Me and my friends, who are deemed as a hotpot of a bunch of weird and stubborn kind of veggies - outgoing Wandi, lazy and can’t-stop-talking Salma, party animal Jenny, me – an introvert walker, trekker, modern-life escaper and photographer Linn. We were brought to Cat Ba a couple months ago and completely fell in love with it. Cat Ba has so much to offer, regardless of what kind of traveler you are: beach person, cruise person, bay person, forest person, highly active and outgoing person, lazy and chilling person, you name it.
1. Where is Cat Ba Island?
2. When is the best to go?
The weather from April to October is the best for indulging yourself in the nature. At that time of a year, in big cities, especially those in the North, the heat is killing everyone (the temperature jacks up to 39°C more than often) so riding a bus to Cat Ba Island and surrounding yourself with cool water, lush green trees and delectable dishes of fresh seafood feels better than anything else in this world. That’s why Vietnamese people choose to visit Cat Ba Island this time of the year but not the rest.
From November to March, it was time for experiencing the essence of Vietnamese culture, traditions and customs because almost all important festivals and traditional holidays take place in those 5 months, including Lunar New Year (usually misleadingly referred to as “Chinese New Year”) then a bunch of festivals celebrating spring. Well, you know how long spring is. An old Vietnamese saying that goes “Tháng giêng là tháng Än chÆ¡i, tháng hai cá» báº¡c, tháng ba rÆ°á»£u chè” (January is for relaxing, February is for gambling, March is for drinking). Vietnamese people nowadays, however, don’t do the last two thing anymore but still, they are pretty much more chilling than the rest of the year, spending more time with their families in their hometown and celebrating with their communities. What surprises many people travelling on an impulse to Vietnam in the middle of Lunar New Year (called “Tet” in Vietnamese) is that people are coming to their hometowns and leaving Hanoi an empty and downbeat secluded town. It is excited at first but you might soon get bored and discouraged because of gloomy doors and the loss in contact with local people. Better planners and experienced travelers will go to countryside areas instead. Beach lovers usually head to Cat Ba Island to experience the bustle of the preparation for Lunar New Year in coastal countryside and stay overnight in the middle of the bay.
3. How to get there?
Couple years ago, it was quite hard to get to island because there's only local ferry but recently not only tourism companies provide speedboat and other professional services but the gorvernment also built the fyling-over bridge Tan Vu - Lach Huyen to connect the mainland to the transit island Cat Hai. Therefore, getting there is far less tiring in comparison in the past.
You can get to Cat Ba Island from Hai Phong City, Ha Long, Hanoi, Ninh Binh easily. Read How to get to Cat Ba for more detail.
4. Where to stay in Cat Ba Island?
Note that booking for big groups would save more than individuals. And the closer to the travelling date you book your tours and hotels, the more you are charged. Especially for weekends, tours and hotels on this time will be charged 30% - 50% higher than weekdays.
Most of hotels are located near the beach (1 Thang 4 Street). Some are a bit far from the beach but you can walk to the beach or hop-on an electricity bus with just 10,000 VND/person.
Suggestions for hotels near the beach with reasonable prices and high-quality
Cat ba Island Resort & Spa – 4 stars
Price: from 50 USD
Cat Ba Island Resort & Spa is a 4-stars hotel with French inspired architecture combining with Vietnam traditions. It is a good choice for those who prioritize beautiful landscape view, high quality and pleasure services.
Monkey Island Resort – 3 stars
Price: from 49.5 USD
This resort is famous for good vew, delicious food and friendly staffs. It’s suitable for long vacation, pleasure vacation and honeymoon vacation.
Cat Ba Sandy Beach Resort – 3 stars
Price: from 42.43 USD
Hung Long Hotel – 3 stars
Price: from 36.63 USD
3-star Hung Long hotel is about 10 minutes walking from Cat Co 2 and Cat Co 3 beaches, and Cat Ba port, 15 minutes from Tung Thu beach, 5 minutes by car from Cat Ba seafood traditional market.
Sea Pearl Hotel – 3 stars
Price: from 30 USD
Seaview Hotel – 2 stars
Price: (weekday: from 30 USD – weekend: from 52 USD)
5. What to see in Cat Ba Island?
Cat Ba has a lot to offer.
First of all, of course, beaches
The best ones include Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2, Cat Co 3 and Tung Thu beach because they are not only beautiful but also near the town center. The one I enjoy find the most is Cat Co 2 – where the water is crystal clear and the white sand is just as comfortable as a sofa, a dramatic view in general. You can take electricity bus or motorbike taxi to get there with just 10,000 VND. If you forget your swimming suits, there’s several places along the beach that you can lend swimming suits. You should go swimming before 18:30 because after then the strong tide is pretty dangerous.
Secondly, Cai Beo ancient fishing village
It was a quiet storybook hamlet, totally opposite to the hustle and bustle in the center of Cat Ba Island. There are boats available to take you around the floating fishing village and indulge yourself in the peace of the area, surrounded by lush turquoise water. If you travel in group, you can rent the whole boat to go with each other. The helmsmen with their tender boats will ferry you around the village and tell you about legends of the region and so many more other interesting stories about living on the water. You can also stay with a fisher family and see how their lives in such special condition.
And Monkey Island
by Liv Sandwell
Lan Ha Bay on kayak
Then National treasure: Cat Ba national park
Not tired yet? Go to Trung Trang cave
Or Quan Y cave
Can't miss sunset on Canon Fort
What to eat in Cat Ba Island?
Some tips and updates
- Entrance tickets in all tourist attractions now cost the same price: 40,000 VND
- Bring swimming suits, common medicines – just in case, and leave your favorite leather shoes at home or you’ll end up leaving them in some trash bin in Cat Ba Island, they don’t get on well with seawater and sand.
- Always ask for the price before eating anything. The local people are indeed very friendly and honest but those people who opened restaurants and sell you the food, God know where they’re from.
- Electricity bus ticket for a town tour is 10,000 VND
- The price for renting a ship varies from 1 million VND to 4 million VND, in Beo ferry terminal
- Nui Ngoc Street is the paradise of food and recreation activities
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