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Cat Ba Island Guide - All you need to know

With an area of 17 040 ha land area (island) and 9,200 ha of sea, Cat Ba island is one of the three biggest island in Vietnam. Moreover, because of the large area and including more than 300 small islands, Cat Ba provides various beautiful beaches and magnificent sightseeing, attracts a lot of foreigners and Vietnamese visitors also.

Cat Ba Island

Tourists checking in at Cat Ba Island


History of Cat Ba island

There are also many people wondering about the name “Cat Ba” of the island: Does this name have a special meaning? In the past, Cat Ba island was the place where many women cultivated in order to provide more food for men to fight the enemy. Therefore, the island where the warriors were stationed was called Cac Ong (means “Men” in Vietnamese) island and mispronounce as Cat Ong. The women’s one was also called Cac Ba (which means “women” in Vietnamese) and called Cat Ba now.

Being the biggest island in World Heritage recorded Halong Bay tourist information, Cat Ba’s spectacular National Park and its unique access to Halong Bay result in its place as one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam. Cat Ba island belongs to Cat Hai, Hai Phong city. Consisting of 367 small islands, Cat Ba island is shaped like an upside-down and appallingly drawn triangle. Located in the East North of Cat Ba, Cat Ba’s heart is Lan Ha Bay, which is called “the forgotten heaven” of Northside with imposing spectacle in fairy tales.

Similar to Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay consists of 400 multi-sized islands. However, it has been agreed that there are many spots only Lan Ha Bay owns. If you would prefer an adventure tour, riding a kayak to explore the Bay is definitely your choice. Renting a kayak on Lan Ha Bay costs about $5 - $10/day only. But you can row your way to many spots to explore such as Monkey Island, the Bright cave, the Dark cave, Cai Beo fishing village, etc.


Where to visit in Cat Ba Island

  • Cat Ba National Park:

Visiting Cat Ba Island, one of the attractions you should not miss is Cat Ba National Park. Here you will fully enjoy and explore the incredible variety of plants and animals in Vietnam. The national park fills most of its land area, approximately 260 square kilometers of landmass. Cat Ba National Park was declared in 1986, recognizing the park’s unique natural beauty and ecological value. The park is famous for many special features such as tropical forests, coastal water, and so many beautiful landscapes. There are various creatures with 300 species of fish, 40 species of animals, 150 species of birds, 620 species of plants and so many rare others.

  • Cat Ba beaches:

Arrived on Cat Ba, you cannot miss the beautiful beaches, which have been recognized as the topmost beautiful beaches of Vietnam's Northern side. The most famous beaches are Cat Co 1, 2, 3, all located near the city center. Among those, Cat Co 2 is the ideal beach with fresh clean water with is the finest green hue and long white sand coast. Tourist activities are mostly located along the main thoroughfare (1-4 Street), which spreads along the harbor's edge of Cat Ba. Don’t have your swimsuit on? Don’t worry, you can rent everything on the beaches or the main thoroughfare.

  • Trung Trang Cave:

Trung Trang Cave is located in Trung Trang valley, 15 km from Cat Ba town. Tourists almost have to stoop so low throughout the journey to discover the cave which more than 300m long. Over millions of years of geological tectonics, this cave possesses thousands of natural stalactites with diverse shapes, arousing the imagination of tourists. Trung Trang cave is called "treasury" by locals due to its unique beauty. Trung Trang cave represents a population of more than 150 large and small caves on Cat Ba Island. Fossil bones and stone tools of prehistoric Vietnamese have been found here. This is also the place to keep the heroic historical traces of the army and people on the island during the national construction and defense period.

Visit Cave in Cat Ba Island

Cave visit in Cat Ba

  • Cat Ba Cannon Fort:

Known as High Point 177, Cat Ba Cannon Fort was built by the French colonialist in 1942 to control the entire northeastern of Vietnam as well as the southeast of Hai Phong city. Located on the top of a hill which is 177m above sea level, including large sea cannons, tunnel complex built in the 40s of the 20th century. Thanks to its prime location, it allows you to see a whole strip of the East Sea and the back leans on mountain ranges. Cat Ba Cannon Fort became a historical destination, accompanying Cat Ba's army and people through two national defense wars. Here keep many historical memorabilia, especially two cannons with a weight of tens of tons each.


Things to do

  • Sightseeing:

Lan Ha Bay is one of the most beautiful bays in Vietnam. The bay is located in the East of Cat Ba Island, close to Ha Long Bay, with an area of about 7000ha. Lan Ha Bay has 400 large and small islands located on the blue sea, creating a giant majestic painting. Especially, Lan Ha Bay has up to 139 small sandy beaches at the foot of the island that are very beautiful, tourists can drop in by boats to enjoy themselves in the clear water. Thanks to the pristine beauty, tranquility, calm water waves, and fresh breeze, many tourists have come to visit and relax to enjoy the wonderful nature of the bay.

  • Trekking and cycling:

Trekkers and cycle bikers often come to the Cat Ba National Park for a wonderful trip of their styles. From Ngu Lam mountain peak, your eyes are served with the whole view of the National Park, which is worth the way climbing up honestly. Wandering around, tourists are exposed to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of National Park with a primitive natural eco-system.

