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Essential Travel Guide to Cat Ba island from Hanoi | Things to do on Cat Ba island

Posted By : Threeland Travel / Halong Bay - Travel Tips

Looking for the essential travel guide to Cat Ba Island from Hanoi? Here is everything that you need to know!
Cat Ba Island is the largest of all islands forming the Cat Ba Archipelago. Listed as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005, it is characterized by natural beautiful landscape and seascape.

Visitors either choose to relax on the turquoise water beaches, trek through the virgin forests or discover the diversified fauna and flora. With Lan Ha Bay just offshore, offering a quieter and more affordable alternative of the touristy Halong Bay, Cat Ba is definitely a perfect getaway from Hanoi. 

Essential Travel Guide to Cat Ba island from Hanoi

How to get to Cat Ba island from Hanoi?

The best and also the quickest way to get to Cat Ba island from Hanoi is by direct bus. The journey of 3.5 hours with a 10-minute speedboat ride in the middle costs only around 15 USD per ticket and you will be picked up at your hotel in the Hanoi Old Quarter.

Speed Boat to Cat Ba island

Bus from Hanoi to Cat Ba island

Because of its easiness and convenience, this is the most popular choice among tourists.  
Other options are by train-boat and bus-boat, however, they’re time-consuming and your luggage will be on and off the train/bus/boat several times.  

Bus from Hanoi to Cat Ba

How many days to stay?

It totally depends on your interest. Cat Ba has got its glory history, stunning seascape, beautiful beaches and magnificent jungle which are all worth seeing; it is good for even 2 days and up to 5 days of visit. To answer the question for yourself, please take a look at Things to do on Cat Ba Island below. 

Best time to visit  

Cat Ba Island is blessed with pleasant and enjoyable weather all year round therefore, it’s good to visit this island at any seasons to see the different beauty. Domestic travelers normally tend to visit the island during summer time (May to August) to enjoy the beaches, June and July are considered as the busiest and hottest months in Cat Ba.

Foreign tourists, on the other hand, often travel to Cat Ba from November to March. Though it is not ideal for swimming but trekking or simply enjoying the peacefulness will be good alternatives during winter time from December to February.

Best time to visit Cat Ba island


Cat Ba Island offers a variety of accommodations, so it really up to your personal preference to choose where to stay. There are budgeted, mid-range to luxury options, located mainly along the seashore. Most tourists choose to stay in Cat Ba town – the best and most convenient area to wander around the island. Room rates are rather affordable, even for travelers who are on tight budget, however like most beach destinations, rate is seasonally changed.

Cat Ba Resorts

Cat Ba Island Resort

If you are going to travel during high periods (summer, holidays and weekends), early-bird booking before months is recommended as the rooms will be filled up very quickly. If you are not fancy on staying on land, you can either choose to spend 1 night or 2 on cruise in Lan Ha Bay with onboard experiences and on-site excursions to must-see spots in the area.

Cruises in Lan Ha bay

Cruises in Lan Ha bay

Things to do on Cat Ba Island

Spend time on the beaches 

Just a mere 5 – 10 minute walk from the main town, you can reach to Cat Co beaches (Cat Co 1, 2, 3). Blessed with blue water, beautiful landscape, attractiveness plus the short distance are probably the main reasons for their popularity.

Cat Co Beaches in Cat Ba island

Cat Co Beach

Not only for swimming, you may also kick back with a book, chill with a group of friends or get excited with the water sports at these beaches. If you prefer less crowded beaches, try other options: Tung Thu Beach or Monkey Island’s beach, those are a bit further but totally worth visiting. 

Hike through Cat Ba National Park 

Hiking is the great way to discover Cat Ba Island’s hidden beauty, we can explore the steep and rugged limestone jungle as we go. There are some good hiking trails here, ranging from easy to difficult. The 2 most popular ones are a two-hour return trip to Ngu Lam peak and a day-long hike to Viet Hai village.

Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park

The former is quite easy but it does get you up high enough to view over the surrounding jungle while the latter is more challenging which should be avoided during the wet season or after rain.

Cruise in Lan Ha Bay

Tourists coming to Vietnam normally have cruising in Halong bay on their list of must-sees. If you prefer off-the-beaten-path destinations, Lan Ha Bay makes a great non-touristy alternative.

Lan Ha Bay Cruises

Lan Ha bay

Situated off Cat Ba Island’s Southeast coast, it is a much more exclusive destination compared to its popular and often busy neighbor Halong Bay. Not only being able to cruise the pristine water and contemplate the bay’s spectacular scenery, there are plenty of activities on-board and off-board for you to take part in. 

Go snorkeling and go kayaking 

Your experience in Lan Ha Bay off Cat Ba Island shouldn’t be limited to observing the surroundings or sunbathing, try snorkeling and kayaking out in the ocean. 
-    Cat Ba’s biological diversity under water is also what makes it so special, making it very suitable for snorkeling as well as diving in. Home to the colorful coral reefs and many precious kinds of sea creatures, you will find a garish picture of marine system here.

-    Kayaking gives you the chance to explore the area’s natural beauty and diverse biodiversity. This is the perfect combination of physical activity and relaxing time while wondering around the water surface.  Paddling to the primitive corners of the bay, you will find yourself in harmony with Mother Nature more than ever. 

Explore the caves 

Your trip to Cat Ba Island would not be complete without exploring the cave scene here. Besides the National Park and sandy beaches, there are many magnificent caves with Trung Trang Cave and Hospital Cave being the most impressive ones.

Trung Trang Cave in Cat Ba island
-    Trung Trang cave is just about 15 km northwest of Cat Ba Town. Having gone through millions of years of geological tectonics, this cave possesses the age-old stalagmites and stalactites of interestingly different shapes. 
-    About 10km north of Cat Ba Town on the road to the national park entrance, Hospital Cave is a historical site that offers tourists a valuable insight people’s lives during hardship. Before becoming a popular attraction, it served as a secret hospital and a safe house for soldiers and civilians during the American war.

Try rock climbing 

Off the ground you go and and be rewarded with exquisite views! Rock climbing gives you a great oppotunity to explore Cat Ba’s nature in a unique way. It is considered to be one of the best outdoor activities to do in Northern Vietnam. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced rock climber, you are assured of a memorable time amidst the breathtaking nature here. 

Rock Climbing in Cat Ba island

Enjoy the sunset at Cannon Fort

Assured that the magical sunset here will be a memorable to hold onto. The Cannon Fort is not only a historical monument, but also an impressive spectacle. It is stragically positioned 177m above sea level and you can see right across Lan Ha Bay.

Cannon Fort in Cat Ba island

Without a doubt, you will be overwhelmed by the astounding panorama of Cat Ba Island under the romantic sunset over the sea.   

Sunset in Cannon Fort, Cat Ba island

Soak in the fishing villages 

Stay away from the bustle to explore with Threeland Travel to Cai Beo and Viet Hai villages, two unmissable sites in Cat Ba. Thanks to their picturesque scenery, the absolute tranquility and open-hearted people, the villages attract a large number of visitor’s day by day.

Fishing Village

Cai Beo is the oldest fishing village in Vietnam while the hike to Viet Hai is very popular among active tourists. These excursions on the water's edge allow you to get closer to an authentic life of generations, where the locals live in harmony with the environment for centuries. Email us: [email protected] and book one of the best tours to Vietnam and explore Cat Ba island from Hanoi.

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