Recognized as one of the 7 natural wonders, Halong Bay is undoubtedly an essential destination in the travel itinerary of all travellers to Vietnam. For this reason, Halong Bay is very popular and tourism has become industrialized. Located nearby, Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay are more recently known as the sisters of this famous bay and even it’s less touristic and off-road alternatives. You may be wondering what you will miss from Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay if you choose Halong Bay and vice versa. Don’t worry, we’ll explain everything!
How to get to the three bays? When to leave?
Halong Bay is nestled in the Gulf of Tonkin, Quang Ninh province. It takes about 4 hours to get from Hanoi by car, motorcycle or bus. Also located in Quang Ninh province, Bai Tu Long Bay is located northwest of Halong Bay and has about 100 islands and islets. The journey from Hanoi can take from 4 to 5 hours. Lan Ha Bay is located in the coastal town of Hai Phong, south of Halong Bay and east of Cat Ba Island, the largest island in the region. From Hanoi, it takes about 3 hours to get there.
Although all three bays can be visited all year round, certain periods are preferred. The months of mid-March to June and September to November are ideal because the temperatures are pleasant and the weather dry. Your stay will not be disrupted by heavy rains and typhoons.
Halong, the most famous of the berries
A true jewel of the South China Sea, Halong Bay consists of nearly two thousand karst islets emerging from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, rising into remarkable pillars. It has won the title of one of the 7 New Wonders of the World for its unique charm, which can’t be found anywhere else. This World Heritage site is dotted with arches and caves that are surprisingly eroded by wind and waves, which constitute a landscape of exceptional natural majesty. By looking at them with your own eyes, you will understand why Halong Bay is on the list of the 7 New Wonders of the World.
Lan Ha Bay, a forgotten paradise
If you are a more adventurous traveller, Lan Ha Bay is for you. With its 139 small white sandy beaches and beautiful cliffs, it is an ideal place for sports activities, jumping off cliffs, swimming, hiking or simply relaxing in the sun while sipping coconut water. Lan Ha Bay is also called the “kayak paradise”. You can paddle in a setting straight out of a fantastic novel, on emerald waters and through dark caves.
With its surface area of 7000 ha, Lan Ha Bay forms an arch of nearly 400 islands and green islets covered with a very rich plant layer, creating a breathtaking natural setting. It also houses seafood farms that promise you some beautiful encounters with fishermen in the floating villages. Lan Ha Bay is less touristy, less populated, cleaner than and as beautiful as Halong Bay. This is why travellers recently appreciate it as an alternative to its famous neighbour.
Bai Tu Long Bay, a jewel full of history
If you are looking for a quiet and quiet place to rest with a wild and peaceful natural beauty, Bai Tu Long Bay is the perfect choice! A little further from the coast, Bai Tu Long Bay is a sublime and still unspoilt destination. You can discover the pristine white sandy beaches and emerald waters as well as its magnificent caves, to be discovered by kayak.
With its breathtaking scenery, Bai Tu Long Bay has also been the scene of important historical events in the country. According to legend, from its foundation, the country was attacked by invaders from the sea. The heavenly emperor therefore asked the Mother of Dragons and her children to come down to Earth to help the inhabitants. The mother went down to Ha Long (literally “the dragon’s descent”) while her children stayed in Bai Tu Long. During the battle, the dragon children threw pearls that later turned into many small karst mountains. Due to the unexpected appearance of these islets, enemy ships struck and crashed into these rocks. After the victory, the dragons did not return to the sky but remained there, transforming themselves into karst islets emerging from the water. It is also in this bay that the historical battle against the Mongols took place under the reign of the Tran dynasty in the 13th century. Bai Tu Long Bay also houses the port of Van Don, which was a commercial hub under the Ly dynasty in the 11th century.