• Lan Ha Bay, Vietnam
  • Lan Ha Bay, Vietnam.
  • Viet Hai Village in Lan Ha Bay
  • The Real Lan Ha Experience - The "Sapphire"
  • Your homestay in Lan Ha Bay.

Real Lan Ha Bay Experience | 3 Days | from HANOI, VIETNAM

(2 customer reviews)
100% of travellers said they loved this activity.


  • Are you looking for an alternative to the touristy, party cruises of Halong Bay?
  • Escape the crowds on this one of a kind boat trip to Lan Ha Bay, the region’s best kept secret!
  • Step aboard a luxury junk and explore the hidden gems that most tourists will miss… Explore remote areas of Lan Ha Bay, visit a mysterious cave, go night kayaking to see bio-luminescent plankton and spend the night at a homestay in a sustainable eco-village in the heart of Cat Ba.
  • All of the best bits of Halong Bay, with no hassle!
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Halong Bay is the most popular tourist attraction in Vietnam and that means one thing – it can get crowded! Escape the crowds on this one of a kind exclusive boat trip to Lan Ha Bay – the best kept secret in the North Vietnam! Step aboard a luxury junk and explore the hidden gems that most tourists will miss… Spend the night in an eco village in the heart of Cat Ba! This trip offers all of the best bits of Halong Bay, without any of the hassle!

Highlights of the Real Lan Ha Bay Experience

  • Trade in the hustle and bustle of Hai Phong Harbour for the comfort of our lovely on-board accommodation!
  • Set sail for Lan Ha Bay taking in breathtaking sights of hundreds of limestone karsts, emerald waters and floating villages.
  • Enjoy the views from the sun beds on our lovely deck or from the comfort of our well-stocked bar.
  • Enjoy a delicious Vietnamese dinner from our onboard restaurant with a cocktail or two.
  • Relax in your luxury room with private balcony overlooking the incredible sights of Lan Ha Bay.
  • Wake early in the morning for a sunrise Tai Chi session on our sundeck.
  • Spend the day discovering the wonders of this magical landscape with kayaking, swimming and exploring the amazing Dark & Bright Cave.
  • In the evening, we will arrive at the incredible remote village of Viet Hai where you will experience the warmth and hospitality of Vietnamese culture as yo are welcomed to your homestay bungalow.
  • This village is located in a completely off the beaten track part of Lan Ha Bay where you can experience the Real Cat Ba without the crowds.
  • Viet Hai Village is a self-sustaining community employing various eco-friendly and green solutions, perfect for the conscientious traveller!
  • In Viet Hai, you can explore the rural Vietnamese lifestyle, walk through paddy fields, see farmers with their buffaloes, explore the surrounding indigenous forest or relax by the pond with a book.
  • Enjoy a traditional Vietnamese breakfast, lunch and dinner at the homestay – which is raved about by guests!
  • During the afternoon, you can take a trip to a nearby cave and in the evening you can go night kayaking! This is an experience that we highly recommend because of the chance to see bio-luminescent plankton lighting up the small coves – truly an amazing experience!

Itinerary – Real Lan Ha Bay Experience – 3 Days, 2 Nights

  • START – DAY 1: Hanoi 9am.
  • FINISH – DAY 3: Cat Ba Town 12 noon.


  • 9 – 9.30 am – You will be collected at your hotel or hostel in Hanoi and leave the city on a comfortable AC minivan. It takes approximately 2 hours to get to Hai Phong Harbour, and you will arrive around 11.30am.
  • 12 noon – From the harbour, you will hop on board a mini boat which will escort you to our luxurious junk, called the Sapphire Cruise. Enjoy a welcome drink as you step on board your comfortable home for the night! After a safety demonstration by the crew, you are free to explore your cabin, relax and enjoy the views from the sundeck as we head towards the spectacular Lan Ha Bay.
  • 1.15 pm – Enjoy a delicious lunch of fresh seafood and a variety of Vietnamese delicacies as you watch the scenery get better and better! Pass by Da Chong Islet, home to a century old French-built lighthouse. After lunch relax on the sundeck and chat to new friends.
  • 3 pm – The last part of the cruise will take us through the incredible Cua Van area of Lan Ha Bay (part of Halong Bay) which is home to more than 300 karst islands and limestone outcrops. The views here are stunning and you will spot many tiny beautiful beaches and floating houses. Take a kayak to explore the amazing seascape for yourself.
  • 5 pm – 6.30 pm – Return to our lovely junk boat and get ready for ‘Golden Hour’ – the best time to take amazing sunset photos. Relax on the deck with fellow passengers and enjoy 2-for-1 drinks from our bar!
  • 7.15 pm – Dinner is served! Enjoy a delicious slap up meal in our excellent restaurant.
  • 8.45 – Midnight – Relax with an exotic cocktail or drink of your choice from our well-stocked bar and soak up the evening atmosphere of this incredible landscape! You can even treat yourself to an indulgent spa service (massage, pedicure etc.), watch a movie, go squid fishing or simply relax on our rooftop deck under a canopy of stars!


