Tu Long Bay
more to northeastern Vietnam than Halong Bay. The sinking limestone
plateau, which gave birth to the bay's spectacular islands, continue
some 100 km to the Chinese border. The area immediately northeast
of Halong Bay is know as Bai
Tu Long Bay.
Tu Long Bay
is every bit as beautiful as its famous neighbour. Indeed, you could
say it's more beautiful, since it has scarcely seen any tourist
development. This has its positives and negatives. The bay is unpolluted
and undeveloped; however, as yet there's no tourism infrastructure.
It's pretty hard travelling around and staying here, and unless
you speak Vietnamese, it's difficult to get information.
Bai Tu Long Bay's islands
Don Island (Dao Cai Bau): Van Don is largest and
most populated and developed island in the archipelago. However,
there is no tourism development here yet. Cai Rong is the main town
on the island, which is about 30km in length and 15km across at
the widest poit. Bai Dai (Long Beach) runs along much of the southern
side of the island and is hard-packed sand with some mangroves.
Just offshore, almost touching distance away, there are stunning
rock formations similar to those in Halong Bay.
Lan Island (Dao Canh Cuoc): The main attraction
here is beautiful, 1km-long white-sand beach shaped like a crescent
moon. The water is clear blue and the waves are suitable for surfing.
The best time to play in water is from about May to October - winter
is too chilly. However, at the present there are no tourist facilities.
The nothern part of the island has some battered ruins of the old
Van Don Trading Port. There is little to show that this was once
part of the major trading route between Vietnam and China. Deep-water
ports, such as Hai Phong and Hon Gai, long ago superseded these
islands in importance. Boats or Junks cruise take about 6~7 hours
to get from Halong City to Quan Lan Island via Bai Tu Long Bay.
Hai Island (Cu Lao Mang): Ancient Chinese graves
have been found here, indicating that this region has seen considerable
maritime trade. There are many good beaches, but a sand-mining pit
(used to make glass) is destroying the place.
Sen Island (Dao Tra Ban): Also know
as Tra Ban Island, this is closest
major island to Van Don Island, making it easy to visit. However,
there are no tourist facilities and as a visit will mean an overnight
stay, be prepared to be ufficient.
To Island (Dao Co To): In the northeast,
Co To Island is the farthest inhabited island from the mainland.
Its highest peak reaches a respectable 170m. There are numerous
other hills, and a large lighthouse atop one of them. The coastline
is mostly cliffs or large rocks, but there's at least one fine sandy
beach. Fishing boats usualy anchor just off here, and you can walk
to some of them during low tide. There is a small and very basic
guesthouse on the island. Ferries bound for Co To Island depart
Van Don island on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at unspecified time-check
the schedule in Cai Rong. The return from Co To to island on Tuesday,
Thursday and Friday. There are no boats on sunday. The journey takes
about 5 hours.
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