Cat Ba is the largest island in the Bay and approximately half of its area is covered by a National Park, which is home to the highly endangered Cat Ba langur. This golden-headed langur is rarely seen, as fewer than 60 specimens are thought to survive in the wild, although it is the subject of a well-organised conservation programme; the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Program, an international NGO that has its office at the National Park Head Quarters. The Park covers both land and marine areas and has a high biodiversity, although it is at risk from too rapid an increase in tourism. Other mammals in the Park include civet cats and oriental giant squirrels.
Outside of Cat Ba town is a beautiful island with much to explore.
The vast majority of people take a pre-booked tour from Hanoi on a tourist boat, though this is probably the slowest, least flexible and a relatively expensive way to visit Cat Ba and should be avoided at all costs unless you specifically want to be locked on a tourist boat for five hours while being given the hard sell and overcharged for the most minimal of refreshments.
It's cheaper and more flexible to come either on a non tourist boat at Halong City or via Haiphong. If coming from Hanoi, you can also take a direct, combined bus/boat trip from Luong Yen Bus Station at 7:20, 11:20, and 13:20 (April, 2015) which takes 4.5 hours (compare: 5 hours for a slow tourist boat just to get from Halong City to Cat Ba's northern port!) and costs 190,000 - 250,000 VND (US$9-$12) depending on season.
Travel Warning** Make sure to check the date on the top of your tickets. A fellow backpacker was given a ticket for a future date, either accidentally, or on purpose. The Hoang Long attendant checked the tickets once they were on the ferry and said, "Tickets not ok." He showed them the future date and tried to have the couple pay an extra 20%, or 100,000 VND and "ticket would be ok." The ticket did show that it was purchases, printed and paid for on that day, just before departure, but the attendant still insisted and tried to not let them on the second bus. No way to tell if this was truly an accident, or done intentionally, but a 20% correction seems arbitrary for a ticket that was paid for on a boat and ferry that weren't full, especially after the ticket was checked and confirmed before leaving, and then checked again on the fist bus. The traveler stayed calm, and insisted that the ticket was ok and basically just ignored the attendants requests after failed discussion and ended up sticking to his guns and never payed extra. The bus driver just kind of laughed and the attendant just kind of gave up...so make of that what you will. It is an easy and hassle free option, just double check your tickets.
From Haiphong: there is a speed boat doing the trip several time a day (the last one around 16:00) from Phà Binh harbour. It costs 160,000 VND (Apr, 2015), but the locals pay 90,000 for the exact same ride. The price is written on the ticket but some people sell false tickets with written 180,000 and they say the price was 150,000 last year or last month! If the boat arrive in Phù Long, they can also say that 180,000 include the bus from Phù Long to Cat Ba... but it's also included in the 150,000 VND ticket: boat and bus can't be divided... it's the same company.
Mini Bus from Gia Lam (Hanoi) to Bai Chay (Ha Long). Tickets are bought at the ticket counter for 120,000 dong. The ride takes 4 to 5 hour with the bus stopping to pick up passengers along the way. If your bus departs Hanoi later then 10:00am it is unlikely that you will make it to Ha Long in time to catch the last ferry to Cat Ba at 3:00pm. Note: City bus number 34 goes to Gia Lam for 5,000 dong from the following bus stops: Van Mieu, Hai Ba Trung, Nha Hat Ion, Bac Co, Chuong Duong. Be sure to wait for the bus on the side of the road where the traffic is flowing east or north. Otherwise you may end up on a longer than intended ride around the city. Do not attempt to board bus #34 from Dien Bien Phu. The bus will run to the end of the line in the opposite direction before turning around and eventually making it to Gia Lam making what should be a short trip a two hour ordeal. [Sep 2013]
From Bai Chay to Ha Long City/Tourist Wharf a motorbike taxi should cost 10,000 to 20,000 dong.
From Bai Chay to Tuan Chau Wharf a motorbike taxi should cost 20,000 to 30,000 dong.
