Cat Ba Island overview
This complex is one of the most tourist’s favorite attractions in Halong Bay due to its natural scenery. Visiting Cat Ba Island, travelers can enjoy refreshing swimming or scuba diving in beautiful beaches. In addition, travelers can pay a visit to Monkey Island where they can enjoy great time with lovely monkeys, explore amazing caves, or make a sightseeing tour in Cat Ba National Park. One of the best place for halong bay overnight cruise tour to reach there.
Cat Ba Island also known as Pearl island, is the biggest island among 1.969 islands of Ha Long bay. The name Cat Ba is derived from a legend that back in the day of wartime, woman in the region took the responsibility of the rear for man to fight in the front. The name Cat Ba is originally Cac Ba which means Women. An adjacent island is named Cat Ong (Cac Ong – Men.)
Why Cat Ba Island ?
If Phu Quoc Island is the ‘Pearl Island’ of the South, Vietnamese northerners use the exact same name for another island – Cat Ba island. Lying next to the beautiful Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba Island has always been considered one of the must-visit destinations of Vietnam. Let’s check out our best recommended list of Top things to do in Cat Ba Island and Lan Ha Bay.
Cat Ba Island belongs to Hai Phong City, about 10km southeast of Halong Bay, 30km from city center of Hai Phong. Cat Ba is the largest island of Cat Ba archipelago which is composed of 367 islands on the water of Lan Ha Bay. Come to Cat Ba, visitors will have chance to enjoy the wonders of nature, the idyllic way of life and the savory seafood.
Cat Ba Island climate
Climate in Cat Ba Island is neither too hot nor too cold. Here, the average temperature is 23-24°C with two distinct seasons: dry season and rainy season. Cat Ba Island is the main island in the Cat Ba Archipelago with various terrain, cool climate, quite diverse and rich natural resources on the island. Notably, Cat Ba National Park was recognized as the World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2003. And, this is the third world biosphere reserve in Vietnam after Can Gio National Park and Cat Tien National Park. Mangrove coastal areas in the island are the habitats of unique species of aquatic plants and animals, especially waterfowl and migratory seasonal birds. The attraction of Cat Ba National Park represents through constituents in topography and geology with lakes in limestone, unique caves and beautiful coral reefs along the foot of small islands in Lan Ha Bay.
Cat Ba weather
Cat Ba is a beautiful and romantic island, located at average latitude of 70 m above the sea level (in the range of 0-331 m). Cat Ba weather is specified by the tropical monsoon climate and influenced by the ocean. Thus, the averages of temperature, humidity, and precipitation in Cat Ba Island are equivalent to areas nearby. However, it is characterized with less cold in winter and cooler in summers than that of mainland area. To specify, the average temperature is from 25-28°C ranging according to seasons. In summer, the figure can reach 30°C, while in winter, it is about 15-20°C, even 10°C sometimes with the operation of north-east monsoon. The average precipitation in Cat Ba is about 1700-1800 mm per year, which fluctuates according to seasons. Rainy season runs from July to August. The tidal fluctuation is from 3.3 m to 3.9 m. The salinity is from 0.930% in wet season to 3.111% in dry season.
Cat Ba National Park
Cat Ba National Park location
Cat Ba Island is 50 km to the east of Hai Phong City, in Northern Vietnam. It is the largest of 366 islands in the Cat Ba Archipelago, and has a surface area of about 140 square km. The area is one of the best examples in the world of a Karst landscape invaded by the sea. Some 1,500-2,000 large and small islands and cliffs rise steeply from the shallow marine waters. Many of these islands reach towering heights of 50 to 100m with sheer vertical cliffs on all sides.
Cat Ba National Park biography value
Spectacular rock relief and bizarre rock formations provide evidence of a long history of erosion and landscape evolution through the sculpturing power of water. The greatest part of the islands’ mountain range like most of the smaller offshore islands of the Archipelago, are covered by tropical moist limestone forest. Cat Ba Island also has coral terraces, sandy beaches, freshwater wetland areas, tidal flats, mangrove forests and willow swamp. Spectacular scenery and a high diversity of landscapes make Cat Ba a special place and it has become a main destination for national and international tourists.