  •  6.30 am – Wake bright and early to experience the best time of day at Lan Ha Bay! Take part in our sunrise Tai Chi session. Or, if you prefer, relax with a cup of coffee, tea or juice and watch the sun rise over the amazing landscape.
  • 7 am – Enjoy a breakfast of pastries, fruit and tea and coffee to set you up for your unforgettable day! Arrange your luggage and prepare to check out.
  • 7.30 – 9.15 am – Visit the amazing Dark & Bright Cave. Meander through mysterious caves and remote islets of this breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will access by rowing boats which is the best way to experience this landscape and get up close and personal with nature in an authentic local way. After this, we will journey back to the main junk.
  • 9.30 am – Say goodbye to the cruise boat and hope on a speed boat to take us to the beautiful eco village of Viet Hai which is just 10 minutes away.
  • 9.40 am – Arrive at the quaint and picturesque local island which is home to the self-sustainable Viet Hai Village. Your local host for the day will be waiting at the harbour and transport you by electric car to your luxurious homestay bungalow for the night.
  • 10 am – Arrive at the homestay and check into your room. Explore the village at your own leisure. Walk around the traditional houses in the village, wave at farmers with their water buffaloes and local children, take a stroll to the amazing indigenous forest. Don’t forget your camera!
  • 12 noon – Enjoy an authentic Vietnamese lunch at the homestay and relax in your new surroundings.
  • 1.30 pm – 5 pm – Free time to explore the area. (Option – If you fancy a hike, your guide can lead you on a forest hike where you will explore a mysterious forest cave and hike to an interesting viewpoint to see the surrounding nature.
  • 6 pm – Traditional dinner at the homestay with locals and guests.
  • 8pm – Join the night time kayaking tour where you will paddle to small coves and hopefully witness the amazing natural phenomena of glowing plankton! This is a dreamy experience and one you will never forget!
  • 10pm – Sleep well in your comfortable homestay bungalow in the heart of nature.


  •  8 am – Have breakfast at the homestay. After breakfast, you will have time to explore the village and see the daily life of the local people making rice wine, farming, weaving, cooking.
  • 10.45 am – Enjoy a delicious farewell brunch at the homestay, say goodbye to your lovely hosts.
  • 11.20 am – Leave behind the tranquility of Viet Hai village and take a speed boat to Beo Pier on Cat Ba Town.
  • 11.40 am – Arrive in Cat Ba Town and allow your guide to arrange onward transport for you to wherever you would like to go.

Onward Transport Options (Not included in the Price)

  1. Cat Ba – Hanoi – Departs at 12:00 PM – Arrive in Hanoi at 16:00 PM. Drop off in Hanoi Old Quarter Area | Price = 15 $USD per person.
  2. Cat Ba – Ninh Binh – Departs at 13:00 PM – Arrive in Ninh Binh at 18:00 PM. Drop off in Ninh Binh City or Tam Coc Center | Price = 18 $USD per person.

Solo Travellers, Families & Dietary Requirements

  • Solo travellers – If you want to do the Real Lan Ha Bay Experience alone, there will be a single supplement (extra cost) of $125 US.
  • Families with children – This trip is suitable for families with young children.
  • Dietary requirements – Are you vegetarian, vegan or have an allergy? Please let us know when booking if you have any special dietary requirements and we will try our best to accommodate.