From Ha Long City to Tuan Chau Wharf a motorbike taxi should cost 20,000 to 30,000 dong.
A taxi to any of these locations could be more than double.
Cat Ba/Tuan Chau Ferry takes 1 hour and costs 70,000 or 90,000 with a motorbike. [May 2015]
Tuan Chau to Cat Ba 7:30 9:00 11:30 1:30 3:00
Cat Ba to Tuan Chau 9:00 11:30 1:00 3:00 4:00
The service depends on demand. First and last ferry of a day will always go.
Cat Ba minibus from the ferry terminal, which is on the north of the island, leaves to the main town to the south after every ferry and takes around 30 minutes costing 20,000. [Sep 2013]
Tour boats leave from the Tourist Wharf in Ha Long and take 4 hours. Route #1 as listed above the ticket counter costs 80,000. These arrive at the main town to the south. [Sep 2013]
Train from Long Bien (Hanoi) to Hai Phong cost is 70,000 (April 2015). Trains leave Long Bien at 9:20am, 3:30pm and 6:10pm. For the earlier train, you must go to Gia Lam station, located about 5km east of Long Bien (public bus can take you most of the way for 7000 - check google maps for great directions, otherwise taxi/moto). The trains leave Gia Lam at 6:15am, 9:36am, 3:45pm and 6:30pm. (September 2014.) There is also a train from the main Hanoi railway station, 6:00am only.
Motorbike Taxi from Hai Phong to Pha Binh (ferry terminal)
Bus from Luong Yen (Hanoi) to Tam Bac (Hai Phong) 70,000
Motorbike Taxi from Tam Bac to Pha Binh (ferry terminal)
Bus from Gia Lam (Hanoi) to Niem Nghia (Hai Phong) 65,000
Motorbike Taxi from Niem Nghia to Pha Binh (ferry terminal)
Bus from Gia Lam (Hanoi) to Cau Rao (Hai Phong) 65,000
Motorbike Taxi from Cao Rao to Pha Binh (ferry terminal)
Boat/Ferry from Pha Binh (Hai Phong) to Cat Ba 150,000
There are half a dozen places to rent bikes including tandems. A ride to the other side of the island for a view into Ha Long bay and then back along the coastal road is around 45km. It's worth getting a bike with gears as there are a few hills.
National Park, Eastern part of the island (Enter eastward on the main north/south road). The domain of the endangered Cat Ba Langur, of which there are less than 60 left. Things on offer include a walk to a peak viewing tower (1.5-2 hours round trip; slippery and muddy if it's rained recently) The tower at the top is bad shape and climbing it is prohibited. A frog pond (probably better in the off (wet) season), a short nature walk near the frog pond, more stuff which you can probably find online which is about a four hour round trip. The total distance each way is 3.63 miles and total elevation gained is about 700 feet, there are a lot of stairs made of cemented rock.15,000VND entry, various guided tours. edit
Caves. There are a lot of caves around the island, though none of them are particularly impressive. Some cost money and may have optional guides. You can find them using the map or signs on the island. You have to walk through some forest to some of them.edit
Beaches, Southwest side of the island (Accessible from the road). Don't expect surfable waves, though!Free. edit
Monkey Island. Several boats run day trips to nearby monkey island either in isolation or as part of a larger tour. The island apparently has monkeys, but only a few around the accomodation were in evidence. Be aware that these animals are used to getting their food from either the guests or the bins, and therefore are not afraid of humans, so they might cause a problem. [Jan 2014] The monkeys come right up to the shore to "greet" the boats. Google "Monkey Island Bite" These monkeys bite a lot of tourists. The monkeys on Monkey Island are long-tailed macaques that were imported to the island specifically to appeal to tourists. Neither of the two native monkey species are found on Monkey Island. There is some accomodation on the island, that is Monkey Island Resort which consists of eight small bungalows and 20 spacious deluxe bungalows, but cosy, bamboo huts just behind a secluded beach. The food was nice, the drinks cheap, and the scenery was spectacular. There's some kayaking available, and a trail for hiking to the top of the mountain where you can take so beautiful picture of Lan Ha bay. Nearby is the public beach, destination of lot Cat Ba island trips. It is probably the most beautiful junkyard in region. You can see monkeys searching food in enourmous quantity of garbage, nobody takes care. Better to avoid to visit.approx US$40 per night. edit
