Most travellers spend a couple of nights on Cat Ba Island. It's not really worth the efort to get here if you stay for a shorter time.
It's easy to fill half a day or more just exploring the island on a motorbike (or bicycle of your're fit enough). If you're planning on doing any real trekking, you'll need to add another half day or more. And if you haven't already taken a Halong Bay cruise, that's another full day.
1. Cat Ba National Park
At the heart of Cat Ba Island lies a visually stunning and ecologically diverse national park. In 1986, 9,800 [98 km²] hectares (approximately one third of the Island's total land mass) was annexed as Cat Ba National Park, the first decreed protected area in Vietnam to include a marine component (Dawkins 14). It had previously been the site of a timber company. In 2006, the boundaries of the national park were redefined, so the park contained 109 km² of land area and an additional 52 km² of inshore waters and mangrove covered tidal zones (langur website). The park is staffed by 92 people, including over 60 park rangers. In 2004, Cat Ba Archipelago was declared a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Area in order to protect the multiple terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems as well the diverse plant and animal life that is found on the Island. The UNESCO designation divides the archipelago into three distinct areas, each with certain functions and restrictions that regulates development and conservation measures on the Island.
2. Lan Ha Bay
Located in the east Cat Ba Island, it is look out of the Great Wall, near to Halong Bay. The bay has 7000 hectares width, in which has 5400 hectares belonging to the area of management of Cat Ba National Park. This landscape has not only beautiful view but also the unique distinctions. The limestone in here is quite thick that divide the sea into small bay. Many small bays have not been discovered. Moreover, there have hundreds of mountains with different shape depending on the imagination of tourists such as: Guoc Islet and Doi Islet…
Unlike Halong, Lan Ha Bay has 139 beautiful small sands. It is really ideal beach for tourists, under the clear blue water; visitors will have opportunities to see the colorful coral. With a small boat, you can visit the caves and relaxing on the beaches such as: Cat Dua, Bai Cat… Especially, visitors can enjoy the place where makes the pearl. Special foods in here are: green mussel, snout otter, crab…
This bay also includes the small islands rising above the sea with many cave systems. It is similar to Halong Bay. Howerver, many tourists consider that visiting Lan Ha Bay is more interesting than Halong Bay by Lan Ha Bay still keeps the original scene. During this time, tourists can also visit fishing village or a kaya trip on the beautiful bay of Hai Phong. The fishing villages are a tranquil sea to live as separate from the rest of the world.
Price ticket: 20.000vnd/people.
3. Than Cong Fortress (Cannon Fort)
Majestic - that 's all what someone can say when going to Height 177 in Cat Ba, Hai Phong with the main route to Than Cong fortress. The historical evidence is recorded on this land; it has not only 2 cannons but also observatory systems, complex trenches.
Built on the top of mountain, these structures are still intact. Besides, there have the huge trenches with big space that is enough for groups. The trench leads to the manager area and boong-ke which is built by solid concrete blocks. All the wild and rough beauty gives visitors a special impression about an intact historical testimony.
From the observation of “Than cong” fortress, tourists can sight the overwhelming views. Located at the foot of the mountain, there have two beautiful beaches of Ca Ba: Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 2.
According to legend, the fairies turn into the storks to enjoy the scenery on the earth. With its white sand, blue sea and the waves, this is really the fairy place. Far away, the islands hidden and float on the waves such as: Guoc Islet, Long Chau Island… The heaven drew the beautiful pictures that create the passion for whoever comes here. Moreover, from here, tourists can enjoy the beauty of Cat Ba. When the sun sets, it draws a sparkling natural painting with afternoon sunlight. The magical beauty of nature is revealed when seeing Lan Ha Bay from here. Lan Ha Bay is one of the most beautiful bays of the world’s natural wonders of Halong. Cat Ba has combination between forest and sea which creates the special landscape. Come to this beautiful island, visitors not only soak into fresh and green beaches but also can explore the mysterious nature.
