Cat Ba islands is located in Hai Phong city. It is about 10 km South East of Halong bay. Cat Ba included Cat Ba islands and Lan Ha bay where many tourists love to come to trek in to Cat Ba national park or take a cruise to visit Lan Ha bay islets and beaches and floating villages.
Cat Ba is the place between the forest and the sea blend , creating a one of a kind landscapes . Come to this beautiful island , visitors are not only bathed in cool blue beaches , but also can discover mysterious nature through primitive forests on the island . Cat Ba National Park is extensive 15,200 ha of tropical forests with system wide 570 ha rich flora and fauna , the species is characteristic white head and Kim Giao trees
Cat Ba national park
At the heart of Cat Ba Island lies a visually stunning and ecologically diverse national park. In 1986, 9,800 [98 km²] hectares (approximately one third of the Island’s total land mass) was annexed as Cat Ba National Park, the first decreed protected area in Vietnam to include a marine component (Dawkins 14). It had previously been the site of a timber company. In 2006, the boundaries of the national park were redefined, so the park contained 109 km² of land area and an additional 52 km² of inshore waters and mangrove covered tidal zones (langur website). The park is staffed by 92 people, including over 60 park rangers. In 2004, Cat Ba Archipelago was declared a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Area in order to protect the multiple terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems as well the diverse plant and animal life that is found on the Island. The UNESCO designation divides the archipelago into three distinct areas, each with certain functions and restrictions that regulates development and conservation measures on the Island
Lan Ha bay
Lan Ha Bay has about 400 islets. Going by boat to cruise Lan Ha bay, you will see alot of islets with small beaches. The Bay is home to hundreds of mounts with different form depending on travelers’ imagination like Hòn Guốc (Wooden Shoe islet), Hòn Dơi ( Bat grotto), etc.
Lan Ha bay has about 139 beautiful, small sandy beaches, many island has sandy beach lie between two stone mountains. Many tourists come to these beaches for swimming, kayaking, having sunbath or have a picnic lunch on the beach. Especially, in some big beaches, local people has invested to build some bungalows where you can come to stay overnight such as Monkey Island Resort, Sandy Beach Resort, Castaway bungalow, Cove Beach bungalow…
Monkey Island ( Cat Dua island)
Monkey Island stay in the area of Nam Cat, Lan Ha bay. There are 5 sandy beach here and Monkey Island beach is the most beautiful and the biggest one. From Cat Ba town, you have to take a taxi or motobike to Beo harbour where you go by boat to Monkey Island. It takes you about 15 minutes, throught the floating village and many beautiful islets with sea birds flying in group up and down.
In the past, this island was called Cat Dua island ( Pine Apple Sand Beach island) because there is a lot of pine apple trees on the sandy beach. In recent years, there are many tourists come and they found many monkeys on the island then this is called Monkey Island beside the name Cat Dua.
Monkey island is about 5 km round with the front side are 2 sandy beaches and the back side is like rocky mountain. The beaches here are very beautiful with pine apple trees on the beach and many kind of green trees on the mountain.
There are about 20 monkeys on the island. They live on the mountain, in the garden and some time go to the beach for foods given by the tourist. Coming here, you also can enjoy the song of the birds in the garden or see many fishes swimming in the clean water.
Monkey Island is an ideal place for tourist holiday with many activities like play football, volley ball on beach, swimming, snockeling or go fishing. Especially, you can do kayaking around as the water here is calm like in a lake with hundreds of islets around.
Cat Ba Island – Things to do
#1 – Relax on Cat Ba’s Beaches
Cat Ba’s beaches are rather uncreatively named beach 1, 2 and 3 but they are anything but boring. Gorgeous golden sand fringes clear, turquoise water and looks out over the Halong Bay horizon. These 3 main beaches are easy to walk to from Cat Ba town and offer plenty of options for food and drink. The only downside to the beaches on Cat Ba is that they are pretty small and therefore get very busy, very quickly. The day-trip cruisers will always make a stop here but if you time it right, then you can enjoy quiet early mornings and late evenings.
