Cat Ba Island, Vietnam - an unforgettable holiday

Cat Ba Island, Hai Phong, is one of the most stunning in the North of Vietnam, widely framed by its natural maleficent sceneries and unforgettable experiences.

Cat Ba Island Vietnam

This article will share the travel experience on Cat Ba Island and provide helpful information about accommodations, best restaurants, and must-try food.

Area:‎300 km²
Location:‎Hai Phong
National administrative area:‎Cat Ba island district
Total number of islands:367 Island

Cat Ba Vietnam 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.

Where is Cat Ba Island Vietnam?

Cat Ba Island Vietnam is archipelago contains 367 islands and in the south of Ha Long Bay, belonging to sea area of Cat Hai District, Hai Phong Province’s sea adjacent to Quang Ninh Province.

It is 30 km away from the center of Hai Phong City and 25 km from Ha Long and It is also by the local as “Pearl Island".

The archipelago consists of 6 communes: Hiền Hào, Phù Long, Xuân Đám, Trân Châu, Gia Luận, Việt Hải. The population of the island is around 8,400 people most of whom are from Kinh ethnic.

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island Vietnam

When is the best to go?

Cat Ba island Vietnam is indeed beautiful all year around. However, consider what is in your bucket list before looking at the calendar.

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 Island this time of the year but not the rest.

Read more to plan your trip in Cat Ba

Cat Ba Town

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 ăn chơi, tháng hai cờ bạc, tháng ba rượu chè” (January is for relaxing, February is for gambling, March is for drinking).

Vietnamese people nowadays, however, don’t do the last two things 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 traveling 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 here experience the bustle of the preparation for Lunar New Year in coastal countryside and stay overnight in the middle of the bay.

Customers in Cat Ba

Awesome activities to do in Cat Ba Island Vietnam

Cat Ba Island is a spotlight of the tourism industry in Vietnam with the speed of infrastructure development and the quality of services that make "Pearl Island" a place you can not ignore.

1. Bathe in the sea

Nothing is more satisfying than being immersed in the cold emerald water and white sand under the sunshine of hot summer.

Cat Ba town consists of Cat Co 1, 2, and 3 beaches, which are the most beautiful but often crowded with tourists.

You can choose other pristine and deserted beaches with clearer water such as Monkey Island, Tung Thu beach... or wild as well as untouched ones in Lan Ha Bay.

Swimming lan ha bay

2. Enjoy the seafood

Considered the best seafood to try in the North of Vietnam, the seafood here is raised and caught directly in the far bay.

Enjoy the seafood

3. Kayak and Snorkel

Kayaking is one of the most impressive experiences in Lan Ha Bay.

In addition, you can also try snorkeling to watch the colorful coral reefs with masks or oxygen tanks (more expensive with 1-1.5 million VND/person/turn).

Kayaking Lan Ha Bay

4. Enjoy the sunset

Sunset on the sea is always romantic, especially sunset in Lan Ha Bay, with the mesmerizing beauty of hundreds of rocky mountains lying the sea.

The most suitable place for you to enjoy the sunset is the Cannon Fort where you can see the whole town from above.

Enjoy the thrilling beauty of sunset in the bay with Serenity Premium Cruise Half-Day Tour, an experience you will never forget.

Sunset Cat Ba Island

5. Catch the bright dawn

In addition to the sunset, the sunrise at "Pearl Island" is also a specialty you should not miss.

The coastal road connecting the two beaches of Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 3 is an ideal spot to view the beautiful sunrise of Cat Ba Island Vietnam.

Catch the bright dawn

6. Trekking

If you're a young traveler, you should definitely try to explore the natural scenery of Cat Ba National Park. Here's why it's an atractive site to visit.

  1. Beautiful natural landscape.
  2. You will be surprised by the wild nature after many challenges to conquer the top.
  3. Rocky mountains and forests intertwine with each other for a strong sense of discovery.
trekking Cat Ba National Park

7. Squid Fishing at Night

Night squid fishing on Lan Ha Bay is an exciting form of entertainment but quite pricey. A short fishing trip costs about 500,000 VND.

