Islands

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam: The Complete Guide [Updated 2019]

Cat Ba Island is the biggest of the 367 islands that form the Cat Ba archipelago. It’s approximately 32 miles (50 kilometers) from Hai Phong City, a trip which takes up to 1 hour to travel by speedboat. Cat Ba is also by far the biggest island in the whole of Halong Bay.

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam: The Complete Guide [Updated 2019]

Overview

Part of the island, along with the rest of the archipelago, is a designated National Park and the local government aims to protect Cat Ba’s great biodiversity. Visitors to Cat Ba can enjoy a varied landscape that is made up of mangroves, limestone karsts, green forests, white sand beaches, and coral reefs.

For transport, visitors can rent motorbikes to explore the island and see as much as they can on their visit. One highly recommended activity for those visiting Cat Ba is a trek around the National Park and even up Ngu Lam mountain!

Cat Ba Island has three main beaches (named Cat Ba 1, Cat Ba 2 and, Cat Ba 3) where visitors can get their tan on and enjoy a dip in the ocean. For those who are more physically inclined, there are activities such as rock climbing, kayaking, and snorkeling.

Due to its increasing popularity with visitors, Cat Ba Island has a well-developed tourist infrastructure, with hotels and hostels available for prospective visitors, good roads and a ferry terminal.

When To Go

When To Go Cat Ba in june: average temperature 27° (Photo: Shutterstock)

The best time to visit Cat Ba Island all depends on your personal preferences. If you enjoy the heat of tropical summers, June to August is probably the best time to go.

If you enjoy milder weather, October till March is a better time to go. Be mindful of the fact that even though Cat Ba has four seasons, there’s still a rainy and dry season.

Rainy season is from May to September and the dry season is from November to March. Every season has up- and downsides to it but the consensus is that the best months to visit are March, April, September and October.

Weather averages by month

Month
High / Low(°C)
Rainfall (mm)
January
18° / 12°
12 mm
February
19° / 14°
19 mm
March
21° / 16°
28 mm
April
25° / 20°
86 mm
May
29° / 22°
183 mm
June
32° / 24°
230 mm
July
31° / 25°
270 mm
August
32° / 23°
310 mm
September
29° / 22°
250 mm
October
26° / 20°
110 mm
November
23° / 18°
36 mm
December
22° / 16°
18 mm

Average monthly precipitation 

For those traveling on a budget or wanting to avoid the crowds, the best time is to go in the off season which runs from June till August. For more information check our "when to go" and detailed "weather guides".

How To Get There

How To Get There Cat Ba Express Bus: Depart daily from Hanoi (Catbaexpress.com)

From Hanoi (124 km)

Hopping on a Hanoi-Haiphong highway bus will get you from Hanoi to Cat Ba island in around 3-5 hours (4 hours on average). There are various operators, but try Cat Ba Express, Good Morning Cat Ba for reasonable price and good service.

OperatorDepartArriveTickets
Good Morning Cat Ba (35-seater)07:30 at 09 Cho Gao, Hoan Kiem11:35 at Cat Ba island (4h5', no transfer)250,000 VND
Orient Travel (29-seater)08:00 at 128 Tran Nhat Duat11:50 at Cat Ba island (3h50', no transfer)220,000 VND
Daiichi Travel (45-seater)10:30 at 96 Nguyen Huu Huan14:15 at Cat Ba Island (3h45', no transfer)200,000 VND
Cát Bà Express (29-seater)13:45 at 37B Nguyen Huu Huan17:30 at Cat Ba island (3h45', no transfer)280,000 VND

Booking information:

Cat Ba Express: +84 848 244 999 - 024 38 734 999 info@catbaexpress.com. Good Morning Cat Ba: +84 091 460 7571 Email: info@goodmorningcatba.com

From Halong bay (22,7 km)

The best way to get to Cat Ba island is to leave from Halong Bay. Once in Halong Bay, the best way to get to the island is to take a ferry. There are three ferries a day that go to the northern side of the island. The ferry takes about an hour and is 80.000 VND or 100.000VND if you’re traveling on a motorbike. From there it’s about a 40-minute drive to Cat Ba town. There’s a bus that costs around 30.000VND. There are taxis as well but be mindful as they might and try to scam you with outrageous prices. See our guide on how to get from Halong bay to Cat Ba island.

From Hai Phong (33 km)

There are multiple ways to travel to Cat Ba island from Hai Phong:

Transport (Company)
Schedule
Price
Speedboat (Mekong Hoang Yen)
Ben Binh: 09:00 am arrive Cat Ba pier at 09:45 (45 minutes)
180,000 VND
Bus (Good Morning Cat Ba)
Tan Vu Lach Huyen Bridge at 09:30 am to Cat Ba at 11:10 (1h40')
400,000 VND
Taxi (Mai Linh Hai Phong)
Door-to-door (0225 3833 833)
480,000 VND

Where To Stay

Where To Stay Xinh Floating House - A very "unusual" stay experience near Cat Ba island.

