Top things to do in Cat Ba Island

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Cat Ba is a massive island, northern Vietnam. There’re plenty of things to do here from trekking to kayaking. Here is a recommended list of destination experts

Cat Ba island is the most famous island in Northern Vietnam which offers numerous sandy beaches and magnificent limestone towers. The scenery is as amazing as its legendary neighbor – Halong Bay.
Millions of tourists come to the island every year. How can you really see the island at its best, experience the same island that everyone else did but in your own way creating an unforgettable memory.

That’s why on the following list we pick activities and places that allow you to create such a memorable trip to Cat Ba Island.

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island

Enjoy a private beach

Having a private beach for you! It sounds like a privilege that only millionaires can have but it is possible in this Vietnam northern island – Cat Ba Island. You can find Countless beaches nestled between limestone mountains on the island. With a high density of beach, it is not so hard to have a private beach to enjoy the peacefulness.  They are small yet clean and sandy beach.

Most of them do not have a name. There is no map can show you specific. The fun is in the way you wander around with your kayak, hitting a beach with no one else on sight.

Cat Ba Beach

Cat Ba Beach

Hospital Cave

The name says it all. It is a secret hospital built into a cave. During Vietnam War, Hospital Cave served as a bomb shelter and a hospital for Viet Cong leaders and injured soldiers.

Constructed between 1963 and 1965, Hospital Cave has three levels and 17 rooms. The first floor is handmade concrete, and the top two levels are mostly natural rock taking advantage of the terrain. The site is situated on the road to Cat Ba National Park, north of Cat Ba Town.

Hospital Cave is an important historic relic of war which you hardly find in other Vietnam island tours.

Entrance to Hospital Cave

Entrance to Hospital Cave

Kayak

Cat Ba island is one of the best places for kayaking. Blocked by limestone mountains, the water current is slow and calm. It is suitable for even beginners to kayak here.

If you do not kayak in the group or have a tour guide, remember not to go too far. You should always be careful with direction. Thousand of limestone towers that look alike can turn into a maze.

Kayak in Cat Ba

Kayak in Cat Ba

Trekking in National Park

Cat Ba archipelago itself is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This proves the biodiversity of nature in the islands. With the total area of 26,241 ha, there are three distinct ecosystems in the island which is home to thousand species of fauna and flora. Many of them are endemic and rare. The most significant creature is Golden-headed langur aka Cat Ba Langur, found nowhere else in the world.

Do a trek through the jungle in Cat Ba to discover the wildlife here, you won’t regret it!

Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park

Bike around the local village

Unlike most of the islands in Halong Bay or Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba island is inhabited by the human, long time ago. They have lived there generations to generations without compromising the nature. The community is isolated from the world. Recently, tourists have been brought to the village.

Due to its impressive natural landscape and fascinating local life, the village quickly becomes a favorite thing to do in Cat Ba island as well as in Vietnam.

Biking is the best way to go around the village. It keeps you active and healthy while traveling.

Bike in a local village

Bike in a local village

Cat Ba Cruise

Cat Ba Island is among the best destinations for cruising in Vietnam as well as Indochina.

Cruise is not a single activity but package of multiple activities including beach, kayaking, national park, biking and more.

Of course, what exactly you will have vary from cruise to cruise. Basically, you will have a chance to visit a limestone cave, kayak (with or without surcharge), enjoy beaches.

There are diverse options for price and type of cruise from low-rate day cruise to top range overnight cruise.

Cat Ba Cruise

Cat Ba Cruise

 

Cat Ba – One of the most spectacular Northern Vietnam Islands

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Located at 60 kilometers far from the center of Hai Phong City, Cat Ba is one of the most favorite Northern Vietnam islands of tourists. catbaisland thinks you should spend 2 to 3 days to visit it as well as enjoy the cool atmosphere of this island.

 

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba seashore

1. When to visit?

The weather in Cat Ba is cool and healthy so tourists can come to the island anytime, in any season in a year. In most cases, domestic travelers will choose summer, which is from May to August, to pay Cat Ba a visit. On the contrary, foreign tourists are likely to go to the island in winter and spring from November to March.

It is usually very crowded on summer weekends. Therefore, if you can arrange the time, weekdays will be the most fantastic period to go for a travel on the island. Also, you will be able to avoid hotels running out of rooms or unsatisfied service quality. 

2. How to get to the island?

Hydrofoil Cat Ba

Hydrofoil Cat Ba

From Hanoi, you can take a coach from Gia Lam, Yen Nghia, or Ha Dong Station to get to Hai Phong City. 100,000 VND (about $4.4) is the average price for a ticket. And from Hai Phong City to Cat Ba Island, you will have two options. One is taking a hydrofoil and the other is getting on a ferry boat. Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages.

If you have a large budget and don’t want to waste time, a hydrofoil will be your perfect solution. Although you have to spend 220,000 VND (about $9.6) for a ticket, it will take you only 45 minutes to get there. Otherwise, you can get on two ferries and arrive at the island after 1.5 or 2 hours. But, they take only 17,000 VND (75 cents) in total.

Another way for you to visit the island is from Ha Long Bay to Cat Ba. It will be very convenient when you make Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba a tour because that is much simpler than when you travel from Hanoi to Cat Ba. You will not have to find your direction, coach, or starting-point.

A touring car will pick you up at your place and drive you directly to Cat Ba. The only thing you have to is to prepare 480,000 VND ($21.15) to pay for your ticket.

3. What to do for fun?

Sea-bathing

From the center of Cat Ba Town, you can take a walk, rent a motorbike or a tramcar to the beaches. There are three beaches for you to enjoy, including Cat Co I, Cat Co II, and Cat Co III. They are not so vast but relatively private. Especially, their crystalline water and long seashore will satisfy you.

