Lan Ha Bay is an excellent choice if you prefer something quieter and less touristy.


Which bay has better cruise quality ?


Lan Ha Bay cruise
Lan Ha Bay cruise is newer – @mializa/Instagram

Lan Ha Bay comes with better cruise quality. 

Since Halong Bay is a UNESCO Heritage Site and is also now a bit overcrowded with cruises, the management board no longer allows new cruises to be built in Halong.

Most of the cruises running this route were built before 2015 and have traditional junk designs. Some of the new cruises you found are just newly renovated or have changed names. 

Cruises in Lan Ha Bay, on the other hand, are mostly newly built. They’re designed in modern styles and offer spacious cabins and public space. 

A bonus is that most of the cabins on the Lan Ha Bay cruise have a private balcony and private bathtub. You could easily find add-on facilities on the Lan Ha Bay cruise, like a seasonal outdoor pool, a public jacuzzi, or even a mini golf course. 


Which bay is cheaper ?


Both bays have something for everyone, no matter if you’re a budget traveler or looking for a luxurious cruise, and we found the cost for a cruise to each bay to be the same. 

For a budget cruise, you could expect about 120 USD per person for a 2-day, 1-night trip in both bays, while a mid-range cruise is slightly higher (140 USD), and a luxurious cruise might cost up to 200 USD per person. 

If you’re not interested in a cruise package but rather doing it on your own, note that the entrance fee at Halong Bay is slightly higher than at Lan Ha Bay (290,000 vs. 80,000 vnd). 

Other costs, like renting a boat, meals, or activities, are pretty much the same. 


  • Rita Cruise

    Destination: Lan Ha Bay – Halong Bay – Cat Ba Island

    Free Kayaking, Private Balcony

    From: $145
  • Sena Cruise

    Destination: Halong – Lan Ha Bay – Cat Ba Island

     2023 promotion – Only $130/person with free kayaking!

    From: $134
  • Scarlet Pearl Cruise

    Destination: Halong – Lan Ha Bay –  Dark & Bright Cave

    Superb Early Bird Promotion – Only $170/person

    From: $165


Which bay offer more activities ?


kayaking in Halong Bay
Halong Bay offer more activities – @victoriagedda/Instagram

Halong Bay offers more activities compared to Lan Ha Bay. 

Cruising Halong Bay will give you chances to join various water activities, such as kayaking, swimming, or bamboo boating.

The bay is also home to many fishing villages, so you could get to know more about the daily local life of its residents as well as join plenty of cultural activities like fishing, cooking traditional dishes, and more.

Lan Ha Bay will be a more relaxing destination. The bay is calmer, and so is its cruise. You’ll spend most of your time on board and only get off for some activities like kayaking or swimming. 



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