Bai Tu Lengthy Bay Cruises (My Epic Information + Three Prime Ships)

Contemplating touring to Bai Tu Lengthy Bay?

On this information you’ll be taught why I feel a Bai Tu Lengthy Bay cruise is a greater different to the extra common (however extra crowded!) well-known Ha Lengthy Bay cruises.


Greater than seven years in the past I took a cruise on Ha Lengthy Bay in northern Vietnam, and it’s nonetheless simply one among my fondest early worldwide journey reminiscences.

The sight of 1000’s of hovering limestone islands jutting up from the tranquil turquoise waters as I sailed on a picket junk ship via the UNESCO-protected bay is one thing I’ll always remember.

However right here’s the matter:

Apparently I’m not the one one.

You see, Ha Lengthy Bay is maybe a simply tad too totally picture-perfect for its personal good within the age of Instagram and social media.

Over the previous few years, it’s utterly exploded in recognition, become one of many extra common locations to journey on the planet, and been been flooded with thousands and thousands of holiday makers.

And together with that recognition has come all of the ills of over-tourism: environmental degradation, issues of safety, and rampant overcrowding.

So on my newest journey to Vietnam in 2019, I struggled with relive my unbelievable reminiscences of Ha Lengthy Bay with out collaborating within the degradation of the place I keep in mind so fondly.

That’s once I heard a couple of promising off-the-beaten path different to a conventional Ha Lengthy Bay Cruise:

Bai Tu Lengthy Bay.

Cruising Bai Tu Long Bay on the Dragon Legend 2
Cruising Bai Tu Lengthy Bay on the Dragon Legend 2

Learn on to be taught what Bai Tu Lengthy Bay is, why I selected to go to Bai Tu Lengthy Bay, and why I feel a Bai Tu Lengthy Bay cruise is a accountable — and extra gratifying — different to taking a Ha Lengthy Bay Cruise in 2019.

Why You Can Skip Ha Lengthy Bay IMHO

Look, Ha Lengthy Bay is a world class attraction. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Website and was voted one of many New Seven Wonders of Nature.

Its hovering limestone islands are so stunning that they’re virtually fabricated from Instagram gold:

However typically a spot is simply too gorgeous for its personal good.

Within the final decade, Ha Lengthy Bay has gone from barely heard of to a digital family identify.

I just lately ran a ballot on Instagram and located that over 80% of my followers already knew about Ha Lengthy Bay.

They usually aren’t alone:

Greater than 7 million guests got here to Ha Lengthy Bay in 2017, and with the opening of a world airport close by, that’s set to greater than double by 2020!

The overcrowding has led to many guests complaining about dozens of loud social gathering boats blasting music via the evening, substandard issues of safety, crowds preventing for house on the few islands you possibly can truly go to, and extreme air pollution and rubbish like this:

Briefly, with over 500 ships on the bay, Ha Lengthy Bay’s over-tourism drawback appears nearly assured to only worsen.

Happily, I used to be relieved to find there’s nonetheless a option to expertise Ha Lengthy Bay extra responsibly and with out having to cope with the crowds:

Merely take a cruise to Bai Tu Lengthy Bay as a substitute.

What’s Bai Tu Lengthy Bay?

Bai Tu Lengthy Nationwide Park is the realm instantly to the northeast of Ha Lengthy Bay correct.

Bai Tu Long Bay, the best part of Ha Long Bay
Bai Tu Lengthy Bay

And, in a way, Bai Tu Lengthy Bay IS Ha Lengthy Bay. That’s, Bai Tu Lengthy is included throughout the UNESCO World Heritage Website (and in reality makes up three quarters of the protected space).

So what separates Bai Tu Lengthy Bay from Ha Lengthy Bay?

So far as I can inform, it actually comes all the way down to a matter of permits. Only a few corporations — Indochina Junk being the primary one — have permission to run cruise ships in Bai Tu Lengthy Bay, so it stays a much less touristed and off-the-beaten monitor different to the primary Ha Lengthy Bay.

