VietnamBeachesBai Tu Long Bay - Is It Worth Visiting?

Bai Tu Long Bay – Is It Worth Visiting?

Northeast of the worldwide famous Ha Long Bay is Bai Tu Long Bay – a hidden gem yet to be popularized in Vietnam for those who prefer an escape from the city noises and hustles. Bai Tu Long Bay inherited Halong Bay’s wild and magnificent beauty yet distinguished itself from the latter by carrying a more reserved, quaint vibe. Let’s see what the Bay has to offer in our article below!

What You Need to Know about Bai Tu Long Bay

Geography

Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, Bai Tu Long Bay is a hidden gem in northeastern Vietnam that retains nature’s untouched beauty. The Bay shares a border with Halong Bay in the southwest and the sea in the east, while its northeast side borders Co To Island District.

Bai Tu Long Bay has a total area of 157.83 square kilometers, consisting of hundreds of islands. These islands are limestone islands and schist rocks. Like Ha Long Bay, these islands have exciting shapes that, together with the pure water, form a breathtaking picture showing nature’s romantic yet edgy beauty fully. However, the Bay has been pretty much overlooked by tourists up until recently, so it still preserves intact the wild features from thousands of years ago along with a quaint atmosphere.

Bai Tu Long Bay has impressive biodiversity with many typical ecosystems such as mangrove, coral reef, and tropical forest ecosystems. Especially, Bai Tu Long Bay National Park is one of Vietnam’s most representative marine conservation areas. The Bay’s marine fauna includes 391 species, including the sea cow, which has been classified as one of the world’s rare species that needs protection. With particular values ​​in terms of biodiversity and history, as well as an extravagant landscape, Bai Tu Long Bay attracts thousands of visitors annually.

The Legend of Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay’s birth is a fascinating Vietnamese legend that connects to our long history of wars to protect the country. Legend has it that in ancient times, the Jade Emperor asked Mother Dragon and her children to descend to Earth to help the Vietnamese in their various fights against invaders. The dragons spitted out pearls, which turned into islands that stopped and destroyed the invaders’ boats. After the war, the dragons decided to stay on Earth. Where the Mother Dragon descended is now Halong Bay, and where the young Dragons landed is now Bai Tu Long Bay (the word “Long” means “dragon” in Vietnamese).

Best Time to Visit Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay has two seasons: summer (April – October) and winter (November – March). The average temperature is from 15 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius. The best time to visit Bai Tu Long is winter, especially January and February. You shouldn’t consider traveling here from May to September since there can be heavy rain and storms.

How to Get to Bai Tu Long Bay and Where to Stay

The most popular transportation to Bai Tu Long Bay is the bus since it’s reasonably priced and quick. You can catch a bus from Hanoi to Cam Pha City (Quang Ninh Province) – the nearest city to the Bay – from Gia Lam Station or My Dinh Station. Tickets will be from VND 120,000 to VND 220,000 for a 4-hour drive.

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Bai Tu Long Bay isn’t as touristy in comparison to its neighbor – Halong Bay – so most major accommodations are located there. Still, you can find some decent hostels near the Bay in Cam Pha City, Quang Ninh Province:

Things to Do at Bai Tu Long Bay

Taking a Cruise Trip

If the best way to appreciate Halong Bay’s scenery is by using cruises, the same goes for Bai Tu Long Bay. There are many options: one-day, 2 days and 1 night, or 3 days and 2 nights. Most cruise tours will depart from Hon Gai Port, Ha Long City, and take you to famous attractions in Bai Tu Long Bay like Thien Canh Son Cave or Vung Vieng Fishing Village. Traveling by cruise, you’ll enjoy the unpolluted air while taking in the dazzling view of the Bay’s oddly-shaped islands.

Explore Bai Tu Long National Park

A must-see attraction of Bai Tu Long Bay for nature lovers is Bai Tu Long National Park. The park is the sixth of Vietnam’s national parks, comprising of many islands with a rich system of flora and fauna. The most frequently visited of all is Minh Chau Beach (Quan Lan Commune, Van Don District), which is regarded as the most beautiful beach in the Gulf of Tonkin for its poetic shore. Apart from that, you will also get to see the wild charm of large and small islands, such as Ba Mun, Dong Ma, Sau Nam, and Tra Ngo Lon… where animals and plants live harmoniously in their natural environment. Another thing you can do here is to visit the villages of the Tay, Dao Do, or San Diu ethnic communities. The locals are welcoming towards guests and will let you explore their way of life.

Visit Fishing Villages

Bai Tu Long Bay has two popular fishing villages: Cong Dam and Vung Vieng, though the latter is more well-known. These small villages preserve their traditions and way of life quite well despite the increasing number of tourists. Visitors will experience Vietnamese northern fishermen’s lives and learn about their traditional culture. Some highlights are seeing where they raise fish, kayaking, and trying fresh seafood.

Discover Mysterious Caves

When discussing Bai Tu Long Bay, we cannot miss its breathtaking caves – Thien Canh Son and Tien Ong. Tien Ong Cave has thousands of stalactites of different shapes, which will wow anyone who steps their foot inside. The cave is considered an archaeological relic where many traces of prehistoric residents exist. On the other hand, Thien Canh Son Cave has an attractive yet mysterious look, especially, after conquering its highest peak, you can catch a mesmerizing panoramic view of Bai Tu Long Bay.

Eat Seafood

All coastal areas of Vietnam are blessed with mouthwatering seafood, and Bai Tu Long Bay is no different. You must try some yummy seafood: geoducks, flower crabs, peanut worms, etc. Gat Gu cake – a specialty dessert of Quang Ninh Province – is a dish you shouldn’t miss. Gat Gu cake is a version of Banh Cuon with no filling and a softer, more bouncy texture, hence the name “Gat Gu” (meaning “to nod”).

Final Thoughts on Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay is a great alternative for those who love Ha Long Bay’s mystic and untamed nature, yet prefer a less-traveled destination. With its fantastic landscape and hospitable locals, this will indeed become a beloved address for wanderers worldwide.

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