What's Included


  • Transport from Hanoi.
  • All meals during the trip.
  • All activities as outlined in the itinerary: Kayaking, visiting the Dark & Bright Cave, Forest Hike with Guide, Night Kayaking to see bioluminescent plankton.
  • English speaking guide.
  • Accommodation: One night on the boat, one night on the homestay.

Not Included

  • Travel Insurance.
  • Water, Soft & Alcoholic Drinks.
  • Snacks.
  • Tips.
  • Onward travel from Cat Ba Island to your next destination.

Refund Policy

  • In order to book this experience, you will need to pay a deposit online via South East Asia Backpacker.
  • This deposit is fully refundable if you wish to cancel up until 48 hours before the start of the activity.
  • For cancellations made fewer than 48 hours before the start of the activity there is no refund available.
  • You can request a change of date at any time, free of additional charges.
  • Date changes are entirely down to the availability of the operator and nothing to do with South East Asia Backpacker. 
  • If your date change is not agreed, as long as it is within 48 hours of the start date you originally made your booking for, your deposit can be refunded in full if you wish to cancel.
  • The remaining payment for the experience is payable directly to the operator.
  • The operator can request the remaining payment via an online payment link or upon arrival at the destination.
  • The refund of the second payment, which goes directly to the operator, is based on the terms and conditions of the operator, over which South East Asia Backpacker have no control.
  • Please see our customer terms and conditions for more information.


Friends Travel Vietnam

The South East Asia Backpacker Community have tried and tested adventures across the region and handpicked a selection of only the BEST companies to work with.

Why we chose Friends Travel Vietnam?

We chose Friends Travel Vietnam because they provide experiences beyond the norm. Their trips take you off the beaten track, away from the tourist crowds and their respect for local cultures and the environment can be 100% relied on. The owners Sidney (Dutch) & Thao (Vietnamese) his wife and their team do everything they can to make sure that travellers (since 2013) have the best experience possible and we consistently hear glowing reports. Here are some reasons why we love Friends Travel Vietnam and why we think you will too:

  • They think small – They take the care and attention to ensure that even the smallest of details is well thought out.
  • They think local – They go to great lengths to ensure that the encounter between the traveller and the local community is beneficial to all.
  • They think about the planet – An aspect of travel which is often sadly overlooked. Friends Travel Vietnam ensure that the tours they organise have a positive effect on the planet.
  • They only provide tours that they would truly like to go on themselves – This carries through every aspect of the tour, the guide, the accommodation, the transport, food etc. Everything has to meet the high standards that the company themselves would demand when travelling.
  • They are honest – This can refer to a number of situations. For instance, if bad weather is expected during the time that a customer has booked a tour, Friends Travel will inform them of this and make suggestions as to the ideal clothes for them to bring with them. Sometimes the accommodation provided on a certain tour is basic, in a shared room, or simple mattresses on the floor. In each of these situations, the accommodation will be good and highly appropriate for the trip in question. However, it is very important that the traveller knows what to expect.
  • They only offer a small collection of tours, but they are awesome – Here at South East Asia Backpacker we are guided too by this exact philosophy. There is too much choice in this world of travel. Both we and Friends Travel Vietnam believe that by offering only the very best activities and doing them as well as humanly possible, we can ensure an amazing experience for the traveller.
  • Their support continues after the tour – When you come to the end of your time with Friends Travel, they will be very happy to help you with the next stage of your journey, whatever you may need!

2 reviews for Real Lan Ha Bay Experience | 3 Days | from HANOI, VIETNAM

  1. Sarah Horton

    This was a great tour with much care and attention given to details. Even though the weather was not great we still had a memorable trip. Food on the boat was amazing. Comfy beds. Professional crew who looked after us very well. The home stay in Viet Hai was beautifully quiet after the chaos and pollution of Hanoi. Truly authentic. Good English speaking guide for the hike up the mountain and wonderful hospitality from our hosts. Recommended.

  2. Marko Pende

    The Lan Ha Bay Tour was truly a great experience. I would recommend it at any time as a super alternative to the Ha long bay short trips. The overnight stay at the village was very cool and the people very nice. The view after the hike was breathtaking

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