Cat Ba island in the largest of the 367 islands of Cat Ba Archipelago, in Ha Long Bay – UNESCO World Heritage Site – Quang Binh Province. Recently, you might have seen Cat Ba Island via the 2017 summer blockbuster Kong: Skull Island, where the island as well as the entire Ha Long Bay were pictured as the home to the legendary King Kong.
As the only populated island in the area, Cat Ba Island is the ideal resting for adventurous explorers after a long day surfing through the gorgeous bay of Ha Long. The ideal time to visit Cat Ba Island is from November to March each year, when visitors can easily avoid the crowd and enjoy the best weather possible – warm and not rainy.
It is relatively easily to get to Cat Ba island. Three ideal departing locations are Central Hanoi, Ha Long Bay (Tuan Chau Port) and Hai Phong city (Ben Binh port). From the two ports, you will travel to Cat Ba island by cruise ship; it only takes from 45 minutes to 1 hour to arrive. Finally the last resort is by bus or car from our capital Hanoi, which will takes about 3 hours on the road.
On your way to Cat Ba, you will have the chance to admire the unparalleled beauty of Ha Long Bay, comprised of hundreds of rock structure rising from the turquoise water and creating a magical maze on sea. Make sure you get your camera ready for a one-of-a-lifetime experience. There is also the option to combine a Ha Long Bay tour with you voyage to Cat Ba. Check out our review of Ha Long Bay cruise ship tour.
From cozy guesthouse to 4-star hotels/resorts, you will definitely find your home for one night on Cat Ba island. The price of one night usually ranges from as low as $30 to as high as $150. However, as Cat Ba island is constantly developing with new sort of accommodations every year, you will definitely see more options popping up every now and then.
For now, everyone can already find the perfect place for themselves all that is available. You can check out Lonely Planet’s list of hotels on the island or look things up on Airbnb, Agoda, and Booking.com
Arriving on Cat Ba island, the first thing you would want to do is throw your luggage in the hotel room and find a comfortable spot on Cat Ba’s beach. It’s been a long day, and you deserve some time for yourself with mouthwatering seafood dishes made from the freshest ingredients. Cat Ba is famous for the best and cheapest seafood in Northern Vietnam, and you can choose from many restaurants on the island and enjoy them by the beach.
Next up should be Cat Ba National Park, the central ecosystem on the island and source of your most desirable fresh air. The park is open every from 8 am to 5 pm, so if you arrive to the island around noon, you can spend the rest of your afternoon exploring exciting wildlife on the island. For those who are fond of physical activities, this is the ideal time of the day for you to hike within the park before the sun sets.
By the end of the day, you would definitely crave for some delicately made seafood dishes with a breathtaking view of the sunset and the beach. Well, all of them are not hard to get on Cat Ba island as this is your ultimate escape to nature in Northern Vietnam. In addition to on land dining, you can also experience a one-of-a-kind “on-water” dining while in Cat Ba.
Later in the evening, if the weather permits, you can go for squid-fishing with the help of locals and live like a true local fisherman for one night. Squid-fishing requires a lot of patience as well as dexterity so it will definitely be a challenge for everyone (but local fishermen, of course).
Wake up early for the most gorgeous sunrise on the planet! During your stay on Cat Ba island, make sure that you take advantage of the fresh air and beautiful beach for a cathartic morning jog before any other exciting activities. If you’re not down for some physical activities, yoga or tai chi on the beach is definitely two other tantalizing options.
Post-breakfast, it’s time for kayaking and other thrilling activities on the island. If you choose kayaking (high recommend), you will be able to explore Lan Ha Bay to which the island is closely situated, as well as many untouched and gorgeous natural caves. If you are more of a snorkeling enthusiast, you will be mesmerized by the beautiful coral reefs ecosystem. Otherwise, beach sports on Cat Ba will help you boost your adrenaline and get you hyped up for the 2nd half of the journey.
After refueling your energy with some more seafood for lunch, it’s time for you to see the Monkey Island, located just 10 minutes away (via cruise or boat) from Cat Ba Island, passing through the Cai Beo floating fishing village. Are you wondering why the uncanny name? Well, it’s due to the fact that there are about 2 dozens of cheeky monkeys on the island that usually rush down the beach area to play with locals as well as visitors. Monkey Island is a super fun place that you don’t want to miss during your trip to Cat Ba.
In addition to the crazy and friendly creatures, Monkey Island is famous for its high viewpoint, which you can climb up and contemplate the entire bay. It has been constantly described as the gem of Monkey Island for what it has to offer. The view from there is truly mesmerizing.
Monkey Island is also the perfect place for those has been longing for a completely untouched and exquisite beach. The turquoise-gorgeous seawater will take your breath away, while the enjoying some snacks under the sun. Although you can stay as long as you want with the monkeys, visitors generally stay for one afternoon before embarking on their journey back to the main Cat Ba island or directly to their original departing point. If you have to stop by Ha Long Bay before heading back to big cities Hanoi and Hai Phong, make sure you grab some light dinner before hitting the road as it can take up from 2h30 (to Hai Phong) to 4 hours (to Hanoi).
And that is a wrap for your 2-day adventure in Cat Ba! Hope you enjoyed the read!
If you have any question regarding your upcoming trip to Cat Ba, what to pack, how to find transport, do not hesitate to leave a comment below!