Bai Tu Lengthy Bay versus Ha Lengthy Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay Cruises
Me strolling on a seaside in Bai Tu Lengthy Bay

Identical to Ha Lengthy Bay, Bai Tu Lengthy consists of limestone karsts jutting up from stunningly tranquil water (counting each bays, there are practically 2,000 completely different islands).

My information instructed met hat Vietnamese legend has it {that a} dragon laid her eggs, that are the islands we see at the moment, in Ha Lengthy Bay (which suggests “descending dragon”) after which reared them in Bai Tu Lengthy earlier than ascending once more to the heavens.

Supposedly among the limestone karsts are a bit greater in Ha Lengthy Bay and there’s a barely denser focus of islands.

However having been to each bays, I can confidently inform you that I used to be utterly and totally unable to inform the distinction the 2 by look.

Bai Tu Long Bay islands
Bai Tu Lengthy Bay’s karsts are simply as gorgeous as Ha Lengthy Bay’s!

Critically, had you blindfolded me and brought me to Bai Tu Lengthy Bay and instructed me I used to be again in Ha Lengthy Bay, I wouldn’t have had any purpose in any respect to query that.

The one distinction between the 2 bays so far as I’m involved is that there are far, far fewer boats and other people in Bai Tu Lengthy Bay. Which suggests the seashores, arguably among the most picturesque seashores in Vietnam, aren’t polluted or overcrowded.

In reality, apart from at evening once we docked in the identical bay with different boats, I didn’t actually see another boats in any respect on my cruise via Bai Tu Lengthy!

So which is best: Ha Lengthy Bay or Bai Tu Lengthy Bay?

The reply is evident: Bai Tu Lengthy Bay. There’s actually no purpose to go one other approach if you may make it onto one of many restricted cruises to Bai Tu Lengthy Bay.

Which Cruise of Bai Tu Lengthy is Finest?

The pool on the Dragon Legend 2 - the best Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise Ship
The Dragon Legend 2’s pool

Okay, so by now try to be bought on selecting Bai Tu Lengthy over Ha Lengthy Bay, proper?

However what’s the finest cruise to Bai Tu Lengthy Bay?

I went with and extremely advocate Indochina Junk, the primary and largest firm to be licensed to function within the bay (observe: I paid for my cruise, however was afforded a media fee).

You might have a number of completely different choices for cruising Bai Tu Lengthy Bay and, whereas all are nice, there’s a pair ships that actually stand out from the remaining:

My Prime Suggestion for Your Cruise

The best Bai Tu Long Bay cruise
The Dragon Legend 2

Let’s lower straight to the chase about one of the best Bai Tu Lengthy Bay cruise:

When you’ve got the money, it is advisable to go cruising on the Dragon Legend or Dragon Legend 2.

Click on right here to verify pricing on Reserving. (affiliate disclosure: should you use my hyperlinks to ebook a Bai Tu Lengthy Bay cruise, I could obtain a fee at no additional value to you – thanks for serving to to maintain me on the street!).

Why are the Dragon Legends the only option IMHO?

Let’s begin with the truth that there’s a heated pool on-board!

Raining outdoors?

No worries: you possibly can nonetheless take a dip within the jaccuzi inside your spacious room.

From the massive out of doors and indoor eating choices, to the enormous sundeck, to the unbelievable meals choices, the Dragon Legends are the most important, baddest cruise ships on the bay.

Window of Dragon Legend 2, a Top Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise
Searching the window of the Dragon Legend 2

After all, all that flash comes with a worth – however it might not be as a lot as you assume!

Click on right here to verify costs for the Dragon Legend on now.

Oh, and I actually love that Indochina Junk has a powerful deal with accountable ecotourism and conserving the bay for future generations. Our information even put a bounty of a free beer if we picked up plastic from the bay whereas kayaking!

