Cat Ba is one of the largest and most beautiful islands in the World Natural Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay. Cat Ba Island is blessed with pristine beauty like limestone mountains, lush mangrove forests, and untouched sandy beaches.
There are a lot of Cat Ba Island things to do swimming at Cat Co Beach, kayaking to explore the amazing caves, visiting Floating Village, trying the incredible locals, and more.
If you have difficulty in deciding or are short on time doing all the above things, below is a list of the 10 Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Cat Ba Island Vietnam in Southeast Asia that you should try at least once while visiting this wonderful island.
1. Try Cat Ba Kayaking
Kayaking is on the top list of things you shouldn’t miss on Cat Ba Island. The most popular Cat Ba kayaking destination is Lan Ha Bay, which features the jaw-dropping landscape of towering karst, beautiful caves, and islets throughout the clear calm emerald waters lined with untouched white sandy beaches.
Kayaking is the best way to discover the beauty of Lan Ha bay where you can explore rock arch, hidden lagoons, water caves, and floating fishing villages.
Lan Ha Bay is less crowded compared to Halong Bay making it the perfect spot to spend your day paddling around.
You can self-organize your kayak or book a half-or full-day kayaking tour on Cat Ba Island. However, you are recommended to take a Cat Ba Island cruise which includes kayaking in its itinerary. There are different options for taking a Lan Ha Bay cruise.
You can choose to spend an overnights cruise to get the chance to enjoy the incredible sunrises and sunsets at Lan Ha Bay. Or you can just opt for a day trip Lan Ha Bay Cruise.
Some cruise tours will offer to take you to remote spots and make sure you experience its tranquility away from the crowds of other tourist boats. You can spend time lounging on the deck and having a quiet and peaceful time.
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2. Rock Climbing
If you are real explorers who dedicate to exploring the areas in a different way, Cat Ba Island is surely a perfect choice. Cat Ba Island is one of the best sites for rock climbing.
Thousands of limestone karsts hanging over turquoise waters are just the dream of rock climbers, beginners, and professionals rock climbers.
This island is a spectacular place where you can do both sport climb and deep water solo. Some tours offer a vast range of tours suited to beginners through to experienced rock climbers.
The most beautiful cliffs on Cat Ba Island such as Dau Be, Van Boi Island, Fish Cave, Tien Ong Island.
3. Cat Ba National Park
Cat Ba National Park is at the heart of the UNESCO Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve and is home to thousands of species including plants, unique animals, birds, and more.
It is one of the most famous tourist attractions on Cat Ba Island for both domestic and foreign visitors.
The national park is blessed with amazing vast landscapes, seascapes, and a variety of stunning marine ecosystems, it is definitely a paradise for those who love to explore nature and hiking.
It is highly recommended to take a short hike to the top of Ngu Lam Mountain for a panoramic island view.
The Cat Ba National Park consists of many unique ecosystems including a mangrove ecosystem, a tropical rainforest ecosystem on limestone hills, and a marine ecosystem with coral reefs.
One other unique feature about the Cat Ba National Park is that it is home to the Cat Ba Langur or the white-headed langur, which is known to be a critically endangered primate and one of the rarest as well.
4. Go Swimming and Sunbath at Cat Co Beaches
There are three gorgeous golden sand clear, turquoise color sea water beaches on Cat Ba Island which are named Cat Co 1, 2, and 3 which are located quite near the central town. Cat Co 1 Beach is the largest beach of all that is surrounded by cliffs.
You will see tourists relaxing and sunbath by the beach. Cat Co 2 is the most beautiful beach that is blessed with pristine white sand beach with turquoise blue waters and stunning limestone cliffs.
Cat Co 1 and 2 are also beaches where you can witness a magical natural phenomenon bioluminescent plankton.
Cat Co beach 3 is a quite beautiful building and modern tourist services here quite perfect from the beach, relax, eat and drink. These 3 main beaches offer plenty of local food and drinks as well as beachside activities.
5. Explore Hospital Cave and Trung Trang Cave
If you are interested in Vietnamese history, you should visit the Hospital Cave (Quan Y Cave) which is an underground bomb-proof hospital.
The cave served as a place for treating wounded soldiers, shelter, and a hideout for Viet Cong leaders during the American War from 1963 to 1965.
The cave is located about 10km from Cat Ba Town near the entrance to the national park. This incredibly well-constructed three-story cave hospital was abandoned after 1975 but its historical value remains. The cave hospital has become one of the popular tourist attractions on Cat Ba Island.
Highly recommended to hire a tour guide as it will help you to know the know deeper history of Hospital Cave and you can grab some local food at the onsite restaurant.