Also, the beaches are connected by a small track running along the mountain slope. Cat Co I is quite substantial but very crowded. Meanwhile, Cat Co II and III are narrower and often have fewer tourists. One thing that you should note is that no one takes a sea-bath after 6.30 pm because the tide rises.

Scuba-diving

Red corals

Red corals

The corals in Cat Ba are very rare, unlike those in many other Vietnam islands. On the reefs under Cat Ba, you will find numerous groups of red corals and valuable seafood, such as abalones, pearls, and lobsters. Also, the colorful shoals of fish swimming in the blue water, making the borders of the island one of the most striking places in the world.

If you have a chance to try scuba-diving into the bottom of the sea under Cat Ba Island, you will be immediately blown away by the spectacular marine life. Those are the things that you can only imagine or see on Discovery programs. To experience this special form of entertainment, you can come to Cat Ba Monkey Island Resort Scuba-diving Center.

It charges 1 million VND (about $44) for 30 minutes scuba-diving under the instructions of a trainer.

Becoming one with the nature of Cat Ba National Park

The World Biosphere Reserve – Cat Ba National Park, which have an abundant flora and fauna, is definitely a must-visit destination. If you travel with your children, the park will be an ideal place for them to learn about nature. There are a great number of rare and valuable species still being preserved in the park, such as redhead monkeys, white-head langurs, magpies, and white-collared crows.

You can experience the feelings while walking in the forest and riding a bike along the tracks. The wind blowing through your hair and the fresh air slowly caressing your skin will be the most extraordinary memories of your life. Also, don’t forget to try some special treats of Cat Ba Park, including wild honey and hibiscus tea.

Kayaking to visit Lan Ha Bay

Kayaking is often considered the most exciting Vietnam cruise ever.

Visiting the caves in Cat Ba Island by a kayak will be the most appropriate activity for adventurous travelers. Don’t worry if you never ride a kayak before because it is not difficult at all. You will only need about 5-10 minutes to get used to it. It takes 50,000 VND (about $2.2) to rent a kayak and you can use it all day.

Lan Ha Bay is most stunning in autumn. The mild sunlight shining through the water combining with fresh breezes will make you incredibly relaxed. Most tourists are fond of Lan Ha Bay due to its neglected beauty and sexy peaceful seashore on the foot of the bay. It will make your trip to one of the most spectacular Northern Vietnam islands perfect.

 

Halong Bay Getaway – a perfect escape from the bustling city life

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The majestic beauty of Halong Bay is undeniable. Millions of tourists travel here each year to discover this famous UNESCO World Heritage. The exquisite natural settings of limestone islets and blue sea water of Halong Bay is a huge appeal to both local and foreign tourists.

Halong Bay travel, hence, is usually considered one of the best northern Vietnam tours thanks to the wonderful experience it offers. Lead your way to the following destinations to have the best Halong Bay getaway.

Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Halong Bay – a new Wonder of the World

This new Wonder of the World possesses magnificent scenery with more than 1,600 limestone islands surrounded by turquoise sea water. It is a perfect model of Karst Cave Landscape. Most of the islands and islets there remain intact and unaffected by human activities. Taking a normal Vietnam cruise to Halong Bay, you will have a four-to-six-hour excursion on the Bay and visit the most popular tourist plots such as the spectacular Thien Cung Cave and the beautiful and symbolic Ga Choi Islets.

Sung Sot Cave

Sung Sot Cave

Thien Cung Cave and Dau Go Cave are the must-visit destinations in Halong Bay. The caves consist of majestic karst formations which look like animals in varying poses. With the light reflecting from the water, the caves look even more incredible and awe-inspiring. It would be a big regret if you travel to Vietnam but not pay a visit to these fascinating caves.

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island is the convergence of wild forest and magnificent beaches, offering great experiences for travelers from all over the world. The island, hence, is included in many northern Vietnam tours. Visiting Cat Ba, tourists will have a chance to immerse themselves in the wilderness of nature.

Cat Ba Island

Magnificent beach on Cat Ba Island

Because of the rapid development of tourism, there appear a series of hotels and resorts along its stunning beaches; however, the rest of the island still preserves its untouched scenery. The beaches (Cat Co 1, 2, 3) are not only perfect for swimming but the colgate-white sandbanks are also ideal for couples to walk hand-in-hand and watch the sunset together.

The rainforest in Cat Ba National Park is another attraction of the island. Travelers will walk through dense jungles, come across streams, and see different types of flora and fauna of the tropical forest. Climbing up the rocky mountain and visiting some marvelous limestone caves are also interesting. Not only do the cave look wonderful but the surroundings are also awe-inspiring.

Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay from above

Known as the twin of Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay is an undiscovered land with perfect seascapes. However, unlike its famous neighbor, Lan Ha Bay has long been famed for its exclusive scenery with an intense concentration of pristine limestone mountains by which the sea surface is partitioned into smaller bays and gulfs. If you are worried about the dense flocks of tourists in Halong Bay tour, Lan Ha Bay is where you should head your way to. 

Nestled to the south of Cat Ba Island, the Bay is home to many pristine sandy beaches. Many of them stand between two mountains. It would be extremely relaxed to dive into the azure-blue water or lie on the soft sandy beach after a long day of exploration.

Watch the sunset on cruise

Watch the sunset on cruise

Lan Ha Bay is the perfect place for an overnight voyage and other activities. It is wonderful to watch the glorious sunset on the Bay, to have dinner at a secluded beach, or watch the night sky full of blazing stars and enjoy the fresh air. The romantic scenery of Lan Ha Bay by night is extraordinarily perfect for couples.

