Cat Ba Island is the largest island in the Cat Ba archipelago, which consists of 367 islands in total. With the majestic limestone mountains, golden sand beaches, along with countless exciting activities there, Cat Ba has always been the favorite destination of foreign tourists.
If you are planning a trip to Cat Ba Island, you have landed on the right page. Scroll down to make sure you have an enjoyable experience there. Here are the best things to do and see in Cat Ba island Vietnam.
The weather in Cat Ba is typical of the monsoon climate but more on the foggy and windy side due to its offshore location. The average temperatures range from 25 to 28°C, and the rainfall is about 1700mm annually.
Cat Ba island has only two distinct climate patterns: the wet and the dry. There are transitional months too, in which you can experience the blend of two seasons.
Cat Ba island has enjoyable weather all year round, so the best time to go there mostly depends on individual preferences.
If you want to soak up the summer sun, it is best to visit Cat Ba island during the summer, ideally between June to August. But this is also the high tourist season, which means the beaches can get overcrowded with tourists. You are also expected to spend more money during the trip as things are pricier at this time of the year.
Alternatively, you can wait until September to November when crowds disperse. The temperatures may average 15 - 20°C, and there are chances of rain occasionally.
This period is suitable for trekking the National Park and enjoying various activities on the island.
From December to April, Cat Ba island experiences a season of transition, which feels like spring. The sunshine is gentle with little rainfall. There are also many events and traditional activities to join, so many foreign tourists visit Cat Ba during this time of the year.
Sunset on Cat Ba island
Lan Ha bay is widely acknowledged for its pristine beauty. As a non-touristy area, its natural features and settings are well preserved. Spreading over 7000ha, Lan Ha has a considerable appeal to tourists with picture-postcard landscapes and emerald beaches.
Lan Ha bay is also home to many must-visit destinations such as Monkey Island, Ba Trai Dao beach, Tung Gau area, and the list goes on. Tons of activities in Lan Ha bay tours are available for you to join, including kayaking, rock climbing, swimming, etc.
Lan Ha bay
Surrounded by limestone mountains and islets, Cua Van floating village is the largest fishing village in Halong bay. It has a sparse population of about 733 people who reside in floating boats and earn a living by fishing. All the boats are tightly attached to stand against strong winds, which simultaneously make up poetic scenery.
The tourism growth seemingly has little effect on the locals in Cua Van. They still maintain the prevailing culture and lifestyle. Hence, it is the best place for anyone to enjoy a fully local experience on Cat Ba island.
Visitors enjoy bamboo boats at Cua Van floating village
Viet Hai village is located right in the middle of Cat Ba National Park. But this idyllic village has gradually become a must-visit destination rather than just a stopover. Tourists flock there to cycle around and marvel at the floating houseboats and magnificent landscapes.
Besides cycling, there are many other fun activities to do at Viet Hai village, including trekking through the Ao Ech area, climbing up Hai Quan hill, and visiting ancient Vietnamese-style houses.
Cycling at Viet Hai village
As a totally isolated island, Nam Cat is largely uninhabited. It has a 500-meter long beach with calm waters around. Thanks to the gentle waves, it is suitable for kayaking around or exploring the underground caves.
Resorts here offer a wide range of services, including firewood camping and night fishing. Joining these activities and staying overnight will surely leave you fond memories on Nam Cat island.
Nam Cat island
On Cat Ba island, caves are as many as beaches. There is a wide variety of caves of all sizes and shapes, but tourists mostly frequent Trung Trang Cave and Hospital Cave. This is probably because these two have a convenient location near the headquarters of Cat Ba National Park.
The Hospital Cave is an ideal destination for a day trip, as it is a 30-minute drive away from Cat Ba town. During the Vietnam war, this three-leveled case used to serve as a hospital for wounded soldiers, hence the name. Until now, all the rooms and equipment are well preserved for tourism purposes.
Meanwhile, Trung Trang cave is actually the cave inside the valley with the same name. It leaves a lasting impression on visitors with its majestic stalagmites and limestone pillars.
Inside Hospital Cave
Cannot Fort is one of the best places to watch the sun from Cat Ba island. It gives wonderful views over the islands at both dusk and dawn. You can treat yourself to a cup of beer at the bar while soaking up the sunshine and feasting your eyes on the beauty of nature.
