12 Best Things to Do in Cat Ba Island (Vietnam)
- 1. Explore Cat Ba National Park
- 2. Visit caves
- 3. Bike ride around Viet Hai Village
- 4. Visit Cai Beo floating village
- 5. Admire sunset at Cannon Fort
- 6. See langurs on Monkey Island
- 7. Visit Lan Ha Bay
- 8. Go rock climbing in Cat Ba Island
- 9. Kayak through Dark & Bright Cave
- 10. Go swimming at Cat Co beach
- 11. Join a diving tour to see coral reefs
- 12. Explore Cat Ba nightlife
While not being a dynamic tourism hub, Cat Ba Island is still a great attraction for both domestic and international travelers with unique characteristics: staggering limestone mountains, lush mangrove forests, and untouched sandy beaches. What’s more, there is no shortage of interesting things to do on the island that you should try.
1. Explore Cat Ba National Park
Visitors trekking in the dense jungle of Cat Ba National Park
15km from Cat Ba Town to the northwest, Cat Ba National Park covers almost half of the island. The park is regarded as one of the most famous tourist attractions in Cat Ba Island, comprising a variety of stunning landscapes and marine ecosystems. To be found there are enormous tropical rain forests, freshwater lakes, secluded sandy beaches, coral reefs, and an abundance of rare species.
To enter the park, you need to buy an entrance ticket of 50.000 VND/person at the main gate. There are a couple of things to do in Cat Ba National Park. Amongst those, you’re highly recommended to take a short hike to the top of Ngu Lam Mountain for a panoramic island view.
From Cat Ba Town, it is easy to rent a car, a motorbike or even a bicycle from your hotel to get to Cat Ba National Park. A motorbike rental fee is priced at around 100.000 VND and you need to fuel the vehicle yourself.
If you travel from Halong Bay, get on a boat or Tuan Chau ferry to Gia Luan Harbor and from there take a taxi to the Cat Ba National Park (about 10km).
2. Visit caves
Hospital Cave Entrance
Caves in Cat Ba Island are renowned for primitive beauty and multi-shaped stalactites and stalagmites. Some of the most famous names are Hospital Cave, Trung Trang Cave, Hoa Cuong Cave, and Phu Luong Cave.
If you’re in Cat Ba National Park already, don’t skip a chance to explore the 300-hectare Trung Trang Cave, one of the largest caves on the island. The cave houses a number of stalactites in various shapes, more than a dozen of standing stones, and dense forest.
Alternatively, history buffs are advised to visit Hospital Cave, a bomb-proof hospital built inside a cave during the Vietnam War. The cave is located about 13km from Cat Ba Town Center and it takes a short drive to the cave. The cost is around 200.000 VND/round trip. The cave entrance fee is 15.000 VND/person.
3. Bike ride around Viet Hai Village
Travelers are biking to Viet Hai Village (Photo: Shutterstock)
Located in the center of Cat Ba National Park, Viet Hai Village is the largest floating village in Viet Nam. The village attracts throngs of tourists for its pristine landscapes and friendly locals. The best way to explore Viet Hai Village is taking a bike ride around the village to see floating houseboats, spectacular surroundings, and know more about the peaceful life of people there.
From Cat Ba Town, you can rent a private boat in Cai Beo Port or a 45-minute boat (40.000 VND/person) to reach the village. If you are in Cat Ba National Park, you can join a 6-km trekking tour through jungles, valley, and Ao Ech area to Viet Hai Village. The hard trek requires endurance and several gears such as shoes and insect repellent.
The best time to visit Viet Hai Village is from April to September with the sunny and favorable weather conditions.
4. Visit Cai Beo floating village
Cai Beo floating village from above: A must visit if you want to see the real local life!
Cai Beo Fishing Village is only 2 km from Cat Ba Town, in the proximity of Ben Beo Port (a 10-minute drive). You can easily get there by taxi or a motorbike. Upon arrival, options available to explore the village are renting a small fishing boat or kayaking.
Established in the early 19th century, Cai Beo boats Vietnam’s oldest ancient village, which is home to about 300 floating houses and 600 inhabitants. Local people here are very hospitable and hardworking. They mostly make a living by fishing and raising fish. Apart from a rich history and friendly locals, Cai Beo floating village appeals to visitors for picturesque sceneries and rustic ambiance.
5. Admire sunset at Cannon Fort
Cannon Fort: One of the most popular attractions in Cat Ba Island
Perched atop a hill, Canon Fort, another name of High Point 177, is the most famous historic relic of Cat Ba Island. The site was built in the 20th century and consists of a battle of two big guns and a tunnel system.
177 meters high above the sea, Canon Fort is the best spot to admire sweeping views of Cat Ba Island, Lan Ha Bay, and especially the sunset. Only 2 km from Cat Ba Town, you can easily go to the place by motorbike in about 15 minutes.