You can ask the hotel or directly contact the rafters and ferrymen at the harbor in the town center.

Squid Fishing at Night

8. Cycling

The most beautiful cycling spot is probably the road around Viet Hai fishing village. This road will take you to a highly dreamy world with a hundred-year-old forest with shade.

Cycling Viet Hai village

9. Riding a motorbike around the island

Setting foot on the island, you will see a coastal road stretching from Cai Vieng ferry to the center of Cat Ba town.

The second route is through the National Park, running from the town to the Gia Luan ferry with forest edges covering both sides.

These are two motorbike routes for 2 entirely different experiences you should try when coming to Cat Ba Island Vietnam.

In addition, you can also ride a motorbike to Cannon Fort to watch the sunset.

Riding a motorbike around the island

To rent a motorbike, contact Ms. Hang at 0989773557

10. Rock climbing

Catba has an international Rock climbing center and you can book a half or full-day rock climbing trip at Monkey Island Resort booking office.

Rock climbing in Lan Ha bay

Rock climbing in Lan Ha bay Vietnam

How to get to Cat Ba island Vietnam?

From Hanoi

If you go by motorbike, go down to the highway 5 (Quốc Lộ 5) to get to Hai Phong city (105 km – 3 hours.) From Hai Phong mainland, you can either park your bike in the lot or bring it with you as the suggestions above.

In total, it will take you around 5 hours to get to the center of Cat Ba Town.

Hanoi to Cat Ba

If you want to go by local bus, you can go to Gia Lam station to buy tickets if you are staying near Long Bien bridge or Niem Nghia station if you are staying in Ha Dong – Thanh Xuan – My Dinh – Cau Giay areas.

There are a number of choices in Gia Lam station such as Oho Bus, Hai Au Bus. In Ha Dong - Thanh Xuan - My Dinh - Cau Giay areas, find Hoang Long Bus, Anh Huy Bus, Dat Cang bus.

When you get to Hai Phong, you can take cab or motor-taxi (15-20 mins) to travel to Binh ferry terminal or Got ferry terminal then travel to the island like mentioned above (From Hai Phong.) Keep in mind that the latest boat departs from Binh ferry terminal at 4 PM, from Got ferry terminal at 6 PM.

get to Cat Ba from Hanoi

get to Cat Ba from Hanoi

The good point of taking the bus is that the speedboat is included in the ticket and all the journey is taken care of by one company.

In addition to that, it usually takes just 3 hours 30 minutes or 4 hours to get to the center of Cat Ba Town.

Cat Ba Town

Cat Ba Town

You can travel with Cat Ba Express to ensure your comfort for the whole journey with just 14 USD. There are buses from Hanoi to Cat Ba island 3 times a day: 7:30 AM and 02:00 PM.

Book a bus to Cat Ba Island

Bus Hanoi to Cat Ba

Bus Cat Ba to Hanoi

Cat Ba Express bus

Cat Ba Express bus

From Ninh Binh

Travel to Cat Hai Island via highway 10, then take speedboat or ferry to Cat Ba Island Vietnam. If you take the bus from Ninh Binh, it costs around 300,000 VND and takes 5 hours.

Bus Hanoi to Cat Ba

Bus Hanoi to Cat Ba

Need help?

  1. Come to our office at: 106 Tran Nhat Duat, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  2. Call our hotline: +84 84 824 4999
  3. Send your request to: info@catbaexpress.com

From Ha Long

The shortest way to go from Ha Long Bay to Cat Ba Island is by ferry since there's no road that leads to the island. You have to go to Tuan Chau ferry terminal to take the ferry.

Tuan Chau port

Tuan Chau port

You will get to Cat Ba Island Vietnam at Gia Luan ferry terminal. There are different options for you to choose to travel to the Island.