  • Kayaking:

Kayaking to explore Lan Ha Bay is very excited for those who love adventure, mountain climbing. Floating on the tumbling waves to admire the full range of limestone mountains, caves, clear water with the immense sky, explore stretches of white sand, rising mountains on the sea, etc. Not only can you kayak to explore Lan Ha Bay, but you can also explore Cai Beo fishing village, monkey island, Sang cave, dark cave, etc.

  • Swimming

Cat Ba Island is famous for hundreds of mini beaches and the sea of Cat Ba Island is also famous for its emerald color, so Cat Ba is also called “Pearl Island”. The most popular beaches on Cat Ba island is Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2, and Cat Co 3. Besides, there are hundreds of mini beaches on Lan Ha Bay, all of them also have a unique feature of this island. To swimming there, you have to rent a boat or kayak to reach them, a bit expensive but in return, there is a private space, clear blue water, and charming natural scenery.


Best time to visit

Cat Ba Island not only has beach tourism but also has many other interesting places, therefore, if you want to travel to Cat Ba Island, you can go at any time of the year. However, there are also some notes for people to choose the best time, to have a comfortable, economical and suitable for your hobby.

The average temperature on Cat Ba Island is quite low, from 25-28oC depending on the season. In summer it can over 30 degrees, the winter is from 15-20oC, but when having the northeast monsoon it can drop to below 10oC. That's why when traveling to Cat Ba Island, the weather is always cool and comfortable at any time of the year.

Foreign tourists to Cat Ba are the most crowded in June and July because this time is the summer holiday in Vietnam and it is also the best time to enjoy many activities on the beach. Meanwhile, from November to March next year is the time when international visitors come here the most, to avoid the cold.
As noticed, the number of tourists coming to Cat Ba island in summer is extremely crowded, especially on weekends. Therefore, Got ferry often has a traffic jam, the hotel room price can increase by 2 or 3 times compared to normal days and during the holidays, hotels are full booking quickly.


How to get there?

If you are going from Hanoi, taking the bus to Hai Phong sounds like a great idea for a convenient and quick ride. Then speedboats can take you straight from Ben Binh (Binh Station) to the island. However, the speedboat ticket price is probably higher than taking a ferry from Dinh Vu Station. If you don’t need a fast route to the island, the ferry can be a more affordable option.

If you are going from Ha Long (Quang Ninh), come to Tuan Chau island and get on a ferry to reach Gia Luan Station on Cat Ba island. Afterward, you can travel to the island center by bus, taxi, or rent your own bike.


Where to stay

  • Flamingo Cat Ba Beach Resort:

Flamingo Cat Ba Beach Resort is located on an area of 77,843 square meters, located on two beautiful beaches: Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 2. Flamingo Cat Ba Beach Resort is the first project in Cat Ba area built in the model 5-star resort and entertainment services in Cat Ba Island. Flamingo Cat Ba Beach Resort is designed with distinctive green architecture, a system of trees covering most of the resort spaces. Greenspace gives tourists freshness, coolness, immersed in nature, watching the sea, sky, and water from their own room.

  • Dai Thuy Hotel

Dai Thuy Hotel is located 500m from the center and 200m from the parking lot that convenient to move to. It has 16 rooms in total and all rooms have a view of the garden. Dại Thuy hotel has full services such as a Swimming pool on the 7th floor, elevator, 2-way air-conditioner, modern amenities, and interiors highlight with the most luxurious and comfortable for customers, etc. Besides that, enthusiastic and dedicated staff will suggest you with booking buses from other provinces to Cat Ba, consulting tours and attractions on the island, etc.

  • Cat Ba Sunrise Hotel

If you want to find a peaceful space to rest in Cat Ba, Cat Ba Sunrise hotel is the most ideal accommodation. Because this place is located behind an arched rocky mountain range, isolated from the central area. Coming here, you will be able to see the white sand and crystal clear seawater on the island. Cat Ba Sunrise Hotel is including hotel rooms and luxury villas with a natural green landscape. Coming here, you will feel a bit closer and cozy thanks to the entire interior made from natural materials such as wood, tile roof, brick background, etc.


Food and Restaurants

  • Honey:

Cat Ba National Park with an area of more than 26,000 hectares, so it always has a huge source of wild honey, which is found by locals in the forest. Cat Ba honey is famous for being the most comparable and delicious, especially nutritional value from wild honey is very high. They are filtered and stored in glass bottles, very convenient to buy as gifts, the most selling place is Cat Ba market or specialty shops.

  • Cat Hai, Van Van fish sauce:

If you are looking to buy a specialty that has a little practical meaning, fish sauce branded Cat Hai, Van Van is a good suggestion. These two fish sauce brands have been very famous for a long time because the quality is always the 1st. Fish sauce in Cat Ba is not too salty, balanced protein, not only that, but it is also distilled by traditional methods, does not contain additives, so you are completely assured.

  • Dried squid:

Cat Ba is famous for its specialties: dried squid, the squid on Cat Ba Island is famous for being thick, sweet, and chewy, but the price is quite varied, you have to buy the right kind to taste. At night, grill squid and eat with chili sauce for drinking will be a wonderful experience!

For the most convenient and comfortable journey, it is recommended for tourists to travel to the island by boat or book a tourism boat to stay on the water for a night. You can look for Cat Ba Island Cruise as a preferred option.

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Top places to visit in Cat Ba Island

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