Introduction to Cat Ba island

Cat Ba Island is situated a mere 50 km east of Hai Phong city in the north of Vietnam. Cat Ba Island is part of a chain of 366 islands that lie within the larger area of Halong Bay. At over 200km2, Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay. The island is easily accessible and matches neighbouring Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay for stunning natural beauty. It also offers visitors the added options of relaxation, adventure and cultural exchange. In April 2005, Cat Ba was officially recognized as Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Cat Ba is known for its rugged limestone mountains, hot and cold springs, moist tropical forests, mangrove forest , coral reefs as well as its deserted beaches, and casual island lifestyle. Cat Ba is now much sought after by both domestic and international visitors as a ready alternative to the city madness and bus tour boredom.
Cat Ba Ventures is the only locally operated tour agency. It provides a unique insight into the island and its people.
We know because we live here.


Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park in located 15km north – west of Cat Ba Town. It was established in 1986. It spans an area of 15,200ha, of which 9,800ha are forest, and contains lots of particularly interesting caves. The original tropical forest spans an area of 570ha, with extremely varied wildlife and vegetation.

Cat Ba National Park is situated in Cat Ba Island and on several smaller islands nearby. The park currently comprises98km2 of total land are, 54km2 of inshore waters. The National Park was Vietnam’s first national park to included both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. It is recognized nationally and internationally for its importance in biodiversity conservation, as it contains many different types of ecosystem and habitat. The Park has a great variety of plant and animal species.

The golden–headed langur or Cat Ba langur is a rare and a precious animal and exists only in Cat Ba island. A special type of tree called “Cay Kim Giao” is unique to Cat Ba. In ancient times, kings and nobles would eat only with chopsticks made from this timber, as the light coloured wood was reputed to turn to black when it touched anything poisonous. There are 745 species of plants recorded on Cat Ba, including 118 timber species and 160 plants with medicinal value. The national park is home to 32 types of mammals and more than 70 species of birds have been sighted. There is a beautiful lake inside the national park called Frog Lake, with a water forest and amazing landscape.


Lan Ha Bay.

Lan Ha Bay Cat ba IslandLan Ha Bay is located in the Southeast of Cat Ba Island, looking out of Van sea mouth, connecting with Ha Long Bay. Its area is 7000ha, of which 5400ha are managed by Cat Ba National Park.Its sceneries are not as beautiful as Ha Long Bay’s, but original characteristics. The limestone mountain density is here crowded, neglected and devised sea face into little bays, gulfs of which many little bays, gulfs, and caves are still not discovered yet. Hundreds of mountains of diversified shapes as Guoc islet (Clog Islet), Roi mountain (like a bat with widely opened wings). Difference from Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay consist of 139 small and clean sand banks of which lots of them lying in the middle of 2 mountains are sloping, long and quiet without rough waves, they are actually beautiful bathing beaches. In the very clear and green water remains colorful coral fields like Van Boi, Van Ha coral fields,… they are good conditions for developing undersea tourism (like diving tourism). Using a small boat, you can cruise in mountain creeks on the sea visit the bay, lagoon, caves, or resting on bathing beaches in the sea as Vem golf, Tung Gau cave, Cat Dua beach…

Lan Ha Bay is a lovely place for kayaking, snorkeling, swimming and rock climbing.

Viet Hai village in Cat Ba National Park

Viet Hai village has become an ecotourism place thanks to the village's peaceful beauty and villagers' friendliness. It is a small valley nestled in Cat Ba National Park in an isolated location, which keeps it a typical traditional village in the Northern countryside of Vietnam. It's one of the most visited places on any Cat Ba tour or by cruises in Lan Ha Bay.

Cycling tours from a pier in Lan Ha Bay through the jungle to the center of the village is an incredible experience for any nature lover. You will go under the forest canopy with a fantastic view of this scenic island.

Another perfect activity is to go trekking in Cat Ba National Park. From Viet Hai village, it takes you an hour to reach the Viet Hai peak. The 1-hour hike is quite tough, but the reward is big. Being the second highest peak in Cat Ba National Park, Viet Hai peak offers a gorgeous panoramic view of both Lan Ha Bay and Ha Long Bay. For trekking lovers, you can enjoy a 4-hour trekking route from Cat Ba National headquarter that is 20 minutes drive from Cat Ba town. The trek is strenuous as you go up and down several rocky hills through the primary forest.

Nam Cat island

Nam Cat island is a small island in Lan Ha Bay, about 5km southeast of Cat Ba wharf of Cat Ba town. It owns a beach about 500m long, wide and surrounded by many small islands creating a beautiful natural landscape of the islands. The island is under the management of Cat Ba National park. From the Beo pier on the main island, it takes you 15 minutes to get to the island by boat, and then you can enjoy your time here.

