Bai Tu Long Bay

Halong, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam
Photos Video

Overview

If you want to explore cultural insights into the marine life of Northern Vietnam and immerse yourself in the untouched wilderness of secluded islands, come to Bai Tu Long bay. Although it shares many similar geological characteristics with its neighborhood Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay is way off the beaten path, hence so much more serene and mysterious. With idyllic white sand beaches, impressive karst mountains and two ecosystems - a tropical evergreen rainforest one and a marine coastal one, Bai Tu Long can be considered the most picturesque bay of the Northern coast.

Location

Bai Tu Long bay with its favorable location in Tonkin Gulf is bounded by Ha Long bay (Southwest), East Sea (East), Cam Pha city (West) and Co To Co To district (Northeast).

Weather and when to go

  • Bai Tu Long bay has a typical tropical climate with two distinct seasons: a hot, humid summer, and a cold, dry winter. The average temperature fluctuates from 15°C to 25°C.
  • If you visit Bai Tu Long Bay in the summer, especially from March to May, it’s an ideal time for swimming, snorkeling and underwater games. However, this is also the peak season of tourism so make sure you book everything 1-2 weeks in advance. 
  • Nevertheless, if you want to avoid the crowds and the typical heat of summer in Vietnam, autumn and winter are the most ideal seasons, especially from late September to November when there is sunshine but little to no rain.  
  • Avoid visiting the bay during July, August and September - the months of unpredictable raining and probable storming.

How to get there & where to stay

There are two common ways to explore Bai Tu Long bay: booking a cruise tour with transportation and accommodation included so that you have more time to enjoy the trip; or planning your own itinerary. This following information could help you decide what is up your alley.

Booking a cruise tour is relatively more convenient as the tour company picks you up, gets you straight to Bai Tu Long bay, lets you stay on board overnight and includes luxury rooftop bars, restaurants, massage and sauna services. Basically everything you may ever need for such a trip is ready once you book a cruise tour. Just remember to book a few days in advance to get the best deal and avoid running out of tickets. Based on your current location, there are different tours to consider:

From Hanoi

If you are staying in Hanoi, most Bai Tu Long tours pick you up from your hotel in Hanoi Old Quarters and get you to Hon Gai port by shuttle bus (as all Bai Tu Long cruises depart from the port). If you are not staying in Hanoi Old Quarters, any taxi, Grab bike or Be bike can get you there. 2 day and 1 night trips for around 2.500.000 - 6.000.000 Dong are offered by cruise companies located near the center of Hanoi like:

  • Signature Royal (Hotline: 0243.927.6999)
  • La Regina Royal (Hotline: 098.587.3537)
  • Huong Hai Sealife (Hotline: 093.699.5636)
  • Renea (Hotline: 024.3835.6699). 

If you want to be picked up from your hotel in Hai Phong or Hai Phong airport, check out Starlight Cruise or Oriental Sails. Their 2 day and 1 night tour costs about 3.350.000 - 6.600.000 Dong. Contact them at 097.5200.357 to get further details.

Instead of booking tours, planning your own journey is also an exciting option if you are an adventurous traveler that loves exploring things off the beaten path or if you have just one day to lay over in Bai Tu Long bay.

First, go to Quang Ninh province by coach or sleeper bus, and then to Hon Gai port by taxi. Generally it takes 5 hours and  around 150.000 - 250.000 Dong to get to Quang Ninh from Hanoi. Some reliable coach transportation companies that can be found in Hanoi are:

  • Dai Phat transportation (Luong Yen station – Cam Pha station): Hotline 098.365.1722
  • Duc Phuc transportation (My Dinh station – Cam Pha station): Hotline 0123.228.8389

From Hai Phong

If you start the journey from Hai Phong city, it takes around 1,5 hours and 100.000 Dong to 200.000 Dong to get to Quang Ninh depending on your choice among 9-seat limousines, sleeper buses and coaches. Check out these following transportation companies:

  • Minh Hieu limousine transportation (Lac Long - Mong Cai): Hotline 0973.396.693
  • Hung Duc sleeper bus transportation (Quan Toan market - Bai Chay station): Hotline 0971.576.576 – 083.555.55.51
  • Thuy Nguyen coach transportation (Lac Long - Mong Cai): Hotline 0987.366.966

From Halong city

If you are currently in Halong city, go to Hon Gai port by taxi or Grab bike, then you can buy a public ferry ticket at the port to explore the remote outlying islands. The ticket should cost 200.000 if you choose the 6-8 hour routine and 500.000 if you choose to stay overnight (without lunch).

