Bai Tho Mountain is famous for its spectacular and breathtaking views of Halong Bay and the surrounding area. Recently it has gained a lot of attention, but not in such a positive way. Many people share their frustrations at reaching the top with many not being able to do so. Due to it’s popularity on social media, locals have made it difficult to find and almost impossible to reach the top. It can be a bit of a challenge, but we’ll guide you through everything you need to know so you can make it to this insane viewpoint!
Bai Tho Mountain Entrance
We visited Bai Tho Mountain from our accommodation in Halong City. From Halong City you can either catch a taxi or rent a scooter. We decided to get a scooter as it’s a much cheaper and easier option to get around. We rented a scooter for half a day which cost 80,000 VND ($4.50 AUD). Driving in the city can be quite busy and crazy, so if you’re not a confident driver we would recommend taking a taxi.
Bai Tho Mountain is located on the east side of the City. If you’re coming from the west you’ll have to cross over the bridge. If you want to GPS yourself there, the entrance to the mountain is located on ‘Hàng Nồi Street‘. Alternatively you can GPS ‘Poem Mountain’ and it should drop you on the same street. However once you arrive, finding the way up is the tricky part.
If you’re planning on visiting Bai Tho Mountain from Hanoi, you’ll have to hire a van to drive you to Halong City. We used 12Go to book a van from Hanoi. 12Go is a super cheap and reliable way to get around Vietnam and other popular Southeast Asian countries. We definitely recommend it if you’re looking to visit Bai Tho Mountain or any other spots in Vietnam.
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How to climb Bai Tho Mountain – Our Experience
Once you arrive at Hàng Nồi Street, there are no signs telling you which way to go. Every person who climbs Bai Tho Mountain has a different experience with many people being refused entry and being told to leave. This is how we managed to reach the top and how you can too!
We spent some time walking around Hàng Nồi Street trying to find an entrance. We eventually walked down a small ally which was located next to a PhotoCopy shop. This lead us to an older womens house. We could see the path to the mountain in her backyard, although it was fenced off with guard dogs barricading the entrance. We asked her if we could go up to the mountain but she refused. Both of us also offered her money although she wouldn’t let us pass. We even tried to sneak past the guard dogs which was a very bad idea! If you see the guard dogs, don’t try pass them without a local because they will try and bite you. They’re very aggressive!
We then went back to the street and tried to find another entrance. To our luck, another older women was sitting on her front porch and indicated up to the mountain. After paying a fee, she lead us through her tiny house and to her garden, which is where the entrance to the top of the mountain was. When we visited in September 2018, the gate leading to the top was completely sealed and covered in barbed wire. It’s impossible to climb over or around without the help of a local. We were lucky enough that this women showed us how to climb the slippery rocks around the barbed wire so we could continue up the stairs to the top of the mountain.
The entrance fee will vary depending on whose house you walk through and which lady shows you the way. We paid 50,000 VND per person ($3 AUD). We tried our best to bargain the price down but the lady wouldn’t budge at all. Maybe you’ll have some better luck, although the price was definitely worth it since they show you how to climb past the fence.
As the only way to reach Bai Tho Mountain is through a local house, there are no set opening hours. Be sure to pick a reasonable time to visit as the lady might not be awake. We visited at 4pm and had no issues. Since the mountain is also so hard to find, there should be no one else around when you visit.
How long is the climb to the top?
Once you have climbed your way past the barbed wire fence, it’s an easy path to follow and should take you roughly 30 minutes to reach the top. With the humid Vietnam heat, it might take a bit longer.
Is it safe to climb Bai Tho Mountain?
Climbing Bai Tho Mountain is definitely safe and the hike up is no different to climbing any other viewpoint! The only thing that might not be safe is if you try to sneak past the guard dogs or climb around the barbed wire fence without the help of a local. Please don’t try doing any of these on your own.
Is Bai Tho Mountain still open?
As of August 2019, we still hear of people reaching the top of Bai Tho Mountain. However, all of their stories are still the same. Finding the entrance is just as hard as it was when we went in 2018, although with a bit of persistence and luck, there’s a high chance you’ll get to the top. Bai Tho Mountain isn’t necessarily open to the public or advertised, so you can’t be afraid to ask the locals how to get to the top. If you ask the right person, then they’ll help you find it. We were lucky that we didn’t give up too quickly otherwise we wouldn’t have found it. We’ve even heard of people being turned away one day then coming back the next day and being let up.
What to Expect at Bai Tho Mountain
Once you reach the top of Bai Tho Mountain, you’ll no doubt be left speechless. This is definitely the best Halong Bay Viewpoint and you’ll be able to admire the incredible panoramic views overlooking the entire area. From here, you can see the limestone islands for as far as your eye can see! You can also see the busy city below which is a crazy contrast to the beautiful peaceful islands. This is definitely one of our most memorable and favourite viewpoints we have ever been to. Finding this place might be hard, but there is no doubt that it’s completely worth it.
From the top, there are plenty of different angles and views for some great photo opportunities. For the best soft lighting, aim to be at the top just before 5pm as the sun slowly starts to set. We usually like to visit places for sunrise so there’s no one around, although it’s definitely not necessary for this spot because there is normally no one around anyway! Additionally, if you visit too early you won’t be able to reach the top since the lady might not be awake yet.
Be sure to spend your time at the top enjoying the nice cool breeze and the amazing views. You can’t get another view like this in the whole of Vietnam.
Where to stay
Many people do not stay in Halong City and instead only go to Halong Bay to do one of the many cruises. If you plan on visiting Bai Tho Mountain, then we definitely recommend that you stay in Halong City. There are a variety of accommodation options from budget to brand name hotels. We found the best area to stay is close to the Sun World Amusement Park. There are nightly food stalls and markets close by.
Royal Halong Hotel – Luxury: If you’re looking to treat yourself to a bit of luxury, then this is the place for you! With 2 pools and even a casino, this is the ideal spot to spend a getaway. The rooftop pool is super tropical and a perfect way to spend a hot day. Additionally, you’ll even have views of Halong Bay from your own room. The rooms are also large and clean.
Muong Thanh Luxury Quang Ninh Hotel – Midrange: This hotel is a great place to relax and unwind while in Halong City. For the great price, you have beautiful clean rooms with ultimate luxury. It’s one of the tallest buildings in the area so you’re sure to have an incredible view. They even have a rooftop pool!
Huy Duong Ha Long Hotel – Budget: This is where we stayed when visiting Halong City. We found this place to be in a perfect location and a great place to stay for a quick 2 night visit. Some of the rooms have incredible views that look out onto Halong Bay. They even give you 1 free beer voucher on arrival.
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