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Explore Cat Ba island off the beaten Halong bay

 

If you want to explore Halong Bay off the beaten track, go to Cat Ba island in Hai Phong province.
Explore Cat Ba island off the beaten Halong bay
Located in a privileged area of Halong Bay, Cat Ba is the largest island in the Gulf of Tonkin. Its landscapes are just as beautiful as Halong Bay but less visited. This place includes a beautiful national park with incredible biodiversity and pretty mountains for hiking or even climbing. In addition, it is home to some beautiful beaches and a second bay often less known to tourists: Lan Ha Bay which includes the island of monkeys but also floating markets much more impressive and authentic than those visited in Halong Bay or even Bai Tu Long bay areas.

What to do in Cat Ba?
cruise in Lan Ha bay
1. Take a cruise in Lan Ha Bay
Definitely, your main reason for coming to this island is to contemplate the famous kharstic hills like Halong Bay. Here you can go on a boat trip through the bay on a private junk. In particular, these junks do not pass in the same place as the circuits leaving from Halong so you will probably be alone in the middle of the dream bay.
Biking in Cat Ba island
2. Discover the island by scooter
With 354km2 of surface, to visit Cat Ba inevitably requires a scooter. There are only two scooter roads: a road that crosses the island from North to South and a road that runs along the south-west coast of the island. Driving through the limestone mountains is easy because the roads are in good condition. You can easily find a motorcycle for rent with a reasonable price. If you do not know how to drive, use a motorcycle taxi driver. Try to negotiate!
Here are some places to visit
- Hospital grotto, a clandestine hospital used during the American war that was also allowed to house the leaders of the local guerrilas
- Viet Hai village
- Trung Trang Cave
- Cannon Fort, built in the French era, used in the defense of Hai Phong during the Wars against French and Americans

3. Trekking in Cat Ba National Park
If you like hiking, Cat Ba is a perfect place for exploring. A local guide is necessary. You need a good physical condition to support the successive ascents and descents through the jungle. You can go hiking between 3h and 6h in the park. The easiest option is a 3 hour hike to the top of Ngu Lam for a panoramic view of the island.
Cat Ba beach
4. Enjoy the beaches of Cat Ba
Cat Ba has some pretty beaches. The nearest beaches are: Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2, Cat Co 3 and some more remote and accessible by boat. Its beaches are all pleasant to fine sand and surrounded by limestone rocks. The best time to swim is between March and October, avoid the months between November and February due to the cold winter weather.
Cat Ba ferry
How to get to Cat Ba?
There are many ways to get to Cat Ba island from Hanoi but you have to go through the city of Hai Phong. The best way is to take a bus. There are many tour operators who sell tickets for Halong Bay or Cat Ba Island but you have to be very careful about prices and services as crooks are everywhere. Then you have to take a boat to Cat Ba Island and finally a last bus will take you to the central area of Cat Ba.

Where to stay in Cat Ba?
If you arrive in Hai Phong late, you can stay the night in Hai Phong. And again at Cat Ba, you will also find a room very easily in the center town of Cat Ba. In addition, spending a night aboard a junk is a good choice to live in nature. We strongly recommend this choice as it is still not too touristy and it would be wonderful to spend a couple of very pleasant days in Lan Ha bay.

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Xin Chao Travel Halong Bay
We are happy to send you our impressions on our excellent trip to Halong Bay with your company. The organization and monitoring of our trip was impeccable, thanks to our friendly and excellent guide Minh not forgetting the super driver Dzung.

Mardy Scott (Australia)
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