Cat Ba National Park values
Cat Ba National Park was established in 1986. After a re-arrangement of the park boundaries in 2006, the park now comprises of 109 square km of land area and an additional 52 square km of inshore waters and mangrove covered tidal zones. Cat Ba National Park was Vietnam’s first national park to include both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Cat Ba Island, its national park and the surrounding area are nationally and internationally recognized for their importance to biodiversity conservation, exemplified through the recognition of the Cat Ba Archipelago as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve, in 2004. This is not only because the area has a high number of different ecosystem and habitat types, but also because it possesses a great variety of plant and animal species, many of which, like the Cat Ba langur, are now rare and endangered.
Biodiversity of Cat Ba National park
About 1,400 vascular plants, including 23 Endangered and Critically Endangered species (Red Data Book of Vietnam; IUCN Red List) have so far been recorded. Large and partly endangered mammals include the Cat Ba langur, the Southern Serow (Naemorhaedus sumatraensis), Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), black giant squirrel (Ratufa bicolor), and civet cats (Viverricula indica, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). The cave, land snail and butterfly fauna is rich including the most northerly cave-adapted crab species, plus four species of true cave snails. The region is considered a hotpot for land snail diversity and might also be conserving a considerable number of bat species including rare ones.
Cat Ba Island nowadays
On the 50th anniversary of late President Ho Chi Minh’s visit to Cat Ba Fishing Village and traditional day for the fisheries sector (April 1, 2009), the first wifi system has been established in wide area in the center of Cat Ba Townlet. Tourists can enjoy free wifi Internet until the end of this year. It was reported that tourists’ length of stay are longer after this service was set up. The feeling of isolated seems to be blurred by wi-fi services. More tourists last their stay to explore the entire of the mysterious and wild beauty of the island on halong bay overnight cruise in Cat Ba
Best things to do in Cat ba Island
Enjoy natural beauty
Cat Ba is a perfect place for various tourist activities since its beautiful natural scenery, abundant forest and sea resources. More and more services have been invested and upgraded to meet the demand of tourists and keep them stay there longer.
Cat Ba is a popular destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. It is an archipelago covering more than 300 islands of different shapes and size. The main island is Cat Ba with an area about 200 km2. There are numerous beaches on the island that are very clean and soft, with clear blue water. Cat Ba National Park has the largest area of tropical primitive forests in Vietnam with many rare fauna and flora. In 2004, Cat Ba was recognized as World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
Go Swimming at Cat Co Beaches
There are three beaches on Cat Ba Island which are named Cat Co 1, 2 and 3, located pretty near the central town. The beaches are blessed with golden sandy shores and turquoise colored sea water and filled with tourist services from electric cars, food and drink to beach side activities. Water games are available at Cat Co 1 and 2.
On summer holidays, the beaches can get pretty crowded so if you want to have the beaches all to yourself, come early in the morning.
Cat Co 1 and 2 are also the beaches where you can witness a magical natural phenomenon: bio luminescent plankton. About an hour after twilight, the beach of Cat Co 2 begins to sparkle with the blue tiny dots from the marine organisms lighting up as a mechanism of defense against predators.
Swimming in Cat Ba Island
As the summer season sets in, on a tour to halong bay or cat ba island immerse yourself in the cool water and float within the calming roll of the ocean at one of the islands few hidden beaches. If you are part of a large group, staffed boats can be hired for 300,000-500,000 VND for 6 people. The operators of Cozy Vietnam Travel will transfer you to one of the Archipelago’s secluded and uninhabited islands. For those more adventurous individuals, kayaks can be rented from either Quang Anh’s or Xuan Hong’s boathouse for around 200,000 VND per day. This option gives you the liberty to explore the many coral reefs and indulge in marine life. If you prefer a livelier scene, the infamous beaches of Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2, Cat Co 3 adjacent to the city center are the most popular options. People amass slowly throughout the day, be it tourists or locals, everyone enjoys these iconic beaches.
Learn the local life of Vietnamese people in the villages
The largest floating village in Vietnam (Cai Beo) can be accessed via the Cai Beo port. The floating houseboats and inviting smiles of local villagers will be an everlasting memento. The local might invite you to visit their houses or mingle with you to experience the unique way of life here. You should visit the mountain village of Viet Hai and do your very own walking tour around. Here you will learn about the local lifestyle and the surrounding, bringing in more meaning and appreciation to what you experience in Cat Ba. There are three ways to enter the village: Doing kayaking in Cat Ba Island, using boat or trekking in the Cat Ba National Park.
