Nestled on the periphery of Vietnam’s fabulous Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island is the largest of the 366 islands spanning 100 square miles that make up the Cat Ba Archipelago. Cat Ba’s landscape is jungle-clad, rugged and dramatic with a wide variety of natural ecosystems – perfect for exploring by bicycle, motorbike or on foot.
With AZ Local Trip, let's explore this beautiful island and here is everything you need to know before coming.
Cat Ba is located in Cat Ba district, Hai Phong province, Vietnam. Cat Ba is situated in the south of Halong Bay and far from Halong of 25 kilometers by sea.
Cat Ba archipelago consists of 367 small islands and islets, including Cat Ba island, also called “Pearl Island”. Being the largest island in Cat Ba archipelago, Cat Ba island has an area of about 300 square kilometers and the population of 8400 people.
Peaceful scenery at Cat Ba archipelago
Cat Ba island is a beautiful and romantic island with about 70 meters in average compared to the sea level. In the island is Cat Ba town located in the Southeast and six communes including Hien Hao, Phu Long, Xuan Dam, Tran Chau, Gia Luat and Viet Hai.
What is the best time to visit Cat Ba island? Tourists can visit Cat Ba at any time of the year but summer is the most appropriate time to visit. Summer is the ideal time for summer vacations to feel the cool fresh weather and avoid the hot temperature of summer.
However, foreign and domestic tourists have many differences. Foreign tourists often visit Cat Ba from November to March to avoid the cold weather whereas domestic ones often travel Cat Ba from April to October to avoid the heat.
"The wanders" - Moutain goat on the way
Many visitors will come to Cat Ba on the weekends or occasional events. So my recommendation is to visit Cat Ba at the beginning of the week to avoid the situation of overcrowding, no room and services with higher price and unsafety.
How to reach Cat Ba island? Which transportation to visit Catba island? are some common questions for those who are having plans to visit Cat Ba. AZ Local Trip will share experience and information about reaching Cat Ba.
There are 3 main ways to go from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island which are by train, by shuttle bus and by private car.
Train will only take you from Hanoi to Hai Phong City and then you have to board on a speedboat to Cat Ba Island. Going by train takes 2.5 hours and the ticket price is about $3-4 for hard and soft seats.
Transfer by shuttle bus is the same with train, it will only take you from Hanoi to Hai Phong City and to arrive at Cat Ba Island you have to take a speedboat. It takes 1.5 hours to go by shuttle bus and you can buy tickets at bus station for $4-8/each.
The last way and properly the most convenient is private cars or tourist bus. You will go direct from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island without having to stop to change the transportation. The whole journey takes about 3.5 - 5 hours.
Ready to immerse yourself in the cool water?
To transfer from Halong to Cat Ba island, tourists should go by ferry. The last ferry from Tuan Chau to Cat Ba island is at 3 p.m. As usual, tourists choose to transfer from Halong to Cat Ba, which leads to the overload of Tuan Chau port. Therefore, you should buy ticket in advance. The ticket price from Tuan Chau to Cat Ba central port is 220.000 VND/customer.
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In Cat Ba, there are tourist attractions that are located in all the island and Lan Ha island. Below are some of the most famous places of interest in Cat Ba Pearl Island.
Famous beaches in Cat Ba that tourists can’t miss are Cat Co 1, 2, 3 and Tung Thu which are located near the center of the town. Of all beaches, Cat Co 2 is the most beautiful one with soft white sand and blue water. From the center of the town, tourists can take a motorbike taxi or electric cars to reach the beach with the cost of 10.000 VND/person. If you forget to bring swimsuit, you can hire the service on the beach. According to the experience of many locals and tourists here, you should come back from the beach before 6.30 pm as at that time, the seawater rises very high and the tidal waves are heavy.
White sand, blue water, islets far-away. Cat Ba Island has it all!
Monkey Island is about 1 kilometer far from Cat Ba town. To reach Cat Ba Monkey Island, tourists have to take a boat to Cai Beo fishing village in ten minutes, across some small islands and head to Monkey Island. In the past, Monkey Island was called Cat Dua island because on the island, there are a lot of wild pineapples which look so tasteful but uneatable. Fishermen often collect these pineapples to make drink or medicine for diabetes. Nowadays, the island is named Money Island because there are more than 20 monkeys. They often come to beaches to play with tourists and receive food such as bananas, kumquats and sweets from tourists. They are very lovely when playing and climbing, which impresses tourists here. Hence, people here gradually call it Monkey Island.
The monkeys on this island are very friendly and clean, you can play with them without hesitation
Lan Ha Bay is situated in the east of Cat Ba island, from which visitors can see Van gate and bordered Halong Bay. This is a tranquil gulf region in the arc shape with approximately 400 small islands and islets, which forms a heavenly archipelago. Unlike Halong Bay, all islands in Lan Ha Bay are covered full of green trees or vegetational cover even it is only a small island. A unique feature different from Halong Bay is that Lan Ha Bay has 139 small yellow and deserted natural sand like “green channels” which appeals many tourists to explore. Soft white sand stretching between two rock mountains with no heavy tidal waves, which are ideal beaches for tourists. Calm beaches such as Sen island, Cu island and Khi island are places in which tourists can dive to explore the beauty of wonderful coral reefs.