Kayaking on Lan Ha Bay

Kayaking on Lan Ha Bay

Another fascinating activity to do in Lan Ha Bay is kayaking. You will have the chance to paddle the kayak around the turquoise sea water of the East Coast, explore the caves, and visit the less-visited areas. The awe-inspiring seascapes will definitely blow your mind away.

Naturally blessed with the exquisite scenery of aqua-green seas and limestone islets, Halong Bay is definitely a should-visit destination in any northern Vietnam tours. Paying a visit to Halong Bay, you will be amazed by the incredible beauty of the bay and forget all the stresses of the bustling life. Strolling on the stunning beaches, enjoying the tropical sunshine, and kayaking to the secluded areas, your trip to Halong Bay will surely leave an everlasting memory.

 

What to eat in Cat Ba Island Food Tours

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Well-known for the unique cuisine, Vietnam is a perfect destination for foodies. There are many Vietnam food tours available to choose, and a food tour to Cat Ba Island is one of the best options. Not only is the island renowned for its perfect natural settings of karst caves, stunning beaches, and diverse ecosystem, Cat Ba is also famous for its fresh seafood. There are plenty of delicious dishes made from seafood that would satisfy your taste buds.

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island

Similar to most of the islands and coastal areas, fishing is the main occupation of the locals in Cat Ba. You can easily catch the image of fishing boats or floating fishing villages along the coast and among the limestone islets on the nearby Bays. Therefore, the seafood is extraordinarily fresh and will definitely whet your appetite. The best dishes in Cat Ba Islands that you should not miss are as follows:

Geoduck

Geoduck is a rare kind of mollusk which has very high nutritional value and is proved to be exceptionally good for man. In addition to its significant health value, geoduck has a really good taste.

Geoduck

Geoduck – a Cat Ba specialty

There are many different ways to cook geoduck: salad, grilled, porridge, and especially, spicy-steamed. The taste of the dish depends on the additional ingredients such as onion, garlic, and chilies. The taste is really lip-smacking.

King crab

King Crab

King crab

This big-sized kind of crab is possessed into several dishes such as salad, steamed king crab, sweet and sour crab foot, and baked crab egg. The dishes are often served with chilies, onion, garlic, fresh herbs, etc. The savory taste of these delicacies would definitely grab your taste buds.

Song fish

Song fish is a fish which only lives in the warm water of the Pacific Ocean. There are about 37 species of Song fish and many of them are of significant nutritional and economic value. Especially, the three types of Song fish: “song mo”, “song den”, and “song cao” in Cat Ba Islands are among the top dishes that travelers should not ignore when having Vietnam food tours. Song fish soup, hot pot, steamed and grilled fish are some recommended dishes made from Song fish that you should sample.

Sea snake

Sea snake

Grilled sea snake

Sea snake is found only in the Indian or Pacific Ocean. It has a long (about 1.2 meter) and thin body and is often mistaken for eel and conger. Sea snake is said to be a very nutritious food. It has the delectable taste when being grilled.

Lobster

Lobster

Grilled lobsters

Renowned as the king of seafood, lobster is a favorite food of almost every tourist when having a Cat Ba food tour. Lobster is rich in protein and low in fat and calories. The meat and the mud (inside the head) has a great flavor that would satisfy all customers. Lobsters can be cooked in different ways: steam, grill, fry, and make salad.

Shrimp vermicelli

“Pho” (Vermicelli) is what pops up in foreigners’ minds when talking about Vietnam cuisine, and Cat Ba Island has its own variant of this dish. What makes Cat Ba’s “Pho” different from others is the main material: shrimp. Not only is it used to make broth but shrimp is also the main topping. The mouth-watering dish consists of vermicelli, shrimp, tomatoes, onions, and grilled fish. These things altogether create a colorful dish with blissful smell and taste.

Shrimp vermicelli

Shrimp vermicelli

Travelers can try the fresh seafood at any eateries along the coast. They offer delicious dishes at a reasonable price. If you are seeking a more unforgettable moment, you can try cooking and eating seafood on a secluded beach while discovering the Bay. It is wonderful to eat seafood while watching the sun going down.

Of course, there is not only seafood in Cat Ba Island. Thanks to the development of tourism industry, many restaurants, hotels, and resorts have been built. They provide travelers with different kinds of food, from seafood, top Vietnam food to western delicacies. But honestly, nothing can defeat seafood. It would be a big regret to leave the beach without trying seafood, right?

On the whole, the charming beauty of Cat Ba Island lies not only in its spectacular landscape but also in its special cuisine. This is absolutely a perfect destination for Vietnam food tours.

The best dishes to try in Cat Ba Island & where to find them

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As the biggest island of world-renowned Halong Bay, Cat Ba is one of the most famous Vietnam northern islands. Featuring magnificent limestone towers which rise above the jade emerald water, this island is a paradise for vacation.

Maybe you already got Cat Ba on your travel list, and you can find a dozen of travel guide to Cat Ba online. However, if you are a foodie traveler and want to know what to satisfy your taste buds here, this article is for you.

This article from catbaisland will introduce you the best dishes to taste and where to find them. We also suggest some tips for a Cat Ba food tour.

Cat Ba Harbor

Cat Ba Harbor

The best dishes in Cat Ba Island

With a long coastline, seafood is a crucial part contributing to Vietnam exquisite cuisine. In the north of Vietnam, you cannot find any other places with better seafood than in Cat Ba Island.