Accommodation wise, if you choose to stay overnight in Bai Tu Long bay, check out these hotels and resorts:

  • Minh Chau Beach Resort near the jamblon forest and Minh Chau beach: Hotline 0904.08.1868
  • Lepont Quan Lan Hotel, which is just 150 meter from Minh Chau beach and is quite convenient with tuk tuk, bike and kayak available for rent: Hotline 0969.732.568

If you would rather stay overnight in the city, these homestays, hotels and resorts in Hon Gai and Bai Chay are reliable options:

  • Halong Ginger homestay: Hotline 096.930.9998
  • Deja Vu House homestay: Hotline  0328.691.616
  • FLC Grand hotel: Hotline 0203.3628.989 
  • Novotel hotel: Hotline 0203.3848.108
  • Vinpearl Resort and Spa: Hotline 0203.3556.868
  • Premier Village Ha Long Bay Resort: Hotline 0203.223.9999.

Things to see

Bai Tu Long National Park

Bai Tu Long National Park is a national biosphere reserve where a plethora of rare, precious genes and plants recorded in the IUCN Red List can be found. The captivating landscape comprises untouched islands like Tra Ngo Lon, Ba Mun, Sau Nam, Dong Ma... and their surrounding rugged marine limestone spires. Approaching the habitat of ethnic minority groups like Tay, Dao Do, San Diu people in these islands, it is fascinating to discover their intangible cultural heritage and explore local specialties. 

Quan Lan Island

Located 45 kilometers away from Ha Long city, Quan Lan island is also called Van Don or Canh Cuoc island. It is one of the most biodiverse islands in Bai Tu Long bay, renowned as the natural habitat of the rare peanut worm. Peanut worms hide deeply under the sand so only lucky and experienced hunters can find them. Sun dried, fried or stewed in Pho broth, it always has a unique taste and smell. In Quan Lan island, you can try catching peanut worms with the locals, visit local temples and the wet market,  relax at the beautiful beach and explore the pine and brooch forest. 

Ngoc Vung Island (Luminescent Pearl Island):

Located close to Minh Chau and Quan Lan islands, Ngoc Vung is an unspoilt area that has lately emerged as a signature landmark of Bai Tu Long bay. Ngoc Vung island never ceases to impress with exquisite landscapes and historical relics of the ancient 11th century Van Don commercial ports and the citadel of Mac and Nguyen dynasties. You can get here by speedboat from Hon Gai or by boat from Cai Rong port in Van Don. Besides Quan Lan and Ngoc Vung, Bai Tu Long bay has a plethora of wonderful islands like Cap Ky Gia, Cap Ky Nhay, Hon Ba Sao, Hon Chong which are also paradises for ocean lovers and certainly included in the routine of many cruise tours. 

Minh Chau Beach:

Minh Chau beach is just 15 kilometers away from Quan Lan island. The sand is white and very fine, the water is crystal clear and the waves are gentle enough for even kids to practice swimming. Minh Chau island is also known for its 14 hectare perennial forest with trees that are over 100 years old.

Bai Tho Mountain (Poem Mountain)

Bai Tho mountain is a short interesting hike for sports enthusiasts and quite a blessing in disguise for explorers. Its entrance on Hang Noi street is quite easy to find by following Google Map instructions for “Bai Tho Mountain” keywords but also easy to walk past and miss out, so ask the locals if needed. From the entrance, pass the metal gate (with the fee of 2 dollars) and from then on it should take about 30 minutes to climb up the top of Bai Tho Mountain.

Although the hike involves mainly stairs, sometimes it gets challenging with big rock boulders in place of some disappeared steps. Climb with a friend in order to help each other along the way and take photos. People often take photos on the rock boulders at the top and on the green roof of the abandoned shed.

