A cruise through beautiful Han La Bay in Vietnam

Instead of taking a typical Halong Bay cruise from Hanoi in Vietnam, we decided to head to Cat Ba Island. Geographically, Cat Ba Island is the largest island in Halong Bay, and from here you can take cruises to the more remote parts of Halong Bay and also to the equally beautiful, but far less crowded, Han La Bay. This is what really drew us here.

Sitting on the top deck of the boat, I felt the breeze in my hair and the warm sun on my skin, while the calm waters passed by in our wake as we left the dock on Cat Ba Island. Ahead lay a beautiful scene of tall limestone karst islands, with a village of floating fish farms sitting in the calm waters at their base. Slowly, we cruised through the maze of waterways of Han La Bay and most of the time it was just us and the local fishermen who call this place home.

Cruising Han La Bay in Vietnam

Leaving the dock on Cat Ba Island

Floating fishing village in Han La Bay, Vietnam

Part of the floating fishing village

A boat in the floating fishing village in Han La Bay, Vietnam

A boat passes by in the floating fishing village

View of in Han La Bay, Vietnam

Calm waters and limestone karsts in Han La Bay

A boat cruising around in Han La Bay, Vietnam

A boat cruises through Han La Bay

Floating fish farm in Han La Bay, Vietnam

A floating fish farm

Men working on a pontoon in Han La Bay, Vietnam

Men working on a pontoon in Han La Bay

Passing by a local boat in Han La Bay, Vietnam

A local boat passes by

A secluded beach and temple in Han La Bay, Vietnam

A secluded beach and temple in Han La Bay

Han La Bay is certainly a place of pure beauty, and it is far less touched by tourism than the overcrowded and rubbish strewn Halong Bay nearby, which is often seen on day trips from Hanoi.

If you want a less crowded and more authentic experience, head to Cat Ba Island and take a cruise from there. It is a lovely place to spend a few days.

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8 comments… add one
  • Stef Jun 10, 2013

    Beautiful photos! They make me wanna go to Vietnam immediately πŸ˜‰

  • Dan Jun 20, 2013

    Looks amazing!
    Dan recently posted..Australia – West MacDonnell RangesMy Profile

  • tina woodward Sep 18, 2014

    great photos! my boyfriend and I are travelling south through Vietnam at the moment, we were at Cat Ba last week, your post has really captured it xx

    • Dean Wickham Oct 18, 2014

      I’m jealous Tina. I have fond memories from travelling that same route through Vietnam. I’m glad you enjoyed Cat Ba. Have a great trip!

  • Ana Apr 27, 2016

    Hi, thanks for your Review. It helped me to take a choice. Any advice how to reach Cat-Ba from Hanoi? and did you stay there several days? if yes, any recommendation on where to stay?

    • Dean Wickham Apr 28, 2016

      Hi Ana. I’m glad the post helped you. You can get to Cat Ba Island with the one company who offer a bus/ferry combination to take you from Hanoi straight to Cat Ba town. You can find all the info you need in my Cat Ba Island travel guide located here: http://www.theroadtoanywhere.com/backpackers-travel-guide-to-cat-ba-island-vietnam/
      I wrote this a few years ago so prices will have changed, I’m sure, but info should still be correct. From memory I spent 3 days there and could have spent longer.

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