Bai Tu Long Bay: The Complete Guide
Bai Tu Long Bay is a bay and national park that sits directly northeast of Halong Bay, and while it may be Halong’s lesser-known neighbor, it is without a doubt, equal in beauty! The Bay encompasses Bai Tu Long National Park and like Halong Bay, is an area protected by the local government on both land and sea.
- Bai Tu Long Bay is located in the northeastern Halong bay and encompasses a total area of 158 km2.
- It incorporates a population of about 320,000 inhabitants, residing mostly on Van Don district, Quan Lan island and Ngoc Vung Island.
In accordance with Halong legend, Halong Bay is the final home and resting place of a fierce mother dragon who was sent to help the early Vietnamese defend their country from foreign invaders. Bai Tu Long Bay is said to be the area where her children descended and remained. ‘Bai Tu Long’ translated into English, means ‘Bowing down and showing respect to the dragon's children’.
Bai Tu Long is made up of hundreds of islands and islets, some of which are well-known tourist locations, and others that are completely unknown to foreign visitors. This particular bay is home to a variety of ecosystems - visitors can find mangroves, schist islands, coral reefs, and tropical forests.
Visitors to Bai Tu Long will notice that the landscape is identical to that of Halong Bay, and that it is more of an extension of Halong rather than a neighbour. Just like Halong Bay, throughout Bai Tu Long there are giant limestone karsts jutting out of the tranquil green waters. However, in Bai Tu Long the karsts seem slightly taller, the concentration of them feels somewhat denser and the number of tourists are fewer. All of this adds to the wonderful feeling of being somewhere almost undiscovered, allowing visitors to truly contemplate their surroundings in peace.
Cruise Bai Tu Long bay
Junk boat cruising Bai Tu Long on a beautiful day in May (Photo: Shutterstock)
The best way to explore Bai Tu Long Bay is undeniably by joining a tour in a traditional wooden junk boat. Many cruise operators will help their guests to enjoy Bai Tu Long in the best way possible, with many activities to make the most of the experience.
List of cruises visiting Bai Tu Long bay:
|Swan Cruises Halong Bay||Hon Gai Harbor (164km from Hanoi, 32 km from Tuan Chau)||Bai Tu Long Bay - Cong Do - Cap La Island - Tra San - Thien Canh Son (Overnight onboard on Bai Tu Long Bay)|
|Indochina Junk (Wooden boat)||Halong Cruise Port||Bai Tu Long Bay - Thien Canh Son cave - Vung Vieng fishing village - Yen Duc Village|
|Bhaya Cruises||Tuan Chau Cruise Port||Bai Tu Long Bay - Thien Canh Son - Vung Vieng fishing village|
Bai Tu Long Bay is a wonderful ‘off the beaten path’ alternative to the more famous Halong Bay, and should not be overlooked by those looking for an unforgettable experience in Vietnam.
See our complete guide to the "best cruises in Bai Tu Long Bay"
Things Not to Miss
Inside Thien Canh Son cave - The biggest cave in Bai Tu Long
While in Bai Tu Long Bay, one point of interest that you cannot miss is Vung Vieng Fishing Village. In Vung Vieng you will be immersed in local culture and learn about the fishing families who have made their homes here. The best way to explore Vung Vieng is probably by kayak. Kayaking is an easy and fun mode of transportation as the ocean is mostly very calm and serene in this area It gives you the freedom to go at your own pace.
The bay is also the location for many of Halong Bay’s famous caves - each one impressive in its own way. Exploring the caves can give an almost spiritual experience as you take in the beauty of stalactites and stalagmites that glisten in the beams of light that sometimes make their way into the caves. The most famous cave in the area is Thien Canh Son Cave which can be reached by walking through a hidden path under the dense forest canopy.
As for beaches, Bai Tu Long Bay has a wealth of options and may even overshadow Halong Bay. Most are genuinely beautiful, with glorious white sand, cool green waters and framed by those famous limestone karsts.
Ban Chan is possibly the most popular and the biggest beach in the bay. Swimming and snorkeling at Ban Chan beach are highly recommended, as Bai Tu Long has clear and clean waters and usually great visibility.
Weather & Climate
Cruising Bai Tu Long on a nice sunny day!
Bai Tu Long Bay is beautiful at any time of year (Average: 15°to 25°), but if you are looking for temperate, sunny and steady weather, the best time to go would be in early summer (January to May) and late autumn (October to November). At these times, there is more guaranteed sunshine, less rain and the weather is less unpredictable than it is from July to September, when storms are frequent.
Bai Tu Long bay weather average:
|Months||High / Low (°C)||Rainfalls|
Note: This is the actual weather data in Bai Tu Long bay in 2018. Sources: Nchmf.gov.vn
Late June to August brings many domestic tourists so be sure to factor in a slight peak in business at this time.
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