Hospital Cave, (Off Ha Sen Road, 10km from town). A 17 room underground hospital and hideout which was in use until 1975. It's a real life James Bond underground lair. Get tickets from the café on opposite side of road.15,000. (20.7698,107.0204)edit
Cannon Fort, (2km north of town). Built in 1942 as a naval defence. Incredible views of Lan Ha Bay. Great place to see sunsets. (Note: if you are only interested in the views, before the ticket booth there's a path that goes all the way up to the hill on the left, first to the communications antenna, and then till the cliff's edge. Same views of Lan Ha Bay, for free. However, as it looks to the East, you don't get sunset views)50,000. (20.7233,107.0546)edit
Boat Trips For the cheapest boat trips get down to Bến Bèo (1km from Cat Ba main strip) where all the tour boats leave from. There are several plastic chair restaurants which also serve as kayak rental / boat trip vendors. Short trip USD 21, long trip USD 24 (May, 2014)
Boat Trips & Trekking, HOAN TUYEN Travel. 221 1/4 street (inside post office, not post office cafe) and 228 1/4 street ., ☎ +84 1666867786. with Mr TOAN and Mr LUC. Daily tours around Lan Ha bay and Ha Long bay, enjoy amazing landscapes with hundreds of limestone islands, kayaking discover inside rock arches, natural limestone tunnels and Floating Fishing villages. Trekking tour Cat Ba National Park. Motorbikes and Bicycles rentals servicesedit
Rock Climbing if seeing the beautiful limestone karsts isn't enough for you, try climbing them. Slo Pony /Asia outdoors located on the 2nd floor of Noble House is a good place for more information. They run full and half day trips with combinations of kayaking, climbing and cruising the less touristy karsts.
Cat Ba Market at the northwestern edge of town. The seafood section should give you a reasonable idea of the less exotic, locally consumed varieties of seafood caught locally.
Mr Lo - Tour In Cat Ba, Add: 188, 1 thang 4 Street, Cat Ba Town, Hai Phong city, ☎ +84-912 24 25 16, . Tour from Hai Phong to Cat Ba running by Cat Ba Classic Sail offers a wide selection of Tours in Cat Ba and Vietnam Tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, kayaking, motorcycling, overland touring and family travel packages. Once arrival at Cat Bi Airport you can take taxi or Private Car to Binh Dock then take speed boat/hydrofoil boat to Cat Ba Island. There is one trust local operator running transport service is Tour In Cat Ba running by a Vietnamese veteran - Mr Lo. He has private or group boat tour in Cat Ba as well so he will help you a lot.edit
Mr. Zoom hotel and restaurant (Cat Ba island), 25 1/4nui ngoc street, ☎ 01649444024, . Mostly good meals, but if he offers you an enormous (2kg) round-looking crab creature thing, save your $35.edit
Phương Phương Restaurant, 232, 1/4 street, cat ba town (near Nam Dương Hotel), ☎ 01687556989. The restaurant has views of the sea, serves Vietnamese food and Europen food.Airy space, at an affordable price. Be wary of very long wait.edit
There are a number of Sea View Bar establishments, much of a muchness.
Oasis Bar, 228 1/4 street, Cat Ba town. Located in front of the Cat Ba Hotel, this friendly spot has just been renovated, sea view. is easily identified by the yellow bulbs outside bar, open till late. One of expats favorite joint, great fun every night. Free billiards, dart board and big screen TV for movies and sport events ! Clients are also encouraged to play DJ from the bar's iTunes selection. Awesome drink menu, offering the coldest beers, drinks and cocktails. Drinks range from cheap and massive to expensive and small.edit
Noble House offers 2 for 1 cocktails and free pool.