Here is a list of best dishes that you must try:

Seven dishes of horseshoe crab

This is the signature dish of Cat Ba. From only one main ingredient which is fresh horseshoe crab, seven different dishes are made with distinct taste. Seven dishes of the horseshoe crab is a must for any foodies traveling to Cat Ba

Grilled Horseshoe Crab

Grilled Horseshoe Crab

Geoduck

If horseshoe crab is the first, then geoduck must be the second dishes in your Cat Ba food bucket list. Many different recipes can be made out of geoduck, but steaming is the best way to taste it. Served with a well-mixed fish sauce, none can deny a meal with steaming geoduck.

Geoduck

Geoduck

Sea bass

Sea bass is a kind of fishes living in warm water zone. There are total 37 different kinds of seabass. In Vietnam, there are 30 of them raised throughout the country. Cat Ba Island owns three types of seabass with high nutritional values which are cooked into many tasty dishes such as Sea bass soup, steaming, hot pot.

Shrimp noodle (Bun Tom)

Vietnamese noodle, in general, is world-wide famous for a long time. In Cat Ba Island, there is one type of noodle that is so special that many connoisseurs have come to taste.

Cat Ba shrimp noodle use fresh shrimp caught in the local area. It is believed that there is a secret formula that makes the distinct taste of the broth.

If you are going on a culinary tour through Northern Vietnam, you should make a stopover in Cat Ba just to try this unique noodle.

Bun Tom

Bun Tom (Shrimp Noodle)

Where to find them?

Finding the right place to eat is the key of a food tour

If you are on a tight budget but still want to try as much food as you can, food stalls within Cat Ba Central Market are where you should come.

For those who want local seafood but also prefer some European courses on the menu. Bamboo Cafe (1 Thang 4 Street, Cat Hai District, Hai Phong Province) can be a good bet.

Family Bakery (no.194, 1 Thang 4 Street) is the place to taste the best caramel of Cat Ba. The shop is open from 7.am to 4.pm.

Floating restaurant

Floating Restaurant

If you are with a group, you should try to eat at floating restaurant. There will be a boat to get you there and take you back the harbor. However be aware that the price can be higher than the restaurants on land.

Tips

  • Research and make a list of what you want to try first. Search for the price of each dish on the list beforehand.
  • You are likely to be overcharged at street food stalls. So ask for the menu or price before ordering anything.
  • There is a way to enjoy Cat Ba seafood with much less cost and better quality. Go to the Cat Ba Market and buy seafood yourself. You’d better go with someone who knows how the local or you can go alone but make sure to bargain before paying money. Then bring raw food to your hotel’s restaurant and pay them to cook your meal.
  • A typical meal with one main course and vegetable which Vietnamese people call “Com Binh Dan” cost you around 100,000vnd/meal/person. You should not expect much from these kinds of meal.
  • Don’t hesitate to try any food stall or restaurant you find interested when traveling this Northern Vietnam island. You might figure out the best one with the best dishes ever which are off the recommended list.

 

A guide to Cat Ba travel

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Only 150km away from Hanoi comes the loveable Cat Ba island, a magnetic tourist destination for inbound visitors and travelers from all world’s corners alike. Cat Ba islands is a rich natural ecosystem which includes terrestrial and marine, boasting up to incredibly 350 limestone outcrops.

Since 1998, Cat Ba island has grown rapidly and become a familiar pick for travel enthusiasts. Follow the insights given below for more details into Cat Ba travel guides.

When to go?

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba island

Summer and winter are considered the two peak seasons when this lovely island welcomes huge numbers of visitors. Hot summery days is the time when Cat Ba island welcomes a lot of Vietnamese families who enjoy their summer vacation here as a rewarding gift, especially for themselves after months of industrious work. In winter; however, there are more international tourists than the locals. Tourists from all over the world come for a 2-day-1-night trip or stay for more than 3 nights on the islands to discover such places of interest as Cat Ba national park or visit, learn and live one day as the locals at villages in Viet Hai district.

How to get there?

Transportation from and to Cat Ba island is flexible, from public tourist boat, speed boat, cab, to plane. You can also reach the island by bus. All those transportation are available and depends only on your depart location.

Where to stay?

For those travelers seeking for relaxation and comfort, there offers several 3 and 4-star resorts with well-appointed amenities and excellent services. Those accommodations are ideal places to get chilled, refresh and recharge yourself, get ready to go discover the sheer beauty of the island.

What to do?

Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park

National Park is the first stop you should consider visiting. Here, you will have a chance to discover the richness of local fauna and flora inclusive of roughly 100 endangered ones. In addition, interesting out-door activities like hiking, trekking to the breath-taking peak viewing tower, as well as walking near the frog lake will really make your day!

Caves and beaches: for adventure-seeking travelers, what could be better than embarking on a 2 days/1 night cruise to explore small hidden beaches among stunning limestone cliffs and surrounding natural caves? A short visit to Monkey Island is also highly recommended.

Staying at local houses and living like the locals for 1 or 2 days will definitely a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience in which you can indulge yourself into local culture, try their food, learn about their daily life and activities. Amazing!

Where to shop?

If you ask me is there anywhere in Cat Ba island to go for a shopping, my answer is no. Yes, there isn’t any certain mart or supermarket or shopping mall here, but instead, there are active outdoor local markets where inhabitants run their daily errands. Trust me, it will be a new and fantastic experience to see alive seafood, meat, fresh vegetables, fruits, as well as items such as clothes, household gadgets, etc.

Where to dine?

Food in Cat Ba

In waterfront of Cat Ba harbor, there are plenty of affordable yet delicious restaurants. Some of the best-reviewed ones are Green Mango (near the eastern edge of town, serves Indian, Thai and Vietnamese dishes), Mr. Zoom hotel and restaurant (at 25 1/4  Nui Ngoc street) Phuong Phuong restaurant (at 232, 1/4 street).

