Best MonthsAll year
Traveller TypesCouples, Friends
Rank1 out of 29 attractions in Cat Ba
Reviews • 13
From Hanoi, we were put on a ferry to the Cat Ba Island which lies in the Lan Ha Bay. From there, another bus picked us up from the island and dropped us off at our hotel or (you can get off in Cat Ba Town).
Later in the evening we reached Catba Island. We all stayed at different hotels. After resting for some time, we went for an evening stroll, visited the local market and said our final good buy to Jenice and May. It was so wonderful meeting them and hope we meet them again very soon. (In fact we did plan to meet May on our visit to Sanfransisco, she invited us for dinner also, but things didn't work and we couldn't meet.)Next day morning we left for Hanoi with a stopover at an island for lunch with around 20 strangers.
From Hanoi Railway Station we took a taxi (that seemed to have a fake meter as fair was twice the expected 50 000) to Bến xe Nước ngầm bus station (10 km south of the old quarter) where we bought a combined bus and boat ticket from Hoang Long Bus Company for 250 000 dong. Trip takes about 4,5h and you change bus 3 times but arrive in town center.
Reaching Cat Ba requires changing modes of transport a couple of times and there are 2 major routes by which one can reach Cat Ba from Hanoi- via Ha long city, via Haiphong city – but you have to be very sure of the timings of all the modes of transport that you would require because the last thing you want to do on a vacation is wait until the next day to get on the connecting transport. Hence, the easiest and the most convenient way is to simply purchase a ticket (220000 VND) from Luong Yen bus station (Hanoi) this include a bus ride till Haiphong city (approx. 3 hours) another transfer till the port (approx. 1 hour) ferry till the island (45 minutes) and the final bus till the harbor (45 minutes)Where to stay:The largely untouched scenery of the island was swarmed by a number hotels in the recent past, leaving you with lots of options to choose from. After arriving at the harbor we sat down at a café (with WiFi) to look for a place to stay, the whole stretch of the harbor is dotted with hotels apart from the many hotels on the island otherwise. They are easy to locate on any of the booking platforms else just walk-in and book.A budget room for a night on double occupancy can cost you anywhere between $6 to $10, we stayed at the Cat Ba Backpackers Hostel – 3 people in a room for $3/person. For a mid-ranged stay you can find options between $15 to$40, if there are no budget constraints then you can choose from a beach resort in $50 to a private junk in about $400. Less expensive junks are available, but be ready to have some unwanted guests (read rodents and bugs) along with you and bad services.What to do:
I decided on going to Cat Ba specifically because of the first vietnam full moon party. The party was a disappointment and my dates also clashed with a national holiday. So all the streets and beaches were super crowded. One thing that I would advise in Cat Ba island is to rent a motorbike and explore the island by yourself. I could not do this since I did not know how to ride motorbike, but it is highly recommended by everyone I met. Also, I would advise doing the full day kayaking toward of Lan Ha Bay through asia outdoor adventures. On the way back from cat ba island I took a ferry to hai phong and then a bus back to hanoi.
A small island which is full of activities. You start with a trek in the Cat Ba national park which is not anything less than what you have experienced in the jurassic park.Once you reach the top you feel like you're piercing your head through the clouds. A magical view awaits you. Beware of the wild species of insects you'll find here.
Hạ Long Bay is the center of a larger zone which includes Bai Tu Long bay to the northeast, and Cat Ba islands to the southwest. This junk took us to the unexplored and exquisite Bai Tu Long Bay. We couldn’t stop gawking at the drop dead gorgeous landscapes. Limestone karsts emerging from emerald green waters made a very mystic landscape and photos actually do not do much justice to the actual beauty of this place.The food on board was the best we have ever had with the most fresh ingredients and evidently a lot of effort put into it by the Chef and team. Every dish was 5-star quality and every meal had 8-9 courses. The staff on board was very warm and friendly entertaining us with their jokes and magic tricks.The itinerary of the cruise is well designed to include activities as well as leisure time. First day we went for Kayaking amidst the most gorgeous scenery. The cloudy weather added to the mystic charm of the place! At night, the ship docked near an island and the feeling when you see those beautiful islands from your window while lying in your bed is priceless. We started the second day by doing Tai chi on the sun deck early morning at 6:00 a.m (totally worth waking up early morning!) and after breakfast we hiked on one of the 2000+ islands on the Bay to see the Thien Canh Son cave. The cave was beautiful with its rocks and stone formations and views from the cave were stunning. After checking out the cave we sat on the beach for a while on the lounge chairs just to admire the surroundings and feel lucky to be there!After lunch, we were dropped to the rustic and beautiful Yen duc village which is mid-way between Hanoi and Halong Bay. This was also arranged for us by Indochina junk. I would recommend anyone going to Halong Bay to stop at the village for at least one night for the authentic Vietnamese village life experience. The village has poetic scenery replete with mountains, charming rice fields, pretty houses and streams.