The Flightless Bird is the original bar on the island, run by a New Zealander and going strong for 15 years. The drinks menu includes reasonably priced imported bottles of wine from various parts of the world as well as a straight to the point cheap drinks section. Darts upstairs.
Rose Bar, (50m up the street behind Noble House). Best Mojito in Cat Ba island. Western music, awesome drink menu, most cocktails 40,000. Brand new with nice atmosphere, and a really helpful, friendly young owner. Pool table for free. Best cocktail prices in town, if you're sick of drinking beer all the time. Open until 2:00 AM, rare in Cat Ba. Free beer for women. 30,000 for a nitrous oxide balloon.edit
Mr. Zoom hotel and restaurant (Cat Ba island), 25 1/4 nui ngoc street, ☎ 01649444024, . Good meals for a cheap price.edit
Phương Phương Restaurant, 232, 1/4 street, cat ba town, ☎ 01687283786. sea view, served vietnamese food and westend food.Especialy, springroll is very good.edit
There are loads of hotels along the waterfront with little to distinguish them, though a couple have elevators if you are less mobile or are traveling with elders. A few hotels have more recently sprung up along side streets away from the water. However, these don't appear to be any cheaper. When looking at rooms, you may pay more for a water view. Free WiFi is standard. Avoid anywhere that tries to "include" breakfast, which costs almost nothing and is probably of questionable quality anyway. Similarly, avoid anywhere that prices in dollars; ask for the price in dong. Decent conversion (February 2012) is 20,000 dong to a quoted dollar rate. In off season, everywhere is empty so will compete heavily on price; a huge room for two cost 125,000 ($6) on the water (February 2012). In the off season do not pay more than $10 for a room.
Prices now start at $8, with the majority of hotels offering $10 for an AC room double occupancy. Some hotels have non-AC room available for slightly less. (September 2014)
Hotels in Catba, Cat Ba Islands (central, just around the corner from the waterfront), ☎ +84988660505, . we offer many choices for your rooms in Cat Ba island from 2 star to 4 star hotels with good price and high services. edit
My Ngoc, Cat Ba Islands (central, waterfront, near the big sign). New, elevator, huge rooms, one comfortable bed and one vietnamese style harder bed, very helpful, friendly staff $10/night during off season [Jan 2014], $8/night [Oct 2014] edit
Sunflower One Hotel, Nui Ngoc St (central, just around the corner from the waterfront), ☎ 031 3888429, . Three star hotel, many rooms have sea views. It is often used with Ha Long Bay boat tours when an overnight stay is requested on Cat Ba island. It is a quality hotel with good food. It has wifi in rooms but can be somewhat unreliable. Its sister hotel Sunflower Two, which is often used with cheaper Ha Long Bay tours, is about 1km inland on the same road, and is not as nice. edit
Song Chanh, 178 Duong 1-4, ☎ 0978366751. A great value hotel along the main strip in Cat Ba town. Very friendly staff who can also organise onward travel or tours around the island. Ask for Mr. Thuy, and go on the National Park trek with his uncle.double and twin rooms, low season $10/rm, high season $15/rm. edit
Hotel Phu Thanh, So 176 Duong 1/4, ☎ 0313696289 or 0976506999. New hotel only opened in 2009 with really nice, large, clean rooms. Has free wifi included and satellite flat screen TV. Good showers with hot water that actually have pressure. They also serve some great food in the restaurant during the busier summer months. Friendly staff and family owned and run.Rooms start at $10. edit
