Bai Tu Long Bay is located to the northeast of Ha Long Bay. Although the Bay seems less popular than its neighboring Bay of Ha Long, its beauty and attractiveness are undeniable and it boasts some of the World Heritage Site’s most spectacular scenery, including beautiful limestone formations, rock arches, gin-clear water, virtually inaccessible lagoons, sheer cliffs, peaceful coves, eerie caves, secluded strips of white, powdery sand, and thousands of limestone islets.
Like sculpted cartoon characters, these islets are fancifully named: Mat Quy Island (Monster Face island), Swan Island, the Isle of Wonders and the Isle of Surprise. Local traditional junks glide over the teal-hued bay between the grottoes, which are densely carpeted in neon-green ficas, mangrove and spiky cacti. Pearl oyster farms are tucked into tight channels between the towering, limestone cliffs.
Primitive floating fish hatcheries are spun across the waters between the grottoes like neglected spider webs. On a classy junk, you will enjoy a gourmet meal in her ambiance restaurant while cruising through some of the most spectacular scenery on the bay, relax in comfort amid dramatic natural scenery, swimming amongst a backdrop of limestone towers, or kayaking through tunnel in to secluded lagoon to see unique sea creatures and coral refs.
We also venture to the furthest reaches of the bay from the deserted island of Ngoc Vung to the seclusion of the idyllic island of Quan Lan. Between the 14th and 18th centuries the island was the site of Vietnam’s first international port, Van Don. Here, merchant ships from as far field as the Middle East, Java and Japan would converge to buy local produce, most notably ivory and tea. Now the Island is best known for its wonderful 1 km white-sand beach.
The Bay of Bai Tu Long is also home to the Bai Tu Long National Park which covers an area of 15,783 ha with 6 islands and 24 islets. Officially opened in April 2004, Bai Tu Long National Park not only plays the role of a nature reserve but also of great archaeological significance such as the Soi Nhu Cave where the inhabitance of pre-history Vietnamese people around 14 thousand years ago has been demonstrated. Geologically, the National Park is surrounded with soil and stone islands, and limestone mountain ranges encompassing immense valleys make an ideal habitat for a wide variety of plants.
The Doi Cave (Bat Cave) is a good example. Located in Cai Lim and belonging to Tra Ngo Lon island, it is a large mangrove forest of around 10 ha in area and home to plants of 25 to 30 cm in body diameter and date back to hundreds of years. Topographically, the cave does not seem to be in direct contact with the sea water. The cave is a perfect habitat of such animals as frog, snake, shrimp and limuloid.