Hopefully, these above-mentioned information has given you a closer look at Cat Ba island travel guides. Your time spent in Cat Ba island is bound to be among the most valuable and unforgettable ones in your lifetime.

Top must-do-things in Cat Ba Islands

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If you are planning to pay a visit to Halong Bay, Vietnam, don’t forget to spare your time embracing the gorgeous natural beauty of Cat Ba, an attractive island within the area of Halong Bay that welcomes huge numbers of visitors every year.

In addition to the sheer beauty adorned by Mother Nature, Cat Ba islands have amazing activities on offer, a perfect spot to chill, relax and indulge in outside activities. Check out the list below for closer insights!

Check out Cannon Fort

Cannon Fort

The first must-do-thing in Cat Ba Islands to be recommended is to head out and reach the famous Cannon Fort – a breath-taking tourist destination lying on top the Cat Ba Island’s jungle-clad hill. You will definitely be amazed by the panorama views outlooking colorful tangles of fishing boats in the faraway harbor as well as the karst-punctuated sea beyond. More importantly, there is a lot of history buried here, at the Cannon Fort, such as the tunnels and gun emplacements. This is an ample opportunity for you all to learn something about Vietnam history!

Wander into the Hospital Cave

Hospital Cave

Taking a slow walk around the Hospital Cave is another interesting and meaningful thing you should do in Cat Ba Islands, especially for those who have a background in medicine. During the American War in Vietnam, Hospital Cave served both as a safe house for VC leaders and a secret, bomb-proof hospital. Since its construction in the 1963s, this incredibly well-built three-story feat of engineering, with 17 rooms inclusive of a huge natural cavern and an old operating theatre, was in constant use up until 1975.

Take a look at Butterfly Valley

Butterfly Valley

Butterfly Valley

There are not as many butterflies here as you would imagine but Butterfly Valley is surely a place of romance. If you are a nature lover, I bet you will love the stunning landscape around and fall even harder with the atmosphere here. It is absolutely peaceful and calm. What an ideal stop for relaxation! Although Butterfly Valley is a little way off and hard to reach, visitors flocks here every year to enjoy the amazing gift of nature. Bring your camera along to capture one of the most memorable moments with your loved ones!

Visit monkey island

monkey island

Last but not least, visit the surprising monkey island to fully enjoy Cat Ba travel. As can be referred from the name, this island has myriads of naughty, yet lovely monkeys. Your kids are bound to get excited looking and playing with those animated animals. However, watch out because the monkeys may steal your food sometimes! There is also a lot more at Monkey Island than just solely monkeys. A walk to the peak will not only enhance the bond with your companions but it also offers amazing views of Halong bay from above. Such a rewarding experience!

Suggested above are some must-do-things in Cat Ba Islands. Hopefully, that information will be useful in your coming vacation in Vietnam and don’t forget to share your wonderful experience with catbaisland.

Cat Ba Bay Cruise Tour – Entrance to the green lung of the world

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You are gasping of the city’s dusk and smoke; you are looking for more fresh air and an escape for a while; you are having the intention of lifting your butt off the chair? Leave your city behind and take a cruise tour in Cat Ba Bay, you will definitely bring yourself some air from the green lung of the world.

1. Cat Ba Bay – another holder of the world’s vitality

Dashingly heading to the North of Vietnam, travelers will discover another magnificent wonder of the world nestling itself calmly near Ha Long Bay, cradling all of its evergreens to the heart as dearly as it used to. In some ways of calling, it is preferable to use “bay”, but Cat Ba is actually an archipelago consisting of 367 small islands, in which Cat Ba island lying about 25 km from Ha Long Bay is related to the historic legend of Vietnamese folks.  

Cat Ba Archipelago

Cat Ba Archipelago

Cat Ba Bay is more than just a beauty to be preserved. Its people praise it not only for its originality of the wild and majestic nature of natural grey mounts and infinitive green forests but its significantly high natural value as the arsenal of the world’s vitality recognized by the UNESCO. For many people, Cat Ba Bay is not just an archipelago, it is a white pearl hidden its purity in layers of dust and sand. 

Amongst great numbers of amazing sub-islands in the bay, Cat Ba is the most magnificent in size and is also the largest island compared to more than 1 000 ones in Ha Long Bay. Cat Ba is also known as the pearl island owning the beauty of both history and the wilderness. The name “Cat Ba” is actually a slang of “Các Bà”, which means “The ladies”. The essence of the name is easily explained. Vietnam, as well as most other Asian countries, has numerous mysterious mists and legends. Cat Ba island is rumored or in fact, has a connection with the story of Gióng – the God of war riding with his iron horse, who helped Vietnam fought against its enemy in the past. Besides Cat Ba Island, there is Cat Ong Island and “Cát Ông” is the slang of “Các Ông” which means “The Gentlemen”. In the fight of Gióng, at the island, the gentlemen helped Gióng in fighting the enemy while on this side, the ladies were on another island to assist them. That is why the two islands were named this way.

Visiting the bay, not only can you capture the beauty of nature in your eyes, but you can also be the participant of various intriguing festivals, in which “The Fishing Village” on the 1st of April which marks the milestone when Uncle Ho dropped by the fishing village and “The Lady Temple” are two highlights of the local festivals.

2. Great time to go on a Cat Ba Bay Cruise Tour

Usually, the best time to travel to Cat Ba is in the summer from June to July because it is a great season for discovering the islands and go to the beach. However, most foreign travelers often go to Cat Ba from November to March whether local travelers usually take the tour from April to October. If you travel to Cat Ba in spring, especially at this time of the year, remember to bring along lumber-jacket in case it gets cold at night.

