Cat Ba Island was one of the highlights of our Vietnam/Cambodia trip. It was another place we discussed possibilities of living, me as a TEFL and Yoga teacher and Jon running adventure photography tours. We were in Cat Ba during the low season so the downside to this place during the high season is the night life. This is a party island for young backpackers. This island has everything a fun loving backpacker needs: cheap accommodation like hostels, adventure activities during the day and clubbing by night.
There was much to do during the day on this island and because it was the low season, thankfully the evenings were quiet! I was still getting over my cold from Hanoi the day before so spent most of the first day in our hotel room whilst Jon booked himself on a day trek through the national park- Cat Ba’s beautiful national park is home to 32 types of mammal, including most of the world’s 65 remaining golden-headed langur, the world’s most endangered primate. There are some good hiking trails here .
The next day I was feeling 100% better so we toured the island ourselves and ventured up to Cannon Fort which offered the most spectacular views of the bay area. Hot tip: Most tourists flock to Halong Bay but your views will be ruined by all the tourists. My advice is go to Cat Ba Island and book a cruise/kayak tour around Lan Ha Bay. There are less tourists around this circuit and you’ll get more fabulous photos.
Lying south and east of Cat Ba Town, the 300 or so karst islands and limestone outcrops of Lan Ha are just as beautiful as those of Halong Bay and have the additional attraction of numerous white-sand beaches.
Due to it being a fair way from Halong City, not so many tourist boats venture here, meaning Lan Ha Bay has a more isolated appeal. Sailing and kayak trips here are best organised in Cat Ba Town.
For our last day we organised to be on a group tour around the bay via boat with two other people. Lunch was included plus some kayaking and swimming near a small white sanded cove. On the way to this cove we passed many local fisherman literally living on the water surrounded by the karst rocks, it was so beautiful and serene sailing by, some of the locals even waved to us.
Our tour was easy to book through via Cat Ba Local they are rated highly on tripadvisor and offer a variety of tours and excusions. Their price range is good and their guides are excellent. I even asked, if when I am a qualified yoga teacher would they be interested in me working for them as they offer yoga excursions too. I’d love to work for them for a summer perhaps.
Another hot tip: Local tourists usually come to Cat Ba on weekends and holidays, so you should take your trip on weekdays to avoid crowds, the possibility of running out of accommodations, and increasing price.
The views everywhere you turn are simply break taking. I would say this is by far the most magical place I’ve visited. Geologically, Lan Ha is an extension of Halong Bay but sits in a different province of Vietnam. Around 200 species of fish, 500 species of mollusc, 400 species of arthropod, and numerous hard and soft coral live in the waters here, while larger marine animals in the area include seals and three species of dolphin. With many tour companies offering many things to do, this is brilliant for the adventurours type- kayaking, trekking, visit the monkey island, fishing, rock climbing, swimming, free diving, visit caves and bike riding to name a few.
Cat Ba is pretty easy to get to from Hanoi and takes about 45 minutes via ferry. If you happen to be in the Hanoi district with a few days to spare, I highly recommend visiting this island. Being on Cat Ba shifted my spirits after my sudden cold, I felt much better being in this place. Its a dream!
Check out my write up about Ho Chi Minh City
As well as Cai Be & Meekong
If you wish to see more of my travels visit the links below: