Top 12 things to do in Cat Ba Island

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Cat Ba Island situated in the Gulf of Tonkin near Hai Phong City in northeastern Vietnam, is the largest among the Cat Ba Archipelago, covering an expansive area exceeding 300 square kilometers and renowned for its breathtaking natural allure, the island features towering cliffs, dense forests, and crystalline waters. The island offers a treasure trove of activities to explore its unique landscapes, cultural heritage, and vibrant marine life. Whether you’re a beach bum, a thrill-seeker, or a history buff, Cat Ba has something to offer everyone. In this article, we’ll delve into 12 must-do activities to make the most of your visit to this beautiful island.

1. Hike Cat Ba National Park

Begin your journey by immersing yourself in the wilderness of Cat Ba National Park. This lush tropical forest is home to an array of flora and fauna. Hiking trails lead to panoramic viewpoints, such as Ngu Lam Peak, where you can gaze upon the island’s stunning landscapes and the sparkling waters of Lan Ha Bay. If you are an experienced hiker, it is posible to do the hike on your own. However, we would recommend you to visit the National Park reception and book a guided hiking trip for your safety.

2. Explore Lan Ha Bay

Not as much as people like in Ha Long Bay, cruising in Lan Ha Bay is a wonderful option for people who enjoy seeing the bay without too many people and cruises over the bay. Hop on a traditional junk boat or a kayak to explore the bay’s emerald waters and limestone karsts. You can swim in secluded coves, snorkel among colorful coral reefs, and visit quaint fishing villages.

3. Relax on Cat Co Beaches

Cat Ba Island boasts three beautiful beaches collectively known as Cat Co Beaches. Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2, and Cat Co 3 offer soft white sands, clear azure waters, and a tranquil atmosphere. Whether you’re sunbathing, swimming, or just sipping on coconut water, these beaches are a perfect escape.

4. Cannon Fort

Immerse yourself in history at Cannon Fort, a relic of the Vietnam War. The fort features well-preserved bunkers and tunnels, and the climb to the summit is rewarded with stunning panoramic views of Cat Ba Town, Lan Ha Bay, and the surrounding islands.

5. Monkey Island

For a playful encounter with nature, head to Monkey Island. True to its name, the island is home to a colony of friendly monkeys. Apart from monkey-watching, the island is a destination for music lovers as it is choosen to be a destination for many music events in north of Vietnam and, in addition to that you can indulge in snorkeling, hiking, and various beach activities.

6. Try rock climbing

Cat Ba Island is a mecca for rock climbers. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a beginner, there are routes and cliffs suitable for all skill levels. Local climbing schools offer guided adventures, making it a thrilling way to explore the island’s vertical terrain. Please do not try to climb on your own. You are only allowed to climb under the watch of a certificated climber. And there are around 3 climbing centers from Hanoi are organizing rock climbing in Cat Ba such as Arch Climbing Center, and Vietnam Climb.

7. Sample fresh seafood

Cat Ba Town is a seafood lover’s paradise. Venture into local restaurants and street food stalls to savor the island’s freshest catches. Grilled squid, crab, and seafood hotpots are just a few of the delectable dishes you can enjoy.

8. Explore Hospital Cave

A fascinating piece of history awaits at Hospital Cave, an underground wartime hospital built within a natural cave. Take a guided tour to explore its intriguing tunnels, chambers, and gain insight into the island’s role during the Vietnam War.

9. Visit a pearl farm

Learn about the intricate process of pearl cultivation by visiting a pearl farm on the island. Discover how these beautiful gems are cultivated, harvested, and transformed into stunning jewelry. The pearl farm is located in the Ha Long Bay area and have opened their doors to tourists about their service, pearl farming process, see how the pearl are harvested and here, you can also purchase exquisite pearl souvenirs without a dount of getting a unadequate quality pears from other souvernir shops in town.

10. Wander Cat Ba town market

To soak up the local culture, explore Cat Ba Town’s bustling market. Here, you can shop for unique souvenirs, fresh produce, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of daily life on the island. Please do use your bargain skill if you visit the market, the local venders might ask for double price depend on what you would take from the market but commonly for clothes.

11. Viet Hai Village

The village is one of the oldest fishing villages in Vietnam with only local lives in the area. The village is accessible by boat or a scenic trek through Cat Ba National Park, and it could be included in your cruise ship itinerary.

12. Island hopping

Extend your adventure by booking island-hopping tours to explore the surrounding islets. Discover hidden gems like Thoi Quyt, Monkey Island, and Quan Lan Island. These excursions offer diverse landscapes, water activities, and opportunities to escape the crowds. For this option, you might have to contact a travel agency for the best option and pricing.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventurous trip, Cat Ba has everything to offer. With a list of 12- things to do in Cat Ba, we hope that you would enjoy the trip without missing out anything.

Reviewed by

Diep Van

Phone: +84901166884


Diep Van

Founder & Photography Guide

Specialties: Culture, landscape, portrait, hiking, active and adventurous tour

Besides my unlimited passion for traveling, a professional tour guide for over a decade, I have been taking photographs since sitting at Hanoi of the University of Culture in the early 2000s. Photography started as a hobby but it was seriously taken due to my work relations and my significant passion for the beauty of our world, especially in Southeast Asian parts such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

Within a few years of taking photographs, my works began to be recognized by many reliable international publications such as AFAR Travel, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph newspaper. In addition, I continuously add to my growing profile by winning numerous major awards: 3rd Position of The Independent Photographer 2018, 1st Position of Amateur Photographer of the year 2018, Grand Prize Winner of the AFAR Travel Photography 2019, and a Gold Award of San Francisco Bay International Photography 2020.

I photograph a wide variety of subjects, from travel to landscapes to street scenes. I enjoy documenting the East’s rich cultural heritage and its land soaked in glorious sunrise or sunset light in remote and secluded spots. And, I am very happy to share my knowledge and experience with you. You can visit Luminousvietnamtour to explore tour!

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