Trung Trang cave is known as one of the typical and largest caves in the cave complex in Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve. The cave is located about 1km from the center of Cat Ba National Park and 15km to Cat Ba town. Trung Trang cave not only attracts thousands of foreign tourists but also domestic tourists each year.
Trung Trang Cave is one of the most interesting with limited and sensitive lighting designed to enhance rather than detract from the natural characteristics of the formations.
Locals remark on the cave’s spectacular stalactites, which have earned the natural wonder the name “golden treasure” or “princess’s treasure”. If you visit Cat Ba Island you should not miss visiting this breathtaking cave.
6. Visit Viet Hai Village in Cat Ba Island
Viet Hai village is a hidden paradise that you must not miss when visiting Cat Ba Island. The village is covered by high mountains, in the midst of jungles, and a vast ocean.
The village is located in the heart of Cat Ba National Park, which belongs to the Cat Hai district of Hai Phong city.
To visit the village, you can either trek through the forest through Cat Ba National Park or book a boat from Cat Ba to Viet Hai Harbor to enter the village.
The beauty and unique experience you will get from visiting the village is definitely worth it even though entering this hidden paradise will cost you lots of effort.
You will find there are around 80 houses that are made of bamboo, wood, leaves, and mud. The villagers make a living by fishing, farming, and breeding. You will feel the tranquil and peaceful atmosphere and forget the busy city life.
7. Visiting Cai Beo Fishing Villages
Cai Beo fishing village is only about 2km from Cat Ba town, also 2 km to Monkey Island. On the way to Cat Ba Monkey Island, you can stop by to visit the Cai Beo fishing village.
Cai Beo fishing village is the largest and oldest floating village in Vietnam, which is well known for its beautiful scenery, friendly villagers, and wooden house rafts floating houses.
This village is blessed with poetic natural beauty, and when combined with the dynamic life of the fishing village, it brings a rare beauty.
Take this precious opportunity to witness the fishing and fish farming activities of Vietnam from experienced fishermen.
You can experience the exciting activities of hiring a boat and exploring the village also enjoy the local specialties made from fish, shrimp, geoduck that are raised by the people here.
Visiting a fishing village is a pretty good choice for those who enjoy a peaceful life and want to escape from the noisy urban life.
8. Monkey Island (Cat Dua Island)
Monkey Island is one of the tourist attractions shouldn’t miss on Cat Ba Island. The untouched nature and beautiful scenery on the island make it become a hot spot for nature lovers to explore when visiting Cat Ba Island.
The island was previously known as Cat Dua (Sandy-Pineapple) because there are many wild pineapple trees on the island, even the pineapple looks delicious but inedible. The local people use them to make traditional medicine.
Later the island was called Monkey Island because of the large number of monkeys inhabiting this island. Most of them were brought to the island by forest rangers.
The crystal clear blue water and soft sand make the Monkey Island beach the ideal place to swim or sunbathe while enjoying the sea breeze.
9. Cannon Fort
Visiting Cat Ba island, you should not miss a trip to the historical site which is located on the top of a hill with an elevation of 177m above sea level known as Cannon Fort. The Cannon Fort was founded by French colonists, it was completed by the Japanese who occupied the island during World War II.
The fort was used by the French, Japanese, and Viet Cong until about the end of the Vietnam War. At Cannon Fort where you can find tunnels, cannons, observatories, and other historical tools from the wars.
You get the opportunity to admire the beauty of the Cat Ba archipelago from many angles. The Cannon Fort on Cat Ba Island has long been a famous spot to enjoy the sunset with a view directly to the surrounding islands and Lan Ha Bay.
10. Local seafood, nightlife & Getting around
It will be a big mistake to not try local seafood in Cat Ba. Cat Ba Island offers the freshest and best quality seafood. If you are a seafood lover, Cat Ba is the best option.
The restaurants not only offer the best food but also a great seaside view. Geoduck clam (Tu Hai)is truly a specialty of Cat Ba Island that you should not miss. Geoducks are rich in flavors, and they are juicy and chewy at the same time.
When it comes to any local restaurants or eateries, make sure you try Horseshoe Crab, Lobster, Sea Serpent, Red Snapper, Cobia, and a shrimp noodle.
Although nightlife on Cat Ba Island is limited compared to other islands. However, you will definitely get to experience a relaxing yet memorable by enjoying drinks and live music at bistros.
You can rent a motorbike and explore the island. You stop by at the sidewalk stalls and restaurants to dig in a bowl of Hai Phong which is a local famous rice noodle soup with crab meat this would be a wonderful experience to do in Cat Ba town at night.