Opening time: 8:00 AM – 17:00 PM daily
Entrance fee: 40.000 VND/adult and 20.000 VND/child
Sightseeing by the observatory costs an extra of 5000 VND/person.
6. See langurs on Monkey Island
Monkey sitting on tree on Monkey Island!
Monkey Island is located in the Nam Cat area of Lan Ha Bay, only 1km from Cat Ba Town. The tiny 5-km-round island is covered by green trees and sandy beaches in the front. However, what attracts visitors the most when visiting Monkey Island is a flock of more than 20 species of monkeys. You can not only come and see those monkeys but also feed them.
Monkey Island is accessible by a 15-minute boat ride from Beo Harbor passing the natural beauty of the island.
7. Visit Lan Ha Bay
Lan Ha bay from above!
In the south of Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay spreads across an area of more than 7000 ha. Picture-postcard sceneries, limestone grottoes, and crystal clear beaches make Lan Ha Bay a must-visit destination for any tourists to Halong Bay area.
Lan Ha Bay is home to a lot of famous tourist spots namely Cat Ba Island, Tung Gau area, Cat Dua also called Monkey Island, Dark & Bright cave, and Ba Trai Dao Beach. As you reach the bay, you can enjoy a variety of fun-filled activities such as kayaking, swimming, rock climbing, and visit floating villages.
From Cat Ba Island, you need to rent a boat at Ben Beo Port to go around Lan Ha Bay. The price is about 300.000 – 500.000 VND/boat for six people.
8. Go rock climbing in Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba island as some of the best spots for rock climbing in Vietnam!
Rather than ordinary activities, venture lovers will find Lan Ha Bay more appealing with rock climbing tours that allow them to conquer some of the hardest crags. You can join this sport at several spots in Halong Bay including Offenheimer’s Creation and Slo Pony Wall at Tiger Beach – the first area to develop rock climbing activity, Butterfly Valley, and Ben Beo Wall. All the walls have climbing features such as tufas, pockets, and water-sculpted rock formations. See our detailed guide on rock climbing in Halong bay and Cat Ba Island.
The entrance fee normally costs US$2.5 (50.000 VND) or is sponsored by Asia Outdoor.
9. Kayak through Dark & Bright Cave
Most cruises in Lan Ha Bay offer kayaking service at no extra charge!
Dark and Bright Cave belongs to the bordering area of Lan Ha Bay and Halong Bay. This is one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay area, featuring a lot of stalactites and stalagmites in various shapes and clear waters. While Dark Cave is long and dark, the Bright Cave is much shorter and brighter. Both create a perfect getaway for any adventure seekers to linger.
Seasoned travelers are recommended to rent a boat to kayak through the tunnel as well as take a photo hunt around the cave. Alternatively, it is also possible to row a bamboo boat.
The cave is accessible all year round. However, the best time to visit is in spring and autumn when the sky is clear, full of sunshine, the temperature is mild, and there are fewer rains.
10. Go swimming at Cat Co beach
Crystal clear water at Cat Co beach.
With an array of secluded and untouched beaches, swimming is a can-not-miss experience when visiting Cat Ba Island. Unlike other touristy beach areas, Cat Ba beaches are very clean and quiet. (TIP: If you want to avoid the domestic tourist crowds, September and October are the best months to visit.)
Amongst those, 3 Cat Co beaches including Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2, and Cat Co are the most attractive to beach bums. The beaches are next to each other and all have loungers for sunbath, umbrellas, and stalls for drinks. Especially, kayak is available at Cat Co 3 beach with a price of 200.000VND/per hour.
From the center of Cat Ba Town, the beaches are easily reached on foot or by a motorbike taxi (around 10.000 VND).
11. Join a diving tour to see coral reefs
Snorkel off the island (Photo: Shutterstock)
Visitors who love to discover the marine world are welcome to take a dive tour to enjoy various coral reefs in Cat Ba Island. The island is best known for red coral reefs that shelter a lot of sea creatures such as pearls, lobsters, and fishes.
You can book the diving tour at the Scuba Diving Center in Monkey Island Resort. It costs 1.000.000 VND for a 30-minute scuba diving trip with an instructor. Using a snorkel costs 600.000 VND extra.
12. Explore Cat Ba nightlife
Rowdy and diverse nightlife in Cat Ba island
Cat Ba nightlife is more tranquil and decent compared to other vibrant destinations. However, you can still get wonderful experience as Cat Ba Island is full of local specialties and exotic things to try at night. Don’t miss a chance to savor Hai Phong’s rice noodle soup with crab meat, the special local food, at some food stalls on the sidewalk or rent a bike to ride around the quiet road of the town. The price is around 30.000 VND/ hour.
Party-goers can check out some pubs in Cat Ba Town namely Quiri Pub Cocktail & Restaurant and Oasis Bar 2.
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