Cat Ba is located on the northeastern coast of Vietnam, near the city of Hai Phong. The island has long been seen as an overlooked destination yet it is a stunning must-visit spot for all sorts of local and international travellers.
Cat Ba Archipelago comprises of 367 islands, with Cat Ba Island remaining the largest and only populated of all, and it is well-known for its widespread limestone and karst above the ocean, dramatic grottoes, rocky hills, diverse natural ecosystem, and hidden sandy beaches.
Its untouched and wild natural beauty is such a charm that you will be surprised to find many foreigners who stay here for weeks to travel and explore the island completely. Whether you are an adventurer or travel with your friends or family on a leisure trip, find below the best things to do in Cat Ba.
Many tourists pass by Cat Ba as an overnight stop or part of a tour to Ha Long Bay . However, the coastal area of Cat Ba, known as Lan Ha Bay, is certainly one of the greenest and most exquisite bays of Northern Vietnam. It comprises hundreds of limestone islands covered by rain forests, similar to Ha Long Bay. If you are considering this alternative, mind that the water is calmer, cleaner and greener outside the summer months due to fewer tourists.
From Ben Beo Port, purchase the entrance ticket for the bay and rent or share a boat with other tourists to cruise around the bay according to different routes. You will be passing beautiful floating villages and small islets. Visiting the bay can take up from 3 to 5 hours or even the whole day. Most tours through Lan Ha Bay cost between 15 USD to 20 USD. Do not be afraid to bargain. Going with a local boat through the bay costs around 200.000 VND (10 USD) per person.
Not only around Lan Ha Bay but also within Cat Ba Island you would be surprised to find many quiet and hidden beaches next to each other such as Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2, Cat Co 3, Cat Ong, Cat Trai Gai, and Duong Danh. Come here to relax outside peak summer season to avoid the crowds of local tourists and enjoy the beach all for yourself.
Cat Ba National Park is home to 200 animal species, 700 types of trees and plants, along with many hills, ponds, and rain forest spreading through a total area of over 16,000 hectares. Trekking through the park can take many hours. Going with a guide is not necessary but for safety reasons you should not go alone. Wear your most comfy shoes and sport outfit. Take plenty of water and as little luggage as possible to endure the long track.
Cross Cat Ba National Park to reach Viet Hai Village and enjoy the beautiful and quiet local town by bicycle or by foot. There is a small 5-kilometer path leading to the port, surrounded by mountain cliffs and clear river path nestling beneath. From Viet Hai you can take a boat back to Ben Beo port for 100.000 VND (5 USD).
Looking for a great panoramic shot of the island? You do not need to spend hours climbing up the mountains of the national park, but few minutes driving from the town center to the Cannon Fort. There is also a cafe up there for visitors to sit and chill whilst waiting for a majestic sunset scenery over Cat Ba.
Kayaking: Floating through Lan Ha Bay on a kayak is the best way to explore the different islands and discover caves. Renting a kayak costs only around 100.000 VND (5 USD) per kayak for 2 people.
Rock climbing: There are two main areas in Cat Ba Island for rock climbing. Look for a professional guide before venturing above the karsts.
Snorkelling: The ideal time to dive under and be allured by the beautiful coral reef hidden in Cat Ba is between May and September.