Cát Bà Island is the largest of the 367 islands that comprise the Cat Ba Archipelago, which makes up the southeastern edge of Lan Ha Bay in Northern Vietnam.
Overview of Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba is the largest island in Lan Ha Bay and a half of its area is covered by a National Park, which is home to the endangered Cat Ba Langur. The island boasts of diverse natural ecosystems, both marine and terrestrial. Natural habitats found within Cat Ba Archipelago include limestone karsts, tropical forests, mangrove and seagrass beds, coral reefs, lagoons, caves, and willow swamp forests.
Why should you choose Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island has become one of the adventure-tourism capital in Vietnam. Visitors can kayak or take night cruises through Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay, hike through Cat Ba national park, bike around the Island, spend time hiking and swimming on Monkey Island, stay at Monkey Island relax time on tranquil beach, explore the Island's caves, diving at Cat Co sea, or even go rock climbing on the limestone karsts in Lan Ha Bay.
Cat Ba Island is one of the populated islands in Ha Long Bay, nearly 13,000 inhabitants scattering in six communes, and more than 4,000 inhabitants living on fishing villages off the coast. Cat Ba town has grown rapidly and become a tourist hub for tourists who want to visit the Island and Halong Bay.
Today, the increases in infrastructure including widening roads, building dams to protect Cat Ba town from flooding, consistent electricity being brought to the island,... have made it easier for tourists to visit the Island, leading to a rapid increase in tourism, especially in High season. Since then, Cat Ba Island has been included in the itinerary of many Ha Long Bay tours.
Currently, over 150 hotels are listed in Cat Ba Island’s tourist directory pamphlet, from cheap budget hotels to flashier upscale resorts, and construction is underway on many more. Right now, construction is underway on the colossal Cat Ba Amatina, an enormous project that will transform the southern coast of the island.
Things To Do in Cat Ba Island
Hiking Cat Ba National Park
The green jungle covers almost half of the entire island. It was voted as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 2004 and is home to the endangered Cat Ba Langur.
Exploring various Cat Ba Beach
If you hire a motorbike you might find a few off the beaten track beaches in Cat Ba. But do not forget the main beaches are located in the South of the island quite near Cat Ba town. They are called Cat Ba beach 1, 2, & 3.
Taking a Cruise
The jagged limestone rock formations protruding from the still, emerald-green waters are impressive. the landscape is like a postcard sent from another world. Of all the things to do in Cat Ba Island remember to explore Lan Ha Bay from the water surface.
Cat Ba Hospital Cave
If you are interested in Vietnamese War history then you'd better join a trip to the Hospital Cave. It’s not at all enjoyable but a little bit scary, in the sense that it literally was a hospital for over 10 years during the Vietnam - America War.
There’s no natural light so it is dark, damp and depressing, which bring you an ecxact feel of a scary movie. But even with its bleakness, It's actually a three-story complex including a cinema and a swimming pool. They was all built inside a cave which is impressive. The creepy mannequin soldiers that have been added also increase scary atmosphere.
Trung Trang Cave
Trung Trang Valley is about 15km north of Cat Ba town, Trung Trang cave is unique and maybe slightly creepy Cat Ba Island. Known locally as ‘gold treasure’, Trung Trang Cave is around 300m wide. Thousands of natural stalactites create an impressive sight. But it’s pitch black ecosystem and cave-dwelling critters, Trung Trang Cave is definitely not for a faint-hearted.
Best Time to Go
The best time to go is in the summertime, from April to November. It’s also the peak season in Halong Bay. The beaches would be very crowded with tourists so we recommend heading there early to find a good accommodation. You should remember to book well in advance as hotels price is increased during this time of the year. For better deals, visit from September to November as the climate on Cat Ba Island transitions into monsoon season and it is the low season.