Services at the “Than Cong” fortress:
- Admission: 20.000vnd/people
- Train ticket: 50.000vnd/people/up and down
- Charges at observatory: 5.000vnd/people
4. Cat Ba beaches
The white-sand Cat Co beaches (simply called Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 2) make a great place to lounge around for the day. They are about 1 km southeast from Cat Ba town over a steep headland; and can be reached on foot or by motorbike or taxi. The two beaches are separated by a small hillock that can be climbed over in about 20 minutes. Most; however; take the easier route along a new; 700m; wooden seaside walkway around the mountain. Cat Co 2 is the less busy and more attractive of the two; and also offers simple accommodation and camping. On weekends the beaches fill up with Vietnamese tourists. The main beaches; apart from those at Cat Ba town itself; are Cai Vieng; Hong Xoai Be and Hong Xoai Lon.
5. Cat Dua Island (Monkey Island)
In Cat Ba, people or tourists are call Cat Dua is Monkey Island because the island has about 20 monkeys taken there. Cat Dua Island is protected by 3 rangers of Cat Ba National Park, the monkeys and the beautiful views attract tourists to the Cat Ba. Monkey Island is a small island located about 2 kilometers from Cat Ba.
Cat Dua Island is located in convenient place with white sand; tourists often come here to relaxing, sightseeing or swimming. Annually, there have a lot of tourists come to Cat Dua. Although Cat Dua has not many services to meet the demand of tourists, this is an ideal destination for tourists when coming to Cat Ba. Many foreign tourists recognized that Cat Dua’s landscape is suitable to develop ecotourism. On the island, monkeys are also a part of the success of Cat Dua. Come here, tourists can take photos with the views or the monkeys on the trees. There has Resort-Monkey Island Resort with the traditional houses (bamboo leaves). If you do not want noise, this place is the best choice for you.
6. Trung Trang Cave
Trung Trang valley is the biggest valley on Cat Ba Island with an area of about 300 hectares, lower than sea level from 10 to 30 meters and far from Cat Ba town about 15 kilometers.
Trung trang cave has 300 meters length through mountains, which is a natural cave created by heaven over two thousand years of history. Having hundreds of natural stalactites with the unique shape, the cave makes people associated with the image of the fairy. There has one range of rocks standing in parallel, if you slap hands, you will hear the sound so far away. Trung Trang Cave can contain hundreds of tourists to visit. At the Trung Trang Cave, it also has Kim Giao forest with beautiful nature, valuable economic and scientific research.
7. Quan Y Cave (Hospital Cave)
Quan Y cave belongs to Khe Sau, Hai Son, Tran Chau, Cat Hai district. Previously, this cave is called the Hung Son because it was named as a general of Tran reign. In the American war, this cave is called Quan Y cave because since the 1960s, it became a modern hospital.
Quan Y cave is a masterpiece in the structure of the war because the construction is completely within the heart of a mountain. It is a hospital located in cave which can accommodate over 100 people. Located at the 100 meters height with the window overlooking the valley, Quan Y cave is the ideal place to become rehabilitation. It was built with the help of Chinese technical experts. In the cave, the hospital has 3 floors and 17 rooms, the roads system. Quan Y cave is the place where treats and rehabilitate for the army according to the model of a hospital. Since Quan Y cave was built in the war, this hospital has ventilation systems from within the cave to the top of mountain by zigzags to get fresh air and light easily and just avoid the bombs. According to people live in this area for a long time, the Quan Y cave is always the ideal place to avoid bombs of people and army.
Quan Y cave is the pride of not only Vietnam but also the people of Cat Ba Island. Up to now, when the hospital was moved from one place to another, the historical value and its facilities still exist. It becomes an ideal attraction of Cat Hai.
8. Viet Hai Village
Viet Hai village is considered as 'isolated paradise', it is located between the valley and surrounded by high mountains and jungle. So that people still retain the wild character of the ancient past. In the village, there have only a few bikes, several bicycles. Viet Hai people still retain 'primitive' of the ancient. The communes have more than a dozen old motorbikes. The house open throughout the day, nobody steals furniture so that the village had only two guards. Viet Hai is almost clear with all kinds of social evils.
Some stilt houses, several restaurants serving tourists are opened recently. Foreigners come here after visiting jungle and they will have opportunity to enjoy foods that people grow. Many elders’ village and young are volunteers to guide for tourists. The elders’ village chooses boys and girls and helps them update English by sending them to the Cat Ba.