Lan Ha Bay Family Cruise with Lunch in a Floating Restaurant
During July 2020, we headed to Cat Ba and Ha Long Bay City. We wanted to explore the island and experience a family cruise in the beautiful Ha Long Bay. Our first adventure on the water was a Lan Ha Bay family cruise with lunch in a floating restaurant.
During our time in the Ha Long Bay area we got to cruise three ways:
- on a family boat we privately rented at the harbour from Cat Ba where we saw Lan Ha Bay,
- on the ferry from Cat Ba to Ha Long City and
- on a luxury ship, Dragon Legend, with Indochina Junk through Bai Tu Long Bay.
I'll create separate blogs for these because this one ended up longer than I initially planned!
Crusing Lan Ha Bay from Cat Ba
We took our first family cruise which took us from Cat Ba Island (in Ha Long Bay) to Lan Ha Bay. This was a very authentic tour and a wonderful experience. Part of our plan for visiting this area was to get out on the water and we knew we wanted to do something local. This trip worked in perfectly with our adventures on the island of Cat Ba!
How we did it
At this time we were travelling with another awesome family, KoolKidz_Travel who said they were going to take a boat out for a day. If we wanted to tag along, all we needed to do was show up at the port about 10.30am and split the fare. Thankfully Adrian's negotiating skills are better than mine and he bartered with a lady for her boat for a few hours. Off the top of my head we paid about 1.2 million dong. It wasn't much. We told her we wanted to cruise, then stop and look at the floating village, followed by lunch on a floating restaurant. She told us three hours wouldn't be long enough, so we decided four would be fine.
What it was like
This was a private family cruise in Lan Ha Bay unlike anything else. Our boat was an old house looking thing. We asked if they had another boat, they did. So we got to choose between this box with paneless windows, or a smaller, more open boat.
After boarding, we discovered we actually liked the bigger house styled boat because it had shade indoors and BONUS, it came with a dog. The kids were happily entertained and so were we, although we did have to keep careful watch because yes, those doors open straight out to the ocean - but there isn't a door to close!
Where did our Lan Ha Bay cruise take us?
We sailed from Bến Bèo port, a few minutes outside of the main town. Our tour took us toward through Lan Ha Bay. We started by heading North around the penninsula. Our Captain then took us on a slow, gentle tour weaving through the islands near Cat Ba. He pointed out some interesting islands, including one that looks like a turtle. After looping through these beautiful islands, we sailed South towards Monkey Island.
We'd thought about staying on Monkey Island, but heard that the monkey's that live there aren't that nice... So we decided against it. There are many cute little bungalows out on the islands. I only discovered some of these at the end of our time in Cat Ba and Ha Long Bay.
Lunch on a Floating Village Restaurant
After cruising past Monkey Island, we headed toward the floating village (click here to see rough location). This is very different to anything I'd ever seen before. It was also raw and authentic, very different to the one we visited on the Dragon Legend Luxury Cruise.
We pulled into a restaurant which was just finishing serving some guests who were on another cruise. As they left, we entered onto the restaurant. It floats on the water, held up by massive plastic barrels underneath the wooden planks. At the rear of the restaurant are open cages where they keep their live fish. When you arrive, they pop a net in and pull out the fish for you to see so you can choose which fish and squid you would like served up.
The food itself wasn't that memorable (I didn't have much as it felt like we'd just finished breakfast and I was still full). But the experience was so awesome. We probably didn't need to do the lunch, just cruising was so much fun!
Is it worth it?
If you're going to Cat Ba Island and you want to do a budget day cruise, then yes, a Lan Ha Cruise from the island would be totally worth it. Especially if you have two or three families that you can get together to share the cost. You may like to swap out the lunch for kayaking, or skip breakfast and enjoy a big seafood lunch.
The memories of sailing here were fantastic (although I can't tell you what it might looks like outside of Covid travel).
If you're after something a bit nicer and overnight or two nights, we would recommend looking at a luxury cruise. When you are doing your research on cruises, make sure to look for one that has a focus on sustainability. We cruised with Indochina Junk on Dragon Legend and we were very happy with their commitment to make Ha Long Bay Green.
If you're after a full day including a Monkey Island tour and Kayaking, I would highly recommend this tour from Get Your Guide (click here). It was a cruise we would've done if our friends hadn't been with us on the island (plus it wasn't running the day I wanted to do it thanks to Covid).
Our Lan Ha Bay family cruise was a fantastic experience and one we will remember for a very long time. Coming soon is a blog on our Indochina Junk luxury cruise, watch out for this in the coming days!