Quan Lan Island: The Ultimate Guide
Quan Lan Island lies on the outskirts of Halong Bay, in Bai Tu Long Bay. It’s sparsely inhabited, with seaports on the northern and southern tips of the island.
Despite being inhabited by locals, the island scenery remains mostly untouched, with 3 long white sandy beaches and beautiful forest areas. Quan Lan island is also a great place to sample some of the local seafood, due to the abundance of squid, butterfish, mackerel, and shrimp in the waters.
In the 11th century, Quan Lan Island was in the middle of an important trade route between Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, and China. Today it’s more of a sleepy island than a busy port, but Quan Lan is still home to some of Halong Bay’s culturally significant historic buildings such as the Quan Lan Communal house complex, with a pagoda, and temple which was first built in the 17th century and has been well maintained ever since. This complex has been recognized as a National Historic Relic in Vietnam since 1990.
For those who want more than a fleeting visit to Quan Lan Island, there are many small family-run hotels and homestays at reasonable prices, and you may even be able to hire a boat to take you around the island’s coastline. If you’re more of a landlubber you can hire a motorbike to explore the island, visit the local markets and old temples. When visiting Quan Lan, make sure to bring water bottles as there’s not a lot of fresh water available on the island.
Weather & climate
Though Quan Lan has four seasons: February to April is spring; May to July is summer; August to October is autumn; and November to January is winter, there are still rainy and dry seasons and you should keep this in mind when deciding when to visit.
Quan Lan’s rainy season is from May to September while the dry season runs from November to March. Every season has its upsides and downsides but the consensus is that the best months to visit are March, April, September and October.
However, if you enjoy the summer heat, June to August is the best time to go. Be mindful of the fact that the weather can be temperamental and torrential downpours and thunderstorms are common during the summer. If you’re more comfortable in milder weather, October to March is a better time to go.
Quan Lan weather average:
|Months||High / Low (°C)||Rainfalls|
Note: Quan Lan weather average in 2018. Sources: Nchmf.gov.vn
For those traveling on a budget or wanting to avoid the crowds, the best time to go is during the off-peak season which runs from June to August.
It is generally recommended to avoid visiting Quan Lan in July and August due to the frequent thunderstorms. There’s a very real chance that a tour might be cancelled due to the weather in these months.
How to get there
If you’re traveling to Quan Lan from Hanoi, you can catch a bus from the My Dinh bus station. The bus will take you to Cai Rong (Van Don) port. It takes about 4 hours and the price of one ticket is around 150.000 VND ($7 USD).
Once there you can take a boat to the island. It takes about an hour to get to the island from Van Don port. You can take a small wooden boat which will take about two hours. The price of a ticket is around 60.000 VND (roughly $3 USD). The boat leaves every day at 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Cai Rong - Quan Lan speedboat schedules:
|Hoang Vy||Van Don - Quan Lan (45 minutes)||07:30-08:15|
|100,000 VND (Book: 0975 877 889 - 0913 072 072)|
|Quang Minh||Van Don - Quan Lan (45 minutes)||07:30-08:15|
|100,000 VND (Book: 0973 755 222 – 0984 727 333)|
|Thanh Hung||Van Don - Quan Lan (45 minutes)||10:00-10:45||100,000 VND (Book: 0913 266 252 - 01695 366 715)|
- There are also boats departing from Hon Gai Port to Quan Lan, departing 6:45-10:00-14:30 everyday. To Book: 0203 6565758 – 0946 193 193.
If you are planning to visit on the weekend, be sure to arrive an hour early as it’s likely to be very busy.
Quan Lan beach
There are many beaches on Quan Lan island. Below you’ll find a detailed description of the two most well-known and popular beaches.
Quan Lan Beach
Located about 34 miles (55 kilometers) from Halong City, in Bai Tu Long Bay, on the island of Quan Lan, travelers can find the unspoiled splendor of Quan Lan beach.
The beach stretches for some miles and consists of fine white sand. The ocean is deep blue and a beautiful green pine forest serves as a backdrop to the beach. These contrasting colors add to the appeal of Quan Lan beach. Its serenity and relaxing atmosphere all contribute to the charm of the beach.
The island is very quiet and has 8 small and sparsely populated towns on it. The copious amounts of sand that are found on the island and its beaches have given way to local glass making.
Besides the beautiful beaches, the island has a lot of other things to offer. It has a rich history which goes back hundreds of years.
Minh Chau Beach
Minh Chau Beach is considered by many to be one of the most splendid beaches of Northern Vietnam.
Minh Chau is about 9 miles (15 kilometers) away from Quan Lan beach. Thousands of locals travel to this beach every year to shoot some wedding pictures or simply enjoy their honeymoon. One of the beach’s most redeeming features is the smooth sand which gives a very satisfying sensation when walking on it. It is said that the beach is so beautiful that locals compare the beach to Snow White.
Various activities can be enjoyed on the beach such as camping, snorkeling or at night, just lie down and relax as your worries slip away under the moonlight.
Where to stay
There are many options on the island when it comes to accommodation. From resorts to hostels and everything in between, you can find it on Quan Lan. Always make sure to book in advance as it can be very busy on the island.
Below you’ll find three recommendations on where to stay on Quan Lan:
1. Ann Hotel
Located less than a kilometer away from the seafront you will find Ann Hotel. The hotel has 21 rooms with some offering ocean views. All the rooms have air conditioning and Wifi and the prices of a room start from around 550.000 VND ($25 USD).
Address: Quan Lạn, Vân Đồn District, Quảng Ninh. Phone: 0203 3877 889. Website: http://annhotel.com.vn/
2. Paloma Hotel
Paloma Hotel is ideally located close to Son Hao and Quan Lan Beach. It’s a well serviced and beautiful hotel where you can relax feeling fully looked after. The price of a room for one night starts from around 720.000 VND ($33 USD).
Address: Quan Lạn, Vân Đồn District, Quảng Ninh. Phone: 091 326 62 52. Website: http://www.palomahotel.vn/
3. Minh Chau Pearl Hotel
Vacation in style at the Minh Chau Pearl! Wonderful staff, excellent food, comfortable rooms and close to Minh Chau beach, Minh Chau Pearl is an excellent place to spend your holiday. Prices range from 550.000 VND ($24 USD) to 1.500.000 VND ($65 USD).
Address: Minh Chau Island, Van Don, Quang Ninh. Phone: +(84) 987 018 566. Website: https://www.minhchaupearl.vn.
The hotels mentioned above are just but a small selection of the many hotels available on the island.
What to eat
You can eat fresh seafood on Quan Lan island but for the more adventurous traveler the island offers some interesting and special delicacies.
Think of peanut worms for instance: peanut worms are thick worms that are found in the sand and are famous for their rich and tasty meat. They can be enjoyed either fresh or dried. When eaten fresh you can fry them in oil so that they become nice and crispy. Expect to pay around 400.000 VND to 450.000 VND (around $18 to $20 USD) for 1 kilo ( 2 pounds) of peanut worms.
Another delicacy is a special crab that is referred to as ‘Cruel’. It is said that Cruel is not as sweet as regular crab but that it’s better tasting than regular crab. The body is very spongy and doesn’t have a lot of meat on it. The average price for 1 kilo (around 2 pounds) of cruel is roughly 300.000 VND ($13 USD).