Ultimate Cat Ba Island Guide 2024: Exploring Nature, Culture, Leisure & Adventure

Welcome to our definitive guide for Cat Ba Island in 2024! Nestled in the turquoise seas of Vietnam’s beloved Halong Bay, Cat Ba is a blend of breathtaking nature and vibrant culture. Let’s embark on a journey to uncover the charms of this hidden gem.

1. Cat Ba Island – A Spectacular Overview

Craggy, rugged, and jungle-clad, Cat Ba Island is the largest of the 367 islands that comprise the Cat Ba Archipelago, which makes up the southeastern section of Lan Ha Bay. In this part, we invite you to embark on a voyage of discovery as we provide you an enthralling overview of Cat Ba Island, revealing its distinct charm and the unforgettable adventures that await you.

cat ba island
Birds Eye View of Cat Ba Island // Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh


Also known as “Pearl Island,” Cat Ba is located in Cat Ba district, Hai Phong province, to the south of the world-famous Halong Bay. It is approximately 50 kilometers (32 miles) from Hai Phong City, and the journey by speedboat takes about 1 hour. The island is divided into six communes and is home to 13,000 people. Additionally, there are 4,000 residents in the floating villages just off the coast.

History And Legend

Based on studies, the history of Cat Ba Island can be traced back as far as 6,000 years ago. The name Cat Ba means “Women’s Island,” and as is common in Vietnam, there are several interesting legends associated with it. One legend states that many centuries ago, three women from the Tran Dynasty were murdered. Their bodies washed up on the shores of Cat Ba Island and were discovered by fishermen. The locals then constructed a temple for each woman, and the island later became known as Cat Ba.


Cat Ba Island boasts an incredibly diverse ecosystem with a wide variety of unique flora and fauna. There have been 1,561 plant species identified from 186 families. Additionally, there are 279 animal species, 23 of which are classified as endangered or critically endangered. The fauna includes 53 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, 66 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 274 species of insects.

In aquatic environments, there are 900 species of fish, 178 species of corals, 21 species of seaweed, 7 species of sea snakes, and 4 species of sea turtles. Given its high biodiversity, Cat Ba Island was officially recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve Zone. It comes as no surprise that Cat Ba Island is also considered a natural wonder.

cat ba island animals
Cat Ba Island boasts an incredibly diverse ecosystem // Photo by Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project

Why Visit Cat Ba Island?

Cat Ba Island, a paradisiacal part of Halong Bay, is a unique blend of breathtaking natural scenery, rich cultural heritage, leisure opportunities, and adventurous activities, making it an unmissable destination for all types of traveler’s.

Cat Ba Island is a location where fantasies come true. It is in fact, one of the must-see attractions in Halong Bay! The beauty alone will take your breath away, with its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and awe-inspiring limestone karsts.

2. Planning Your Trip

Best Time To Visit Cat Ba Island?

The best time to visit Cat Ba Island is during the same period as the best time to visit Halong Bay. However, the choice ultimately depends on your personal preferences. While you can visit the island at any time of the year, the most favorable weather for tourism generally falls in the summer and autumn, between April and November.

This period coincides with the peak tourist season in Halong Bay, and many boat tours make stops at Cat Ba Island. As a result, the beaches can be crowded with other tourists, so it’s advisable to arrive early to secure a good spot. Keep in mind that hotel prices tend to rise during this time, so it’s recommended to book well in advance.

If you want to save money, consider visiting the island from September to November when the climate transitions into the monsoon season and people are back to work or school.

Temperatures start to decrease from December onwards, resulting in frigid weather. March and April are characterized by wet and drizzling conditions, while June, July, and August are hot and humid.

cat ba island
Cat Ba National Park // Photo by Sun World Cat Ba

How To Get To Cat Ba Island?

Cat Ba Island is typically included in the itinerary of Halong Bay cruises offered by companies such as Orchid, Azalea, Peony, La Regina Legend, Era, Ylang, Heritage, V’ Spirit Premier, Scarlet Pearl, Stellar of the Seas, and Perla Dawn. Tourists usually spend an overnight stay on Cat Ba Island while en route to Halong Bay.

Gia Luan Pier, located on the northern coastline, serves as the docking point for boats coming from Ha Long City and Tuan Chau. From there, you can proceed to the main town, where most of the islanders reside and where you’ll find accommodations, tourism services, and dining options. Alternatively, you can purchase a ticket from Luong Yen Bus Station. After a three-hour bus ride to Hai Phong City, you’ll embark on a 30-minute hydrofoil ride to Phu Long Pier. From there, it takes approximately one hour for buses to reach Cat Ba Town.

