Exploring Cat Ba is one of the must-try experiences that tourists should check when they come to Vietnam. Cat Ba archipelago consists of 367 islands lying in the south of Ha Long Bay, amongst which Cat Ba Island is the most popular tourist attraction. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, Cat Ba possesses the typical scenery of limestone mountains and clear blue ocean.
If you think of having a trip to Cat Ba, the ideal time will be summer. In this season, the weather here is mild from April through October, making it ideal for relaxing and swimming. May to July is the peak season which makes this place a bit overcrowded.
When you plan to visit the island during July and August, check the weather forecast three to five days ahead of time to ensure there will be no storms. The island is relatively uncrowded from November to March. This period, however, is great for exploring nature and other leisure activities.
First, you can drive your own car from Hanoi to Hai Phong and then cross the Tan Vu bridge to get to Got Ferry. The ferry arrives at Cai Vieng port in Cat Hai district, and a 20-kilometer drive takes you to Cat Ba town, the island’s heart. Specifically, the cost is 210,000 VND for highways and bridges, alongside 190,000 VND for ferries (this price is for cars with less than nine seats). The ferry price for motorbikes is 45,000 VND.
If you want to travel from Hanoi by coach, the fare is about 150,000 VND. Then, you can get to the island by ferry with the cost of 12,000 VND per person. Alternatively, you can choose to get a coach which goes directly to the downtown of Cat Ba Island with the price of 250,000 VND each person.
Instead, Cat Hai – Phu Long cable car will help you save time to reach the island. It takes only 10 minutes, instead of 20-30 minutes by ferry. On crossing Tan Vu bridge towards Got ferry station, you enter Cat Hai cable car station according to roadside signs. The round-trip cable car ticket is 200,000 VND per person.
The station has a parking lot. From Monday to Friday, the cable car runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. while on weekends, it runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Motorbike rentals are available for 40,000 VND per hour and 200,000 VND per day. Taxis from Cat Ba downtown run along the scenic route and cost between 200,000 and 500,000 VND both ways.
Lan Ha Bay
Lan Ha Bay is located to the east of the island, and is a member of the Association of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays (MBBW). The sea here is calm and blue.
Particularly, you can purchase visit tickets for 30,000 VND per person at Cai Beo wharf, then board a boat or canoe to Lan Ha. To hire a private boat, you need to pay for 2.2-3.8 million VND for from 2.5 to 4 hours and 5.7 million VND for 6 hours, respectively, and the boat can transport 25 people. Alternatively, motorboats with a capacity of 5 to 10 persons cost between 500,000 and 1 million VND.
To save money, you should purchase a tour, which costs between 200,000 and 350,000 VND per person and includes lunch. All in all, visiting the harbor and ancient fishing villages, bathing and snorkeling at some unspoilt beaches, and freestyle kayaking are all popular activities.
Cat Ba National Park
Overall, Cat Ba National Park is not only a beautiful spot, but also a World Heritage Site designated as a biosphere reserve in northern Vietnam. It is located south of Ha Long, the area includes tropical humid forests, wetlands, mangroves, and coral reef ecosystem types. Therefore, you can climb the mountain for 4 to 8 hours or choose a shorter route that takes less than 2 hours.
Alternatively, you can walk through Kim Giao forest, climb to the top of Ngu Lam mountain for a panoramic view of the park, see wild creatures at night, and explore caverns…
The cost of admission is 40,000 VND for adults and 20,000 VND for children.
Old village Cai Beo
Cai Beo, the 7,000-year-old village, is also known as Vung O, and it is amongst Vietnam’s oldest fishing communities. You can learn firsthand about the activities of residents who lived thousands of years ago. Although the village hides itself in the mountain range, it’s still a hidden gem of Cat Ba. Visiting a raft home, rowing a boat between the floating rafts, or purchasing seafood are all worthwhile experiences.
Quan Y Cave
This is a unique destination, which is about 8.5 km from the town center and on the way to the National Park. The cave is actually a field hospital, built between 1963 and 1965.
Entering the cave, you will be astonished by a system of 17 rooms located on three floors with a treatment room, a rehabilitation training area, a movie theater, and so on. There is a bomb-proof door served during the war.
Tickets to visit the cave are 80,000 VND per person.
A must-see attraction in Cat Ba that you should try is the ruins of Than Cong fortress, also known as Cao Diem 177 when in Cat Ba Island. The top of the mountain has two big cannons and a system of trenches that were built in the 1940s and are still in good condition.
The high elevation, from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of the harbor. This location is ideal for seeing the island’s sunrise and sunset.
The cost of admission is 80,000 VND per person. Guests who require an electric vehicle must pay an extra 50,000 VND per person. Also, a 5,000 VND fee is charged for binocular sightseeing.
It was formerly known as Cat Dua due to the abundance of wild pineapple plants that thrived there. On the island, there are about twenty monkeys. When a large number of tourists arrive, they become more outgoing, going to the beach to play and begging for food.
You can avoid the crowds by visiting the two arc-shaped beaches, Cat Dua 1 and Cat Dua 2. Food service, resort bungalows, bathing suits, life jackets, and kayaks are all available on the beaches.
This place is included in the Lan Ha Bay one-day tour.
Beautiful beaches on Cat Ba Island
If you don’t have time to visit the bay’s islands, head to the middle beaches. Many people flock to the beaches of Cat Co and Tung Thu in this area. These beaches are large, quiet, have clear water with beautiful landscapes.
Tourists can select from a variety of hotels and resorts in Cat Ba, ranging from budget to high-end. Hotels with a view of the sea are located along 1/4 street and Tung Dinh street. These normally cost between 500,000 and 1,000,000 VND per night.
Some typical luxury resorts in Cat Ba are Hotel Perle d’Orient Cat Ba – MGallery, Flamingo Cat Ba Beach Resort, Nam Cat Island Resort CatbaBay, Monkey Island Resort… being in a range of 1,500,000 – 5,000,000 VND/person per night.
Visit ATASTAY to check out some hotels and resorts that you can enjoy during your stay.
Seafood is the primary dish in Cat Ba. For example, specialties such as horseshoe crab, geoduck, lobster, mantis shrimps, all sorts of snails and others are favored among tourists. Furthermore, you can buy seafood as a low-cost gift in seafood markets such as Cat Ba Market. After wandering around, you can have your own seafood meals in a buffet or à la carte in one of several long-lasting restaurants here.
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