The largest island on Halong Bay, Cat Ba encompasses lovely beaches, freshwater lakes, and fishing villages. It also offers tourists the added options of relaxation, adventure and cultural exchange.
Cat Ba archipelago consists of 366 islands, including Cat Ba Island. This island is located in the south of Halong Bay, off the coast of Hai Phong City and Quang Ninh province, Northeast Vietnam. It is far about 30km from Hai Phong City, and about 25 km from Halong City. Cat Ba Island is recognized as the world biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
Geographical location: In term of Cat Ba geography, the archipelago owns a geographic coordinates of 106°52′ - 107°07′ east longitude, and 20°42′- 20°54′ north latitude with the area of around 300 km2. The archipelago is adjacent Halong Bay to the north and northeast, with Cat Hai Island to the west, and with South China Sea to the east, the southeast, and the southwest.
Climate: Located in the tropical monsoon region influenced by the ocean, the average index of temperature, humidity, rainfall in climate is equivalent to the surrounding areas. However, the winter here is less cold and the summer is fairly moderate compared to in the mainland.
Cat Ba Island belonged to Cat Ba district until 1977. In 1977, the island together with Cat Hai district established new Cat Hai district, directly under Hai Phong City.
Cat Ba town currently is administrative district of Cat Hai district. Before 1945, Cat Ba town was under Cat Hai district, Quang Yen province. Then in 1945, it became Cat Ba Township. In 1975, Cat Ba Township changed Cat Ba town, and instituted new Cat Ba district.
Cat Ba Archipelago now consists of Cat Ba town in the southeast (overlooking Lan Ha Bay) and 6 communes: Gia Luan, Hien Hao, Phu Long, Tran Chau, Viet Hai, Xuan Đam. Kinh people occupy the majority of residents here. The Vietnamese is the official language and commonly used here.
According to the statistics in 1997, population in Cat Ba was 27.051 persons, accounting for 1.6% of Hai Phong population. The average population density is 80 persons /km2
Forest exploitation industry, fishing operations, and tourism - services are key economy in Cat Ba. Cat Ba Island owns a forest area of 15,200 hectares, in which natural forest area is around 293 hectares. This is one of the most favorable conditions to develop forest economy. Regarding the aquaculture, prawn and unisexual tilapia farming plans has achieved remarkable results. Prawn farming area reached 100 hectares with 6.5 million fingerlings. Fishery output reached 3,782.9 tons in 2012; aquaculture production reached 5238.43 tons, which meet export demand and tourism services. In addition, total product value drew up 43 billion VND; the export value gained 25 billion VND. Besides, in tourism sector - services, the district has focused on building infrastructure to serve tourism and relaxation for ages. The number of tourists spending their vacation in Cat Ba has increasingly grown. Services on catering, swimming, entertaining are gradually innovated. Accordingly, the number was 1,335,000 people in 2012, up 11% compared to 2011. Total revenue from tourism reached 590.7 billion VND.
Culture - Society
Programs and activities on culture, education, health, and sport are maintained and developed. The traditional living, customs and habits, and local culture has always been kept and preserved. Health care for residents is gradually improved with a team of experienced doctors and high professional qualification. Simultaneously, medical facilities are constantly enhanced. In regard to culture, the district continuously holds many exciting activities serving traditional festivals and in response to Red Flamboyant Festival; concurrently, coordinate to complete documents proposing UNESCO to recognize Cat Ba - Long Chau Islands as a world natural heritage.
Cat Ba Island is home to many virgin forests on limestone, which has promoting ecotourism development. In addition, Lan Ha Bay in the east, Cat Gia Bay in the southwest with dreaming sands and moderate waves facilitate sea bathing and relaxation. In addition, there are many beautiful limestones in the waters, which is similar to Halong Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay. Also, many beautiful beaches here actually satisfy tourists' demand.
Cat Ba National Park: The Park owns an area of 15,200 hectares with about 9,000 hectares of forests and 5,400 hectares of sea creating an ideal ecological environment.
Trung Trang Cave: Located about 15km from the town, next to cross-island road, Trung Trang Cave is home to many natural stalactites. The cave has capacity of hundreds of people.
Beaches: Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2, Cat Dua, Cat Ong, Cat Trai Gai, Duong Danh...has long been famous with white sands, fresh seawater, tranquil and peaceful scenery. In addition, many resorts has long been famous worldwide, namely Monkey Island Resort in Monkey Island, Nam Cat Resort in Nam Cat Island or Cover Beach Resort...surely meet desires of tourists.
Cat Ba Island with unspoiled and marvelous beauty is worth the Pearl of the Gulf of Tonkin.
Festival in Cat Ba is like mostly festivals of Kinh people in other regions. Notably, the most attractive is dragon boat racing festival inaugurating tourism season, and Ba Men Temple festival. These are 2 of the most unique festivals in Cat Ba.
Dragon boat racing festival: It is considered a traditional festival of Vietnam's fisheries sector. The festival is annually held on April 1 in the town of Cat Ba. The festival is to commemorate Uncle Ho visiting the island. The festival takes place with many cultural activities, special entertainment. In recent years, thanks to the growth of Cat Ba tourism, the size and activities of the festival are gradually expanded, attracting many both domestic and foreign tourists to participate.
Ba Men Temple Festival: It is considered one of the biggest festivals in Cat Ba. The festival annually takes place in Lunar 18-19 January. On the day of festival, all boats come back to the harbor to prepare for the swimming competition among different villages. After the long and exciting race, the winner will be honored and receive their prize in front of the temple so that people can admire their strength and skill. However, no matter how their destiny ends up, each of the participants feels delightful as they have a chance to enjoy the fresh and beautiful breath of spring with their family during the festival. The unique point of Ba Men Temple Festival is that it is organized without the intervention of any third party such as the local government or the national tourism department. In general, this is still a well-organized traditional festival full of cultural values.