Overview Elite Of The Seas
Elite of the Sea Cruise also brings guests to Cat Ba Island.

From Hanoi To Cat Ba Island

There are three transportation options for traveling from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island: by train, by shuttle bus, and by private car.

By train, you can travel from Hanoi to Hai Phong City, which takes about 2.5 hours, with ticket prices ranging from $3 to $4. From Hai Phong, you will need to board a speedboat to Cat Ba Island.

Taking a shuttle bus follows a similar route, starting from Hanoi and reaching Hai Phong City, then visiting Cat Ba Island via a speedboat. The journey by shuttle bus takes around 1.5 hours, and ticket prices range from $4 to $8.

The third option, which is considered the most convenient, is to travel by private car. This method allows for direct transportation from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island, with the entire trip taking approximately 3.5 hours.

From Halong To Cat Ba Island

To travel from Halong Bay to Cat Ba Island, you typically take a ferry. Several ferries operate daily trips to the northern section of the island. If you travel on your own you can book a ticket on Cat Ba Express or Good Morning Cat Ba which will get to the island via ferry.

The ferry ride from Tuan Chau port to Cat Ba central port (Cat Ba Pier) lasts about an hour and costs 220,000 VND. The last trip departs at 3 p.m. From the port, it takes approximately 40 minutes to reach Cat Ba town by car.

How Many Days To Spend On Cat Ba Island?

Three days on the island is generally sufficient to fully experience all the sights and sounds of Cat Ba. With its lush greenery, historical attractions, exciting activities, and a wide range of tourism services, Cat Ba offers plenty to explore, and your days will pass by quickly.

Take a look at the best places to stay in Halong Bay to maximise your trip!

beach on cat ba island
Beach on Cat Ba island

3. Exploring Cat Ba Island

How To Get Around Cat Ba Island?

It is easy to get around Cat Ba as motorcycle taxis are affordable. You can also find motorbike rentals and the prices start at US$4 for 24 hours. If you are staying near the harbor, many hotels, bars, shops, and restaurants are easily accessible on foot. It is advisable to rent a motorcycle if you want to explore areas like the Cat Ba National Park. Daily rates cost 80,000 -100,000 VND – just make sure you have travel insurance and a valid driver’s license.

Best Things To Do On Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island is renowned for its entertainment, relaxation, leisure, and recreational activities. With a significant portion still in its natural and untouched state, the island offers a variety of options for visitors. Popular activities on most Cat Ba Island tours include swimming, snorkeling, and diving, allowing you to explore the vibrant underwater world.

For adventurers, a day of caving, trekking, taking the Cat Ba cable car or rock climbing at Cat Ba National Park provides thrilling experiences. The daring can test their skills on the rugged walls of Butterfly Valley. Those seeking tranquility can find inner peace through yoga and meditation at Cat Co Beach.

But that’s just the beginning – let’s explore more of the wonders this island has to offer.

Admire Bird’s-Eye Views Of Halong Bay From Cannon Fort

Cannon Fort, located on High Point 177 at an elevation of 177 meters, offers breathtaking views of Cat Ba Island. Originally built by the Japanese during WWII, the fort was later used as a defensive position by Vietnamese forces throughout the French and American Wars (1945-1975).

A trek to the fort provides spectacular panoramic views of Cat Ba’s thick forest, undulating hills, and the scenic sight of fishing boats amidst the karst-studded sea. The entry gate is only a 10-minute walk from Cat Ba Town, while the fort is a 20-minute climb away. This strategically positioned site functioned as a view post for air and marine attacks and remains as guns, trenches, tunnels, and artifacts left by soldiers may still be seen.

Cannon Fort
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.

Taste Succulent Seafood At Quang Anh Village

If you’re a seafood enthusiast, indulge in delectable seafood dishes at Quang Anh floating village-cum-restaurant. Here, you can purchase fresh fish and shellfish by weight and have them expertly prepared through frying, steaming, or grilling, accentuating the local flavors.

Explore Ancient Cai Beo Fishing Village

Cai Beo is a renowned ancient fishing village in Halong Bay and is highly regarded in Cat Ba Island. If you seek respite from the town’s hustle and bustle, this tranquil village is the perfect destination. Serene boat tours are available to explore the peaceful remnants of this once-thriving fishing village, which is home to 450 families. The area’s main sources of income include squid fishing and clam and mussel farms, with many cruise companies offering overnight cruises that include squid fishing experiences.

cai beo fishing village
Cai Beo is a renowned ancient fishing village in Halong Bay // Photo by originvietnam

Discover The Untouched Nature Of Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park entices visitors with its unspoiled nature, featuring limestone forests, caves, waterfalls, and streams that flow into the sea. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and biosphere reserve spans 17,040 hectares of land and 9,200 hectares of sea.

