the best views of Ha Long Bay: how to get epic views by hiking Bai Tho Mountain

Want to get epic views of Halong Bay but not keen on a cruise? Hiking Bai Tho Mountain is the adventure you’ve been looking for.

Like many Instagram hotspots, the final product photo from Bai Tho tells a story far from the reality of getting your ass up the mountain. It’s quite a straight forward hike, but it’s also closed to the public, making it a sneaky thing to do as well as a bit dangerous.

After a quick Google, I found A Girl Who Blooms blog with information on hiking Bai Tho Mountain. Unfortunately, it seems a lot has changed since just last year, including the “admission fee” and entrance passageway. That’s why, I decided to create this guide with updated information.


KEEP READING FOR A GUIDE TO BAi THO MOUNTAIN


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getting to bai tho

Since hiking Bai Tho is closed to the public, the only entrance to the trail is through a local home. You enter the local home, and a lady will be waiting for you. She will take you through her backyard to a barbed wire gate, which she will then instruct you to climb over after you pay her a fee for entrance. The climb over the gate is covered in a sticky green “goop” that is harmless, but messy. The wire covers the gate entirely. To the left, the woman has thrown a scarf over some of the wire, but that part of the gate is “covered” and “safest” actually hangs over a drop off. Climbing over was fine until the lady started rushing me. On the way back down Bai Tho, my legs were a bit shaky from the climb up, which also made getting back over the gate harder and a tiny bit nerve-racking.

need help finding the right house? I’ve pinned it for you on the map below!

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pay for admission

To thank the lady for leading you through her house, you’re required to pay an “admission fee”. The rate on blogs seems to say 20,000 VND, but I was forced to pay 100,000 VND. I pretended like I only had a 20k note, but she firmly rejected that as an offer. Apparently, with the influx of influencers and bloggers hiking to the viewpoint, the woman has upped the rate— at least that’s what my Grab driver explained to me. Ultimately, 100,000 VND is only a couple of dollars, so it’s up to your budget whether you’d like to spend the extra money or not.

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TRAIL CONDITIONS

I was told to give myself a minimum of 2 hours to hike up and down the viewpoint. I don’t know if my fitness level is higher lately, since I’ve started running again, or what, but it took me less than a full hour to hike up, take photos, and hike down. As the trail is closed to the public, the concrete stairs are not in perfect condition and as the trail progresses it becomes more and more overgrown.

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the reality of my hike up bai tho

In truth, this was the most ridiculous thing I’ve done to catch a view and grab a photo. I don’t know if I caught the woman on a bad morning or what, but she’s wasn’t the sweet old lady that had been described in blogs. She was decidedly grumpy and rushed me over the wired-up gate. The barbed wire fence is dangerous to climb over, especially as the side that’s easiest to throw yourself over hangs over a drop off. I actually scratched my arm on the wire {thank God for a tetanus shot, aye?}. The hike up was more uneven and steeper than I thought, especially since you see so many pictures of people in gorgeous flowing dresses at the top. I also hiked in my Birkenstocks and, while it wasn’t impossible, it probably the safest. Hiking alone, I had to set up the tripod for the shot, but it’s a giant leap from where you have to set up your camera to the best rocks to sit on. The famous green tin roof makes for an easier set up, definitely.

All in all, it wasn’t the safest hike and I’m not sure I’d advise it really. It was an adventure, but it’s also technically illegal and deserted and much harder than it looks to get photos. I think it’s worth the money to book a cruise on Ha Long Bay for the best views of the limestone karsts and the water .


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a guide to hiking bai tho mountain for views of Ha Long Bay
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