Different Prime Bai Tu Lengthy Bay Cruise Operators

The Dragon Legend 2 - the Best Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise
The view from the Dragon Legend 2

Can’t swing the Dragon Legend boats? Or are you in search of a extra intimate cruise on a smaller ship?

That’s cool! Listed below are some nice Bai Tu Lengthy Bay cruise operators to think about in your cruise:

Can’t afford a cruise?

Although I feel that taking a Bai Tu Lengthy Bay cruise is 100% one of the best ways to expertise this pure marvel, should you’re on an actual finances you possibly can simply go to Ha Lengthy Bay Metropolis and climb Bai Tho Mountain (from the place you’ll get some Insta-worthy views of the karsts, if not the complete expertise of cruising Ha Lengthy Bay).

FAQ: Planning Your Cruise

Right here’s some fast suggestions and continuously requested questions on planning a cruise to Bai Tu Lengthy Bay:

Bai Tu Long Bay Cruises

How lengthy (no pun meant) do it is advisable to go to Bai Tu Lengthy Bay?

At a minimal I like to recommend taking a 2 day, 1 evening cruise.

That may really feel a bit hurried although, so a Three day, 2 evening cruise gives you extra time to benefit from the bay should you can swing it.

When is one of the best time to go to the Bay?

Bai Tu Lengthy Bay is gorgeous all yr lengthy. Nonetheless, your finest wager to see solar and good climate is from September to November, and once more from March to April. 

How do you get to Bai Tu Lengthy Bay?

Many cruise packages embrace a free switch out of your lodge in Hanoi. The journey takes 3-Four hours and can embrace a restroom break. As of 2019, it’s also now doable to fly to Van Don Worldwide Airport, which can lower the journey time all the way down to an hour. 

What do I have to pack for a Bai Tu Lengthy Cruise?

You actually don’t have to pack a lot for a Bai Tu Lengthy Bay cruise!

I counsel:

  • Swimsuit for kayaking and swimming
  • Sunscreen for the sunny months
  • A heat jacket for December via February
  • Your digicam and a moist bag if it’s not waterproof 
  • One thing to learn or watch on the journey from Hanoi
  • Just a little bit of money for drinks and tricks to the crew

In any other case, simply use your frequent sense and pack what you usually would!

What are the eating choices like on Bai Tu Lengthy Bay cruises? 

There’s a whole lot of fish on a Bai Tu Lengthy Bay cruise (in truth, you possibly can watch the crew catch them from the again of the boat – and even strive your hand at squid fishing).

However I’m a vegetarian and I discovered that I used to be very nicely accommodated for on the Dragon Legend 2, which is in distinction to my first Ha Lengthy Bay cruise the place I used to be made to eat fried corn for 3 days! 

Is Ha Lengthy Bay too touristy?

For my part, sure, Ha Lengthy Bay is simply too touristy.

It’s nonetheless stunning, however on the finish of the day there are simply too many vacationers and it’s clearly fallen sufferer to overtourism.

That’s why I feel Bai Tu Lengthy Bay makes such an amazing different although!


Abstract: Go Off the Overwhelmed Observe and Cruise Bai Tu Lengthy Bay 

Bai Tu Lengthy Bay is an superior different to the extra crowded Ha Lengthy Bay. In reality, Bai Tu Lengthy Bay actually IS Ha Lengthy Bay: it’s simply the extra off-the-beaten-track a part of the bay! l

That’s it for now! When you’re touring Vietnam, go learn the way to get a free Vietnam Lonely Planet obtain utilizing this trick.

Oh, and earlier than you go make sure to pin this on Pinterest (simply click on these photographs):

Bai Tu Long Bay is a great alternative to the more crowded Ha Long Bay. Check out this quick guide to cruising this gem in Vietnam! #baitulongbay #halongbay #vietnam
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A guide to traveling Bai Tu Long Bay in Vietnam, a great off the beaten path alternative to Ha Long Bay! #halongbay #halong #vietnam #baitulong
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