The view is absolutely priceless and definitely instagrammable with overlapping karst scattering and splitting the ocean in all directions under the blanket of fog and morning sun rays. It is ideal to come at sunrise as you will have the whole view to yourself and the way back should be easier with natural sunlight. Don’t forget to bring a torch, a water bottle, trainers of adequate grip and wear suitable clothes for hiking.

Cai Bau Pagoda

Situated about 11 kilometers away from the center of Cai Rong town, Cai Bau Pagoda is a dream destination for pilgrims. It was built 700 years ago under the reign of Tran dynasty on the relic of Phuc Linh Temple. Leaning towards mountains and facing the ocean, Cai Bau Pagoda is surrounded with picturesque landscapes and considered the most beautiful pagoda in Quang Ninh. 

Vung Vieng fishing village

Vung Vieng floating village is known as an outdoor geological museum of coral reefs, underwater caves, countless limestone karst islets and white sand beaches. The deep-rooted tradition of the Northern marine culture is retained with endless ocean myths. You can try being a fisherman for a day by going fishing with the locals on a sampan, bringing back seafood for your own cooking experiences and lying on the beach eating the delicious dishes.

Things to do

Kayaking

Bai Tu Long bay is a kayaking paradise, especially if you love watching flocks of birds scattering from rugged karsts and touching thousand year old stalactites. Don’t be afraid to try if you are not keen on swimming. With instructions and support of a professional coach, it is not that difficult. You can get in the kayak in teams of 2-3 people and help each other out. As you sweep forwards, it gets easier and easier.

Once you’ve been quite offshore, let the water drive your kayak, take a sip of beer and enjoy the extraordinary view. By kayaking you can reach further inside the grottos and caves to explore things that are out of reach if you cruise. Don’t forget to protect your camera and wear sporty clothes as you’ll certainly get wet. Also have a bowl of steaming mud clam porridge (chao ngan) before starting kayaking to keep yourself warm and energized all the way. 

Cruising

Cruising around Bai Tu Long bay will be a firm favorite if you want to go sightseeing, relax and try a variety of leisure activities within your short trip. Sitting on the sundeck with a glass of cocktail in your hand, watching the high and low mountains pass by, you will feel closer to nature but also overwhelmed in front of the spectacular landscape.

Emerged from the ocean, islands and islets are named after their natural shape, such as Teapot islet, Blockhouse islet, Goat Head islet, Toad Islet, Turtle Islet, Stork Island, Gamecock Island, etc. As each of them slowly passes by gracefully, your imagination soars. With the background of the endless emerald ocean and the rhythm of the wind, these “characters” become stars of a show that cannot be covered elsewhere on Earth. Y

ou can also try making Vietnamese traditional food out of prepared ingredients with the guide of a cook. Other exciting leisure activities included in most cruise tours are kayaking, snorkeling, night squid fishing, overnight boating, visiting floating villages, caves and grottoes, and doing Tai Chi in the early morning. Convenient and comprehensive as they are, a cruise tour certainly costs more than doing everything on your own, so take it into consideration to figure out your best choice.

Local foods

Geoduck Clam (Tu Hai)

Geoduck clam is a rare type of seafood in the world but quite common in Bai Tu Long bay and hence relatively cheaper as well. Weird as it may look, geoduck clam is not only delicious but also nutritious.

Green Sentinel Crab

Green sentinel crabs can be found in many seaside cities of Vietnam but the way they are cooked in Bai Tu Long bay is unique. Served with green pepper sauce or steamed with fruits, green sentinel crabs become one of the signature dishes that you should not miss.

White Sea Cucumber (Hai Sam)

White sea cucumber was once nearly extinct due to overexploitation but now that it has been successfully raised in Bai Tu Long National Park, you can try dishes like chicken and sea cucumber soup, sea cucumber cooked with mushrooms, sea cucumber stewed with red apple, sea cucumber stewed with goat meat, etc. Eating white sea cucumber helps you slow down the aging process, reduce fatigue and improve immunity.

Nodding Cake (Banh Gat Gu)

Banh Gat Gu is long rolled noodles (Pho) served with a tasty sauce made from chicken grease and fried onions, or sometimes squid rolls and stewed pork. Banh Gat Gu is considered one of the culinary delights in Halong province.

