Bai Tho Mountain: The Mountain of Nature and History in Halong Bay

What to See and Do in Bai Tho Mountain in Halong Bay

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: December 27, 2021

You are looking forward to admiring the whole view of Halong Bay from above but cannot afford the price for hiring a helicopter? Don’t worry because right on the edge of Halong Bay, there is an ideal viewpoint for you to enjoy the overview: Bai Tho Mountain. Bai Tho Mountain is not only a natural observatory in the center of Halong City but also a historical monument that has witnessed many ups and downs in the history of this coastal city. 

Tourist on Bai Tho mountain
Source: wyndhamhalong

I. History of Bai Tho Mountain

Like many other mountains and caves of Halong Bay, Bai Tho Mountain was formed millions of years ago, during the Devonian period. Bai Tho Mountain used to be called Truyen Dang Son, or Roi Den Mountain. The name came from its purpose during the resistance of Vietnamese against the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in 1288. On the peak of this mountain, there was an important watch-tower of the army in Northeast Vietnam. On normal days, this watch-tower was used as a lighthouse marking the direction. During the war, whenever the invaders appeared in the sea, the guards would set a fire to inform the army in the capital.

In 1468, on a spring day, King Le Thanh Tong took a journey to this area and stopped at Roi Den Mountain. The king was so impressed at the beauty of nature that he wrote a poem and made his retainers carve on the mountain cliff. Since this event, the locals changed the name of the mountain into Bai Tho, which means “poem”.

261 years later, in 1729, Lord Trinh Cuong, who was a famous poet at that time, visited this mountain. After reading the poem of Kinh Le Thanh Tong, he also wrote another one and carved it on the cliff. From that time to the early 20th century, many visitors came over this area and left their poems on the lumps of rock. Up to now, there are nine poems in total written on the cliff of Bai Tho Mountain.

Also on the top of Bai Tho Mountain, on May 1st 1930, the flag of the Vietnam Communist Party was flying as a symbol of the resilience and spirit of Vietnamese. During the resistance war against the US troops, Bai Tho Mountain played a role as a revolutionary point with an anti-aircraft guard station and an ambulance tunnel.

Through many ups and downs in Vietnamese history, although the inscriptions on the cliff might be eroded by the impacts of nature, the historical and cultural values of Bai Tho Mountain still remain the same. Nowadays, Bai Tho Mountain is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Halong City that captures the attention of both domestic and international tourists.

Highlights of Bai Tho Mountain
Source: wyndhamhalong

II. Highlights of Bai Tho Mountain

Bai Tho Mountain is located at the center of Halong City. This mountain is also a part of Halong Bay, a world heritage recognized by UNESCO; one half of the mountain is on the mainland, and the other part is on the sea. Bai Tho Mountain has a lot of precarious peaks and steep cliffs, and the highest peak is in the shape of a spear which is pointing up to the sky. From different viewpoints, sometimes this mountain looks like a lying tiger, sometimes it is a hunting lion, and sometimes it is in the shape of a flying dragon. All these features give Bai Tho Mountain an ancient and solemn appearance.

The most outstanding trait of Bai Tho Mountain is the poems of visitors coming to this area, and almost all tourists will pay attention to the poem of King Le Thanh Tong. The poem was carved on a flat stone, which is 2.5 meters above the ground. The poem has 8 sentences, each sentence has 7 words, and there are 56 Chinese characters in total carved on the stone.

Nowadays, due to the influence of nature, there are only 35 characters left. Fortunately, based on the ancient documents, the social scientists can still determine the content of this poem. This poem is a praise of the beauty of Vietnamese nature, a declaration of peace in Vietnam, and a call to lay down the weapons and build a peaceful life. This poem is the lifelong ambition of a king as well as the wish from generations of Vietnamese people.

It can be said that there is no place to catch an overview of both Halong City and Halong Bay better than the peak of Bai Tho Mountain. From this point, tourists can catch the majestic view of the world heritage as well as the modern city on the edge of the bay.

On one side of Bai Tho Mountain is Halong Bay with thousands of islands in plenty of shapes and sizes. From above, the islands are like the green oases on an immense lake. Intermixing with the limestone islands are fishing boats and cruise ships sailing up and down in the sea. From the viewpoint of Bai Tho Mountain, tourists will catch all the breath-taking scenery of Halong Bay and understand why this destination was recognized as a world heritage twice.

Also on the peak of this mountain, you can see a bustling and modern city of Halong. The stunning Halong City will appear in front of your eyes with a wide and long road curving along the coastal line, a huge sun wheel from Sun World Halong Complex, a crowded beach with white sand, and a central square of Halong City with many symbolic constructions. There is no doubt that Halong is one of the most beautiful cities in Vietnam, and the view from Bai Tho Mountain is one of the most magnificent scenes you can see in this city.