Due to the ideal location, Cannon Fort is often packed at twilight. Therefore, you should head there early to secure a good place.
Sunset at Cat Ba cannon fort
Are you a dedicated hiker who wants to climb up every mountain peak? Then conquering the Ngu Lam peak must be on your bucket list when visiting Cat Ba island. The journey takes about 45 minutes, but the panoramic views from the peak will be totally worth all your sweat.
Overview from Ngu Lam peak
Coming to Viet Hai village, tourists have a chance to try out fish massage. It is a kind of treatment that will help you relieve stress. After trekking all day long, you can go there to let your feet relax and prepare for the next day.
Fish massage in Viet Hai Village
Kayaking is highly recommended if you want to explore every corner of Lan Ha bay. The whole route includes many exciting destinations such as a floating fish farm, three tunnel lagoons, and secluded beaches.
Rowing a bamboo boat is an alternative that offers the same delight. A fisherman will row the boat around so that tourists can sightsee or take pictures of the landscapes. You can also learn how to row under the guidance of the fishermen.
Our visitors do kayaking at Lan Ha Bay
Cat Ba National Park is recognized as the world biosphere reserve by UNESCO. According to UNESCO, the park has a rich landscape with forests, wetlands, and coral reefs under the ocean. It offers multiple trekking options so that you can pick one that suits you best.
The most popular route is trekking to Kim Giao and Ngu Lam peak, which takes about two hours. The other option is designed for those who fancy exploring caves as it involves the route to Trung Trang cave and Hospital Cave.
Please note that the park is open to the public from 8 am to 5 pm every day of the week.
Overview of Cat Ba national park
Cat Ba is one of the best places to try out rock climbing in Vietnam. It consists of over 120 routes on 13 crags specifically designed for this adventure sport, and you can also try deep water soloing from the sea cliffs.
It is highly recommended to go rock climbing in the winter months due to the low temperatures and moderate rainfall.
Visitors joining Rock climbing
Monkey Island is actually the common name of Cat Dua island. It takes the new name due to the monkeys living there. In addition to sightseeing, tourists often come here to feed the monkeys. However, be warned that these little animals can get aggressive and bite people.
Take a glimpse of the underwater world by snorkeling on Cat Ba island. You will surely be amazed at the unrivaled beauty of red coral reefs, along with many rare sea creatures swimming in flocks.
Of all nighttime activities on Cat Ba, the most interesting one is probably to go squid fishing. You will sit on a local fishing boat with all the necessary equipment to catch your own squids. The boats come with lights on both sides to attract the squids.
Is it your first time going squid fishing? No worries since the local fishermen will guide you on how to catch a squid successfully. It is not so difficult and, more importantly, brings a great sense of achievement when you fish your first squid.
Cat Ba cannot compare to other famous islands when it comes to nightlife. The whole island becomes more tranquil when the night falls as many services close. But as long as you know where to go, you can still enjoy a great nightlife experience there.
For example, there are some expat-owned pubs and bars open until late for tourists to chill out. You can also grab a bowl of noodles in some sidewalk stalls. Alternatively, many people simply stroll along the beach to breathe in the fresh air.
Visiting Cat Ba island offers a golden opportunity to try out fresh seafood. You can have a taste of mouth-watering dishes from fish, squids, shrimps, lobsters, and many more. And if you may not know, Cat Ba is well-known for dried squid and groupers.
Cat Ba island has plenty of scenic beaches, some of which are great for swimming. Some popular places include Cat Co cove, Tung Thu beach, Cat Dua beach on Monkey Island, and Van Boi beach.
In fact, Cat Co cove is made up of three small beaches, namely Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2, and Cat Co 3. Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 2 are characterized by gentle waves, whereas Cat Co 3 is deep with big waves.
In case you want to swim in a more peaceful place, Tung Thu beach is the best bet. It is within walking distance from the town center, and the scenery is no less idyllic than in Cat Co cove. A similar tranquil getaway is Cat Dua beach on Monkey Island. More interestingly, you can watch monkeys playing around and feed them if possible.
Last but not least, Van Boi beach is a must-visit destination for ocean swimming enthusiasts. It features crystal clear seawater and greenery surroundings that will not let you down.
