Cat Ba island in Hai Phong City
Cat Ba island is about 50 km from Hai Phong, 45 minutes by hydrofoil from Hai Phong, or 3 hours by car from Hai Phong, or 4 hours by boat from Ha Long via Ha Long Bay.
Belonging to Ha Long natural system, with an area of 356 square km wide, Cat Ba is the largest island in the Cat Ba Archipelago that bears both land and marine areas and has a high biodiversity encompassing forested zones, coastal mangrove, fresh water swamps, numerous lakes, waterfalls and 350 limestone outcrops adjacent to Ha Long. On the boat ride reaching to this oasis, tourists can get the chance to contemplate the spectaculars of Ha Long Bay, with stopovers for swimming, visiting beautiful karsts and enjoying fresh seafood.
Cat Ba island – Hai Phong City.
In the heart of the island, Cat Ba National Park possesses the largest area of tropical virgin forests in Vietnam. It is home to more than 20 species of mammals, 69 species of birds, 745 species of plants and 20 species of reptiles and amphibians.
For sea lovers who seek relaxation and peacefulness in the embrace of emerald seas, the island opens its arms with Cat Vang beach and Cat Co Beach, where mountains look like a throne holding a marvelous sandy beach.
The small and ancient town can satisfy the desire of gaining authentically local cultural experiences, with clusters of fishing boats and inspiring sunsets across the harbor. Visitors can check out the catch of the day in the early morning, see cuttlefish dried over hot charcoals, or stroll around the old town.
Situated amongst thousands of beautiful limestone karsts in the South China sea, Cat Ba Island has an enviable location. It’s known as a cheaper location from which to explore Halong Bay, but we were happy to discover it has so much more to offer than just this.
There are lots of beautiful spots which are easy to reach but far away from the crowds of travellers who come to explore Halong on the cheap. After visiting Hanoi and Sapa (which can feel busy at times), it was refreshing to get away to a small town and see a truly beautiful and natural part of Vietnam.
It’s the perfect place to grab yourself a scooter and explore for a few days.
Kayaking around the stunning Lan Ha Bay
We came to Cat Ba Island having already done a Halong Bay cruise but wanted the chance to see a less busy bay in the area. Unexpectedly given we had already seen many beautiful karsts on our cruise, kayaking around Lan Ha Bay was our favourite thing to do in the whole of Vietnam!
Being able to rent a kayak in the middle of this stunning natural wilderness was one of the few times we could independently explore and take in one of the wonders of the world without anyone else around.
We knew Lan Ha would be quieter than Halong but we weren’t expecting to spend large parts of our day entirely alone, it was absolutely magnificent and reason enough to come to Vietnam in itself! .
Best things to do Cat Ba Island – Lan Ha Bay Kayak.
You start by taking a boat from town to a random floating house with several kayaks tied up. The people who rent them out are pretty chilled, not being too worried about how long you are going for, so there is no pressure to keep an eye on the clock.
This means the whole of Lan Ha Bay is your playground! There are so many coves, bays and places to explore, that you can easily spend a whole day paddling around. We never got tired of staring at those beautiful limestone karsts, you feel dwarfed by them in your little kayak, magic.
What also makes it so enjoyable is that the water is pretty flat so the kayaking is easy. There’s the occasional boat who will pass by, but on the whole there are no waves, just a few currents to help you on your way.
It is pretty straightforward to organise as well. Most travel agents in Cat Ba will be able to help you, or you can chance your luck at the harbour. There’s a surly woman there who will promise the world, try to charge a fortune, not really deliver and get angry when you don’t think her service is very good. Her favourite line is “just 5 minutes more” which will be repeated for over an hour.
You will need to purchase a conservation ticket from the harbour. This cost 40,000 dong per person ($2 USD) when we did it.
Source: Walk My World