Soup Of Vine Spinach And Mud Clam

Mud clam and vine spinach hot soup is a common dish in Bai Tu Long bay daily cuisine. With mud clam, it has a rich and balanced taste of protein sweetness that is unforgettable.

Besides these dishes, you should also try other Bai Tu Long bay specialties like Grouper fish (Ca Song) and Cobia fish (Ca Gio). Because of their subtle flavor, they absorb dressings and marinades really well and hence taste wonderfully. Cobia fish can be served in 12 different ways. Cobia salad with mustard is the best. Peanut worms and stone crabs (Cu Ki) are also must-try food in Bai Tu Long bay.

Local tips

  • Specialties like half dried cuttlefish and squid roll are perfect gifts to bring back for your family and friends.
  • Don’t forget to always bring along the absolute necessities: a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, swimsuit, tank top, trainers, flip flops, insect repellent spray and waterproof protection for your camera and phone.
  • Prepare cash in Dong before going on board as there is no ATM machine in the bay.
Read more

Cruise trips that visit Bai Tu Long Bay

Lily Cruise 724

Lily Cruise

9.3 Excellent | 3 reviews
Destinations: Thien Canh Son Cave Bai Tu Long Bay Vung Vieng Fishing Village
FROM $135
Dragon Pearl Junks 219

Dragon Pearl Junks

9.1 Excellent | 61 reviews
Destinations: Bai Tu Long Bay Thien Canh Son Cave Vung Vieng Fishing Village Yen Duc Village
FROM $140
Legend Halong Private Charter 93

Legend Halong Private Charter

Destinations: Halong Bay Bai Tu Long Bay Lan Ha Bay
FROM $350
Signature Royal Cruise 229

Signature Royal Cruise

9.6 Excellent | 83 reviews
Destinations: Bai Tu Long Bay Thien Canh Son Cave Vung Vieng Fishing Village
FROM $145
Swan Cruise 259

Swan Cruise

9.7 Excellent | 141 reviews
Destinations: Bai Tu Long Bay
FROM $139
Renea Cruise 1030

Renea Cruise

9.6 Excellent | 13 reviews
Destinations: Bai Tu Long Bay Cong Do area Thien Canh Son Cave
FROM $125

Questions & Answers (2)

Ask a question
Contact Information
Your name *
Your email *
Your phone (optional)
Your content
No more than 2,000 characters, please.
Looking for more info? Send your question to us and our staff will answer it here as soon as possible.
?
Asked by Christelle Laura Tamzin 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Can anybody there explain the difference between Halong bay and Bai Tu Long Bay? it is still the same Halong bay? and what's the best cruise in Bai Tu Long?

Thanks!

1 Answers (0) Reply
Your Reply
No more than 2,000 characters, please.

Map & location

Recommended Cruises in Halong Bay View all cruises
Peony Cruise 1362

Peony Cruise

9.8 Excellent | 176 reviews
Address: Lot 34, Tuan Chau Pier, Quang Ninh
FROM $148
Capella Cruise 1056

Capella Cruise

9.8 Excellent | 142 reviews
Address: No. 20B, Tuan Chau Marina, Halong, Quang Ninh
FROM $195
Heritage Cruise Binh Chuan 768

Heritage Cruise Binh Chuan

9.7 Excellent | 166 reviews
Address: Lux Cruise Lounge, No 28, Tuan Chau Pier
FROM $180
Nostalgia Cruise 219

Nostalgia Cruise

9.7 Excellent | 42 reviews
Address: Block 33, Tuan Chau Pier
FROM $210
Sea Stars Cruise 132

Sea Stars Cruise

9.2 Excellent | 2 reviews
Address: Halong International Cruise Port
FROM $190
Essence Grand Cruise 137

Essence Grand Cruise

9.8 Excellent | 12 reviews
Address: Tuan Chau Marina, Halong, Quang Ninh
FROM $215
Genesis Luxury Regal Cruise 1280

Genesis Luxury Regal Cruise

9.7 Excellent | 106 reviews
Address: Block 19, Tuan Chau Marina, Halong city
FROM $145
Scarlet Pearl Cruise 589

Scarlet Pearl Cruise

9.5 Excellent | 131 reviews
Address: Halong International Pier, Halong, Quang Ninh
FROM $175