Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Ellen
We lived on a floating house on Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam for four fantastic nights, and I would go back in a heartbeat.
This was the most unique living arrangement we’ve experienced since the Sahara Desert in early 2018.
Check out this short video:
Lan Ha Bay has fewer tourists than neighboring Ha Long Bay. It’s the same geological spot — but the dividing boundary and separate names are due to different jurisdictions.
There were a few hours when my husband and I would kayak around Lan Ha without seeing anyone. I loved the solitary feeling of just us on this beautiful bay amid giant karst formations with trees on the tops and mussels on the bottoms.
We’d pass fishermen and villages, and we saw some tourist boats, but not as many as we have seen pictured on neighboring Ha Long Bay.
We enjoyed these activities during our stay:
- Woke up to a dreamy seascape right outside our room
- Enjoyed morning quiet with bird songs and sounds of jumping fish
- Fueled up with a breakfast bowl of noodles, veggies, and egg and coffee
- Geared up for a day of bay and beach exploration in a kayak
- Kayaked and took in fantastic views
- Had picnics at secluded spots
- Read, relaxed, napped before dinner
- Helped prep food for a meal cooked by our host
- Enjoyed conversations with our host and fellow travelers
- Ate a leisurely, delicious dinner from family-style plates with chopsticks
- Swam with bioluminescent algae
- Drifted to sleep, lulled by gentle bay waves
If you didn’t watch the video above, here are shots of our room.
Here is more information from Tedly’s Airbnb review:
Our 4 nights at the Inner-X floating house was one of the best experiences in our 3+ years of global wandering. A great value, 100% authentic Vietnam, and absolutely unforgettable! You feel like you are at the edge of the world… witness to the delicate balance of man vs. nature.
The facilities were better than we expected and bigger and better than the listing photos show. Still, if you need creature comforts, privacy and technology it’s probably not the place for you.
There are actually 6 individual, small, private bedrooms with comfortable mattress, linens, towels, electric fan and light. Everything else is shared with the other guests. The toilet stall & shower are acceptably clean and user friendly – tho fresh water must be conserved. Cold beer & drinking water is available for purchase. A boat-lady selling other drinks and some snacks comes by each day. And as advertised, there are free kayaks to use exploring the nearby bays, beaches & incredible scenery.
Making it all possible was Duc (Charles was in Hanoi during our visit); a kind, patient, funny, hard-working host and cook – and a wealth of information about Vietnam and Lan Ha/Ha Long bay which he is happy to share. We feel blessed to count Duc as a friend and loved helping him prepare his nightly fresh food feasts. Delicious! Thanks, Duc.
— Tedly’s Airbnb review
Relatively speaking — this cost was minimal for the value of what we received. We booked our room for $15 a night, and the Airbnb fees brought our total to $18 a night.
For the first time in more than 70 Airbnb stays, we suggested to Duc that he and his brother raise the price. People would pay a bit more for such an authentic experience as this. We are budget travelers but we aren’t cheap, and we felt these guys deserved more money for all that they offer. (After our stay – they did raise the price. Visit their Airbnb ad here for current pricing.)
Breakfast is included, but dinner costs about $6.50 per person each night. Remember, everything has to be brought out to the house by boat. You can opt out of dinner if you want, buy why would you? Duc made delicious meals each night, and we gladly paid the asking price.
Visitors need a park pass. For day trips, the cost is about $3.50. For overnight stays, the cost is nearly $13.
Water taxis to and from Cat Ba’s Ben Beo dock can be arranged by Duc or Charles for about $6.50 per boat. It’s about a 30-minute ride to the floating house. The brothers can also arrange a bus to and from Hanoi from Cat Ba, for about $10. That trip takes about 3.5 to four hours, and involves a bus to a ferry, the ferry to another bus.
As always in Vietnam, tips are not expected. But we always give extra for extraordinary service, and extraordinary service is what you will get here.
As I’ve mentioned… I’d go back in a second…
When it was time for us to go, I didn’t really want to. I didn’t want to give up this place to others who will come after me. But there is no keeping this quiet. The word already is out about this place. Besides, our hosts say they want to share this majestic spot with as many people as possible. I can understand that.
Visitors mostly stay for a night or two. Not us slow-traveling Earth Vagabonds. We stayed four nights, and I would stay even longer next time.