The “waterless island” Bach Long Vi, land of abalone in the Gulf of Tonkin
Surrounded by intertidal zones and immense beaches formed from eroded bedrocks, Bach Long Vi Island, with a dragon tail shape, is embraced by the sea as if to preserve its pristine. To escaping from the hubbub mainland life of 100km away, the floating five-to-six-hour cruise will bring you to this farthest island in the Gulf of Tonkin to rejoice all your expected relaxing activities in the sea region: splashing in the cool ocean, wander on the white sand watching the sunset and breathing in the fresh air, enjoy delicious dishes from abalone, as well as get to know the islanders who are still optimistic and attached to their home island even with many insufficiencies.
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I. About Bach Long Vi Island
Bach Long Vi Island – Hai Phong is located in the center of the Tonkin Gulf and is also the farthest place from the area. From above, the island is shaped like the tail of a dragon – that’s the reason for its name Bach Long Vi (white dragon’s tail).
With an area of less than 3km, the number of residents on the island is currently more than 600; they mainly live by fishing and farming abalone. Life here sometimes gets hard due to the lack of facilities and amenities, especially electricity and clean water. For daily activities, people have to use only rainwater. The average rainfall of the island is about 1,100mm/year, but after each year, it rains less yet the island’s inhabitants are increasing. In order to have enough water to use, military units designed and built huge rainwater tanks. ( You may need travel supplies, please refer to the website: https://outdoorgearreviews.org/ )
The weather in Bach Long Vi island is divided into two distinct seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season lasts from May to August, while the dry season is from October to March of the following year. Although Bach Long Vi Island is located far off the coast, it is rarely affected by storms. In particular, the atmosphere on the island is always fresh and cool with an average temperature of 23 degrees Celsius. The most ideal time to explore the island is the dry season when there is rare rain with less strong waves.
II. What to do in Bach Long Vi Island
Bach Long Vi Island has innumerable pristine, unspoiled beaches with white smooth sand to stroll gently while listening to the murmuring waves and admiring the fishing boats in sight. The sandbar is a bit steep, not gentle like many other beaches on the mainland, but the water is clear enough to watch the colorful rocks and corals on the bottom.
On sunny afternoons, when the waves recede from the shore, the grains of sand, shells, and corals gently roll along with the waves, reflecting the sunlight shining like a rainbow. The best time to go for a beach walk is in the early morning when the air is extremely fresh and the space is tranquil. On the island, there are also shallow and clean rocky beaches, suitable for watching the beautiful sunrise and sunset. In addition, the 80-meter high lighthouse – the highest point of the island – will give you the best view to watch the sunrise and sunset. The way up to the lighthouse is paved steps under the shadows of casuarina trees.
Another way to reach this peak is the asphalt road around the mountainside of the casuarina forest. Another interesting activity is to visit the special market outside the port. Every day, around 4 o’clock, when the first squid fishing boats arrive, a series of other sounds also appear – the sound of water splashing on the deck, the sound of fish squabbling in the barrel, and the laughter of locals going to the market. They bring green vegetables, rice, salted fish sauce, etc., to sell to fishermen, then buy back the squids and crabs still struggling in the water tank.
As night falls, it’s time for all the fun activities on the island. Tourists can set a campfire right on the beach and organize an attractive seafood BBQ. Do not forget to enjoy the specialty of the island, which is abalone. Thanks to good farming techniques and proper natural conditions, the Bach Long Vi abalone is of high quality, heavy and juicy, with prices ranging from 500,000 VND to 700,000 VND.
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III. Getting there
There are two ways to move from the mainland to Bach Long Vi Island:
Buy a high-speed ship ticket to the island at Binh Wharf – Hai Phong at the cost of 100-150,000 VND/person for about 7 hours of traveling.
Ask for a seat on local fishermen’s boats to the island. However, due to the distance up to over 130 km, traveling by fishing boats can be extremely tiring and time-consuming.
The most popular form of accommodation on this island is staying properly at the islanders’ house. Fortunately, they are gentle and hospitable to offer tourists a stay. You can contact Mr. Duan – Tuyet at 01683334296 or 0977731648. Their room price is fairly reasonable, only about 250-300,000VND/day. They are also willing to help you buy food and cook for you.
If you are only planning this as a day trip, then it is not necessary to find accommodation on the island, you can book a room in Hai Phong city center instead.
V. Notes for Bach Long Vi tourism
Bach Long Vi Island is a wild destination, so the services are rather limited. There are a few things you need to keep in mind:
There are no phone signals, so you need to prepare a sim card available to access 3G, 4G when needed or search for necessary information.
Fresh water on Bach Long Vi Island is still scarce, so you need to prepare some in advance and use it sparingly.
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