  1. By 7-to-12 seat canoe: 120 - 150 USD / way.
  2. By ferry from Tuan Chau Island to Gia Luan port: 80,000 VND / ticket.
 Tuan Chau Ferry

Tuan Chau Ferry

Summner schedule (30/04 - 30/09)

  • Tuan Chau – Gia Luan: 7:30, 9:00, 11:30, 13:30, 15:00
  • Gia Luan – Tuan Chau: 9:00, 11:30, 13:00, 15:00, 16:00

Winter schedule (01/10 - 29/04)

  • Tuan Chau – Gia Luan: 08:00, 11:30, 15:00
  • Gia Luan – Tuan Chau: 9:00, 13:00, 16:00

From Hai Phong

I suppose you are not familiar with any of the places mentioned here so before we get down to the road of island - port – ferry terminal – flyover – etc., here are 3 parts of the journey with their associated spots:
  • (1) In Hai Phong City (mainland), we have a very important spot: Binh ferry terminal.
  • (2) Then we have the transit island called Cat Hai Island. In this island, please remember the Got ferry terminal.
  • (3) Finally, our final destination – Cat Ba Island Vietnam. There’s two spots to remember: Cai Vieng ferry terminal and Phu Long port.

See the map below to have a better visualization.

regional map

regional map

Now it’s time to choose the route that fits you the best.

Option 1: You can take speedboat from Binh ferry terminal and go directly to Cat Ba Island Vietnam (~250,000 VND – 45 mins). It’s fast but expensive.

Speedboat to Cat Ba

Speedboat to Cat Ba

Option 2: You can go to the flyover called Tan Vu – Lach Huyen that connect the mainland to Cat Hai Island.

Tan Vu Ponte

Tan Vu Ponte

There’s a parking lot at the Got ferry terminal where you can park your motorbike/car or you can just bring them with you and pay some extra fees.

Then from Got ferry terminal in this island, you take ferry (12,000 VND – every 30 minutes from 4 AM to 11 PM - duration: 30 mins) or speedboat (80,000 VND – duration: 8 mins) to Cat Ba Island Vietnam.

Depends on what means you choose, you will arrive in different places in Cat Ba Vietnam. When you arrive, you will take the bus to center of Cat Ba town.

Ferry price

Ticket typePrice
Traveler12,000 VND / person
Motorbike25,000 VND / bike
Under-9-seat car95,000 VND / car
16-to-24-seat car105,000 VND / car
24-to-32-seat car120,000 VND / car
Over-32-seat car180,000 VND / car
hadeco speedboat

Hadeco speedboat

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 Vietnam from Hai Phong City, Ha Long, Hanoi, Ninh Binh easily. Read How to get to Cat Ba Island Vietnam for more detail.

cat ba island harbor

Cat Ba center harbor

Where to stay in Cat Ba Island Vietnam?

Hotels in Cat Ba Town nowadays are much better in quality and price, offering many choices for wide range of budgets: from backpackers to family tourists to luxurious travelers.

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

5 star hotel

Current 5-star hotels include Hotel Mgallery and Flamingo.
Book 5-star hotels: Whatsapp +84976951999

Catba Island Resort & Spa – 4 stars

- Address: Cat Co 1, Cat Ba, Cat Hai District

- Price: from 50 USD

Cat ba Island Resort

Cat ba Island Resort

CatBa 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

- Address: Bãi Tắm 2, Cat Dua Island, Cat Ba archipelago

- Price: from 49.5 USD

Monkey Island Resort

Monkey Island Resort

This resort is famous for a good view, delicious food, and friendly staffs. It’s suitable for long vacation, pleasure vacation and honeymoon vacation.

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

- Address: No. 219, 1 Thang 4 Street, Cat Ba Island

- Price: from 30 USD

Sea Pearl Hotel

Sea Pearl Hotel

What to see in Cat Ba Island Vietnam?

Cat Ba Island Vietnam has a lot to offer. You can choose from a dozen of options from discovering the regional wildlife to visiting a storybook hamlet in the rural countryside, to cruising on the bays on peaceful and unhurried cruise ships.

1. 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 the electricity bus or motorbike taxi to get there with just 10,000 VND. If you forget your swimming suits, there are 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.

Cat Co Beach

Cat Co Beach

2. 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 Town.

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 a 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 a special condition.

Cai Beo Village

Cai Beo village

3. Lan Ha Bay

Adventurous travelers always have snorkeling at the last but never least point in their list because after being tired (and sometimes bored) of all the historical sites, open-air markets, hitting the water and surrounding yourself with those beautiful coral reefs is such a great way to relax and enjoy natural beauty.