Explore Lan Ha Bay
Once belonging to Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay was named an independent Archipelago, in an effort to maintain the natural biodiversity. It is quite a surreal experience to cruise amongst the ageless cliffs and let your eyes explore the picturesque horizon. If you travel as a group (including children and seniors), the best way is to book a tour around the bay for the whole group – swimming at Monkey island usually included. However, this option does bare considerably higher cost at around 1.1-1.3 million VND. Contact Cozy Vietnam Travel for the details of boats, junks, cruises in Lan Ha Bay.
Kayaking and diving in Lan Ha Bay
Kayaking is one of the must-do activities when you visit Cat Ba. Due to the sheltered nature of the bay, the water remains calm and effortless to glide atop. Take the time to relax and refuel after kayaking at one of the remote beaches. You can continue your journey to fishing villages and dive to see coral reefs with snorkels (inexpensive) or an oxygen tank (1-1.5 million/person.) Note: You can choose either rent a kayak or book a one-day tour of kayaking and diving with oxygen tank. Renting a kayak is more suitable for those who fancy aimless exploration or searching for hidden gems. Booking a tour on the other hand, can take you to the most famous and beautiful spots in the bay as a base for sightseeing and kayaking. In addition to diving, a lunch is provided for the price of 390,000 VND.
Visiting Monkey Island in Cat Ba
Monkey island is nearby to Cat Ba and is one of the most visited islands in the area. The island has been divided into two sections, on the one side a resort and the other a beach for the populous. You may also choose to visit the observatories that overlook the bay, a popular photography destination with continuously changing beauty. Monkey island is accessible via boat or kayak. The most unique feature of the island are the monkeys – there are about 20 individuals living on the island’s forest. When the tourists come, the monkey come down and get close in order to get food. You can feed them but it’s not wise to tease or bother them because they do bite and fight back.
Canon fort in Ca Ba and admire the sunset there
The Cannon Fort on Cat Ba Island has long been the famous spot to enjoy the sunset with view directly to the surrounding islands and Lan Ha Bay. Also known as High Point 177 or Divine fortress, a historical site where you can find tunnel system, cannons, and trench fortifications built about 40 years ago. Especially when the day fades away, the sun glowing like a coal equivocal after the mountain, visitors will enjoy the sediment, romantic sunset on the sea.
Sunsets are always a mystical experience worth admiration and nothing short of this can be found at Cannon Fort. Watch the sun as it descends into the ocean, illuminating the scattered islands in an electrifying light.
Explore Cat Ba National Park
This ecological sanctuary is home to abundance of diverse flora and fauna; along with one of the most endangered species of Monkey (Longhaired Macaque). This is a chance for you to immerse yourself in the nature. Especially in Cat Ba National Park, you can have a spectacular view of the prolific forest from the observatory on Ngu Lam Peak.
Visit Ba Trai Dao Beach in Cat Ba
It has that name as Ba Trai Dao Beach (meaning the three peaches), features three small beautiful sandy beaches embracing small islands. Legend has it, that fairies escaped from Heaven and came here for sight-seeing and swimming. The youngest fairy, which was very pretty and virtuous, fell in love with a young fisher- man. The young fairy stole three peaches from Heaven for him, that if he ate, would give him eternal life, allowing them to live together forever. But while she waited for him on the island, the King of the Heavens discovered the robbery and turned the peaches into stone island. Chastised, the young fairy had to return.
To the Ba Trai Dao Beach, it costs 3.5 to 4 hours by cruise from Bai Chay Tourist Wharf. It has that name as Ba Trai Dao Beach (meaning the three peaches), features three small beautiful sandy beaches embracing small islands. These islands, seen from afar, resemble three peaches…
Trekking in Cat Ba Island rain forest
For those who are into extreme sports, hiking in Cat Ba is not a bad idea. There are several spots for you including Dau Be Island – 2 hours on boat from Cat Ba port, Ben Beo cliff – just 2 km from the town of Cat Ba, Ba Trai Dao Island – 22 km south of Cat Ba port. You also can hike right in Monkey Island.
Camping in Cat Ba National Park
One of the best activities for those who travel as a group is renting a boat to go to a remote beach in the bay and camp there. Experiencing
the life of Robinson Crusoe for a night will definitely become a unforgettable memory for all.
Cat Ba tourism promoting by local government administrator
This initiative is part of the master plan on sustainable tourism development of the Cat Ba archipelago, which is adjacent to the World Heritage Halong Bay, until 2025 approved by the provincial People’s Committee.
