Recognized as a Biosphere Reserve Area by UNESCO, Cat Ba island is the largest one of the 366 islands and islets of Cat Ba Archipelago. Just about 25 km from Halong city and having similar beauty, nice beaches, caves like Halong bay, but Cat Ba is the district of Hai Phong City which is 30km away. Cat Ba island has long been the destination for both international and domostic tourists especially in summer when it is sunny and warm to swim.
How to get there
If you are planning Cat Ba island in your Vietnam tour package, please read our Cat Ba island travel guide to know how to get there.
By road: The superhighway from Hanoi to Hai Phong take you one hour by car then it is possible to take the ferry via Dinh Vu port. However, it may not be a great idea because of slow ferry and time for waiting.
By hydrofoil: Same way by car to Hai Phong city, but you will take the hydrofoil to Cat Ba town which takes you less than one hour. It is highly recommended. The ticket is around US$9 per person.
By ferry: This is the option for tourists to tour Halong bay first then extend their trip to Cat Ba island. It is about 165km from Hanoi to Halong bay (3 hours), and after the tour in Halong, tourists can take the ferry from Tuan Chau island to Gia Luan pier of Cat Ba island. This trip takes around 1 hour and the ticket is 70.000 VND per person (US$4). From Gia Luan pier, tourists will have to take the local bus to town, the drive is about 30 minutes through the Cat Ba national park. Our advice is to book a Halong - Cat ba package tour from a Vietnam tour operator in Hanoi who arrange everything for you from the cruise in Halong bay, transportation and hotel in Cat Ba.
Best time to visit
The north of Vietnam is rather cold in winer time from Januray to March and it is not great to stay at beaches of Cat Ba to play some watersports or swim. Summer time is too hot and full of Vietnamese tourists. Therefore the best time is from September to December when it is cool and not crowded.
Things to do and see in Cat Ba
Quite similar to Ha Long bay but it can be nicer and less touristic. A Vietnam tour package to Cat Ba at the right time will be so nice because there are a lot of things to do here as below:
1. Explore Lan Ha bay: This bay is an extension of Halong bay having rock mountains in various forms and shapes, but there are many hidden beaches, caves here. Lan Ha bay is great place for a getaway overnight boat tour. If you are considering a destination for a relaxing Vietnam family tour, romantic honeymoon vacation in Vietnam. Lan Ha bay and the overnight boat tour should be on the list. Kayaking and fishing bring great fun.
2. Cat Ba national park: A good optional tour while staying in Cat Ba island. Tourists can cycle around the town before heading to Cat Ba national park to take a walk to explore small part of the park including caves, trees, butterflies. If you love nature and adventure, Cat Ba national park trekking tour is highly recommended, but it will take around 6 hours to hike through the thick jungles, rocks to the other side of the park.
3. Viet Hai fishing village: A small village nested inside the Cat Ba national park offering nice cycling tour, mountain climbing tour and homestay experience.
4. Beaches: The famous beaches in Cat Ba are Cat Co beach 1,2,3, Cat Dua beach on Monkey island, hidden beach of Van Boi or international standard beach of Tung Thu. However, Holiday to Indochina advises western tourists to hire a boat to explore Lan Ha bay and drop anchor at one of the many unexplored beaches in the bay to relax as it is not being disturbed by other tourists.
5. Seafood: If you love seafood, do not forget to visit local market in town and order fresh seafood with local beer, but remember to bargain first.
6. Cannon fort: This is a nice place for a half day visit when in Cat Ba. Holiday to Indochina suggests you to hire a motorcyle to get there before taking a walk to explore this place. The walking is interesting and finished with a coffee break to enjoy great view of the town and stunning Lan Ha bay.
There are many hotels from budget to luxury, but it will be a bad choice if western tourists choose the hotel that has Vietnamese tourists stay there as it is noisy. Again, the hotel room rates can increase sharply in Summer. The best choice to to ask Holiday to Indochina to book the hotel for you in Cat Ba as we know the right one that meets your needs and budget. If you want to book directly, you should check Money Island Resort, Sunrise Cat Ba beach resort.
Cat Ba island is on the way to be recognized as the world natural heritage like Ha Long bay, and Cat Ba island is changing to become a tourist hub in the near future. If you are looking for a destination to visit in your Vietnam holiday, googling "Cat Ba island".