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Bai Tho Mountain (Poem Mountain) – The Mountain Of Wonderful Mysteries

Bai Tho Mountain (Poem Mountain), The mountain of wonderful mysteries

What is Bai Tho Mountain?

Referring to the place of Halong, many people will immediately think of Halong Bay, one of the 7 new natural wonders of the world. But this is not the only destination that attracts you when coming to this coastal city. This famous mountain is a familiar check-in place for young people to dragon land. For the people of Quang Ninh, Poem Mountain is located in the heart of the romantic Halong Bay, a proud historical place with beautiful natural scenery.

The mountain is 200m high compared to the sea level, although not too high, it is enough for tourists standing on the top of the mountain to have a panoramic view of Quang Ninh city as well as the entire Halong Bay. Conquering Poem Mountain is not too hard or exhausting as many people think. Because this mountain is not too high, it will only take you about 30 minutes to be able to set foot on the top of the mountain. The best time to see the scenery is at sunset and at sunrise. If you intend to catch the sunrise, climb from about 4:30 am and around 16:00 if you want to catch the sunset.

On the highest peak of Poem mountain, there is a red flag with a yellow star fluttering from the years of resistance against France, a reminder of the tenacious tradition of the Vietnamese people. On the journey to conquer the summit of Poem Mountain, visitors can see hundreds of undulating limestone mountains associated with the legend of the Dragon land. At the foot of the mountain, tourists also visit Long Tien Pagoda and Duc Ong Temple.

At night, you can not only watch the moon shining brightly in a corner of the sky, the twinkling stars are flashing, but also the mysterious Bay in the dark night. Besides, Halong City is shimmering with lights. The air here is fresh and cool all year round, so at any time you can take a climbing trip, conquering the peak of Bai Tho. You will enjoy, immerse yourself in nature, feel peaceful and take shimmering, unique photos!  

THANK YOU!

Poem Mountain Hike (Bai Tho Mountain)

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We thought that the best way to see Halong Bay was by taking a cruise, but believe it or not, we were wrong. Hiking to the top of Poem Mountain, or Bai Tho Mountain as it is locally known, and seeing the cliffs from above was one of the most insane views we have ever seen. Read on to find out exactly how to get this view for yourself!

Seeing the incredible landscape of Halong Bay is usually top of most travellers’ bucket lists when they come to Vietnam. Thousands of towering limestone cliffs rise out of the water and create one of the most unique and spectacular landscapes we have ever seen. There is a hike up Hang Mua Cave in Ninh Binh that offers similar spectacular views and is known as Ha Long Bay on land.

Check out our full guide on a cruise around Bai Tu Long Bay to find out more: BEST BAI TU LONG BAY CRUISE

Witnessing the natural beauty of this landscape from above was absolutely next level. We are used to seeing places from the sky with our drone, but nothing can beat seeing somewhere with your own eyes. The cliffs extend out into the ocean for miles and the sheer number and size of these mini mountains blew us away. We did some great hikes in Vietnam and we’ve done some amazing hikes around the world and this ranks up there with the best of them.

Is Poem Mountain Open to Climb?

Updated December 2019 – It appears that authorities have once again closed Bai Tho Mountain to the public. This has happened many times in the past and the locals have always found a way to provide access to Poem Mountain for a fee. We are hopeful that access will be re-opened soon and we will try to update on here as soon as we know anything. Please let us know if you have any updated information.

Short answer – Yes! Legally, it appears the answer is no, but who ever let something like that stop them anyway?

Getting to Bai Tho Mountain

The Poem Mountain hike can be found in Halong City and we have pinned it below on the map to show you exactly where it is. Most people will be coming from Hanoi where there are daily busses to Halong City. The cheapest and easiest way to get here is by booking a bus with Bookaway. We booked all of our transport in Vietnam with them as they always seem to offer the best rates. You can book a ticket from Hanoi to Halong City here.

If you don’t fancy riding a scooter here, another great option is to take a Grab (popular app for ride-hailing similar to Uber). From the main touristy area of Bai Chay, it is a 15-minute drive to the base of the mountain.

Finding the Entrance

The entrance to the hike is located on Hang Noi street. We had read a few blogs and reviews about the mountain before we went and many of them said how difficult the entrance was to find. To access the entrance to the mountain, you first have to walk up through the house of a local lady. It is the entrance to this house that can be tricky to find.

