Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site that contains a huge number of islands. Cat Ba National Park covers half the island, both land and sea. The Cat Ba langur is the biggest attraction though it is seriously endangered with numbers now below a 100. There is other fauna as well including giant squirrels and civets.
This Cat Ba Island travel guide hopes to show you why you should include the island in your travels.
How to get there
The ‘’sea traffic’’ to Cat Ba is substantial. There are tourist boats constantly running between the mainland and the island. Some people actually organise their tours in Hanoi while this island regularly appears on Vietnam tour packages. It is up to 5 hours by road from Hanoi incidentally though train is an alternative.
There is a domestic airport at Hai Phong from which there are boats to the island.
Best time to visit
There are really only two seasons here; summers are hot and this is when the rain will come. It will be rather cold and windy at times between October and March until summer approaches. It is a matter of personal choice on Vietnam travel packages as to when to pass through this area. In winter the average temperature will only be 13C with lows of 5C. In the summer temperatures can reach the mid 30Cs with the average about 24C.
Things to see and do
Our Cat Ba Island travel guide would like to suggest the following:
• The National Park is a great place to walk because there is no dangerous fauna. There is a viewing tower but it is in poor condition.
• There are a plenty of caves though in a country with so many impressive ones they are only worthwhile if your Vietnam travel plans do not include others.
•Vietnam has great beaches and the south west of the island is where you will find Cat Ba’s.
• Monkey Island has long tailed macaques which were in fact imported on to the island as a tourist attraction.
• Hospital Cave has a 17 room underground hospital. It was in use until forty years ago, either as a hospital or somewhere to hide.
• Cannon Fort has great views across Lan Ha Bay, especially at sunset.
• Viet Hai is an interesting village that until recently had little contact with the outside world. Increasing numbers are now visiting to learn more about the locals, trek through the jungle and visit its springs.
There is no real luxury but there is plenty of accommodation that is clean and comfortable, some including restaurants. Backpackers can find cheap hostels while those on Vietnam private tours will have everything arranged for them.
Everyone visiting Vietnam, especially the north, is likely to visit Halong Bay which is surely among the top attractions of the country. Good tour companies will provide advice and answer questions from anyone that is interested in visiting Vietnam. Tours can be tailored to meet clients’ wishes and certainly Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island are likely to feature in all packages offered in the northern part of Vietnam.
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