After two days in Hanoi we were excited to see the ocean finally and ready to explore Cat Ba Island what to do and see. Of course we didnt miss Halong bay. If you plan to go there read about How to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba island.
Cat Ba is sometimes called Pearl Island (Dao Ngoc in Vietnamese) is proud to be the biggest island among the 1,969 islands in Ha Long bay. With an area of 140 km2, population of only 9000 people live on the island. With 70 meters altitude, Cat Ba attracts tourists with its peaceful environment and nature scenery.
Our first impression of Catba when we went by shuttle bus from pier to the city was like from the movie Jurassic park when the people first arrive to the island, only the music was missing 🙂 This island definitely has a soul from the first moment you enter it not only because of the beautiful scenery.
Again as in most places, the best way to discover and island is on motorbike (we’ve got one for 4 dollars per day). We stayed in the center in new hotel with amazing view (we booked this really nice hotel with friendly owner for only 9$ per night included breakfast).
What to do and see on Cat Ba Island?
VISIT NATIONAL PARK
We drove to National park ant it took us around 10 -15 min by motorbike. It’s good to reserve between 2-3 hours for the national park. When we arrived parking spot was empty and entrance gate looked abandoned.
Entrance ticket fee is 60 000 VND (3$) per person and you have to decide which tour you want to visit. One is up to the hill – nice view and 2nd one is more longer and deeper in forest. Well, we don’t know how they control which way you go and if you have a lot of energy ant time you are able to do both tours. We were surprised by amazing and beautiful butterflies, birds, spiders and other animals.
We saw other small animals. Well spiders were everything but not small.
We climbed to the top and were rewarded with amazing view. We recommend to go early so you will probably be alone there for a while before tourists group will come up.
We saw also rescued monkeys which were kept in cages. There was mess and trash around them :/
MOTORBIKE DRIVE ALL AROUND THE ISLAND
YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO DRIVE A MOTORBIKE 🙂
EAT FRESH SEAFOOD, DUCK SOUP, SPRING ROLL OR SOMETHING SPECIAL
There are many restaurants along the bay where you can enjoy local fresh food.
VISIT HOSPITAL CAVE
Hospital Cave was a secret, bomb-proof hospital built during the American War and was used as a safe house for VC leaders until 1975. We were not inside and can’t write or post photo about it.
RELAX ON THE BEACH
There are some nice small beaches. Nothing special but nice enough for relaxing and sunbathing.
KAYAKING OR ROCK CLIMBING
You can arrange kayaking or rock climbing trip. We did kayaking on the Halong bay tour and we didn’t try rock climbing. But if you are there you will find information easily in any tour agency.
ENJOY BEAUTIFUL VIEW AND VISIT CANNON FORT
After a day on motorbike we climbed up to old military base Cannon Fort to see the bay and sunset in Lan Ha Bay offshore. There is an entrance of 20 000 VND per person. It’s a nice place to chill out for a while with wonderful view. You can also explore rests of military base, to see old bunkers, helicopter landing stations and big cannon which is still up there on a peak 177 meters.