Lan Ha Bay is located in the east of Cat Ba Island Vietnam, looking over Cua Van, adjacent to Ha Long Bay.

It is a world of their own with over 400 isles in various shapes and sizes.

Unlike Ha Long Bay, many yellow sand beaches scattered everywhere and craggy peaks raising from the water are dotted with foliage making it Lan Ha bay the one of a kind. In some quiet island such as Sen Island, Cu Island, Monkey Island, there are a lot coral reefs for you to discover.

Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay

4. Monkey Island

Monkey Island is 1 km by a crow’s flight. To get there, you can take the boat from Beo port, then go past Cai Beo village, many isles and reach the Monkey Island.

It takes around 10 minutes. Monkey Island used to be called Cat Dua Island (Pineapples Island) because there were a lot of wild pineapples in the island.

The fruit is not edible but local people usually used the plant as an ingredient to make tea or dry it to make medicine for diabetes.

The island later was named Monkey Island when people saw a lot of monkeys coming down to the beach and playing with tourists.

They eat fruits, cakes, and candies given by tourists. The monkeys in the island are very friendly and love to be around people so that becomes the highlight for the island.

Monkey Island

And Monkey Island by Liv Sandwell

5. Then National treasure: Cat Ba national park

You should not skip the national park if you are a forest person who love to get a grand sense of remoteness when the trail breaks out of the woods.

Or just simply satisfy your curiousity by getting on any tiny trail you see on the way and go further into the wood.

Forests in Cat Ba national park are safe in general. I and my group once parked our motorbikes on an abandoned house on the way and went into the wood.

So much fun and a lot of beautiful plants. The sunlight filtered by the leaves in thousands kinds of shape and shades of green created a fairy tale view just after 20 minutes getting down. If you are an intrepid traveler, that’s completely worth a try.

Cat Ba national park

Cat Ba national park

6. Not tired yet? Go to Trung Trang cave

Found in 1938 by Vietnamese and French archaeologists, Trung Trang soon became famous among locals audacious travelers with its 300m length through a mountain.

The air inside the cave is so cool and fresh that people don’t want to get out anymore once getting in.

Trung Trang cave

Trung Trang cave

7. Hospital cave

The cave is employed as the healing cave in war. That’d be better if you go with a tour guide to make sense of what you see and experience.

Quan Y cave

Quan Y cave

8. Can't miss sunset on Canon Fort

It is 117 meters high from sea level, comprises of huge forts and matrix-like system of tunnels built in 40s. They are used in the war against French colonists and America.

There’re 2 special biggest forts that weighs up to dozens tons. In addition, you can enjoy the massive dramatic view of the island from the spot. Sunset in Cat Ba from the Cannon Fort is just great.

Canon Fort

Cannon Fort

Phao Dai Than Cong

Restaurant

Restaurants on Cat Ba Island, Hai Phong, have also developed according to the island's tourism development trend.

Currently, many new restaurants are built with high quality and ample space to meet customers' dining needs.

Besides, there are also many small shops or mid-range restaurants with affordable prices that provide 24/24 service.

All the restaurants here are easy to find as most are located in the town center.

In addition, big hotels all have their restaurants, so you can also use the accommodation package at the same place for convenience.

MariGold Restaurant

With many years of experience in seafood cuisine, MariGold always chooses the freshest seafood.

With a capacity of up to 600 guests, the most luxurious and classy space will surely satisfy the fastidious customers.

Restaurants with more than 300 delicious dishes from Asia - Europe, seafood, from traditional to modern, from popular to luxurious, are waiting for you to enjoy with a set menu from only 150k.

Address: 173-174 Street 1/4

MariGold Restaurant

Vien Duong Restaurant

Big fan of fresh seafood caught directly from Lan Ha Bay? Vien Duong Restaurant is an ideal option. It's a pretty famous restaurant in "Pearl Island", visitors coming here have also enjoyed the attractive dishes at this restaurant.

