Cat Ba Island

Cat Hai, Hai Phong, Vietnam
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Overview

Sitting on the edge of the tropical climatic zone, the northern part of Vietnam is endowed with pleasant weather that facilitates biodiversity. Cat Ba Archipelago is a clear example. In 2004, with a view to safeguarding the island's biodiversity, UNESCO declared Cat Ba Archipelago as a biosphere reserve. Visiting Cat Ba, not only can you enjoy its timeless beauty and delicious food, but also expand your biology knowledge and raise your awareness of ecotourism and environmental conservation.

Location 

Containing 367 islands, Cat Ba Archipelago is situated about 30 kilometers from Hai Phong city center, 25 kilometers from Halong City (Quang Ninh), and approximately 100 kilometers from Hanoi. Cat Ba Island is the biggest island of the Cat Ba Archipelago. The island is offering an increasingly wide variety of facilities, not only homestays, guesthouses but also high rise hotels and luxury resorts, along with plenty of stunning natural hotspots.

Weather & when to go

Cat Ba lies in The Red River Delta and features a hot, muggy tropical monsoon climate with average annual temperatures from 22.5°C to 23.5°C. The Red River Delta's rainfall regime exhibits relatively definite seasonality as a result of the tropical monsoon climate. The rainy season in Cat Ba typically lasts 5 months from June to early October but can last up to 8 months during periods of heavy rain. There might be hurricanes from July to August. It is best to avoid visiting Cat Ba Island during this time of the year.

From October to early February, the average temperatures fall to 15°C to 20°C. Although the weather during this period of the year is relatively dry, it can get quite chilly in January. From mid-February to the end of April, there are usually lots of drizzles, making beach activities less appealing. The weather starts to become better from May onwards. Therefore, the period from May to July is best to visit Cat Ba Island.

Getting there

Cat Ba is closely connected to Hanoi and Halong Bay and can be easily reached by motorbike, car, cable car and boat.

From Hanoi

There are many bus companies offering services from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island at reasonable prices. The construction of highways has greatly facilitated travel between these two destinations. This 150-km journey takes approximately 3.5 hours on average. Some well-known buses which offer this route include Cat Ba Express, Daiichi Travel, Cat Ba Discovery, and Hoang Phu Limousine. The prices of these buses range from VND 250.000 to VND 320.000 (USD 11 - USD 13) depending on which seat you choose. The buses mentioned above belong to big brands prioritized at the wharf and provide free Wi-fi onboard. In addition, they also offer free door-to-door shuttle service within Hanoi city center and Cat Ba town center.

From Hai Phong 

Cat Ba is only 30 km from Hai Phong city center and can be easily reached by either cable car or speedboat. The first option is that you can take the speedboat from Ben Binh wharf which leaves for the wharf in Cat Ba’s town center. Alternatively, you can take the cable car for VND  100.000 (USD 4.5) from Cat Hai station to go to Cat Ba Island.

From Halong Bay

The most convenient way to travel from Halong Bay to Cat Ba Island is by taking a ferry or a speedboat from Tuan Chau wharf to Gia Luan wharf. One ferry ticket costs VND 80.000 (USD 3.5) and the commute takes around 50 minutes. However, there are only 3 ferry services from Tuan Chau wharf each day, at 8.00 am, 11.30 am, and 3.00 pm. Therefore, you should arrange your time properly so as not to miss the ferry. Another option is to take the speedboat for VND 165.000 (USD 7).

Another option is to take a bus from Halong Bay to Hai Phong, and then take a speedboat or the cable car from Hai Phong to Cat Ba as mentioned above. 

Things to do & see

Beautiful beaches

Cat Ba has three beaches, namely Cat Co 1, 2, and 3, all of which have crystal clear water and are close to the town center, hence are always appealing to tourists. Cat Co 1 beach is the biggest, with three sides nearly completely enclosed by tall rugged limestones. Cat Co 2 and 3 beaches are smaller but more serene, making them ideal for people seeking tranquil moments. A little road runs down the slope connecting the beaches.

It is possible to walk or hop on a motorcycle ride from the town center to one of these three beaches. It is important that you leave the beach before 18:30 since the tide may become high and may also be accompanied by fierce waves.

Cat Ba National Park

Belongs to Cat Ba Archipelago, Cat Ba National Park lies on Vietnam’s Northeastern shore and shares the special visual splendor of Halong Bay, the heritage sites recognized by UNESCO and one of seven nature wonders in the world. The national park supports a vast array of terrestrial and aquatic species. Visitors can experience the splendor of the huge landscapes and seascapes. They can also travel through the primeval tropical rainforest and mangrove forest, and discover numerous rare flora and fauna.

The park offers various tours with tickets being sold at only VND 80.000 (USD 4) per adult. More information on tours and trekking routes can be found at their official website: https://catbanationalpark.vn/cat-ba-national-park-7-6-3.

Lan Ha Bay

Endowed with pristine and peaceful natural beauty, Lan Ha Bay is now one of the most popular destinations for domestic and foreign tourists. Although Lan Ha Bay is regarded as one of Vietnam's most beautiful bays, few visitors are aware of it. Lan Ha Bay is at its best during the autumn, making it feel comfortable when admiring the bay. Boat tickets to Lan Ha Bay can be purchased at Cai Beo Wharf, which is only around 3 km from the town center.

