Experience traveling to Cat Ba Island

Being the largest one in the Complex of Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island, which stretches a total area of more than 200 square kilometers, is well known for its moist tropical forests and coral reefs, hot and cold springs, rugged limestone mountains, as well as casual island lifestyle together with its deserted beaches.

How to get to Cat Ba Island?

To reach Cat Ba Island, booking a boat/bus/bus combo from a tour office in Hanoi is the popular choice of most people. Expect incessant horns, a lot of stopping and bumpy roads. The one way ticket should cost about US$10. It takes about 5 hours for the entire journey. If you choose to travel by bus, it is likely that you will have to get to the bus station that is outside of Hanoi Old Quarter. Be aware of taxi scammers, it is expected to cost as much as $10 in traffic.

Rather than booking transportation from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island, booking a tour of Halong Bay that will drop you off on Cat Ba Island in the evening is an alternate route highly recommended by many experienced travelers. This is a seriously economical solution for those who are planning to book a tour of Halong Bay anyway. For $20, you will enjoy good service: pick-up from your hotel in Hanoi in a minibus then experience cruise through Halong Bay on an old Junk. The tour can consist of the transportation to Cat Ba town, a visit to a cave, lunch and kayaking in Halong Bay.

What to do on Cat Ba Island

Explore the island by motorbike


On the back of a motorbike should be the best way to truly see Cat Ba island. You know the technique to ride a motorbike, lucky you! Otherwise hire a driver or find a companion on basically any street corners. there is so much to see on the island, which is way too big and hilly to discover on foot or bicycle.

Up in the hills with stunning views are the three temples dedicated to each of the fabled women after which Cat Ba Island is named. You can enjoy a lookout point at Fort Canon with some secret bunkers from the war. meandering through the hillside, you will also observe a zoo, a butterfly farm and a lot of local culture. The Hospital Cave near the National Park should be one of your favorite places on this island. You will definitely enjoy the beautiful light if you go just before sunset.

Laze at one of the beautiful beaches


In spite of tiny size, all the beaches on Cat Ba Island are surprisingly gorgeous. During the high season, all of them may be positively overloaded with tourists. Since having only a few small bungalows, Cat Ba 2 is the most popular with backpackers.

Hike at the National Park


Thankfully, much of Cat Ba Island is protected by the awesome National Park. Spotting animals is uncommon even though the park has exotic species of animals such as: the highly endangered golden headed langur. There are overnight hikes offered by Cat Ba Adventure Tours and Blue Swimmer. With an admission of less than one dollar, you can explore on your own some other short, well marked trails.

Tour Halong Bay or Lan Ha Bay


Getting access to the stunning limestone karsts in Halong and Lan Ha Bay is the main attraction for anyone coming to Cat Ba Island. Even though you can find plenty of tours leaving every day with a wide variety, be aware some of these tours have very low quality, the guide barely speaks English and does not fulfill many things that passengers are promised. Research carefully to find out some excellent, albeit more expensive, options!

Rock climbing


In these recent times, the lure of rock-climbing has been attracting a large number of both local and international visitors to Cat Ba Island making it a perfect place for those who fall in love with adventure activities to indulge in their hobby. Beautiful, romantic and not so challenging for beginners, these cliffs in the Fish Cave, Van Boi Island, Dau Be and Lan Ha Bay are tourist highlights here.

Kayak around the island


It is popular that an hour or so of kayaking will be offered by most decent midrange Halong Bay cruises. Paddling around the karsts, you will certainly have an amazing chance to experience the spectacular limestone towers from an absolutely different angle: at sea level, up close and without the endless thrum of an engine in the background. There are also kayak-only trips for more experienced kayakers. Even though Lan Ha’s islet-scattered sea is much less visited and has just as much wow factor as Halong Bay, these trips are often run by a handful of operators based in nearby Lan Ha Bay (off Cat Ba Island) rather than Halong Bay itself. It is expected to cost between US$25 and US$30 per person for full-day kayaking trips from Cat Ba Island.

Where to stay on Cat Ba Island

Coming home to Cat Ba town after an amazing day on the bay or in the jungle can be a real let down. Unfortunately, Cat Ba town has no unique charm. It is only going to get worse even if you ask for locals’ suggestion. On the Southern end of the island, they have some big plans to develop a golf course, casino and huge resort. Ideally stay onboard a boat, outside of town in the jungle, or right on the beach. It is usually possible to negotiate a double room in town for $8 with air conditioning, a private bathroom and a sea view if you do want a truly economical choice.

Cat Ba Eco Lodge

A double room costs $50 per night. This eco lodge is the perfect relaxing retreat in the gorgeous hills. Not only having beautiful rooms with hot water showers and an onsite restaurant, they will also arrange tours for you.

Monkey Island


A double room costs $60. Having a bar, a restaurant, arranging activities, and offering all inclusive packages, Monkey Island is where you can stay at your own private paradise.

Cat Ba Beach Resort

Located on the most laid back beach on Cat Ba Island: Cat Ba 2 the beachfront bungalows of Cat Ba Beach Resort are beautifully decorated with an onsite restaurant and bar.

What to eat on Cat Ba Island

On Cat Ba Island, the food does not hold a candle to Hanoi’s cuisine. Don’t expect much authenticity here. Most menus are tailored to Chinese and Western travelers.

Bamboo

With the price ranging from $2to $10 per dish, you can enjoy a good assortment of vegetarian and seafood dishes. The spring rolls and excellent hot pots here are among the best you can have on the island.

Mr Zoom

Besides delicious dishes with the price ranging from $2 to $10 each, Mr Zoom also offers the friendly service. On some nights, they also offer a free vegetarian appetizer plate and a free beer.

Barter

You will see an alley with a huge market after turning right at the end of the road on the harbor. You will see a lot of fruit, and fresh young coconuts, a vast variety of fresh seafood, some still alive, culturally, it is such a great experience.

When to go


October and November are the best time of the year to visit the Cat Ba Island, Vietnam. During these two months, Cat Ba Island experiences a nice weather to absorb the stunning beauty of the island, to walk on the beaches and explore the national park. From December onwards, temperatures drop thus having a chilly weather. In March and April, it is wet, and from June to August, it is hot with a high percentage of humidity.

You are wondering where to go for your next family trip in Vietnam this summer, then, Cat Ba Island should be an ideal answer. Owning not only untouched beaches but also impressive beauty of landscapes, Cat Ba Island will be a perfect choice for children to explore and parents to relax.

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