Introducing Bai Tu Long Bay
There’s way more to northeast Vietnam than Halong Bay. The sinking limestone plateau, which gave birth to the bay’s spectacular islands, continues for some 100km to the Chinese border. The area immediately northeast of Halong Bay is part of Bai Tu Long National Park.
Bai Tu Long Bay is every bit as beautiful as its famous neighbour. In some ways it’s actually more stunning, since it’s only in its initial stages as a destination for travellers. Improved boat transport means it is quickly growing in popularity with domestic tourists, but the bay and its islands are still unpolluted and relatively undeveloped. For Western travellers, it’s a laid-back alternative to the touristy bustle of Halong Bay.
Charter boats can be arranged to Bai Tu Long Bay from Halong Bay; rates start at around 300,000d per hour and the trip there takes about five hours. A cheaper, and more flexible alternative is to travel overland to Cai Rong and visit the outlying islands by boat from here. An increased frequency of ferry sailings definitely makes this a more viable alternative than in earlier years.
Hanoi travel agencies, including Ethnic Travel, run trips into the Bai Tu Long area.