Cat Ba's Hospital Cave

Hospital Cave is located on Cat Ba island, next to the private road across the island, about 13 km from Cat Ba town. It was a secret bomb shelter hospital during the American War and a safe house for Viet Cong (VC) leaders on Cat Ba island. Built from 1963 to 1965 (with assistance from China), this incredibly well-constructed three-story engineering feat was actively used until 1975.

This cave is about 10km north of Cat Ba Town, on the road to Cat Ba National Park entrance.

The cave traverses 17 rooms, including an old operating room (complete with patient mannequins) and a large natural cave used as a cinema (and even had its own small swimming pool).

Trung Trang cave

Located in Trung Trang valley, Trung Trang Cave is 15 km northwest of Cat Ba town. It is a narrow cave with a length of over 300 m. Over millions of years of geological tectonics, this cave owns thousands of natural stalactites with unique shapes, evoking visitors' imagination.

Throughout the cave, visitors will come to a cave cavity with stalactites glistening under the dim lights.

Trung Trang Cave has an ecosystem in the mysterious darkness inhabited by many creatures such as birds, bats, reptiles, and insects. The National Park uses a simple lighting system in the cave to preserve the characteristics of the ecological environment in the cave. The fuzzy virtual space has helped visitors to have an exciting experience.

At the end of the journey to explore more than 300 m of Trung Trang cave is a towering cave with many cubes as beautiful sculptures of nature. From here, visitors will enter a lush green space with many ancient trees and vines. Trung Trang Cave is often a highlight of the trekking journey in Cat Ba National Park. In general, it is also featured in the program of many cruises on Lan Ha Bay.

Canon Fort

For one of the best views in Vietnam, head to Cannon Fort, where there are astounding panoramas of Cat Ba Island's jungle-clad hills, the harbour and the karst-punctuated sea. The entrance gate is a steep 10-minute walk from Cat Ba Town, and it's then another stiff 20-minute walk to the fort, or take a xe om from town (15,000d).

Well-labelled paths guide visitors past underground tunnels and two well-preserved gun emplacements, out to two viewpoints overlooking the island. There's even a cafe (with more great views from its terrace) and a tiny museum.

The tunnels and gun emplacements were first installed by the Japanese in WWII, but were also utilised by the French and Vietnamese during subsequent conflicts.

Ngu Lam peak

Another excellent viewpoint is the Ngu Lam peak, an ideal destination for adventurous travelers who want to see Cat Ba from above. At the altitude of 225m, it is one of the highest peaks in Cat Ba, giving you an overview of the island and island life. The whole picture of Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay, is captured in your sight with the sea, islands, forests, and floating villages on the sea, gentle and peaceful. The steep trekking route from the mountain foot takes you about 1 hour to conquer, and you won't feel regret.

Beaches in Cat Ba island

The sophisticated beaches Cat Co 1, 2, 3

Three famous beaches attract the most tourists when traveling to Cat Ba island. The common point of all three is not big and surrounded by green mountains, gentle waves, clear water, and little wind. They are connected by a small wooden bridge along the mountainside, which makes the scenery romantic. Cat Co 1 is the most bustling and fun atmosphere thanks to clear water, wide sandy beach. Those who like a quieter area will find Cat Co 2 beach more suitable. The beach of Cat Co 3 is less traveled than Cat Co 1 & 2 because it is quite deep and wavy, which is ideal for good swimmers. However, the tide will come up quickly around 6.30 PM, so you are not advised to swim here after the time.

Tung Thu beach

About 2km away from the center of Cat Ba town, visitors will reach Tung Thu beach, which has been opened since mid-2010. In Cat Ba island, Tung Thu beach is set up based on international standards with an outdoor stage on the beach, designed according to a unique concept. Tourists will find it more modern and fun once they come here.

Cat Dua beach on Monkey island

Cat Dua beach in Monkey island, which is about 1km long with clear water, could be found in the middle of the beautiful Lan Ha bay. To get here, tourists need to take a boat trip from Cat Ba town's pier for about half an hour. There is also a small beach called "Cat Dua 2" which is smaller but more private and worth to visit thanks to its well-equipped facilities.

Van Boi beach

Located on a small island facing the island of Like Rua in Lan Ha Bay, Van Boi beach attracts summer tourists with all the beauty of a young girl in Spring. Unlike the bustle in Cat Co beach, Van Boi beach still retains its wild and natural charm. Small Van Boi Beach, enclosing a protruding part of a cliff, provides visitors with a quiet white sandy beach and shallow clear seawater. The water is so clear that you can see the bottom of the sand or bragging coral reefs and enjoy a few rays of sunlight shining down a large area in waves.