Explore Cat Ba Island: Vietnam’s Hidden Travel Paradise
Cat Ba Island, the largest in Halong Bay, is a stunning and diverse destination in Vietnam. Known as the “Pearl of the Gulf of Tonkin,” it offers beautiful landscapes of forests, sea, mountains, hills, beaches, and caves. The island is home to the endangered Cat Ba Langur and is recognized as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It’s an adventurer’s paradise with opportunities for hiking in the Cat Ba National Park, swimming at the gorgeous Cat Co Beach, and exploring the peaceful Viet Hai Village. The island also boasts a rich local cuisine, offering a taste of unique Vietnamese dishes.
Cat Ba Island is one of the famous tourist destinations in Vietnam. The island is located in the southern part of Halong Bay, about 30km from the center of Hai Phong city and about 25km from Halong city. Administratively, Cat Ba Island belongs to Cat Hai district, Hai Phong city. Cat Ba Island is located at 106°52′ – 107°07′ East longitude, 20°42′- 20°54′ North latitude. The area of the island is about 300 km2, with a current population of 45,000 people.
The climate of Cat Ba Island is of the tropical monsoon type, influenced by the ocean. The average temperature ranges from 25 – 28°C, varying with the seasons. In the summer, the temperature can rise above 30°C, while in the winter it averages 15-20°C, but can drop below 10°C (when the northeast monsoon winds blow). The average humidity is about 85%. The average rainfall ranges from 1,700 – 1,800 mm/year, varying with the seasons. The rainy season mainly lasts in July and August.
2. Best time to visit Cat Ba Island
The best time to visit Cat Ba is from April to October each year. This is when the weather in Cat Ba is clear, the air is cool, and there is little rain, making it very suitable for sightseeing and exploration activities. During this period, Cat Ba is usually crowded with tourists, especially from May to July when it is packed with people.
If you want to avoid the heat and the crowd, you can choose the autumn period from September to November. At this time, the weather is mild, and outdoor activities are less tiring. And a little tip is that hotel rooms and other tourism services also start to “cool down” during this period.
If you are a tourist from abroad, you can choose the period from November to March to enjoy the warm weather of Cat Ba. However, you should also note that during this time, Cat Ba may have a lot of rain and wind, causing rough seas and affecting marine tourism activities.
3. How to get to Cat Ba Island
To get to Cat Ba Island, you can choose from various means of transportation, including cars, high-speed boats, hydrofoils, and ferries, depending on your needs and preferences.
If you are in Hanoi, you can drive to Hai Phong, and then take a boat from Hai Phong to Cat Ba Island. If you want to drive yourself, you can rent a motorbike or a private car, go to Dinh Vu port, take two ferries, and then drive to the center of Cat Ba tourist area. If you want to save time, you can take a high-speed boat or a hydrofoil to the port in the center of Cat Ba tourist area. The travel time is about 45 minutes.
If you are in Quang Ninh, you can combine a trip to Ha Long Bay and then go to Cat Ba Island. You can ask the boat owner in advance to buy a ticket with a service to Cat Ba.
If you are in Hai Phong, you can take a high-speed boat or a hydrofoil to the port in the center of Cat Ba tourist area. The travel time is about 45 minutes. If you want to take a ferry, you can take the Dinh Vu ferry, dock at Ninh Tiep, drive across Cat Hai Island, go to Got ferry port, take the second ferry to Cai Vieng port, and then drive another 20km to the center of Cat Ba tourist area.
4. People, history and culture of Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island is not only beautiful in nature but also a place that preserves many values about history, culture, and people.
According to the historical and cultural relics on Cat Ba Island, 42 preserved relics have been found here, containing prehistoric artifacts, scattered across the island, suitable for research tourism such as: Bo Da – Ang Say relic cluster, Ang Ma relic cluster or Eo Bua relic cluster in Cat Ba National Park. In addition, there are burial sites on the island, which is a very unique cultural feature of the ancients, appearing in the caves of Cat Ba, surely will bring tourists extremely interesting surprises.
In addition to historical and cultural relics, Cat Ba Island is also home to many communities of people, with the main occupations being seafood fishing and tourism. The islanders are very friendly and sociable, always ready to assist tourists when necessary. Coming to Cat Ba Island, you will experience the life of the local people, learn about their culture, customs, and practices.
5. Accommodations in Cat Ba Island
When visiting Cat Ba Island, you need to choose a place to stay that suits your needs and preferences. Here are some types of accommodation and examples of places to stay on Cat Ba Island.
