Cat Ba Island is the largest island in Halong Bay and is home to plenty of hotels, restaurants, and bars. Just about every tour company in Hanoi offers daily trips to the island, attracting travellers looking to enjoy a day of sightseeing during their holiday. Located off the coast of Hai Phong City, its beaches (named Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 2) are great for sunbathing and swimming during the summer months. If you’re not a fan of crowds on the beach, you can charter a speedboat or rent a kayak to Monkey Island and Lan Ha Bay, where the beaches are cleaner and quieter.
Best Time to Go
The best time to go to Cat Ba Island is during the summer, between April and November. It’s also peak tourist season in Halong Bay, with numerous boat tours stopping on the island. The beaches can be very crowded with fellow tourists so we recommend heading there early to find a good spot. Make sure to book well in advance as hotels are also pricier this time of the year. For better deals, visit from September to November as crowds are significantly smaller as the climate on Cat Ba Island transitions into monsoon season.
Getting to Cat Ba Island
Getting to Cat Ba Island by boat is relatively easy, as there are plenty of tour agencies in Hanoi that offer one-way trips to the island. Priced at US$18 upwards per person, it’s inclusive of hotel pickup in Hanoi by van and a speedboat trip to Cat Ba Town. Alternatively, you can buy a ticket from Luong Yen Bus Station, which costs VND 250,000. After a three-hour bus ride to Hai Phong City, you board a hydrofoil to Phu Long Pier which takes about 30 minutes. From there, it’s another hour-long bus ride to Cat Ba Town.
Getting Around Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island is relatively easy to get around as motorcycle taxis are quite affordable. If you’re staying near the harbour, you’ll find that many hotels, restaurants, shops, and bars are easily accessible on foot or bicycle. Renting a motorcycle is advisable if you’re planning on exploring remote areas such as Cat Ba National Parks. Daily rates cost between VND 80,000 and VND 100,000 – just make sure you have a valid driver’s license and travel insurance.
Cat Ba Island Attractions
Cat Ba Island’s expansive beaches are relatively clean despite the growing numbers of resorts, hotels, restaurants, and tourist facilities. Swimming, snorkelling, and diving are the most popular things to do on the island. Travellers can also enjoy a day of trekking, caving, and rock-climbing on Cat Ba Island, specifically at the Cat Ba National Park. There are also an old fort on a hilltop, which houses several bunkers and rooms filled with war remains and propaganda posters.
Cat Ba Island Restaurants
Seafood is a must-try when you’re visiting Cat Ba Island. There are plenty of local eateries nearby the ferry terminal, serving a variety of local specialities such as geoduck clam, mantis shrimp, and oysters at affordable prices. Alternatively, make your way to Nui Ngoc Street, where you can find restaurants that cater mostly to international travellers. Local beers cost VND 15,000 while imported labels are about VND 45,000 upwards.
Cat Ba Island Nightlife
Nightlife on Cat Ba Island is understandably limited due to its reputation as a place for rest and relaxation. However, there are several expat-owned bars and bistros in the main town, where you can enjoy drinks and live music until late.