Before we took off from Hanoi we went on our bikes to Cat Ba Island (Ha Long Bay Area) and to a Vietnam village 250 km away to attend a wedding. This way we got more familiar with the Vietnam roads and traffic and had more confidence in our bikes. This was around 800 km in total.On The Road: We hit the road and on our first day we did 8 km. Yes you read it right only 8 km. It was a rainy day, we left at 3:30 pm and after 8 km I realised that I have not collected our passports from the hotel so I had to go back to get my passports. On average we did (like to do 100-150 km), around 3-4 hours of riding. It took 26 days because we stayed for more than few days in Phong Nha, Hue, Hoi An and Dalat. One can easily do this in 2 weeks. Here are some of the key advantages in Vietnam.+ Mechanics everywhere – Apart from few remote routes there are mechanics and people who can fix the bike everywhere. + Good AC hotel rooms for $10 USD, yes less than £7 for 2 people, sometime including breakfast.+ Petrol is just under 18000VND or 55p per litre. My Honda Win runs 100km on a 1.5 litre of petrol. + Food, water and beer is available everywhere, if nothing you can still get Phở everywhere (beef noodle soup), for vegetarians it can be slightly challenging.
A sleepy island! cross many boats and ships and you are there! Green water and blue sky with very few tourists!
There are times when a whole experience can be expressed in just one word, a sudden trip to Cat Ba Island- the largest Island in Ha long bay. Cat Ba is one of the major weekend getaway for the locals and is often overlooked by the tourists who plan to go on a day trip to Ha long Bay. Another reason could be the exuberant high rates of the tour operators which range anywhere from USD 200-400, believe me you can do a 2 night 3 day trip to this beautiful island in under USD 60. The day I arrived at Hanoi I had 7 days to go with absolutely no plan, a number of backpackers I met till now suggested going to Sapa and Ha long bay one can easily spend 2 nights at both these places. After 2 days exploring the city me and two other backpackers (who I met in Phong Nha) decided to go to Cat Ba Island; on our own. And it sure was worth a visit.Reaching the Island: Reaching Cat Ba requires changing the modes of transport a couple of times and there are 2 major routes by which one can reach Cat Ba from Hanoi- via Ha long city, via Haiphong - but you have to be very sure of the timings of all the modes of transport that you would require because the last thing you would want to do on a vacation is wait until the next day to get on the connecting transport. Hence, the easiest and the most convenient way is to simply purchase a ticket (220000 VND) from Luong Yen bus station (Hanoi) this include a bus ride till Haiphong city (approx. 3 hours) another transfer till the port (approx. 1 hour) ferry till the island (45 minutes) and the final bus till the harbour (45 minutes) .Where to stay: The largely untouched scenery of the island was swarmed by a number hotels in the recent past, leaving you with lots of options to choose from. After arriving at the harbour we sat down at a café (with WiFi) to look for a place to stay, the whole stretch of the harbour is covered with hotels apart from the many hotels on the island otherwise. They are easy to locate on any of the hotel booking platforms otherwise you can simply walk around and pick your stay. A budget room for a night on double occupancy can cost you anywhere between USD 6 – USD 10, we stayed at the Cat Ba Backpackers Hostel – 3 people in a room for USD 3/person. For a mid-ranged stay you can find options between USD 15- USD 40, if you have no budget constraints then you can choose from a beach resort in USD 50 to a private junk in about USD 400. There are cheaper junks too, but be ready to have some unwanted guests (read rodents and bugs) along with you and bad services.
The best way to get to Cat Ba is via a tour of the islands. The zoo at the dock for overnight tours was discouraging, but once on the boat the scenery was spectacular. Halong Bay has a unique ecosystem with 3000 islands, (and as many tourists on the weekend), but it is still able to absorb the tour groups without feeling crowded. Designated a World Heritage Site, the eastern side of this famous bay is completely untouched and we were glad that some things remained the same. Far from being washed up on a deserted island, Cat BA, is a 'wanna be tourist destination' and the infrastructure is expanding to meet the growing need. Besides trekking in the National Park, it is best to climb up the various hills surrounding the bay. A pleasant four mile hike is following the road to the bay at Cat Hai and back around down the hill into Cat Ba Town's main market - where fresh, hot, sweet corn and refreshing coconuts are waiting as a reward. A definite highlight of our stay was an hour's paddle around the bay in Liu's woven basket-type row-boat. The bay is bustling with fishing and house boats of all sizes, and the floating markets servicing them.
To move further away from the flocks of tourists, Cat Ba Island is your place. It is the biggest island in Ha Long Bay. This island is famous for its National Park, which is abode to the highly endangered Golden Headed Langur. This place has a few caves which you can explore with the help of a local guide or buy a map and explore some through the woods yourself. You will find rocky cliffs along the coastline and some small fishing villages. This can be an excellent way to interact with the locals and get to know their culture and simple lifestyle. Some parts of the island are considerably deserted and are ideal to get out the explorer in you. You can also indulge in some rock climbing activity.