In the north east of Vietnam the staggering beauty of Halong Bay has, of course, been capturing the imagination of travellers for years.
This has become, in some ways, a victim of its own success.
So many tour boats now ply their trade here that finding a little solace away from the chattering masses is getting more and more difficult.
How can travelers find that elusive peace and quiet?
Venture 30km northeast towards the Chinese border and experience the beautiful Bai Tu Long Bay.
Bai Tu Long Bay as a Travel Destination
Geographically Bai Tu Long Bay is similar in every aspect to its more famous cousin, but it trumps Halong Bay on one crucial point:
As a travel destination, Bai Tu Long Bay is in its infancy, meaning way less tourists and tour boats than in Halong. If you’re the sort of traveler who likes to keep things off the beaten track, Bai Tu Long Bay is an ideal destination for you.
When to Visit
The weather is a factor when choosing the time to visit. This area can get decidedly chilly in the months of January and February, whilst in the months between May and September often represent the arrival of the southern monsoons, which can be gale force and are likely to interfere with your plans. The months of March/April and September/October are the best for your trip- neither too hot nor too cold, and clear skies mean you’ll be able to enjoy Bai Tu Long Bay in the best conditions.
Need any more info about the when to visit Halong Bay? Check out our article series on Halong Bay weather.
What to do in Bai Tu Long Bay
There is much to see and do from your cruise boat. But besides cruising itself, there are tons of activities and added extras to keep you on your toes during your trip.
- Swimming in the jade green waters of the bay is a must. Active and adventurous travelers will likely jump at the chance to enjoy Bai Tu Long Bay’s rock climbing, bouldering, and cliff jumping.
- There are some great areas for kayaking here and your guide will be able to take you to exciting hidden bays, lagoons and tunnels. The karst formations are even more impressive when viewed from a water-level perspective.
Halong Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay?
This is all a matter of taste:
It simply depends what you are seeking.
Halong Bay is sensational, and for many it is the highlight of their Vietnamese holiday. However Bai Tu Long Bay is just a beautiful, just as exciting and not so crowded.
The downside of choosing Halong?
The beauty of the bay is being threatened as tourism leaves its mark, Sadly the ethos of leaving only footprints, has not quite got through to tourists in this part of the world and garbage is becoming an issue in Vietnam’s greatest asset.
Bai Tu Long National Park
A flourishing forest and marine conservation area, the National Park covers 61.25 km2 and an even larger aquatic area of 96.58 km2. It is home to an impressive array of flora and fauna, including the leopard cat, Indian muntjac, small Indian civet, and the large Indian civet.
Thien Canh Son Cave
A large cavern with three main chambers on the island of the same name, access to Thien Canh Son Cave is via a hidden path through a dense forest canopy by a cliff face.
The formations inside the cave are commonly likened to various everyday items, lotus blooms, a baby elephant, seals and other flowers.
There’s a nice beach here as well, making it an ideal stop off point for a few hours of exploring.
Ban Chan Beach
Very much an “off the beaten track” beach area, Ban Chan Beach’s white sand fringed by idyllic green/blue sea makes it one of the most coveted beaches in the entire region. Surrounded by rugged rocks and lush green forest, it is a wonderful setting to enjoy a swim, kayaking or a beach barbecue.
Vung Vieng Fishing Village
One of the last remaining of its kind, Vung Vieng Fishing Village is an important stop-off point for any visitors hoping to get an insight into traditional Halong culture and life. Although it’s no longer inhabited full-time, the floating village is preserved for tourists to walk around in and learn about the deep-rooted Halong traditions.
It’s also a visually impactful spot to stop off and take some pictures.
Best Cruises in Bai Tu Long Bay
Signature Cruise Halong
One of the most established cruise brands in the region, Signature Cruise Halong is a brilliant mid-range option for first-time cruisers who want to experience the best of the bay. Signature’s top deck cocktail bar is a highlight, and their well-kitted out cabins always win points with guests.
Signature Royal Cruise Halong
One step up from Signature, the Signature Royal Cruise prides itself on their added level of luxury and comfort. Rooms are that little bit more spacious, and customer care is second to none- a good choice if you’re traveling with kids, or a partner, and you want to be taken extra good care of.
Garden Bay Premium Cruise Halong
Garden Bay Premium Cruise Halong has a fleet of craft that offer 10, 11 or 20 superbly appointed cabins and an envious level of luxury. On and off board activities include swimming, hiking, kayaking, snorkelling, fishing and sun bathing. Guests can also enjoy board and card games, or relax while watching a movie on board.
Royal Wings Cruise Halong
Boasting 20 comfy cabins, this 54 meter Royal Wings Cruise Halong is a crowd favourite thanks to its inspired interiors, authentic feel, and excellent dining facilities – think delicious seafood, hand chosen wine menus, and a huge array of exotic local flavours.
Ready to book your Bai Tu Long Bay adventure? Get in touch with us for advice, itineraries, and bookings.