The plan aims to zone off key tourism sites to promote their respective potentials and key products.
Director of the city’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Doan Duy Linh highlighted the significant role of the archipelago in the sociology-economic development of Cat Hai District and Hai Phong City.
The locality will invest in improving service quality and conduct publicity campaigns to promote the Cat Ba archipelago in domestic and international markets, Linh said.
Infrastructure facilities will also be developed to connect the site with neighboring vicinity and international destinations. Additional services will be offered to lure tourists, including home stays, sports, cuisine tourism packages and resorts, he added.
How to get to Cat Ba Island from Hanoi
Bus and ferry from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island
The fastest and cheap way how to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island by bus & ferry travel by a direct bus+ferry from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island takes about 3,5-5 hours. Bus companies: Good morning Cat Ba, Cat Ba Express, Daichi Travel, Grouptour, InterBus Lines… cheap bus tickets to Cat Ba Island, prices start already at $11 (seat)
Good Morning Cat Ba, Group tour have cheap bus tickets > ticket costs about $11-17/pp. Bus is going over the longest sea-crossing bridge in Southeast Asia – Tan Vu – Lach Huyen. Bus is going directly to the Cat Ba town on the island. Over the Cat Hai Island a short boat transfer (15 minutes) from the Got Port (Bến phà Gót) to the Cái Viềng port
Train & speedboat from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island
Train from Hanoi to Hai Phong (LP3, LP5, LP7, HP1), travel by train from Hanoi to Hai Phong takes about 2,5 hours
train ticket from Hanoi to Hai Phong costs about $3-4 (hard or soft seat). Railway station in Hanoi – Gia Lam Railway Station (481 Ngọc Lâm). Railway station in Hai Phong – Hai Phong Railway Station (75 Lương Khánh Thiện). Speedboat from Hai Phong (Pha Binh port) to Cat Ba Island. Travel by speedboat from Hai Phong to the Cat Ba Island takes about 1 hour Pha Binh port in Hai Phong (4 Bến Bính). This boat goes to the Cat Ba Pier (Cat Ba Island) boat/ferry ticket price is about $7-8.
Bus & speed boat from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island
1-Bus from Hanoi to Hai Phong : Travel by bus from Hanoi to Hai Phong takes about 1,5 hours
the one-way bus ticket from Hanoi to Hai Phong costs only about $4-8 . Verified bus company: Hai Au, Hoang Long (tourist bus or luxury limousine). Bus station in Hanoi – Nước Ngầm Bus Station (Km số 8 – Đường Giải Phóng)
bus station in Hai Phong – Niem Nghia Bus Station (275 Trần Nguyên Hãn).
2- Speedboat from Hai Phong (Pha Binh port) to Cat Ba Island Pha Binh port in Hai Phong (Bến Bính). This boat go to the Cat Ba Pier (Cat Ba Island) boat/ferry ticket price is about $7-8.
Flight from Hanoi to Tuan Chau Island (Seaplane) then to Cat Ba Island by boat/ferry
Several direct flights from Hanoi to Tuan Chau Island, operated by Hai Au Aviation. Tuan Chau Island is about 10 km north of the Cat Ba Island from Tuan Chau Island you can take a boat/ferry to Cat Ba Island.
The local bus to from Halong to Ca Bat Island
We docked on the north end of Cat Ba island at Bến phà Gia Luận ferry terminal and looked for the local bus to Cat Ba town. The bus is timed to meet the ferry and transport locals across the island so was there when we arrived.
We jumped on board and paid once it had set off. It cost 25,000 VND (now 30,000 VND $1.20 USD) per person and takes around 30 minutes to reach Cat Ba Town.
There are private taxis and minivans waiting around but these might scam you with a sky-high price.
The road is a bit bumpy in places but the island scenery itself is stunning with some small settlements along the way. It felt like we had been transported to another world.
From Cat Ba to Hai Phong by Hydrofoil
We chose to get the boat directly to Hai Phong rather than back to Hanoi. This is the ideal route if you plan to head south along the coast of Vietnam from here.
The Hydrofoil departs from the Bến tàu Cát Bà pier in the center of Cat Ba town just behind the big fancy monument. Make sure you get a ticket from the official vendor as there can be a few touts hanging around the pier.