What to see in Bai Tho mountain
Source: vietnamchronicles

III. What to See and Do at Bai Tho Mountain?

1. Conquering the Peak of Bai Tho Mountain

Bai Tho Mountain is not as high as other mountains in Quang Ninh, but to get to its peak is not as easy as you might think. The path leading to the top of Bai Tho Mountain is quite rough with sharp rocks, and some parts can be very slippery because of moss. Even if you reach the peak, there is no flat ground for you to stand and rest. Therefore, you need to be careful when climbing Bai Tho Mountain.

In contrast to the path full of obstacles, getting to the top of Bai Tho Mountain is a present for all your efforts. An impressive overview of  Halong Bay and Halong City is shown in front of your eyes. From this spot, you might feel as if the whole world was getting smaller, and you were on the top of the world. A gentle wind carrying the breath of the sea blows into your soul and washes away all your exhaustion. When can be more thrilling than this yomost feeling?

2. Visiting in Long Tien Pagoda

Long Tien Pagoda is located at the foot of Bai Tho Mountain. This pagoda was built in 1941, and Long Tien Pagoda is considered as the largest pagoda in the center of Halong City. This pagoda is one of the popular spiritual tourism destinations among both locals and visitors who come to Halong City. This pagoda worships not only the Buddha Gods but also the famous general of Tran Dynasty, who contributed to protect the territory of Vietnam during the feudal period.

A trip to Long Tien Pagoda is a chance for you to know more about the architecture of spiritual constructions in Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty. The atmosphere inside Long Tien Pagoda is quite tranquil and solemn, which will give you peaceful moments for your soul after a long trip. The Long Tien Festival, which is held annually at the end of the third month of the lunar year, is also one of the most significant festivals during spring in Halong City. This is a good opportunity for you to know more about the culture of the local residents in Halong City.  

3. Worshipping Duc Ong Temple

Duc Ong Temple worships Tran Quoc Nghien, the second son of Tran Hung Dao, a famous general of Vietnam in the Tran Dynasty. Like his father, Tran Quoc Nghien was also a talented and brave general, who contributed to the resistance war against the Mongol Yuan. To commemorate his merits, the local fishermen built a temple at the foot of Bai Tho Mountain.

This temple is popular among many domestic visitors since it is well-known as a holy space. Nowadays, Duc Ong Temple is included in the itinerary of many tourists who come to visit Bai Tho Mountain and Long Tien Pagoda. Under the large shadow of various ancient trees, covered by the aroma of incense, Duc Ong Tran Quoc Nghien Temple is such a next stop for you to relax and pray during your trip discovering Halong City.

IV. How to Get to Bai Tho Mountain?

Bai Tho Mountain is located at Hang Noi Street, Hong Gai Ward of Halong City. Since the position of this mountain is right in the city center, it is not difficult to find the way to this tourist attraction.

From the center of Halong City, you follow Le Thanh Tong Street, the turn right to Long Tien Street. You can park your vehicle there and ask the locals the way to get to Bai Tho Mountain. Since the road to Bai Tho Mountain is quite narrow, you had better hire a motorbike and drive yourself rather than going by car or taxi.

This mountain is surrounded by a long hedge, and the only way to get to the mountaintop is to go over the house of a local, so you had better ask for their permission. Bai Tho Mountain is guarded by a middle-aged man and his family, and the entrance of this mountain is also the gate of their house. Therefore, you need not be too surprised when the locals show you the way to a residential area; all the locals there are joining hands to protect and maintain the values of Bai Tho Mountain.

V. Extra Tips

  • You should watch the weather forecast before joining a journey to Bai Tho Mountain. On rainy days, the way to the peak of Bai Tho Mountain is quite slippery and dangerous, so you ought to avoid these days.
  • A sunny day with light wind and gentle sunlight is the best condition for your trip. You should not go out when the temperature reaches 37 Celsius degrees.
  • Prepare your own food and drink because you cannot find these things on the way climbing Bai Tho Mountain.
  • In case the weather can be sunny, you need to bring your hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. 
  • esides, mosquito and insect repellent is also necessary for you.
  • Comfortable clothes and a pair of sneakers are better than dresses and flip-flops or high-heels because some parts of the road are quite rough.
  • You are not allowed to eat the wild fruits along the way to the mountain peak. You might not know if it is safe or not.
  • Climbing the mountain should be taken in a group. You should not go on your own.
  • Don’t forget to protect the environment on Bai Tho Mountain. You are not allowed to carve on the stone steels on the mountain.

Bai Tho Mountain is not the highest peak in Halong City, but it has a favorable position to attract all tourists coming to this city. As one of the most ideal destinations to get an overview of Halong Bay, this mountain leaves an impression on the mind of all tourists coming to this appealing coastal city. 

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