By kayaking, you can explore the Bay on your own
Cai Beo village is one of ancient fishing villages of Vietnam and very famous in Cat Ba Hai Phong. In this place, there is no noise like the land and many ships ready to take you around to observe the peace of the ancient fishing village. If you come with a group of people, you should hire ships or boats to both sightsee and listen to intriguing stories from the boatmen. Besides, you can inhabit in some families to enjoy the fresh seafood.
Cat Ba National Park is a can’t-miss place when visiting Cat Ba Pearl Island. Cat Ba National Park is a biosphere reserve with a variety of plants and animals including 745 species, some of which are endangered species. Therefore, Cat Ba National Park is a famous tourist destination of people every year. With the ticket price of 40.000 VND/person, you can explore the diverse ecological area with many sceneries like Doi cave, Trang Trung cave and other famous destinations.
Trung Trang Cave
Discovered by Vietnamese and French archaeologists in 1938, Trung Trang Cave has a length of 300 meters and it is cloaked with various flora and fauna, which forms a healthy atmosphere for visitors. At the gate of the cave, tourists can see the shapes of a mermaid welcoming tourists to explore the intriguing adventure.
This amazing creator will make you go "wow"
Cannon fort is also called Cao diem 177. The reason for its name is that it is a historical relic located in a hill with the height of 177 meters, including large bangers and a system of trenches and dimes built in the 40s of the 20th century. This place accompanies with Cat Ba residents enduring two constant and hard struggles to fight against French colonialists and American imperialism.
This place still reserves two large canons with a weight of thousand tons. Besides, cannon fort is a destination for tourists to see many beautiful attractions in Cat Ba such as Ha Lan bay, Monkey Island and Hon Quoc from the high location. It is also ideal for those who are keen on traveling, capturing photos and watching Cat Ba sunset view.
Note this thousand-ton Canon Fort in your Halong Bay budget list
In recent years, Cat Ba has increasingly developed so many hotels are constructed with various forms from saving-budget hotels to luxurious hotels for tourists to freely choose.
Many hotels in Cat Ba are located in the coastal areas and some are situated far from the beaches. Tourists can walk to the beaches or hire an electric car with a price of 100.000 VND/person.
Location: Cat Co 1, Cat Ba island, Cat Hai district, Cat Ba town, Cat Ba archipelago
The room price: 50 USD
Cat Ba Island Resort & Sapa is a 4-star hotel which is designed as a harmonious combination of French architecture and traditional style. Many customers review that this place has a beautiful view and good services, which are very suitable for relaxation and modern spa.
Perfect choice if you are searching for relaxation
Location: Bai Tam 2, Cat Dua island, Cat Ba, Hai Phong, Monkey Island, Cat Ba archipelago
The lowest price: 49.5 USD
Many visitors think that this hotel has a beautiful view, delicious food and friendly staff. It’s an ideal location for long vacations, relaxation at the weekends or honeymoon.
Location: Cat Nam island, Ben Beo, Cat Ba archipelago
The lowest price: 42.43 USD
The services are the same compared to other hotels, however, this hotel has many extra services such as fishing, underwater sport and private beaches.
219, 01/4 Cat Ba town, Cat Hai, Hai Phong
The lowest price: 30 USD
Location: 220, 01/4 Cat Ba town, Cat Hai, Hai Phong
The normal price: 700.000 VND. On Saturday and Sunday, the price is 1.200.000VND
The Seaview Hotel is on budget
There are many tasteful dishes in Cat Ba. When visiting Cat Ba, tourists not only immerse yourself in the fresh nature and cool blue sea water and lie in the soft white sand but also enjoy the cuisine here.
Food made from goe-duck is very nutritious and tasteful. To many Cat Ba island’s inhabitants, fresh goe-ducks caught from the sea are grilled and eaten with chilli sauce, which sounds wonderful. In the cold days, geo-duck soup will make you better and warmer. To offer customers, many stores and restaurants often steam geo-cocks with other spices such as onions, beer, lemongrass, chili or make fried dishes or soups with geo-ducks.
Mantis shrimp with salt
Mantis shrimp are favorite seafood of many food lovers. It looks like a shrimp but has a tough nipper of a mantis. Mantis shrimp often live in the dry coastal holes. Mantis shrimp with salt is a famous dish made of fresh mantis shrimps. After cooked, the meat is not crushed but tasteful and crispy.
Mantis shrimp is a delicious dishes from Vietnam ocean
There are many crabs such as flower crab, red crab and three-dot crab, however blue is reviewed to have a higher nutritious value thanks to its large and tasteful meat. Blue crab appears a lot in many beaches of Vietnam. Their favorite habitat is the water region with salinity of 25-31% and the depth of 4-10 meters with the bottom of sand and dead coral reefs.
Dishes from fresh cuttle-fish
Mussel with onions
Above are the brief guide to Cat Ba Island, if you want to know more, please contact AZ Local Trip for more information.