3. Cat Ba tour from Hanoi

If you travel from Hanoi to Cat Ba Bay by tour, there will be numerous of ways and agents for you to book from. For Cat Ba is located near Hai Phong city, which is not far from Hanoi,  it will only take about 2-3 hours to get to the city. From here, tourists will travel on a cruise to the bay. Usually, people will spend about 2-3 days in Cat Ba. Normally, tour to Cat Ba Bay from Hanoi is a whole package covering you from A to Z. An ordinary tour pack will often have common timeline Hanoi-Cat Ba-Hanoi.

The price for a day tour in Cat Ba is very cheap and affordable in the variety of Vietnam tours. Some tour operators even offer a free tour for children from 1 to 4 years old and discount for children from 5. A 2-day-1-night round trip from Hanoi to Cat Ba will normally cost from 1.500.000 dongs per person. Because Cat Ba archipelago includes mostly islands, so it will be more suitable for relaxing and participating in sea-side activities than visiting all the destinations because it will be very time-consuming.

For Cat Ba, we advise that you should book a full tour package from Hanoi since the destination is archipelago so you will have to travel on a cruise a lot; a great tour guide in the trip will also be more helpful. Therefore, a tour should cover you better than traveling on your own.

However, if you still want to have the trip by yourself, you can go on a coach from Hanoi to Hai Phong and from Hai Phong to the bay. There are many coach agents around Hanoi, most coaches offer around 47 seats and the ticket price ranges from 80 000 dongs. 

Coaches you can take

Coaches, you can take

From Hai Phong, there are three ways that you can choose either to get to Cat Ba Bay: travel by ferry, travel by bullet train then take a bus or coach or travel by hydrofoil boat.

For the first option, you can travel from Hai Phong to Đình Vũ harbor by taxi or car; from there, buy a ticket and take two ferry trips. The first one will begin at Đình Vũ harbor, you will then travel to Gót station in about 45 minutes. From Gót, take another ferry to Cái Viềng station and travel another 20 km by car or taxi from there to Cat Ba Bay. 

Ferry from Hai Phong to Cat Ba

Ferry from Hai Phong to Cat Ba

For the second one, you travel from the center of Hai Phong to Bính Station. From Bính, you can choose either to travel by speedboat or hydrofoil boat to the bay. For most tourists who prefer to go cheap, they will usually choose to travel by speedboat – the Hadeco with the price from 200.000 to 250.000 dongs per person. However, Hadeco only takes you to Cái Viềng station, from Cái Viềng, you must take a bus to the bay. The hydrofoil boat will take you straight from Bính to Cat Ba.

4. Cruise tour in Cat Ba Bay

As mentioned above, there is nothing much in Cat Ba except for islands, lots and lots of islands! For that reason, traveling to Cat Ba Bay is similar to a journey of exploring different kinds of islands and get yourself a good time relaxing and enjoying life as a true seaside local. Most of the tour will be traveling on a cruise from the harbor to different islands. Normally, it will take one day or two to travel to most main islands in the bay, exploring different caves and enjoy different activities at night by the sea such as dancing or camping. A cruise tour to Cat Ba Bay at day will mostly include traveling to different islands such as Cat Ba Island, Monkey Island, Cat Ong Island and so on.

In the afternoon, you can either choose to have lunch on board, they serve great seafood here with a considerable price or choose to eat out at near restaurants. However, you should have lunch on board because it is safer, cheaper but still very appetizing.

At night, you should gather around by the beach, light up the fire and have an outdoor party. Sometimes local people on the island offer fire dancing and wonderful games to enjoy at night. If you travel on special occasion, you are lucky enough to take part in some festivals.

Where to stay in Cat Ba?

Most people traveling a long day trip from 2 to 3 days will wonder where to stay when there are so many islands. If you are traveling with a travel agent, do not worry because the tour pack has all you need for accommodation that most fit the itinerary. If you tend to travel on your own, you can take a look at this list.

Catba Island Resort & Spa (4-star hotel)

As a 4-star hotel, the quality and service are worthy of its reputation. If you want a fine place for relaxation, come to Catba Island Resort.
Address: Cát Cò 1, Cát Bà Island, Cát Bà Archipelago
Price range: From $50

Monkey Island Resort (3-star hotel)

Monkey Island is a great isolated one in Cat Ba Archipelago. According to ratings, a Monkey is a fine place with great view and appropriate service for a 3-star.
Address: Beach 2, Monkey Island, Cát Bà Archipelago
Price range: From $50

Hung Long Harbour Hotel (3-star hotel)

Located near the crowded market, Hung Long Hotel will definitely bring you much joy while staying in the place.
AddressL #268, 1st April Street, Cát Bà Archipelago
Price range: From $40

Activities at night

There are many things that you can do when the night falls on Cat Ba Bay. Most people will make use of their night to walk along the beach with their lovers, family or even alone. Some even throw a party near the seashore. You can make yourself some BBQ while enjoying a night of chill.

While some want to play it safe, some want to go beyond the border. One of the must-try experience, when you travel to Cat Ba, is to rent a kayak, then sail to Lan Hạ Bay and camp there for the night.

Camping at night

Camping at night

If you stay near the market, you can also go to the night market nearby to get yourself some souvenirs.

In addition, you will absolutely love renting a bike for two to ride around the town. With only 50.000 dongs, you can totally enjoy a fantastic night of your own.

Going to the bar or staying at a café is a really cool activity at Cat Ba. Most foreigners enjoy this kind than the others. Despite whatever activities you choose, Cat Ba will always bring you joy along the way.