You really do have to walk right through somebody’s house to reach the base of the mountain. We passed a couple of puppies, headed up the stairs and passed the kitchen and living room and came out into the backyard amongst the chickens.

This is where we finally met the infamous lady who owns the house with access to the mountain.

Entrance Fee

There is no set entrance fee to Poem Mountain. The lady will charge you whatever she feels like and it varies from person to person. We were charged 50,000VND ($2.15 USD) each after trying and failing to barter with her. The couple behind us paid 100,000VND each and we met another couple on our way up who only paid 25,000VND each.

You can try your best to haggle with her, but even if you have to pay 100,000VND per person it is still totally worth it. Plus, we didn’t feel like we had a lot of buying power when she is providing access to the mountain entrance.

Once you have negotiated an entrance fee, it’s time to break into the mountain. Having read numerous reviews, we saw that some people had to climb over barbed wire while others climbed through a hole underneath the main gate. At the time of hiking (June 2019), the authorities had closed both of these access points.

Now you have to scale a 10-foot rock wall and climb underneath the fence. They have literally carved away part of the mountain to allow tourists to gain access. It is a bit of a sketchy climb but the lady will help guide you up by showing you where to place your feet.

Poem Mountain Hike

Depending on your level of fitness, the hike to the top can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour. It took us around 30 minutes to reach the peak. It is not a particularly long hike, but it is straight up and steep the whole way. So although it is quite a short hike, it is fairly difficult. We had to stop every few minutes to catch our breath and drink some water. We went for sunset and even that late in the day the heat and humidity were still a killer.

The first two-thirds of the hike are up cement stairs that are still in very good condition. As it is officially closed, there are several sections where the trees and bushes are overgrown and you have to duck down low and shuffle underneath the greenery to get by. The last part of the climb is along mud and rocks and involves a bit more scrambling, but nothing too crazy.

The Summit

At the top there is plenty of space to hang out and a few different vantage points to enjoy. There were just 4 other people at the summit when we arrived for sunset. It was so peaceful and we love when we only have to share such an awesome place with just a few others.

Best Photo Spots

There is a green hut perched on the edge of the peak that you can climb on to. It looks kind of sketchy but it felt pretty secure to us. We went to the edge of the roof and enjoyed uninterrupted views of the bay. It is a wicked spot to take some seriously cool photos.

Just above this green roof is a rock that protrudes out of the mountain which we clambered to the top of to take some more photos, and again to enjoy the view.

Hike Down

Shortly before the sun set we started to make our way back down. We wouldn’t recommend climbing back down again in the dark as the top part of the mountain has a couple of slippery sections that were tricky to navigate down.

Travel Tips to Know Before You Go

Catch a Grab or rent a scooter – These are both cheap and easy options to reach the entrance to the mountain.

Wear trainers – The top section is difficult enough that you should wear trainers for this hike. Flip flops are not recommended.

Bring water – It is a short but tough climb so you will need to carry some water with you. There are several shops near the entrance where you can buy water before and after the hike.

Take some cash – You will need to pay the owner of the house to reach the entrance. Take a few hundred thousand Vietnamese dong with you just in case she feels like increasing the price that day.

Plan to take 2 hours – To climb to the top, enjoy the views at the summit and make your way back down again, we suggest taking at least two hours. The best time to enjoy the view is at sunset so make sure you time it right so you are not walking back down in the dark.

Pack your camera – Like we mentioned, the views at the top are unreal. Pack your camera so you can take some epic photos to remember your trip. They should look especially good at sunset.

Avoid after heavy rain – As some of the trail is unpaved and muddy, it would be dangerous after heavy rain.

It is moderately difficult – Even though it is short, the constant uphill climb makes this a tough little hike. Prepare to rest every few minutes on the way up.

Where to Stay

We looked at doing the hike on the same day as arriving from Hanoi and setting out for our our cruise around Halong Bay, but we just couldn’t squeeze it all in. It’s worth staying for at least one night in Halong City either before or after a Halong Bay cruise. Even if you weren’t planning on a cruise, it is worth the bus journey out here just for this hike.