Ngoc Hoa Hotel and Restaurant, 211 Duong (200m to the left of the dock), ☎ +84 16 4944 4024, . checkout: 12. Rooms facing the Bay, close to the ferry. Free wifi. Elevator. Fridge and aircon included. Family restaurant downstairs. Tours and scooters available at good prices if you ask, but the staff is not pushy. Their restaurant serves good simple Vietnamese food, soups, noodles, rice. Strong coffee and fruit smoothies. Big beer for under a dollar.10-15$. edit
Le Pont Hotel, 62-64 Nui Ngoc St, ☎ Mr. Jim +84 (0) 928 006 879. Dormitory $3.5 per person, rooms $4.5 per person, minimum two persons (April 2012). edit
Mr. Zoom hotel and restaurant (Cat Ba island), 25 1/4 nui ngoc steet, ☎ 01649444024, . Rooms are nice, clean and cheap.edit
Monkey Island Resort (Monkey Island - Cat Ba islands), Monkey Island beach, ☎ 0316299888, . This resort is ideally located at Monkey Island beach in Lan Ha bay. It is about 10 minutes going by boat from Beo harbour in Catba town. There are 29 room included 8 standard bungalows, 6 gardenview bungalows, 6 deluxe seaview bungalows and 8 comfortable suite seaview bungalows. There are spacious restaurant, game center for playing biliard, pingpong, table football, there are internet and wifi internet too. Kayaking, hiking mountain and playing games here are free.edit
Ngoc Khanh Hotel, 48 Đường Núi Ngọc st. (A bit further up the street, on the right side, near a small grocery store and a karaoke bar.), ☎ 091 468 99 00. probably the cheapest hotel in Cat Ba! Very clean, nice double and triple rooms for as little as 100.000 dong (Nov 2013). Big comfy beds with soft matress, nice bathroom with hot water, excellent wifi signal in some of the rooms near reception, not so good in the rear. Satelite tv, balcony, free pool table downstairs, cheap beers, honest and helpful staff although very limited English meaning you don't get hassled for tours and transport, laundry service. (Sept 2013)$5. edit
Sea Pearl Hotel, 219, 1/4 road, Cat Ba Island (opposide to Cat Ba Welcome gate on the left), ☎ 0313688567, . Sea Pearl Hotel located between the main roads of Cat Ba resort, beside dreamy Cat Ba Bay. The Hotel has 14 floors include restaurant, spa and bar, has started from 05/19/2011, The Hotel has got many attentions and supports from tourists and partners on around the world. It has 85 luxury rooms with elegant design bring up relax and comfortable feelings as second home for tourists. All front of Hotel is forward Cat Ba bay, behind the Hotel is room system with distant view cover all resort.edit
CatBa Central Hostel Backpackers, 240 1.4 Street, CatBa Island (Bear right off the ferry terminal, along the harbor promenade (harbor to your right). The hostel is about 100m down in the leafy courtyard. Pickup from ferry/bus terminal can be arranged.). checkin: 12 Noon; checkout: 12 Noon. CatBa Central Hostel Backpackers is family run, offering 42 beds in clean and safe environment, with A/C. Breakfast menu as standard. Situated on the walking route to the main swimming beaches on the direct harbor facing promenade.US$7 Incl. Breakfast. edit
To Hanoi, the easiest way to leave Cat Ba is through Bus + speed Boat + Bus . You can find these on the main beach road by the docks. HOAN TUYEN Travel and Hoang Long company sells combined tickets daily for 240,000 VND for 1 ticket from Cat Ba to Ha Noi. Takes about 4,5 hours (Oct, 2014).
Leaving town, bus and boat to Hai Phong city (150,000 dong; almost hourly from 6AM to 4PM),takes about 1,5 hours. Also with high speed boat takes about 1 hour(220,000 VND/1 ticket, from 8AM, 10AM, 2PM and last time 4PM) are available from the square on the waterfront near the boat pier or HOAN TUYEN Travel office. Hotels can book tickets for you at a slight premium.
From Bến phà Tuần Châu harbor to Halong City : 150,000 VND (May, 2012).
From Ben Beo harbor to Halong City : 170,000 VND - 3hours - wonderful (May, 2012).
You can then go back to Hanoi by bus for 100,000 VND (May, 2012).