There are plenty of hotels and hostels available on Cat Ba island. You will find most of them on the waterfront even though some hotels have recently opened a bit more inland. Generally, you pay a bit more for a room with sea view. When you’re less abled or not in great physical condition, make sure that you book a hotel with an elevator as a lot of hotels won’t have any. For a luxurious experience, you can go to ‘Sea Pearl Hotel’ located left of the welcome gate.

Recommended hotels and resorts in Cat Ba:

HotelsContact Information
Price (Room/night)
Cat Ba Eco-Lodge Hotel (3-star hotel)
Xuan Dam Village, Xuân Đám, Cát Hải, Hải Phòng. Phone: 097 323 86 86
830,000 VND
Monkey Island Resort (3-star resort)
TT. Cát Bà, Cát Hải, Hai Phong. Phone: 098 122 20 29
1,200,000 VND
Lodge Xinh Floating House
 Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba island, Hai Phong, Đảo Cát Bà, Việt Nam. Phone: 0349 444 024
1,700,000 VND
Sea Pearl Hotel Cat Ba (3-star hotel)
219, Road 1/4, TT. Cát Bà, Cát Hải, Hải Phòng. Phone: 0225 3696 128
700,000 VND

A popular resort is the ‘Monkey Island Resort’ and for more budget hostels recommended are ‘Ngoc Khanh Hotel’, ‘Mr zoom backpacker hostel’ and ‘Cat Ba Hostel’.

Things To Do

Things To Do Aerial view at Monkey island in Cat Ba

Besides the obvious things to do on an island, going to the beach, visit some caves and going on a cruise, there are several other activities you can partake in. 

  • You can visit ‘Monkey Island’ where Monkeys roam free. The monkeys on the island are long tailed macaques and are not endemic to the island. 
  • Little over a mile north of town (2 kilometers) you can find the ‘Cannon Fort’. This fort was built in 1942 as a defense installation and is a popular spot to watch the sunset.

Activities: Yoga is quite a popular activity on the island and for those who enjoy lush green forests and visit to Viet Hai village is recommended. 

Where To Eat

Where To Eat Cocktail at Quiri Pub - One of the top rated restaurants and bars in Cat Ba.

Being right by the sea (it’s an island), sea food is very popular on Cat Ba island. Some recommended restaurants are: ‘Phuong Nhung Restaurant’, ‘Lang Chai sea-food restaurant’, ‘Phương Phương Restaurant’ and for vegetarians the ‘Buddha Belly Restaurant’ comes recommended.

Restaurants
Address
Quiri Pub Cocktail & Restaurant (#1 on Tripadvisor, 4.8 on Google)
135 Tùng Dinh, TT. Cát Bà, Cát Hải, Hải Phòng. Phone: 098 162 30 96
Anh Nguyet Restaurant (#4 on Tripadvisor, 4.6 on Google)
Road 1/4 TT Cat Ba, Cát Bà, hai Phong. Phone: 097 858 95 30
Mona Restaurant (#6 on Tripadvisor, 4.4 on Google)
180, 1/4 Road, Cát Hải, Hải Phòng. Phone: 093 467 48 99

Suggested Itinerary

Suggested Itinerary Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba Island from above!

There are so many different things to do on Cat Ba island and most people spend around three days on the island. Below we made a three day itinerary which is, of course, just a suggestion.

Day 1:

  • Visit the beach! Cat Ba has several beautiful beaches notably Cat Ba 1, 2 and 3. We suggest you go to Cat Ba 2 as it has the reputation of being the most beautiful one.
  • If you forget your bathing suit, no worries, there are plenty of options to rent a bathing suit for the day. Once at the beach you can just relax and get your tan on in the sun, go for a swim or do some snorkeling. It’s recommended to get out of the water before 6.30 p.m. as the tide and current can become quite treacherous.
  • After the beach, you can go to Cannon fort to admire the sunset. After sunset enjoy a well-earned dinner and perhaps even some drinks at the many restaurants and bars Cat Ba has to offer.

Day 2:

  • Take a trip to the beautiful Lan Ha Bay to take in the wonderful scenery. Do a bit of kayaking to explore some of the areas that are inaccessible by boat. Be sure to stop by Monkey Island to see some of the Monkeys and do some snorkeling or just simply go for a nice refreshing swim.
  • At night enjoy a fresh seafood dish called ‘Tu Hai’. It’s a highly nutritious dish which is not as popular as oysters or shrimp but still very delicious!

Day 3:

  • Visit one of the oldest fishing villages in Vietnam, Cai Beo ancient fishing village!
  • Here you’ll find many interesting sights and hear many intriguing stories about the fishing village. Make a stop at the village to meet the locals and see first-hand how they catch and subsequently prepare the fish.
  • Another option would be to go to the Cat Ba National park. The park is known for its biodiversity and is a prime example of eco-tourism. You could even visit the fishing village and Cat Ba National park on the same day!

At night you can enjoy some delicious seafood! Regional specialties like Blue Crab of Squid come highly recommended!

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