Cat Co beach
Cat Ba island is home to an overwhelming number of resorts and hotels. Below are some unique Cat Ba island resorts that will make your trip more memorable. The price from 40 USD to 150 USD room/night.
Sunrise Resort Cat Ba Island
Sunrise is the very first 4-star resort built on Cat Ba island. It is perfectly situated on Cat Co beach, so you can take a stroll along the shore anytime you want. More excitingly, most rooms offer a breathtaking view of the sea and, of course, the sunrise.
Cat Ba Ecolodge Resort
If you desire an escape from the hustle and bustle of Cat Ba town, you should opt for Cat Ba Ecolodge. It is located right in the middle of the island and surrounded by mountain ranges. With wooden houses built on stilts, the whole resort gives out really peaceful vibes.
Monkey Island Resort
As its name might suggest, the resort is situated on Monkey Island - a fairly isolated place on Lan Ha bay. Therefore, it allows you to stay away from the crowd while still enjoying your vacation to the fullest. The sea is just a stone’s throw away, and you can gaze at the sky from the windows of your room.
Besides that, there are a lot of hotels and hostels near town with very suitable prices from 5USD/night (dormitory room) to 40USD/night for a private room such as Cat Ba Backpackers, Full moon party hotel, Sea Pearl hotel…
There are plenty of ways to visit Cat Ba island, depending on your place of departure.
Hopping on a highway bus to Hai Phong is the best choice. The whole journey only takes around 4 hours on average. When you arrive in Hai Phong city, you need to board a ferry to Phu Long pier before taking a bus for another hour until you actually get to Cat Ba town. (Bus + boat +bus)
There are many choices with bus companies as follows: Cat Ba Express, Interbuslines, GoodMorning. Price from 12USD/person/way.
The bus departure from Hanoi
Here, you can choose between 2 ways: (speed boat or ferry)
From Binh pier by speedboat to the island, the price is 180.000vnd to 240.000vnd/ person. The travel time is quite fast, it only takes 45 minutes.
Or from Got wharf take the ferry to Cai Vieng then continues move to Cat Ba town. The time is about 40 minutes, and the price is about 20.000vnd/person. Of course, the distance from Binh pier to Cat Ba is further than Got wharf.
This is the new option opened since 2020, a departure from Cat Hai island, 3,955m long and the endpoint is near Cai Vieng wharf on Cat Ba island. Visitors can combine moving and sightseeing from above, this is definitely one of the unforgettable memories. The ticket price is 150,000vnd/1 way and 200,000vnd/2 way (adult)
Children from 1m to 1.4m 100,000/1 way and 150,000/2 way
Children under 1 meter free
Please note that: Do not bring the big suitcases on the cable car
Cable car - the new option for visitors
Ferry from Tuan Chau wharf it takes around 1 hour to get to Gia Luan harbor (Cat Ba) the price around 5USD/person. The time departure is from 7.30 am, 9 am, 11.30 am, 1.30 pm and the last one is at 3 pm.
Speedboat from Bai Chay takes around 20 - 30 minutes the price around 12 USD/person The time departure is 7.15 am, 8.30 am, 10.30 am, 1 pm, 2.30 pm, and 4 pm. However, this is not recommended for seasick people as the high speed will make visitors feel uncomfortable.
Take the cruise from Tuan Chau, visitors can combine to visit one day or 2 days 1 night then transfers to Cat Ba island. The price from 50USD/person and departure at 8 am or 12hpm.
Cat Ba Island is a perfect getaway for a peaceful and fun-filled vacation. Hopefully, this article can help you enjoy your trip to Cat Ba to the fullest.
It is a lot less hassle to book tour agencies in Hanoi. Generally, they will provide hotel pickup and a speedboat trip to Cat Ba town, so all you need to do is to pack your suitcase.
If you need any more help please contact Go Viet Trip through email: Goviettrip@gmail.com or hotline +84968667589. We are guarantee about quality and prices. Get a full refund if you do not feel happy with our services.
Author Hoan Nguyen
He has over 10 years of experience working in the tourism sector and operator. He has traveled to many places in Vietnam and around the world.
Photos: Go Viet Trip, Internet