Budget: Ha Long Bay Fancy Hostel – We stayed in a double room with A/C which cost 300,000VND ($12.93 USD) per night and included breakfast. The room had a private bathroom and was very comfortable. It is also in a great location right in the Bai Chay area. There are plenty of good places to eat nearby. We recommend the restaurant next to the hostel as it was super cheap and some of the better food we had in Vietnam.

Mid-range: The Bay, Ha Long Homestay – Great value for what you get. The homestay is super clean, well-decorated, with a cute garden patio to relax while still being right in the city centre. The owner and staff are also super helpful with all your tour booking needs.

Luxury: Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long – With a private beach area, swimming pool, tennis court and fitness centre, this resort is the epitome of luxury. Not to mention, it is located on its own private island just off the Bai Chay shoreline.

Disclaimer – This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a small commission if you make a purchase at NO extra cost to you. This will never impact our reviews and we only recommend products and services we firmly believe in. Thanks for your support!

Halong Bay Cruise Recommendation

As most people will do this hike as well as do a cruise, we thought we would offer up our recommendation. We went with Cristina Diamond Cruise and could not have been happier with this decision. Our stay was not sponsored – we paid full price. We just really enjoyed our stay, our guide, Lucky, was fantastic and every expectation was exceeded. We cannot recommend them enough.

This cruise actually visits Bai Tu Long Bay instead of Halong Bay. The landscape is the same, but there are fewer boats here which we thought was fantastic. We did a two-day, one-night trip but would have loved to stay an extra day.

Check out rates and availability for Cristina Diamond Cruise.

Final Thoughts

I’m not sure we can really put into words how awesome the Poem Mountain hike was. Most places we visit are pretty cool and get a couple of thumbs up from us, but this really was next level. I would definitely say it was the single best thing we saw in Vietnam and it’s one of the better views we’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing anywhere in the world.

Most people head straight from Hanoi to do their cruise around Halong Bay and then go straight back again. You’d be mad to miss out on this experience and you should stay at least one night in Halong City so you can do this hike. As it is just starting to grow in popularity, it still doesn’t attract too many tourists.

This is the hidden gem of Vietnam but it may not stay that way for long.

Have you hiked Bai Tho mountain recently? Let us know your experience!

Planning a trip to Vietnam? Check out our other blog posts on the area:

*Please note, prices are a reflection of our experiences while traveling Vietnam in June 2019 and are subject to change. Prices quoted in local currency (VND) were the exact prices we paid and USD conversions are listed for your convenience.

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Bai Tho Mountain: Discover Ha Long From The Top!

When referring to Ha Long, people often think of Halong Bay – the UNESCO World Heritage site with thousands of islands, white sandy beaches, and delicious seafood. It’s certainly packed with things to see – check out our list of top 20 Halong Bay attractions!

Bai Tho Background

Bai Tho Mountain is a limestone mountain 200 meters high, located in the heart of Halong city. This mountain is quite special: half of its foothills rove over the land, and the other half are immersed in the ocean. People have a long history of interpreting the mountain’s shapes to look like a lying tiger, a preying lion, or a dragon preparing to fly.

Culture and History

Not only does the mountain have a high value in regard to tourism, Bai Tho Mountain also has a rich, storied role in the culture and history of this province.

A long time ago, Bai Tho Mountain was called Truyen Dang Mountain (Lighthouse/Light Projecting Mountain). Legend has it that soldiers perched atop the mountain would use their high vantage point to announce oncoming aggressors by lighting up the top of the mountain to warn the city below.

In 1468, King Le Thanh Tong patrolled the northeast coast by boat and stopped at the foothill to drink wine and recite a poem. Touched by the charming scenery of natural mountains and sea, King Le Thanh Tong had the poem carved into a cliff face.

From that time forward, people have chosen to call this place Bai Tho Mountain (Poem Mountain).

How to Get to the Best Viewpoint

This is not the highest mountain in the city, but it is an ideal location for you to admire the entirety of the bay and the city from above. From the central post office downtown, one can easily find their way to climb the mountain.

– Go straight along Le Thanh Tong Street to see Nam Phong Coffee at Hang Noi Town.

– Turn into the opposite road. Bai Tho Mountain road is a small lane and you have to go up through the local houses there. You can ask people here and they are enthusiastic to show you the way to go up.

on the Top

After 30 minutes of hiking, you can rest your feet on the top of Bai Tho Mountain.

