A complete guide to travel Cat Ba – the pearl island

Being well-known as the pearl island of the Gulf of Tokin, Cat Ba has a pristine and majestic beauty that makes everyone fall in love with it. In recent years, Cat Ba is the first choice of many international as well as domestic tourists, especially during summer and holidays. Why it is so attractive? Let’s find out the reasons behind its reputation in this article!

Cat Ba Island with a spectacular view of sea and large rocks
Cat Ba Island with a spectacular view of sea and large rocks

The best time to visit Cat Ba

Travellers can visit Cat Ba at any time of the year. Vietnamese tourists usually come to Cat Ba in the summer months, while international visitors often spend a two-day relaxing trip here between November and March. You should travel to Cat Ba on weekdays to get the best service and to save costs. Because at weekends and holidays, the number of guests is at peak so hotel prices can increase about 1.5 – 2 times.

How to get to Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba is the largest island of an archipelago, which is also named Cat Ba. It is 60 km far away from Hai Phong center. There are many ways to get to Cat Ba from both Ha Long and Hanoi.

  • From Hanoi

You can take a coach at Gia Lam or Yen Nghia station to Hai Phong for about 4 to 5 USD per person. After arriving at Hai Phong, you can choose high speed train to Cat Ba for 10USD/pass. If you want to save costs, you can choose to go on two ferries with the cost of 0.25 – 0.5USD/pass per person. However, this option will take you more time. The travel time is about 1.5 to 2 hours.

  • From Ha Long

If departing from Ha Long, you can take a ferry at Tuan Chau. The last trip to Cat Ba is at 15:00 pm every day. Normally, tourists travel to Ha Long Bay will visit Cat Ba as well. So, you should come early to buy tickets so as not to waste time by the overload there.

Cat Ba Highlights

1. Cat Ba Beaches

Cat Co 1, 2, 3 are the most famous beaches in Cat Ba. They are beaches that are near the center with beautiful scenic and blue clear water. From the center of the town, you can hide a “xe om” or catch an electric car to go to the beaches. The cost for an electric car ticket is only 0.5 USD/person. If you go by “xe om”, the price will be higher, about 2 – 4 USD/person.

Cat Co Beach 1 – the largest one among Cat Co Beach 1, 2, 3
Cat Co Beach 1 – the largest one among Cat Co Beach 1, 2, 3

Cat Co Beach 1 is larger than the 2 and 3. Three sides of it are surrounded by rocky small mountains. Cat Co 2 and 3 are smaller, but they are quite peaceful. The beaches are connected by a small path along the mountain. If you don’t bring along swimwear, you still can rent one at some stores at the beach. Remember to go ashore before 18:30pm because after this time, the tide will rise very high and the waves are very strong.

2. Monkey Island

Monkey Island is an indispensible stop on the trip to Cat Ba. As you can know from the name, this place has about 20 monkeys that are playing on the beaches all days. Monkey Island is the most suitable place for families with children. If you enjoy the sea, you can also take a bath at Cat Dua beach or take a diving tour at a center on the island. There will be an instructor help you during the diving time. It costs about 450 – 500 USD/person for 30 minutes.

Monkeys are playing happily on the beach at Monkey Island
Monkeys are playing happily on the beach at Monkey Island

3. Lan Ha Bay

Kayaking to discover Lan Ha Bay is often preferred by the people who like adventurous activities. You will have to sail undulate on the waves to see the whole array of limestone mountains, caves, clear water, the immense sky and to explore the white sand beaches, the mountains grow on the sea.

Kayaking to explore Lan Ha Bay
Kayaking to explore Lan Ha Bay

Kayaking and mountain climbing tickets are available at the entrance for 8 USD/person. This price includes a car that takes you to the pier. Or you can rent a “xe om” to Bai Beo then buy tickets at Xuan Hong Floating house with the price from 5 – 10 USD/kayak/day. You can also buy a tour that is a combination of kayaking and diving to see corals, discovering Lan Ha Bay with 18 – 20 USD.

4. Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park is a biosphere reserve established on March 31, 1986 with a diverse ecosystem of about 741 different plant species, including many rare species. This place is one of the most attractive destinations to tourists from all over the world.

Bay view from Cat Ba National Park
Bay view from Cat Ba National Park

With the price of only from 1 USD/person, you can choose ecological tours to see the vegetation inside the national forest or visit some famous caves such as Trung Trang cave, Doi cave, etc. Coming here, you will also have a chance to admire the majestic scenery of the island, the undulating mountains. Everywhere is covered with a green color that will make you feel fresh and relax.

5. Cai Beo – Old fishing village

Cai Beo fishing village is one of the oldest and the most famous fishing villages in Vietnam. It is not as busy as the pier to Lan Ha Bay, but there are many ships, boats, and ferries that are always available to take visitors around to discover the peaceful beauty of this village.

Cai Beo fishing village in the morning
Cai Beo fishing village in the morning

If you travel in a group, it will be better to hire a big boat to save costs. However, if you want to understand more about the life of locals here, you should hire a small ferry. The ferryman will tell you many stories about the history and customs of people in this old village. Besides, they will even stop somewhere for you to see kinds of fancy seafood.

6. Than Cong Fortress

Located at an altitude of 177 meters, Than Cong Fortress (High Point 177) is a historic site built by Vietnamese Army in the 40s of the 20th century. Now, there are still 2 large cannons, each of them weighs up to ten tons.

One of the two cannons at Than Cong Fortress
One of the two cannons at Than Cong Fortress

To get to Than Cong Fortress, you will have to catch a “xe om” with a price from 1 – 2 USD/person. The price of one entrance ticket is only 3 USD. Through the lens of the telescope there, you can see many other tourist attractions from above such as Lan Ha Bay, Hon Guoc, etc. It is also an ideal place for those who like photography.

It’s not the end. Read more about accommodations, must-try dishes and tips when coming to Cat Ba Island here.

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