Cat Ba Market

This is where the local way of life is at its clearest. Although it may be hard to shop in this market due to language barriers, paying a visit to this market can be quite fun, especially if you crave local food. From fresh fruits to seafood, anything can be found here. It would be best to have a Vietnamese buddy to bring you around to avoid getting lost in this market.

What & where to eat

Cat Ba Island has long been known as a seafood heaven. Various types of seafood, from fish, and crabs to molluscs, can be found here at affordable prices. They are all locally raised or caught, including in the floating villages in Lan Ha Bay, so the freshness of the food is highly guaranteed. Seafood is processed in various ways and styles in Vietnam. There are some restaurants and eateries that you should take into consideration when craving seafood as follows:

Vien Duong Restaurant 

Vien Duong Restaurant is relatively well-known among local people in Cat Ba. It is also one of the restaurants that locals frequent on the island. Vien Duong Restaurant specializes in seafood dishes. Their supplies come directly from Lan Ha Bay as mentioned above. This restaurant is especially suitable for couples and groups so that you can share and try more dishes without having to pay a huge amount of money.

  • Address: 12 - 23 Nui Ngoc, Cat Ba town
  • Phone: +84 383 434 443

Oc Ba Tau Restaurant 

Oc Ba Tau is a BBQ buffet restaurant where guests can eat as much seafood and meat as they want. The supplies of this restaurant also originate from Lan Ha Bay. This is an ideal choice for those who travel alone but still want to try different types of seafood. There are some buffet packages, starting from VND 170.000 (USD 8). Oc Ba Tau is relatively popular among the locals, especially young people, but not many tourists know of this place.

  • Address: 92 Tung Dinh, Cat Ba town
  • Phone: +84 89 999 98 66

Lang Chai Hotel and Restaurant

This restaurant is also frequented by local people. It offers one of the best chicken wrapped in fried sticky rice in town. This dish has put the restaurant on the map. Besides chicken, like most other restaurants, a wide variety of fresh seafood is also on offer here. The prices are overwhelmingly affordable.

  • Address: 265, 1 thang 4 Street, Cat Ba town 
  • Phone: +84 89 50 75 75

Where to stay

Hôtel Perle d’Orient Cat Ba - MGallery

This list kicks off with one of the most luxurious hotels on Cat Ba Island. Each MGallery boutique hotel, managed by the French multinational hospitality company Accor, offers a distinct story, allowing guests to immerse themselves in tales of adventure, romance, history, culture, nature, and more for the duration of a delightful stay. This 5-star hotel has a lot to offer, from accommodation and food to entertainment and well-being. It boasts the beautiful Cat Co 3 beach where you can immerse yourself in its crystal-clear water.

Flamingo Cat Ba Beach Resort

Flamingo Cat Ba Beach Resort is a 5-star resort complex with three huge hotel buildings totalling 17 stories and 208 rooms, as well as world-class services and facilities including a buffet restaurant and swimming pools. The resort is a symphony of the ocean with a pure coastal environment, loaded with entertainment and impeccable services, and an experience of tranquility, pleasure, and delight.

Monkey Island Resort

Monkey Island Resort is a 3-star resort that features many beach bungalows capable of accommodating a whole family. The resort is located 3.2 kilometers from Cat Ba town center. The comfortable rooms provide a beautiful view of the sea and the surrounding greenery. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning and a hot water shower. A refrigerator is available in certain rooms and wifi is only available in the reception area and the restaurant. The Monkey Restaurant is where guests can enjoy views of the sea while having their meals.

Homestays

There are a large number of homestays on the island for those traveling on a budget and looking for more local accommodation. Homestays are much more affordable than traditional hotels and resorts while still meeting guests’ basic needs. Some top-rated homestays on the island include Cat Ba Mountain View, Santorini Cat Ba Homestay, and D’home homestay. These homestays also provide bunk bed options for those who do not mind sharing the room with other people.

As Cat Ba Island is a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Area, it is imperative that visitors strictly follow guidelines on environmental protection, especially inside Cat Ba National Park. Also, it is important to wear a lifejacket when commuting by boat for your own safety. Last but not least, as local people are always willing to lend a helping hand, you should not hesitate to ask them for help or direction when there is no Internet or phone signal in the middle of the sea.

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Cruise trips that visit Cat Ba Island

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Elite of the Seas 167

Elite of the Seas

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Orchid Trendy Cruise 753

Orchid Trendy Cruise

9.7 Excellent | 166 reviews
Destinations: Halong Bay Lan Ha Bay Cat Ba Island Viet Hai Village
FROM $160
Mon Cheri Cruise 458

Mon Cheri Cruise

9.7 Excellent | 166 reviews
Destinations: Lan Ha Bay Cat Ba Island
FROM $195
Orchid Premium Cruise 69

Orchid Premium Cruise

9.9 Excellent | 62 reviews
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FROM $360
Erina Cruise 1042

Erina Cruise

9.6 Excellent | 66 reviews
Destinations: Lan Ha Bay Viet Hai Village Dark and Bright Cave Ba Trai Dao Islets +1
FROM $145

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