After around 1 hour or so you’ll arrive at the Bến tàu khách Bến Bính in Hai Phong. It’s less than 1.5 km to the central area and train station from the pier so, easily walk-able.
Hai Phong is a fairly industrial town with not a lot on offer to stick around for but it seemed friendly enough. We stopped there for one night to break up the journey but you could just jump onto a bus or train and head on.
How to get to Cat Ba Island from Halong Bay
Local shuttle bus to Cat Ba from Halong Bay
After visiting the Halong Bay by a day tour, you would like visit Cat ba island and thinking how can you reach to Cat ba island from Ha Long Bay. Or You would like going to Cat ba island but it is too late and no more transportation from Hai Phong to Cat Ba.
Good Morning Cat Ba shuttle bus is a good choice. They offer you 02 ways to Cat Ba island :
1 – You can catch the ferry from Tuan Chau Habour . It takes 1 hours and drop off you at Gia Luan harbor in Cat ba town. Then You can catch the local bus to Cat Ba town.
2 – We have Shuttle canoe from Tuan Chau harbor to Cat Ba island and you spend 7 minutes from there to Gia Luan harbor , then our shuttle bus transfers you to Cat Ba town. ( Only pick up at 12:30 AM).
If you would like go earlier or later. I can arrange it with private canoe + private car. The quotation belong to number of person. And we can arrange this transportation anytime.
3 – Go to BAI CHAY pier, buy the ticket to Cat Ba town on shuttle bus. This costs you less than $10US/person.
Departure at BAI CHAY pier at 12h00 AM – Arrive in Cat Ba town at 19h00 PM
Ferry from Halong Bay to Cat Ba Island at Tuan Chau Harbor
Every after noon, the ferry departures 3 time in the afternoon, right on time when you finish your Halong Bay Overnight Cruise in Tuan Chau harbor. You can get the ticket here :
How to get to Cat Ba from Ninh Binh
Bus from Ninh Binh to CatBa (recommended)
It takes around 5,5 hours, and cots 320.000 VND (€12). A combined bus and ferry ticket from Ninh Binh to CatBa, is the most convenient option from Tam Coc or Ninh Binh to CatBa Island. The train is not a good option since you first need to go to Hanoi and switch trains to Hai Phong from there. This train ride will already cost you 5 hours to Hai Phong and from there you still need to go by ferry to CatBa Island. Since the latest ferry from Hai Phong to CatBa leaves at 16:00, you are only left with one option when you want to travel by train from Ninh Binh to CatBa in one day. This is the train from 3:21 in the night.
Either book a bus ticket or stay one or a few nights in Hanoi before you continue your journey to Cat Ba by train.
|Good Morning Cat Ba||07:45-12:45
|5h||395.000 VND (€15) + free pick-up|
|Cat Ba Express
(Go To Cat Ba)
|320.000 VND (€12) /360.000 VND (€14) + free pick-up|
CatBa Express is the company we recommend. They provide free pick up from your hotel in Tam Coc / Hoa Lu or Ninh Binh city and drop off in Cat Ba town.
Bus tickets to Cat Ba from Ninh binh by local travel agency
You can also book your bus at a local travel agency or hotel in Tam Coc or Ninh Binh. Expect to pay around 300.000 VND (€11) for a combined bus ticket. Note that from Cat Ba to Ninh Binh is remarkably cheaper (200.000 VND, €9), but chances are small that you will get it for the same price when traveling from Ninh Binh to CatBa.
How long does it take to Cat Ba Island from Hanoi ?
Travel by bus+ferry from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay takes about 3,5-5 hours.
Travel by train+speedboat from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island (over Hai Phong) takes about 4-5 hours.
Travel by plane (Hai Au Aviation) from Hanoi to Tuan Chau Island takes about 1 hour.
How much does it cost to travel from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island?
Travel by bus+ferry from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay costs about $11-17.
Travel by train+speedboat from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay (over Hai Phong) costs about $10-15.
Travel by plane (Hai Au Aviation) from Hanoi to Tuan Chau Island costs about $30-110.
What is the travel distance from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island?
Travel distance from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island is about 160 km by bus/train + ferry.
From which bus stations in Hanoi buses depart to Cat Ba Island?
Buses to Cat Ba Island depart from various bus stations in Hanoi. Some tourist bus now can pick up from your hotel in Hanoi Old quarter. Send us a message and travel consultant from Cozy Vietnam Travel will get back to you shortly.