Many dishes are made from available seafood, such as fish, shrimp, squid... caught directly in Lan Ha Bay.

Address: No. 12 - 23 Nui Ngoc.

Vien Duong Restaurant

Fishing Village Hotel & Restaurant

Coming to Lang Chai Hotel & Restaurant, do not forget to miss the dishes that make the restaurant's name such as no-escape chicken, Pan-fried vermicelli, Beer fried chicken, Five-color chicken hot pot,...

Along with that, there are countless attractive dishes from seafood such as: Steamed crab with lemongrass, grilled geoduck with onion, grilled sea shrimp, grilled sea sam...

Address: No. 256, street 1/4.

Fishing Village Hotel & Restaurant

What to eat in Cat Ba Island Vietnam?

Life is too short to have time for diet. If anyone lectures you about your weight, eat them too. If you are big enough, eat all the seafood in the island.

That place is awesome because the perfect blending between seawater and fresh water brings about great source of fresh and delicious seafood.

If you cannot eat all, or your wallet is screaming, here are my suggestions.

(There's not much a point to know exactly the jargon of the seafood because local vendors would have no idea what you want to order anyway. So save the picture with of the dishes in Vietnamese names on it and show them when you get to the restaurants.)

What to eat in Cat Ba Island

Some tips and updates

  • Entrance tickets in all tourist attractions now cost the same price: 80,000 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 knows where they’re from.
  • The 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.

Cat Ba Island self-sufficient travel experience 

Self-sufficient travel experience in Cat Ba is information that young people have been very interested in recently. If you want to go to Cat Ba, you need to know some basic things.

1 day self-sufficient experience of traveling to Cat Ba island

Traveling to Cat Ba for 1 day on your own is quite tricky if you are far from the island because going to Cat Ba now is easier, but the travel time is also quite long.

However, traveling to Cat Ba island for a day is not impossible; you will go to fewer points when you are near Cat Ba island.

Usually, when you reach Cat Ba town, it is already noon, and we will have to find a restaurant to eat and rest after a long trip.

Next, you can choose one of the following tourist attractions to experience:

  1. 3-hour visit to the National Forest
  2. Visit and experience Cai Beo ancient fishing village, swimming at Monkey Island on Lan Ha Bay for 3 hours.
  3. See the romantic Lan Ha Bay from the 177m peak of Than Cong fortress, swim at Cat Co 1, 2, 3 beaches or untouched Tung Thu beach.

If you arrive on the island before 8 am, then I think you should visit Lan Ha bay for one day because this is the most beautiful tourist spot in Cat Ba.

However, renting a private boat to go far out of the bay is quite expensive, and it takes a whole day to experience all the beauty here.

Serenity Premium Cruise

Serenity Premium Cruise

Cat Ba island self-sufficient travel experience 2 days 1 night

2 days 1 night is an adequate time for you to experience the main attractions, enjoy fresh seafood dishes, and have fun in Cat Ba already.

The points you should visit when traveling for two days:

On day 1, you should arrive the town by noon.

Next, we visit the National Park, in the afternoon you can bathe at the beaches or watch the sunset of Lan Ha Bay from the Cannon Fort.

In the evening, you can experience the atmosphere at night: sip a cup of coffee and enjoy the night view or go to bars to immerse yourself in fun music.

On day 2 you should visit Lan Ha Bay for one day or half a day to visit Monkey Island and the fishing village.

If you would like to reach many beautiful places on the bay with longer trip, you definitely want to join our 1-day trip. After tour finishes, you can get in the bus back to Hanoi.

Lan Ha Bay tour

Cat Ba island self-sufficient travel experience 3 days 2 night

Traveling to Cat Ba 3 days 2 nights is enough for you to explore all tourist attractions, enjoy delicious dishes, and experience all the interesting entertainment services at Cat Ba island resort.

The program of this package can be same to the ones of 2 day 1 night program above.

Day 3, you should go to Viet Hai fishing village to visit the ancient Si forest, with thousands of nearly hundred-year-old si trees, and cycle around the fishing village.

Viet Hai pier

Viet Hai pier

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Cat Ba island Vietnam

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Lan Ha Bay day cruise
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