In the last post, we have guided travelers how to get to Bai Tu Long bay and why we should not miss Bai Tu Long this summer. Many clients ask us about 4 – 5 day tour in Halong bay, but under the government regulation, no boats organize such tour duration. You can stay in 3 days maximum in Halong bay. What will you do after that ? After visiting Halong bay, you can extend your trip to Bai Tu Long bay. And this post suggests you some popular attractions of Bai Tu Long to visit this summer.
1. Bai Dai beach, Van Don district
Bai Dai beach, or “Long Beach”, 10km from Cai Rong port, is serene and picturesque. A long and wide sand ground makes visitors catch your eyes at the first sight. This is the most lovely place that you will take the best panorama photos including Bai Tu Long bay, karst mountains, crystal sea water, white sand and some human beings easily. Summer in Bai Dai is really interesting. Many Vietnamese couples choose Bai Dai as their favourite wedding photo shooting destination. And you, why don’t spend some hours on tanning chairs with a coconut, set your tripod on Bai Dai then catch-up the moment sun sets on the bay.
Recommended: 2 hours relaxing and swimming on Bai Dai beach. Taxi is suggested for transfer from Cai Rong port to Bai Dai beach and vice versa (10km/ 1-way). Excellent for taking photos.
2. Cai Bau pagoda, Van Don district
Located at the end of Bai Dai beach, Cai Bau pagoda is the pilgrimage center for Buddhism followers in Van Don district. You will know more about the local religion and sophisticated Theravada Buddhism architecture. Especially, the pagoda faces Bai Tu Long bay, so if you want to view the bay from heights, Cai Bau pagoda is a good place. Like other pagodas in Vietnam, Cai Bau is very crowded after “Tet” holidays (Feb & March) so you can avoid this festival period. In the rest of the year, Cai Bau keeps your mind in peace.
Recommended: Walking along Bai Dai beach to Cai Bau pagoda. Spend half hour there before returning to your hotel near from Cai Rong port.
3. Quan Lan island
Quan Lan island, 45 minutes from Cai Rong port by speedboat, has 3 beaches: Quan Lan Beach, Son Hao Beach and Minh Chau Beach. All three beaches have white sand and are quite pristine compared with other beaches near Halong Bay. Quan Lan Beach is the one that is closest to the pier yet also the most beautiful of all three. Go further into the island another 4km you will reach Son Hao and another 10km is Minh Chau beach.
Accommodation on Quan Lan island meets all budgets @ 10 – 60 $/room/night. The most deluxe is Minh Chau beach resort ranking 4-star, which owns Minh Chau beach in the north of Quan Lan. Mid-range budget is Song Chau villa near from Son Hao beach, or Van Hai Xanh hotel. And very budget travelers can choose some cheap guesthouses (with air-condition at around 25$, with fan at only 10$). During June – August, remember to book accommodation at least 2 months in advance. Otherwise, a cheap guesthouse is even fully booked.
Recommended: Stay there in 2 nights. Rent a Tuk-Tuk or bike to ride along the island from Son Hao beach to Minh Chau beach.
4. Co To island, Bai Tu Long bay
Co To is the most remote island from Cai Rong port. Co To island is far offshore hence the beaches offer crystal water, endless blue sky and the lush forest. All make a perfect background for a couple holiday.
Accommodation are better. Started in 2009 with only 2 hotels as Coto Lodge and Hai Au hotel, Co To islands now has over 15 hotels of around 300 rooms. Some deluxe travelers can choose camping tents provided by Coto Lodge. Trust us ! Tent settings are truly deluxe.
Co To becomes more popular because it’s a cheap destination. Room costs around 15$/room/night. Seafood is cheap. From Hanoi and Halong city, you can take public bus to Cai Rong town, then take the 1.5-hour speed boat to Co To islands. Summer is the peak season when most students visit Co To. Thanks to perfect landscape, many couples choose Co To as their honeymoon destination, too.
Recommended: Co To island with many wild and beautiful beaches is the ideal place for beach leisure, camping and hanging out. Apart from swimming, remember to visit the lighthouse, Van Chai beach, and especially tasting BBQ seafood dinner on beach. Sip cold beer, taste a baked squid or fresh crab, listen to the rhythm of tides, cool wind in your hair are perfect moments in your summer holiday.
Thanks Vu Nam Duong for your excellent video of Co To island
5. Cai Rong port, Van Don district
Cai Rong port is nearly a must marked point in your Bai Tu Long trip map because it’s the starting point of many speedboats to Quan Lan island and Co To island. Your schedule is that: 12:00 get out of the Halong bay boat then you take a taxi to Van Don district; 13:00 you arrive at Cai Rong port; 13:30 embark the speed boat to Quan Lan or Co To island.
Cai Rong – Van Don used to be a busy international port since 1149 under Ly dynasty. During the feudal times, the port is not only in Cai Rong town as today. It comprised of some tens of kilometers long with dozen docks for big ships. Vietnam goverment has an ambitous plan to wake up this district, and choose Van Don as 1 of the three main sea economic zones of Vietnam. Remember its name coz in the next 10 years, there might have an international airport in Van Don district, and travelers can ignore Hanoi and fly directly to Van Don – Bai Tu Long bay.
Recommended: Please check the speedboat schedule carefully before planning your Halong – Bai Tu Long trip because the schedule can be changed upon the seat availability. On some off-peak days, the boat company can organize the morning boat only and cancel the afternoon boat. In this case, you have to stay 1 night in a hotel/guesthouse in Cai Rong town, which is only 5 minute walk from Cai Rong port, then take the speedboat in the next morning. Anyway, remember there’s still Bai Dai beach (attraction No.1 we suggested above) for you to kill your time.
6. Vung Vieng fishing village, Bai Tu Long bay
Vung Vieng is located in the heart of Bai Tu Long Bay, 24 km from the mainland. This is the favourite stop of many Bai Tu Long boats/junks so the easiest way to get there is booking a boat trip. You are not only be immersed in the quiet and peaceful location viewing the charming landscape, and discovering the cultural life of the fishermen but also will be directed aboutt sailing, pulling & dropping net off and fishing.
You will be enchanted by the beauty of the boats, the nets in front of the house, the simple but hospitable fishermen, and the small children smiling as they go to school. This idyllic scene shows the traditional character of a fishing village on the sea.
Recommended: Kayaking or rowing in sampan boat around the villages and karst mountains. This activities are included in most 2 days/1 night boat trip. So it’s better you book a package Bai Tu Long tour.