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 to the scattering of resorts here means the area 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.

As with Halong Bay, the best way to experience the full gamut of limestone pinnacle scattered along the seascape is by cruise. Hanoi travel agencies, including Ethnic Travel, run boat trips into the Bai Tu Long area. Charter boats can also be arranged to Bai Tu Long Bay from Halong City’s Bai Chay Tourist Wharf; rates start at around 300,000d per hour and the trip there takes about five hours.

To experience a slice of slow island life, independent travellers can head to Quan Lan Island.

Source: lonelyplanet