The park boasts diverse ecosystems, including limestone forests, mangrove forests, and coral reefs. It is a sanctuary for various wildlife, including 32 mammal species, most notably the critically endangered golden-headed langurs.

The park offers several hiking trails, such as a two-hour trek to Ngu Lam Peak and a full-day hike to Viet Hai village. Additionally, visitors can partake in rock climbing and deep-water soloing above the turquoise waters of Lan Ha Bay.

cat ba national park
Cat Ba National Park entices visitors with its unspoiled nature, featuring limestone forests, caves, waterfalls, and streams that flow into the sea.

Visit The Fishing Harbor

To savor a variety of delicious street food and experience local-style bia hoi stalls, head to the fishing harbor. Not only is it an affordable dining option, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to connect with the locals and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Pay A Visit To Monkey Island

Located just 1 kilometer away from Cat Ba town, Monkey Island, formerly known as Cat Dua Island due to its abundance of wild pineapples, is now inhabited by a large population of monkeys that frequently frolic on the beaches, entertaining tourists. The island features two beautiful arc-shaped beaches, Cat Dua 1 and Cat Dua 2, both ideal for swimming in their crystal-clear waters.

To reach Monkey Island, a short 10-minute boat ride from Beo Wharf through Cai Beo fishing village is required. Most cruise ships include stops at Monkey Island, allowing visitors to appreciate the enchanting scenery and pristine beaches.

monkey island
Monkey Island

4. Cruise Experiences near Cat Ba Island

Cruise Along Lan Ha Bay

The waters surrounding Cat Ba belong to Lan Ha Bay, a breathtaking region boasting approximately 300 karst islands and limestone outcrops. Lan Ha Bay’s landscape rivals the beauty of Ha Long Bay or , with the added allure of numerous pristine white-sand beaches.

La Regina Legend cruise
The itinerary of La Regina has been carefully crafted to bring the best and most off-the-beaten-track experiences to travelers wanting something truly unique and memorable.

As it is further from Halong City, the number of tourist boats here is comparatively lower, creating a more secluded and intimate ambiance. Explore the area by joining a sailing trip to fully immerse yourself in the picturesque surroundings is highly recommended!

Why Should Choose A Cruise?

A Lan Ha Bay cruise sails through Cat Ba Island is a convenient and unforgettable trip. You may explore the gorgeous scenery, take part in sports like as swimming and kayaking, and experience the island’s own character.

These cruises also take care of transportation and lodging, allowing you to immerse yourself in the region’s natural splendor. Spending nights aboard the cruise ship adds to the allure, with stunning sunsets and starry sky. It’s an easy and convenient way to enjoy Cat Ba Island’s magnificent landscape and convenience!

Best Cruises near Cat Ba Island

Embark on the best cruises that sail through the magnificent Lan Ha Bay surrounding Cat Ba Island! These exceptional cruises offer an unrivalled opportunity to explore the breathtaking beauty and hidden treasures of this enchanting destination.

5. Get Packing for Cat Ba Island!

Ready To Explore Cat Ba Island?

At last, Cat Ba Island is a magnificent site that enchants tourists with its unrivaled beauty and many services. This island provides a unique combination of adventure, leisure, and natural grandeur, from the spectacular karst vistas of Lan Ha Bay to the unspoiled wildness of Cat Ba National Park. Cat Ba Island has it all: exhilarating water activities, calm beaches, and deep cultural experiences.

Exploring this gorgeous island has never been simpler, thanks to Lan Ha Bay cruises and a variety of lodgings and services. So pack your bags and head to Cat Ba Island, where beautiful scenery, unique experiences, and treasured memories waiting at every step!

Book Your Favorite Cruise With Halong Hub!

With Halong Hub, you may discover the delights of Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island. As a reputable supplier of great cruise experiences, we welcome you to learn more about our company by visiting our informative About Us page

Request a quote and let our professional team customize a cruise package to your interests to create your ideal holiday. You can rely on Halong Hub to lead you through the spectacular beauty of the region and create experiences that will last a lifetime. Book your cruise with Halong Hub today and go on a memorable trip.

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