Quan Lan Island - Van Don Bay
(Updated: 12/24/2015 10:24:16 PM)
Quan Lan is an island in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. One of the outlying islands of the Ha Long Bay region and technically in Bai Tu Long bay, Quan Lạn has been sparsely inhabited for quite some time. There are a few thousand residents and an influx of local tourists from Hanoi on weekends and holidays. The island itself is pretty sandy and has little in the way of forest, unlike others nearby such as Ban Sen. Today, ports exist both at the northern and southern tips of the island. It is a less developed and less touristy alternative to the more popular Cat Ba Island.
There are two larger villages on the island with some scattered houses and guesthouses on the roads in between. Minh Chau village is in the north and has a strip of hotels, guesthouses and cabanas along the white sand beach. Quan Lan village is in the center of the island with a street of guesthouses, restaurants, and karaoke venues. The Son Hau beach area has a few resorts and guesthouses near its white sand beach. The beaches of Minh Chau and Son Hau have been claimed to be some of the best in northern Vietnam, if not all of Vietnam, by locals and foreigners alike.
Quan Lan Beach (20°53′42.42″N 107°31′09.76″E) Beautiful beach with a few huts filled with Hammock. Cold beer can be purchased near these huts however, it is mostly abandoned during the off season. Admission to this beach is 20,000VND.
Son Hao Beach (20°55′07.57″N 107°32′24.01″E) The entrance to this beach is well hidden, but well worth it. This beach is very secluded with no marked entry. There are no buildings along the beach and you will most likely be the only inhabitant. When coming from Quan Lan Village look for an industrial factory on the right (typically moving sand or dirt into piles). Immediately after is a 4 way intersection. Follow the road on the right. It will pass along sand dunes and rocks until finally reaching the beach. Because the beach is so remote it is largely not maintained. Keep an eye out for litter and broken glass. Admission is free.
Minh Chau Beach (20°56′41.14″N 107°33′06.87″E) Located on the northern side of the island. Kayaks and tubes are available for rent. This beach tends to be a bit more littered so be careful of broken glass. Admission is free. There are a few temples scattered across the island.
The beautiful 1km-long crescent-moon sweep of Minh Chau beach, on the northeastern coast, is Quan Lan Island's big drawcard. The water is clear blue and the waves are suitable for surfing. Watersports action includes kayaks for hire, and there are lots of cheap eateries for beer and seafood. Note that most of Minh Chau's beachfront restaurants are only open from May to October, and that June and July are more expensive with the influx of domestic tourists.
There are several other blissful beaches on the eastern seaboard.
Van Don Ruins
The northeastern part of the island has some battered ruins of the old Van Don Trading Port.
Quan Lan Pagoda
The only attraction within Quan Lan Town itself is this beautiful 200-year-old pagoda.
Bai Tu Long National Park
There’s more to northeastern Vietnam than Halong Bay. The sinking limestone plateau, which gave birth to the bay’s spectacular islands, continues for some 100km to the Chinese border. The area immediately northeast of Halong Bay is part of Bai Tu Long National Park . The spectacular islands of Bai Tu Long Bay, immediately northeast of Halong Bay form Bai Tu Long National Park and are every bit as beautiful as its famous neighbour. In some ways it’s actually more stunning, since it’s only in its initial stages as a destination for travellers with the bay and its islands still unpolluted and relatively undeveloped. As with Halong Bay, the best way to experience the full gamut of limestone pinnacle scattered seascape is by cruise.
Hanoi travel agencies, including Ethnic Voyage, run boat trips into the Bai Tu Long area. Charter boats can also be arranged to Bai Tu Long Bay from Halong City's Bai Chay Tourist Wharf; rates start at around 500,000d per hour and the trip there takes about five hours.
Walk about and explore, or swim. Don't expect much except scenery, and you'll have a good time. Visit Minh Chau (northern) or Son Hau (central/eastern) beaches with beautiful water and soft white sand. Minh Chau beach has cabanas lining the beach with rentable hammocks, loungers, and chairs. There are inner tubes and volleyball nets for rent as well.
Sails of Indochina - Bai Tu Long Bay