Travel // Vietnam [Part Two – Why you Should Add Lan Ha Bay to Your Itinerary Instead of Halong Bay] {August 2019}

After many hours online and advise from wise travellers we opted for a boat trip on Lan Ha Bay instead of Halong Bay, as our second stop on our Vietnam tour. They’re next to each other but Lan Ha Bay is a bit quieter and when the tide is low it reveals secluded beaches. Here’s an interesting article comparing the two.

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Views over Lan Ha Bay

Our itinerary was tight so we did a 2-days / 1-night boat trip on Perla Dawn Sails.

Tip: If you can squeeze in two nights to your Vietnamese itinerary, I’d recommend you go for it. I was hankering after a quiet hour to sit on my balcony reading a book and watching the world go by.

We opted for Perla Dawn Sails as it offered everything we wanted to experience on a boat in Lan Ha Bay; a cooking class, tai chi at dawn, boat ride to the caves, kayaking, dinner on a floating fishing village, night fishing, and swimming in Lan Ha Bay (I did say it was a packed itinerary). Also compared to other boats, it was a priced as all inclusive per person not per room, so we had two adjoining rooms for four of us and it could’ve slept six.

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Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
A warm welcome to Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Top deck on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay

It was a good 3-hour drive from Hanoi to Lan Ha Bay, but we travelled in style in a pimped out minivan with wifi, reclining leather seats, buffed brass clocks and plenty of leg room. Not sure this was setting the right expectations for the kids for future trips, but it was extremely comfortable nonetheless. The driver picked us up from our hotel and on the return journey dropped us directly to the train station in Hanoi.

Luxury mini bus to Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Luxury mini bus to Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay

Once we were loaded onto the boat and cruising along the bay, listing to the hum of the jungle coming off the hillsides, we popped down to our rooms. The rooms were cute, more than enough room to get around the beds and store luggage. A spacious bathroom with the breathtaking views over the bay, best bit was that you can sit in the bath and watch the other boats go by. My little lady also enjoyed sitting on the balcony to do her home-schooling.

Cabins on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Cabins on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Cabins on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Cabins on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Cabins on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Cabins on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay

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The highlight of the whole trip for the kids (err and me) was jumping off the boat into the bay just before sunset. Apparently, the bay stays a nice temperature all year round and you can even swim during their winter. I can confirm that in August it was a delightful temperature. If you do a trip in Halong Bay you can’t jump off the boats into the water, you have to swim from a bay.

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Early evening swim on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Early evening swim on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Early evening swim on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
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Early evening swim on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Early evening swim on Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay

I can really recommend the night fishing too, it took me by surprise. We were totally out of season and the guide told me there was no chance of catching anything. But the kids loved it and there was something magical about trying to catch something in the dark by the light of a torch.

The boat trip out to see the caves was fun – not so funny when the kids are rocking the boat, haha. We found out that the workers have to leave at dusk and have to make sure they’ve picked up any rubbish they see to keep the area clean. Apparently 70% of the rubbish comes from local cities and the rest from tourism.

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Excursion to see the caves. Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Excursion to see the caves. Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Excursion to see the caves. Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay

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Whilst on board we learnt how to make summer rolls. These are now a firm favourite for our kids. Isn’t it interesting don’t you think that when kids learn how to make something for themselves that they’re much more likely to try new things.

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Cooking Lessons. Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay

We has the most surreal moment when we were coming back to the port, we saw 100s of boats going in the opposite direction. After thinking we’d missed some important information… our guide shared that they were all headed to a sheltered bay after the government had shut Lan Ha and Halong Bay down due to an incoming storm (I personally think they were off to have a massive party). We had the cutest tour guide on our boat, she spoke really good English and shared some really interesting information about the bay.

Trip back to port. Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay
Trip back to port. Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay

Tip: they have beauty treatments and massages available on the boat, recommend you get in early to get a good time slot that doesn’t clash with any of the activities. They had a tummy detox massage which I’d really wanted to try but I couldn’t find a time to work for me. 

Our stay on Perla Dawn Sails was special and a memory we’ll keep with us forever. So many things had taken me by surprise from the hum of the jungle to how peacefully it was cruising along on the boat and that staff couldn’t have done more to make our stay anymore magical. (A few more gluten free/vegetarian options for breakfast would’ve been the icing on the cake.)

But as I said if you have a night or two spare you must add a boat cruise in Lan Ha Bay or Halong Bay to your Vietnamese Itinerary.

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Kayaking from Perla Dawn Sails, Lan Ha Bay

Perla Dawn Sails
Hanoi Office
14B/20, Ly Nam De str,
Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: (+84) 24 7302 8866
Email: info@perladawnsails.com

 

Loved this post? Check out
Vietnam Part One — 5 Things to Experience in Hanoi {August 2019}

Vietnam Part Three — 4 Things you Must do in Hoi An & Danang {August 2019}

Hue and Ninh Binh to following in the coming weeks.

 

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6 thoughts on “Travel // Vietnam [Part Two – Why you Should Add Lan Ha Bay to Your Itinerary Instead of Halong Bay] {August 2019}

  1. Pingback: Travel // Vietnam [Part 3 — 4 Things you Must Do in Hoi An & Danang] {August 2019} – Weaving my Way

  2. Pingback: Travel // Vietnam [Part One – 5 Things to Experience in Hanoi] {August 2019} – Weaving my Way

  3. Pingback: Travel // Vietnam (Part Four – Adding Some Culture to your Itinerary with Hue) Asia {August 2019} – Weaving my Way

  4. Pingback: Travel // Vietnam [3 Thing to Experience in Ninh Binh] {August 2019} – Weaving my Way

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