Cat Ba Island
Nestled beside Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba Island is the biggest among all the islands in the vast Halong Bay zone. Cat Ba Island is divided into 2 distinctive parts: Cat Ba Town offers some tourism services concentrated along the front of a fishing harbour, and Cat Ba National Park covers much of the rest of the island with dense jungles and rich biodiversity.
Cat Ba Town has developed services and infrastructure for tourism; much of what is available here does not meet world standard yet, but is acceptable and offers good value for the money. You won’t need a big budget to be able to arrange a nice hotel room, delicious meals and interesting tours for a day or two on the island.
Cat Ba's beaches, located just within reasonable walking distance of the harbour town, are small but good for a quick swim and some lounging on the sand. The national park offers fascinating nature treks among mangroves and freshwater lakes, and is a good launching point for tours of Halong Bay and kayaking trips. You can also explore Hospital Cave which has a storied role in the local effort during the war with America, take in the sunset from the high point at Cannon Fort or just wander the island roads on a motorbike.
In order to fully enjoy the quiet atmosphere and scenic setting on Cat Ba Island, cycling is an ideal activity for those who want to explore the island's wild natural areas.
The perfect spot for cycling is Viet Hai, a small village surrounded by jungles blanketing the mountains of Cat Ba National Park. Vietnamese tourists seldom go to this place, but it has become a popular attraction among foreign tourists. Riding from Viet Hai Harbour to the village, travelers can pause on the way to capture pictures of a quiet lake or the beautiful trees above the water. Viet Hai Village makes a fantastic short excursion on Cat Ba Island.
Trekking is the best way to explore the natural beauty, incredible geology and impressive biodiversity of Cat Ba Island and its national park. You can enjoy your own perfect balance of physical activity and relaxation while trekking off the beaten path in Cat Ba National Park.
Cat Ba National Park has some good treks of varying difficulty, on which trekkers are recommended to go with a local guide. The park is home to some impressively rare fauna, including the critically endangered golden headed langur (Cat Ba Langur). It is not easy to catch a glimpse of these animals, but the park’s flora and amazing panoramic views from atop its mountains ensure that no trek will be disappointing.
As the largest island in Halong Bay zone with numerous cliffs located both inland and on nearby islands, Cat Ba Island is fast becoming the next climbing mecca. There are 2 recognized climbing areas on Cat Ba Island; both require either an access pass or direct payment to the property owner.
A scenic thirty-minute motorbike ride from Cat Ba Town, the beautiful Butterfly Valley is home to a superb limestone wall with over 50 sport routes available. Climbing grades range from 4 to 8b+, and routes are suitable for climbers of all levels. Alongside Ben Beo Harbor is Ben Beo Wall, featuring 5 challenging climbs from 7a-7c+. At the top of these climbs you can overlook the entire harbor, providing an amazing view at sundown.