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.
|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.
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.
Read more to plan your trip in Cat Ba
- 1. Where is Cat Ba Island?
- 2. When is the best to go?
- 3. Things to do?
- 4. How to get there?
- 5. Where to stay?
- 6. What to see?
- 7. What to eat?
Cat Ba Island Vietnam
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.
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.
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.
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.
Considered the best seafood to try in the North of Vietnam, the seafood here is raised and caught directly in the far bay.
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).
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.
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.
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.
- Beautiful natural landscape.
- You will be surprised by the wild nature after many challenges to conquer the top.
- Rocky mountains and forests intertwine with each other for a strong sense of discovery.
Read more → Cat Ba National Park Tour
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.
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.
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.
To rent a motorbike, contact Ms. Hang at 0989773557
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 Vietnam
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.
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
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
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
Cat Ba Express bus
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
- Come to our office at: 106 Tran Nhat Duat, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- Call our hotline: +84 84 824 4999
- Send your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.
- By 7-to-12 seat canoe: 120 - 150 USD / way.
- By ferry from Tuan Chau Island to Gia Luan port: 80,000 VND / ticket.
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
- (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.
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
Option 2: You can go to the flyover called Tan Vu – Lach Huyen that connect the mainland to Cat Hai Island.
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.
|Traveler||12,000 VND / person|
|Motorbike||25,000 VND / bike|
|Under-9-seat car||95,000 VND / car|
|16-to-24-seat car||105,000 VND / car|
|24-to-32-seat car||120,000 VND / car|
|Over-32-seat car||180,000 VND / car|
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 center harbor
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
Mgallery Hotels Cat Ba is located at Cat Co 3 beach, one of the most beautiful and cleanest beaches in Cat Ba island.
On one side is the beautiful and romantic Sunrise Resort campus, MGallery Hotels Cat Ba occupies a dominant position in the landscape and service value.
Hôtel Perle D'Orient Cat Ba - Mgallery Designed with sophistication, elegance and nobility, 100% of the rooms have private balconies with sea and mountain views.
Book hotels: - Whatsapp +84976951999
Mgallery Hotel and Highlights:
- Mgalley Hotel Cat Ba is the first 5-star hotel in Cat Ba island with international standards of Accor Group.
- View the beautiful Lan Ha Bay from the top floor of the hotel.
- Asian style design bold Vietnam.
- Extremely luxurious facilities include service areas such as: health care center, restaurant, bar.
- It's great when organizing events, weddings here with large space, perfect sound system.
- Total number of rooms: 121.
- Meeting room: 02 with a capacity of 190 guests / 1 room.
- 2 Great Restaurants
- 3 Bars
- 2 Swimming Pools.
- 1 Spa on the terrace.
Flamingo Cat Ba is located in the center of Cat Ba island - "the pearl of the Gulf of Tonkin" with wild beauty with both beautiful mountains and blue sea and a favorable feng shui location "swimming in the direction of the water".
Book hotels: - Whatsapp +84976951999
On Cat Co 1 beach, the Forest On The Sea tower is a symbol of a perfect high-class lifestyle with delicate and sustainable green space and spectacular views of Lan Ha Bay.
On Cat Co 2B beach, Forest On The Sand tower is the ideal place for visitors and homeowners with smooth white sand stretches to embrace the clear blue sea.
On Cat Co 2A beach, Forest In the Sun tower is like a shining jewel under the bright sun.
Address: Cat Co 1, Cat Ba, Cat Hai District.
Price: from 50 USD.
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.
Quang Tung Hotel is located in a prime location in the center of town. Quang Tung hotel is a hotel in Cat Ba close to the amusement parks, Cat Co beaches 1, 2, 3 and convenient for moving to and from Cat Ba island.
Quang Tung Hotel
Address: No. 250 1/4 Cat Ba town, Cat Hai district, Hai Phong.
Room rate: 1.70.000 VND / night - 1,900,000 VND / night.
|Sea view||2-way air conditioner|
|Large LED screen TV||Large wardrobe|
|Makeup table||Water table watching the bay|
|Work desk & pen paper||Free Wifi|
|Mini bar||1 bathroom with separate bathtub / glass bathroom (shower)|
|Shaving.||Smart word lock|
|Safe vault||Breakfast for 02 people|
Paradise hotel Cat Ba is located at 234 1/4 street Cat Ba town with 90 rooms and has a capacity of 300 guests a day, was put into use since the fourth quarter of 2019.
Currently, Paradise Cat Ba hotel is the hottest hotel in the center of Cat Ba town, with the experience and appreciation of customers, there is no reason why people do not book here for the vacation.
In addition to new and luxurious rooms, this hotel also has a large dining room accommodating 200 guests, a small Bar, a large swimming pool on the rooftop, guests can both bath and watch Lan Ha Bay from above.
Some pictures of Paradise Cat Ba hotel
Cat Ba Paradise Hotel
Paradise Cat Ba rooftop pool
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.
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
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
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.Read more → Day tour into Lan Ha - Ha Long Bay - with Serenity Premium Cruise
Lan Ha Bay
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.
And Monkey Island by Liv Sandwell
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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:
- 3-hour visit to the National Forest
- Visit and experience Cai Beo ancient fishing village, swimming at Monkey Island on Lan Ha Bay for 3 hours.
- 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
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.
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
Pin it for the next journey!