Apart from the poem engraved in the stone; you will also be able to enjoy the impressive vista stretching out below. Standing at the top of Bai Tho Mountain, you can see the whole city of Halong.

A small note: if you see signs warning of a misty sky or potential rains, you probably should not go up because there is no shelter. Moreover, when you see the sky is very cloudy, your visibility will be very limited, which makes it difficult to see the sights below.

Have you been up Bai Tho Mountain? Send us in your pics for a chance to be featured in a future post!

» Complete Guide To Bai Tho Mountain (Updated 2022)

Keep reading as I will provide you with the guide to experience Halong Bay on a shoestring budget:

Bai Tho mountain is a huge limestone that stands at the beginning of the bay just in the middle of Halong Bay city. If you’re somehow like me, a person who loves to experience beautiful places, but doesn’t want to be around a hundred tourists in small boat tour, then this article is for you! I was wondering if there is any way to have Halong Bay only for myself. If you add a small budget to that equation, it seems like an impossible thing, but better, believe me, I found a way and it’s called Bai Tho mountain!

Hanoi to Halong Bay by Bus

The ride on the normal bus (referring to the bus that is not a sleeper bus) is very tough and uncomfortable. Usually, it’s a bit overcrowded and people are sitting on the way between the seats. Another thing is that these buses smell really bad and the drivers will just drop you off in the middle of nowhere where taxi drivers will wait.

There are so many tours and agencies that are specialized in the tours from Hanoi to Halong Bay. In my opinion, taking a tour isn’t very expensive and it will cost you around 200,000 dongs (around $10), but if you want to go on the budget, then the bus is the better option. The buses from My Dinh bus station to Halong Bay bus station costs a bit lower than 100,000 dongs. It won’t be that significantly cheaper and I guess the value isn’t near these private shuttles, but at least, you can have food for a day in Halong Bay for that money!

Learn more: Cultural shocks you will experience in Vietnam (and other SEAn countries!)

If you’re located somewhere outside the Old Quarter in Hanoi, the best way to go around is by taking a local bus that costs 7,000 dongs in one direction. Alternatively, I was using Grab so much which is very convenient and cheap compared to regular taxis (Uber in Vietnam). So, if you choose to visit Halong Bay from Hanoi by bus, then I recommend you to check out their official bus schedule and site Vexere for details.

It seems there is a bus line every three hours to Halong Bay, so you’re quite flexible. The bus ride will take around 4 – 5 hours with one stop where you could take a snack or beer to refresh yourself.

Also, don’t forget to check our complete public transport guide about Vietnam. There are some golden tips that can save you time and money while traveling around the country.

A local beer from Ha Noi is always a good choice to refresh yourself on the bus stops!

Note: The bus isn’t the most comfortable one and it smells pretty bad, but at least you’ll get an authentic experience and a few bucks saved! 🙂

Note 2: Don’t get scammed by a bus driver who will tell you to get outside the bus before the station. They will leave you in the middle of nowhere on the main road and that place will be overcrowded by taxi drivers. That’s a nice way to make some money! But again, it’s very easy to bargain!

Never ever accept the first price, especially from taxi drivers as they will usually change their mind pretty fast! When I was traveling back to Hanoi, I took another bus which was kind of VIP with one stop on the market. The bus was very nice and comfortable with only a few passengers and the trip lasted around 4 hours. The price was 100,000 dongs and pay attention to the type of the bus (look for VIP buses).

Best Time to Climb Bai Tho Mountain

You can experience temperatures around 20 – 25C in March which is completely fine if you ask me. I just wanted to add the fact that a visit to Halong Bay was just a few days after I left cold and snowy Croatia!

We climbed Bai Tho mountain twice, to watch a sunset and sunrise. Sunset was a bit misty and foggy which makes a trail a bit slippery, so be careful! When it comes to sunrise, it’s extremely clear without many clouds and you can see thousands of limestones in the bay! When it comes to food, drinks, and accommodation, I was astonished by our hostel price that was only 300,000 dongs (around $13) per night.

