Getting there & away
There is a new bridge linking Van Don to the mainland, making it much more accessible from Halong City. Frequent buses run between Hon Gai (Halong City) and Cai Rong bus station (20, 000d, 1½ hours). You’ll pass plenty of coal mines en route – your face (and lungs) will receive a fine coating of black coal dust before the journey is completed. Just pity the people who live here and have to breathe this in every day.
A good way to get to Van Don is with the Mui Ngoc hydrofoil (793 335) from Halong City (US$8, one hour) departing at 8am. In the other direction, it leaves for Halong City at 4pm. There is also an irregular service to Mong Cai (US$10, two hours), departing Van Don at 8.30am and returning at 2pm.
Note that these boat schedules may change and are dependent on the weather. Be prepared to hang around here a day or so.
Several of the companies offering tours of Halong Bay also offer tours of Bai Tu Long Bay. ATI (www.atiresorts.com) operates ecolodges on Van Don and Quan Lan Islands and offers a combination of tours to the bay.