Located eight kilometers south-west of Ha Long City, Tuan Chau is the most beautiful and only populated island among the 2000 islands in Ha Long Bay. It covers an area of 2.2 kilometres square and has a luxuriant pine forest together with two man made beaches of very white, fine sand to the east and south.
Tuan Chau Island
Investments have been poured into the island to turn it into a modern tourist resort. Dao Hong Tuyen, chairman of Au Lac Company, decided to take a big risk and transform the island into a five-star resort. In 1988, Mr. Tuyen spent 80 billion VND to build a 2 kilometre road, the first of its kind in Vietnam to go across the sea, linking the mainland to Tuan Chau.
The island’s lush greenery, white sands and international-standard facilities have apparently attracted many visitors but when we visited in the afternoon, the place was practically deserted. It was a little eerie actually as driving across the link road to the island was followed by a series of winding roads up and down empty, vegetation filled hills, until we got to the entrance of the resort – in front of a near empty car park. There was however, a Vietnamese couple with a photography and make-up team, posing for their wedding photos, as well as the odd visitor here and there.
Tuan Chau Island
Tuan Chau Island apparently includes attractions such as the dolphin, sea lion, and performing-seal club (which is now canceled as the dolphin died apparently), animal circus club, golf course, cultural-sports centre, beach, rural market, ornamental fish lake, hill villas, guesthouses and five 80-room villas by the beach. In 2004, Miss Vietnam was also held here.
It all sounds fantastic, but I guess when there is nothing on, even though we had to pay an entrance fee, its a stark contrast to the description. Taking a little path to the left, just after the entrance, you reach a tethered horse and an elephant.
Both were almost stick thin and its obvious that these animals are meant for visitor’s enterta
inment irrespective of their welfare. Linh read somewhere that animal lovers should stay away from Tuan Chau Island and this visibly ill-treated couple provides the evidence for why. Further inside, there was also a forlorn looking monkey sitting within a small cage.
Tuan Chau Island has an outdoor performance area, dubbed the most magnificent stage in Southeast Asia which takes centre stage at the island. This 12000 seater is home to several marine animal shows as well as a circus and high-tech laser fountain show. We had the opportunity to visit the laser show the previous night but we gave it a miss. Not sure if that was a good idea, since I thought the stage was pretty impressive when empty, so it might have looked fantastic when full. On each side of the stage, there are massive sculptures of dragons slinking their way across the hill.
From 1-Jan-2016 under the local authority order, all cruises embark from Tuan Chau tourist wharf instead of Bai Chay and Hon Gai tourist wharf.