One of the top places to visit in Northeast Vietnam is Halong Bay. This World Heritage site is an experience not to be missed. The region showcases craggy limestone peaks, caves, tropical forests, waterfalls and historical sites.
To the south of Halong Bay lies Cat Ba, which is an island known for its hiking, sailing, biking and world class rock climbing. In the east Bai Tu Long Bay continues a spectacular display of nature all the way to the Chinese border. Quan Lan Island is also emerging as a prime destination for pioneering travelers.
The Cao Bang province and mountains has one of Vietnam’s most idiosyncratic landscapes. You can head northeast to explore remote back roads and lakes of the Ba Be National Park. Visitors to Halong come here to not only enjoy the boat cruise but also to explore the caves. There are very few beaches in Halong Bay, but Lan Ha Bay has great sandy coves.
Should you have loads of time on your hands and want to experience Halong Bay without the crowd, you may consider a trip to Cat Ba Island. Here you will find relatively untouched sandy beaches. The Cat Ba National Park near Halong Bay is a very rugged island which has lush jungle like vegetation. This park includes the 300 or so limestone islands of Lan Ha Bay.
The Jungle clad Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay and is fast emerging as Vietnam’s prime destination for adventure sport and ecotourism. Daily activities include, sailing, bird watching, cycling, hiking and rock climbing. It contains coastal mangrove forests, small fresh water lakes and coral reefs. There are also waterfalls and grottoes dotting the spectacular landscape.
It is best to visit Ca Ba from later September to November if weather is your concern. The air and water temperatures are relatively mild around those months with clear skies. December to February is a bit cooler. February to April is also good but expect rains. During the summer months June to August it is generally hot and humid with the occasional outbreak of thundershowers.
Bai Tu Long
To the northeast of Halong Bay lies the Bai Tu Long National Park. It is a procession of krast landscape. This island is very isolated and offers hidden beaches with hardly any tourists. Boat services to Quan Lan has now made the region a bit more accessible.