There are also two other beaches on nearby islands like Monkey Island that you can take a short boat ride to. They may also be busy – it’s a popular area – but they are very beautiful.
#2 – Trek in Cat Ba National Park
Cat Ba National sprawls across more than half of Cat Ba Island and is an absolute must-see. There is one main trail through the park that is very easy to stick to and runs through the thick jungle and up into the hills. From the peaks you’ll have unbeatable views of the whole park – you’ll be amazed at the endless hills and lack of ocean views in this huge national park!
The park is home to many of Halong’s native species and you may be lucky enough to spot them!
#3 – Visit Viet Hai Fishing Village
The joy of spending time on Cat Ba Island is that you get to experience the day to day life of the locals in Halong. One special place to learn about life around the bay is in the fishing village of Viet Hai. Wander the streets here, exchange smiles with the locals and stop by one of the small restaurants to enjoy a lunch of freshly caught seafood.
#4 – Take a Cruise in Lan Ha Bay
Make the most of Cat Ba’s incredible location and head out into Lan Ha Bay, on the edge of UNESCO World Heritage Halong Bay. Day cruises from Cat Ba are very reasonably priced and if you choose a smaller, fishing boat, then you can enjoy the area with fewer people. Book one of these three tours to add a Lan Ha cruise to your Cat Ba experience.
#5 – Enjoy the View from Cannon Fort
Climb up above Cat Ba Town to Cannon Fort and you’ll be afforded incredible views of the surrounding islands and glittering oceans. The best time to do this is in the early afternoon and then you can stay to watch the sunset. There is a little place to buy drinks and snack at the top, so stick around for a few hours and soak in the beauty all around you.
#6 – Go Kayaking from Cat Ba
Walk around Cat Ba Town and you’ll be inundated with offers to experience Lan Ha and Halong Bay. We think kayaking is the best way to experience the ocean around Cat Ba and really helps you understand the scale of those towering limestone islands.
Remember, when booking tours in Vietnam, you really do get what you pay for. Don’t blindly trust the first, cheap company you see as they are likely offering more than they can give.
#7 – Explore Hospital Cave
Cat Ba Island is home to a few hidden caverns and coves but none is more famous than Hospital Cave. This incredible 17-room complex of caverns was used as a safe house and medical facility during the Vietnam War and today is still full of equipment and paraphernalia from the time. We recommend visiting Hospital Cave with a guide to get the most out of the experience.
#8 – Celebrate with Delicious Seafood BBQ
Find your favourite restaurant on the island – preferably with sea views – and treat yourself to a fresh seafood BBQ! Sit back, relax and toast to your amazing time on Cat Ba Island…
Best time to visit Cat Ba Island
The best time during the year to visit the Cat Ba Island, Vietnam is October and November. The weather is best during this time of the year. During these two months the island experiences a pleasant weather to enjoy the national park, to walk on the beaches and absorb the stunning beauty of the island.
Temperatures drop from December onwards thus having a chilly weather. March and April are wet, and June, July and August are hot with a high percentage of humidity. This is also the peak time for domestic visitors coming to this beautiful island.
How to come to Cat Ba island
You can come to Cat Ba island center ( Cat Ba town) by going to Hai Phong city, then go by speed boat from Hai Phong ( Ben Binh harbour) to Cat Bai town ( about 50 minutes on boat). There is a company called Hoang Long has daily buses from Luong Yen bus station in Hanoi to go package trip ( bus and boat) to Cat Ba island town. If you come from Ho Chi Minh city, there is a flight to come to Hai Phong city and then you go by speed boat to Cat Ba town.
You can come to Cat Ba by going to Halong bay, then take a ferry at Tuan Chau island to reach Gia Luan harbour in Cat Ba island, then take a taxi to Cat Ba town in 30 minutes more.
Many tourists are advised to take a package tour to visit Halong bay, sleep on boat 1 night then go to Cat Ba to sleep one more night in Cat Ba town or in a bungalow on a private beach.