Hotels: This is the most popular and convenient type of accommodation on Cat Ba Island. You can find many hotels in the central area of Cat Ba town, near the beaches and tourist spots. Hotels usually have amenities such as clean rooms, air conditioning, wifi, TV, restaurant, swimming pool, spa… The price of hotel rooms depending on the luxury level and location of the hotel. Some famous hotels on Cat Ba Island are Wyndham Grand Flamingo Cat Ba Resort, Cat Ba Island Resort & Spa, Perle d’Orient Cat Ba – MGallery, Catba Sunrise Resort…
Homestay: This type of accommodation is for tourists who like to experience the close and friendly life of the local people. Homestays usually have a cozy, simple, and creative space, with various styles. You can choose a homestay in Cat Ba town or in the fishing villages, small islands around. Homestays are usually cheaper than hotels. Some popular homestays on Cat Ba Island are Sadhu Garden Inn, Secret Garden Cat Ba Homestay, Cat Ba Family Homestay, Cat Ba Eco-Lodge…
6. Cuisine and specialties of Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island is a famous place with many attractive specialties. Cat Ba cuisine blends different cultures, creating diversity and richness. The specialties of Cat Ba are made from fresh and characteristic ingredients of the sea area such as lobster, grouper, sea sam, tu hai, sea snake, crab, dried squid, Cat Hai fish sauce, honey… from Cat Ba National Park, and many other dishes.
Each dish has its own unique flavor, giving diners unique culinary experiences. If you come to Cat Ba, don’t forget to enjoy specialties such as beer-steamed lobster, grilled sea sam, dried squid, soy sauce-steamed crab, Cat Hai fish sauce, honey… from Cat Ba National Park, and many other dishes.
7. Tourist attractions in Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island is famous for its beautiful and attractive tourist spots. Here are some highlights that you can visit when coming to Cat Ba Island:
Cat Ba Beaches:Cat Ba Island has many beautiful and clean beaches, such as Cat Co beach, Tung Thu beach, Cat Dua beach… You can sunbathe, swim, play water sports, or relax on the fine white sand.
Lan Ha Bay:Lan Ha Bay is a beautiful sea bay, located in the southeast of Cat Ba Island. Lan Ha Bay has more than 400 small islands, many golden sand beaches, and is home to many species of corals and marine animals. You can take a boat to visit the bay, kayak, snorkel to see corals, or visit the ancient fishing village of Cai Beo.
Cat Ba National Park:Cat Ba National Park is a biosphere reserve, with an area of over 15,000 hectares, including both land and sea. Cat Ba National Park has a diverse ecosystem, with many rare plants and animals, such as Cat Ba langur, crocodile, turtle, monkey… You can trek through the forest, explore caves, or participate in environmental education activities.
Than Cong Fortress:Than Cong Fortress is a historical military construction, built during the French colonial period and used in the wars against France and the US. Than Cong Fortress is located on the top of Cao Vong mountain, 177 m above sea level, with a panoramic view of Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island. You can climb up the fortress, admire the scenery, and learn about the history of this place.
Monkey Island: Monkey Island, also known as Cat Dua Island, is a small island, about 10 minutes by boat from Beo pier. Monkey Island is home to many playful monkeys, often coming down to the shore to play with tourists and ask for food. You can take photos, shake hands, or feed the monkeys, but be aware that monkeys can be very aggressive if provoked. Monkey Island also has two beautiful and romantic beaches, Cat Dua 1 and 2.
In addition, you can also explore other places, such as Van Boi Island, Freedom Island, Ngu Lam peak, Trung Trang cave, Thien Long cave…
8. Tours and activities in Cat Ba Island
When you come to explore Cat Ba Island, you can participate in tour programs organized by reputable travel companies. The typical seaside tour programs include:
3-day 2-night Cat Ba Tour:You will take a boat to visit Lan Ha Bay, explore the deserted islands, swim, snorkel to see corals, kayak, visit fish farms, floating fishing villages, camp on Tung Thu beach, visit caves in Cat Ba National Park, learn history at Than Cong fortress, and rest at luxury hotels.
2-day 1-night Cat Ba Tour:You will experience similar activities as the 3-day 2-night tour, but with less time and choose hotels according to your desired standards.
1-day Lan Ha Bay Tour: You will take a boat from Beo pier to Lan Ha Bay, sightsee and take photos on the boat’s bomb, visit Monkey Island, swim, kayak, and enjoy fresh seafood.
Half-day Lan Ha Bay Tour:You will take a boat from Beo pier to Lan Ha Bay, sightsee and take photos on the boat’s bomb, and visit Monkey Island. In addition, you can freely explore Cat Ba Island by trekking through the forest, mountain biking, exploring Van Boi Island, Freedom Island, conquering Ngu Lam peak, taking a ferry from Halong Bay, or cruising on the bay by yacht.
Cat Ba Island is an ideal destination for those who appreciate nature, culture, and history. You can explore the island’s bays, caves, pristine forests, and fishing villages, or participate in activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, cycling, scuba diving, and cruising… You can also enjoy local specialties, such as seafood, fish cakes, rice cakes, and Cat Ba wine. Cat Ba Island is not just a resort, but also a place for conservation and education about Vietnam’s biodiversity and cultural heritage.
Wishing you enjoyable trips with your family and friends.