5. Destinations of great amazement in Cat Ba Bay

Cat Ba Beaches

There are lots of different beaches in Cat Ba such as Cát Cò 1, 2, 3 are the three ones located near the center, in which, Cát Cò 2 is always praised for its beauty with the pure and crystal clear water. The isolated Monkey Island is a really amazing one with a wonderful beach of deep blue water. If you stay on the island, you can visit the beach every day and you can even participate in parachuting, scuba diving and surfing here. The price for these ranges from 500.000 dongs. However, you should always remember that “safety’s first”. You can either catch a taxi or go on foot if you are near the place. It is advisory that you get to the shore before 6:30 pm because it is when the tide rises.

Cat Ba beaches

Cat Ba beaches

Monkey Island

This wonderful island is a great place you should stay if you decide to get yourself a place in Cat Ba. Originally, the place is called Monkey Island because little monkeys usually come down to the beach to enjoy their day. Furthermore, if you want to enjoy diving in a nearby center, a coach will guide you with the price of 1 000 000 dongs for 30 minutes.

Monkey Island

Monkey Island

Lan Hạ Bay

Lan Hạ Bay is one of the most popular destinations in Cat Ba Archipelago. Especially for travelers who love some adventures and a little bit of challenge on the way, Lan Hạ will definitely a must-see destination on their way. Lan Hạ is such a wonderful place which now has still kept the pure silhouette of nature with white sand dunes, the antique and majestic limestones and ranges of mountains covering the bay. The most-chosen activity here is kayaking. People would love to take a kayak tour and sailing around the bay. Sometimes, they even stay the night camping there. Price for the whole package of a kayak tour is about $10 but if you want to take a tour to see some colorful corals, it will range around $15 to $20.

Cái Bèo Old Fishing Village

Sailing kayak from Lan Hạ Bay, you can easily get to Cái Bèo old fishing village. Cái Bèo is the oldest village in the area. This place is not so crowded or busy but the people are always friendly and so is the village. The villagers will always ready to take you for a trip to feel the peaceful life of the bay.

Cát Bà National Garden

Cat Ba national garden is one of the places that you must visit. This is exactly the center of the green lung where the world’s vitality is stored. The garden consists of nearly 1 000 floral species in which many should be highly preserved. Besides the great natural sites, you can also drop by some wonderful caves such as Trang Trung or the Bat Cave. The entrance fee to the national garden is around 15.000 dongs. With just only 15.000 dongs, what you will receive in mental value is even more.

Thần Công Fortress

Located on a 177-meter mount, Thần Công is a historical attraction which accompanied with Cát Bà people in two great fights against the French and the American in the 40s of the 20th century. Up until now, the two cannons are still being preserved and displayed for visitors. From the fortress, you can also discover many other beauties from the height of nearly 200 meters.

 

Cat Ba travel reviews

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Referred to as the “Pearl Island” (Dao Ngoc in Vietnamese), Cat Ba is the biggest and the most famous island in Halong Bay, an island more beautiful than what you could have ever imagined. With deserted beaches, gentle coastlines, rugged limestone mountains, and jaw-dropping sunrises and sunsets, Cat Ba Island in Haiphong City in Northern Vietnam is as close to a tropical idyll as you will find in Southeast Asia.

Things to do on Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island

When you are on Cat Ba beach, the first thing you think is that it is like something straight out of a postcard. It offers clean blue water and strengthened white sand as far as you can see and pristine charm despite the influx of visitors!

Cat Ba Island is a place where you can explore white clean sand beaches. Cat Ba’s waters are absolutely spectacular – warm, clear, crystal blue without rough waves that are perfect for swimming, diving, sport fishing, and more.

Indulge in some interesting water activities

Diving in Cat Ba

Diving in Cat Ba

Where there are islands, there is water, and Cat Ba has a wide range of water sports and outdoor activities in which you can take part. No matter what you choose to enjoy the waters of Cat Ba Island, be safe.

For those who want to discover the mysterious undersea world, there are a lot of red coral reefs, colorful flocks of fish together with varied rare sea creatures such as dragon shrimp, abalone, pearl, lobster making it a perfect spot for diving. Get ready to dive into open waters, feel the sweet spot of neither sinking nor floating and see with your own eyes the fantastic and exceptional beauty of the marine life. What a truly incredible experience!

Visit quaint fishing villages

Viet Hai fishing village

Viet Hai fishing village

Not only by the sea that surrounds it, the beauty of Cat Ba is also defined by its cultural jewel. To get a true taste of island life, head to Viet Hai fishing village – located approximately 18 km from Cat Ba Island. The warm-hearted and smiley fishermen make it a destination that ought to be on your bucket list. One night at one of the homestays here is recommended to know more about a community of people living on boats and to discover the secrets of the sea.

Experience rock climbing

Rock climbing

Rock climbing

If you want to get a whole body workout, a sun tanning, some quality time spent with your friends or loved one, and a refreshing mental challenge, there is no better choice than rock climbing. It is also such a great way into the world of adventure sports and to admire the karst landscape and amazing sea cliffs of Cat Ba Island. There are a lot of climbing routes and the best of which are Ben Beo Wall and Butterfly Valley together with Offenheimer’s Creation and Slo Pony at Tiger beach.

From crystal blue waters to spectacular karst landscape, Cat Ba Island is an adventurer’s paradise. There is never a shortage of destinations to visit, sights to see, and things to do.

Discovering Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park

With 30 national parks in 63 provinces, there is a good chance you will not have to travel far to find a National Park to explore in Vietnam. Among them, Cat Ba National Park is outstanding for its pristine abundant biodiversity. The wonders on display in Cat Ba National Park go far beyond a few bushes and trees.

Recognized by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve, Cat Ba national park has nearly 60 exotic animal and plant species of animals in Vietnam and the world's Red Book including chamois, kingfisher, bile, cao cat, yellow monkey, and the highly endangered golden-headed langur.