The hostel was located on the main street and we had the luck to be on the fifth floor overlooking an infinite number of limestones! Food was a bit pricier than in Hanoi and the portions weren’t so significant. I mainly ate their Banh Mi and Pho. For a can of beer in the town, expect to pay around 30,000 dongs (around $1.3). Anyway, during the stay, I can’t say anything was overpriced or I experienced hordes of tourists, but I noticed slightly higher prices compared to Hanoi which shouldn’t hurt your wallet that much.

How to Find and Climb Bai Tho Mountain

Well, before I did any planning, I was told by so many people to take a boat tour and that would be the best way to experience Halong Bay. At first, I was thinking of getting on a tour, but after some research, I find out that it’s usually overcrowded and you don’t get the value for the money you pay.

The last thing I wanted was sharing the boat with hundreds of tourists!

Luckily, on my arrival in Hanoi, I met an amazing guy Bryan from the Philippines and we shared a similar opinion when it comes to the way of traveling – we were looking for memorable experiences. We headed to Halong Bay absolutely not having an idea what to do and see. We only knew that we were heading to a breathtaking natural wonder. Before we arrived, Bryan stumbled upon a post on Instagram from one upcoming travel blogger with the alternative view on Halong Bay. We instantly agreed that we’re going there! The place is called Bai Tho Mountain (the view really gives you much inspiration!).

See on the map below how to find the mountain:

It’s amazing that this mountain is located in the residual area, but it’s not a very known place as there is no signs or nothing that could tell you where and how to climb it!

Here comes the most interesting part…

You need to navigate the doors of the local house and you basically walk through their house (very warm people) to set your feet on the hiking trail that will lead you to the top. If you thought you would pass through someone’s house for free, you’d be very wrong! We’re in Vietnam baby!

The funny thing is that when these locals show you the way to their backyard, they will start to wave with 50,000 dongs which mean “Give me 50k to climb!”.

Note: Later, we found out that there is a house on the left and the owners will let you through for 25k! 🙂

We went there twice to catch the sunset and sunrise. The sunrise absolutely blew away our minds and the most interesting thing is that only four people in total were there catching the sunrise. It means a whole Halong Bay for us for only $2! 🙂

Alright, now then you have a location and know the details, I bet it’s time for pictures to show you how that hike and view actually looked alike! 

You need to climb to the top of that limestone, but don’t worry, the hike isn’t that tough. Be careful in the morning or afternoon as it becomes a bit foggy and slippery on the steep steps.

This dog will protect the doors where you need to come in. Don’t worry, he will bark but that’s the sign for the owner to come in front and pick you up to the back of the house.

The metal door is the first small obstacle at the beginning of the trail. You will be greeted with a few friendly dogs before your climb.

At the beginning of the trail, there are many stairs, but later, there are not any. In general, it’s not a hard hike, but you should be careful as it can be very slippery to hike there!

First view of Halong Bay city from the stairs. Still far away from the top..

The stairs at the beginning of the trail are very easy to overcome. After a while, you will get to the point where there are not many stairs and you need to use the help of your hands a bit.

After a while, you will get to the point where the path looks like this. It’s nothing especially demanding, but be careful as it can be slippery.

Where to Stay in Halong Bay

A view from the fifth floor of our hostel. Always ask for the fifth floor as you will have a huge balcony for yourself with the view like this! And not to forget, it only costs $13 for a double room.

There are many options to stay in Halong Bay, especially when tourists start to arrive (around May). I went for a budget option again, renting a hostel on the main street in Halong Bay city. The name of the hostel is Halong Bay View Hostel and it acts as a backpacker hub there. The hostel has a small pub with billiards and a restaurant where you could order a coffee, tea or western food.

A view of the hostel from the street. It has a bar and breakfast included in the price. The breakfast is nothing special, but still, any food is better than no food! 🙂

I was so amazed by the view I had from the room. Literally, you could see Halong Bay from the balcony drinking a beer! Also, the price was surprisingly low and it costs only $13 for a night in two-bedroom with breakfast included. However, as I find out later from a German girl, it wasn’t that cheap as she paid around $20 for a night in a nice hotel room with two beds. But anyway, six dollars won’t be that hard on your wallet!

Hope you enjoyed and if you have any additional questions, feel free to reach us out through contact form or directly on social media! Cheers, and wish you an amazing experience in Halong Bay! ):

btw. are you looking for your next destination after stunning Halong Bay?

Check out our Vietnam bucket list according to 14 travel bloggers.