Map & Location
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Cat Ba is the main island in an archipelago, which is also named Cat Ba. As the largest island in the Gulf of Tonkin and surrounded by the stunning seascape of Bai Tu Long Bay and Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba has what it takes to become a tourism hub. In fact, acknowledging the potential of the island, the French, when they occupied Vietnam, had built Cat Ba into an established resort town of Tonkin. Today, Cat Ba, with its improving infrastructure and facilities, has been witnessing the influx of Vietnamese vacationers and foreign tourists every summer.
The most famous beaches are located on Cat Ba Island. They are the three lovely short beaches sandwiched between giant stones, namely Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2 and Cat Co 3. Nearby islands also have some very attractive yet less crowded beaches, such as Cat Dua, Cat Ong, Cat Trai Gai and Duong Danh. During summer, the crystal clear water, the luminous waves and the bracing wind under the sun turn these beaches into real paradises amidst the arid weather of Northern Vietnam.
Nonetheless, Cat Ba is not only about laying under the sun or diving into the water. Indeed, it is a lively coastal town that lightens up during the night. Cycling on double-bicycle along the wind-blowing coastal roads of Cat Ba is truly a romantic experience. A day trip to the nearby Lan Ha Bay, which is as mesmerizing as Ha Long Bay, or the mountainous, jungle-clad Cat Ba National Park will definitely enchant you.
There are several ways to get to the island. From Halong City, there is ferry service to Cat Ba at Tuan Chau Island. The ferries here are most of the time overcrowded so you may want to come to the dock early. Some Halong cruises do include Cat Ba in their itineraries. From Hai Phong, there are two options, both are by sea. You can board high-speed boat from Ben Binh Harbour, which only takes 50 minutes to reach Cat Ba. Alternatively, you can travel by ferry from Dinh Vu Pier, which is cheaper but will take you 2 to 2.5 hours.
The time when most people choose to visit Cat Ba is from May to November. The period from May to August, which is sunny and arid and sometimes has thunderstorm, is the peak season on Cat Ba. Hotels and resorts are fully booked and you may want to consider visiting the island on weekdays as weekend’s prices can double and even treble. September to November are less crowded; the temperature is mild, ranging from 25 to 28 degree Celsius. For the rest of the year, Cat Ba becomes dormant, belying its own title as a tourism hub. However, since Cat Ba Island has much more to offer beyond its central resort town, ranging from empty beaches on the periphery to the mountains in Cat Ba National Park, there are still many things to enjoy during this time.