Millions of Europeans flock to this Northern Vietnam island every summer, but Cat Ba still exhibits a laid-back charm. Depending on which type of vacation you take, you will certainly find classic Gulf of Tonkin’s blue waters, incredible mountain views, and its cultural offerings. If you have ever dreamed of being a castaway in Northern Vietnam, Cat Ba Island is for you.

Top 5 best shelters for tourists on Cat Ba Island

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Cat Ba Island is one of the most well-known destinations for tourists in Vietnam. Numerous resorts, hotels, and homestays have been grown since people discovered the potential of tourism here. And today, we are going to find out 5 worthiest places for you to stay on the island.

1. Sunrise Cat Ba Resort

Cat Ba sunrise resort

Cat Ba sunrise resort

For a Vietnam luxury tour, Sunrise Cat Ba Resort is an excellent option. Located on Cat Co Beach, which is about 1 kilometer away from the city center, the resort is surrounded by ranges of limestone-mountains and clear blue sea water. Therefore, it will take you only 6 minutes to walk to the beach.

Also, every room in this resort is quite large. You will love the big windows, hardwood floor, and the nice view of the beach, swimming pool, and gardens. You will find various modern conveniences in your room as well, such as air-conditioners, personal safes, televisions, and mini-fridges.

A private bathroom, which is paved with marble, is available in each room. Free toothbrushes, toothpaste, and slippers are all provided by the room service. If you wish to relax after a long day of traveling, spas, workout rooms, and karaoke are always ready for use. Just book a room at Sunrise Cat Ba Resort and you will not be disappointed.

  • Address: Cat Co 3 Beach, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
  • Price: 2,000,000 – 2,500,000/night ($87.96-$109.95/night)

2. Hung Long Harbor Hotel

Hung Long Harbor hotel

Hung Long Harbor hotel

As a high-quality accommodation for tourists to go on holidays, Hung Long Harbor Hotel is very famous. Not only do regular travelers come here for vacations but businessmen are also extremely fond of the hotel. It is very close to the city center, which is about 0.5 kilometer. And it takes only about 25 minutes to drive to the airport.

You will find no difficulty moving to popular landscapes of the city from Hung Long Harbor Hotel. Besides, services here are incredibly outstanding. Luxurious conveniences are perfect and can satisfy the pickiest guests. There is a spacious entrance hall, luggage storage, and restaurant right in the hotel.

Also, guest service teams and porters are always obtainable to provide you the best experiences. And if you travel with your family, you will love going fishing or hanging out in the garden and children playground. All of them are special services that Hung Long Harbor Hotel offers.

  • Address: 268 ¼ Street, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
  • Price: 800,000 – 1,000,000 dongs/night ($35.18-$43.98/night)

3. Cannon Fort Cat Ba Hostel

A room of cannon fort hotel

A room of cannon fort hotel

This is a very fantastic hostel if you want to have a Cat Ba island tour. It is located nearby a historical site, The Cannon Fortress. Therefore, you can make your vacation a cultural and historical trip. The hostel is also not far from Dau Be Island, Sung Sot Cave, and Trung Trang Cave. Spending time visiting those places in just one day is recommended to all tourists.

The hostel has almost everything you need, such as a marina, restaurant, and 24/7 service. Moreover, there is a dry-cleaning service available for all of the guests and receptionists are always ready for your urgent check-in.

Another characteristic that makes customers completely love Cannon Fort Hostel is the staff. They are very friendly, kind-hearted and always assist the guests whenever being asked. All of the rooms are very clean and have a nice view of the ocean. You will also find shampoos, lockers, toothbrushes, as well as several necessary things in your room.

  • Address: 243 Nui Ngoc Street, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
  • Price: 300,000 – 400,000 dongs/night ($13.19-$17.59/night)

4. Central Backpackers Hostel

Central backpackers campus

Central backpackers campus

Different from Cannon Fort Cat Ba Hostel, Central Backpackers Hostel takes you only 10 minutes to walk downtown. Although it is not quite easy to get to islands and caves from here, you are going to love Central Backpackers campus and location.

The rooms are not luxurious but very cute and have enough space for you to release tension. There is a cafeteria on the first floor, where most guests enjoy their breakfast. In addition, almost all of the rooms have a balcony gate facing the front yard. And a little swimming pool is placed right on it, making the whole campus look more like a house than a hostel.

Furthermore, the hostel welcomes a great number of foreign travelers in summer. That is why you will have a chance to meet new international friends while staying here. The hostel offers both dorm rooms with bunk-beds and private rooms. So feel free to choose!

  • Address: 352 Ha Sen Street, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
  • Price: 400,000 – 500,000 dongs/night ($17.59-$21.99/night)

5. Cat Ba Central Homestay

A party in central homestay

A party in central homestay

Among Cat Ba homestays, Cat Ba Central is considered one of the best. It earns high scores on booking websites in many criteria, such as cleanliness, breakfast, convenience, comfort, free wifi, and so on.

You will find a flat-screen television and sofas for relaxation in every room. If you need some fresh air, enjoying a cup of coffee on the balcony or front yard will be an excellent idea. Each room has one private bathroom with a handy bathtub, sink, showers, and free personal sanitary items.

One more thing which is highly appreciated by travelers while staying at Cat Ba Central Homestay is the host. He is not only nice but also very helpful. If you book a room here, he will pick you up at the station instead of waiting for you at his home. And he is always there to make sure that his guests feel comfortable in his homestay.

  • Address: Number 6, Group 7, Cai Beo Street, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
  • Price: 300,000 – 400,000 dongs/night ($13.19-$17.59/night)

We hope that you will have a great time visiting Cat Ba Island and stay at one of our recommended hotels.