1.Lan Ha Bay
Exploring Lan Ha Bay is always the top priority for travellers when they put their feet on this isolated island. Many visitors do not know that there is another approach to Ha Long Bay from Catba by cruising through Lan Ha Bay– not from crowded Ha long city. By this way, visitors are offered to cruise to the most scenic & less touristic places on bay with hundreds of beautiful limestone islets & unxplored beaches . As being the bordered bays, there are little differences in lancapes.
The best time to explore Lan Ha Bay is Autum time ( September – November) as good weather for swimming & the sea is so clean & calm that you feel like crusing on the surface of the pond. Especially, there are only few boats on bay as it is considered the low season for Vietnamese & Chinese tourrists.
There are several different options for Lan Ha Bay cruise you can choose: 1 full day boat trip, 2 days/1night boat trip or 3 days/2night boat trip. Or even if you do not have time, you just do ½ day boat trip ( 3-4 hours) or rent kayak, then do it by yourself.
2.Catba National Park
The park is a World Heritage Site designated as a biosphere reserve that covers most Catba island. It is the home to 282 species of fauna & 1500 species of flora. Catba Langur- the endangered white headed monkey ( one of the rarest in the world) is the most famous resident within the park.
The park is just 25 mins driving from center town. You can hire taxi ( 20-25 $ for round trip) or rent a motorbike at 5$ (without petrol). The park opens from 8.00 – 5.00 pm. The entrance fee is 80.000 vnđ (3,5$). Here you can visit Hospital Cave – a secret, bomb-proof hospital built during the American War and was used as a safe house for Vietnam Communist leaders until 1975; Explore Trung Trang stalactite grotto and especially do short hike (1,5 -2 hours) by yourself to Ngu Lam Peak – the highest point on the Island ( you can see the whole landcape of Catba Island when you reach the peak).
If you want to do long trek ( the whole day to explore further, you are advised to book the trekking tour with local guide.
First built by Japanese when they invaded Vietnam during World War II, then used by Vietnamese Communists during French & American wars (1945 -1975) as a defense post. Here you can still see many remains of its time: cannons, tunnels, trenches, as well as many objects left behind by soldiers
Additionally, Cannon Fort is the best sunset viewpoint where you straight your eyes down to the heart of Lan Ha Bay with spectacular landscapes of sea, limestone islands and secluded beaches. The best time for sunset view at Cannon Fort is at 4.00 -4.30 pm ( winter time) or 5.00 -5.30 pm (summer time)
It is just 10 mins walking from downtown hotel to the entrance gate, then more 20 mins uphill walking to the fort. If you do not want to walk, you can hike a taxi( around 250,000 vnd) or motor -taxi ( Xe ÔM) at just 40.000 vnđ for a round trip. The entrance ticket is at 40.000 vnđ.
4.Viet Hai Fishing Village
Located in the heart of National Park and surrounded by jungles & seas, Viet Hai is the most remote & smallest of total 12 villages of Cat Hai District. It used to be the poorest village on the island due to the isolation & traffic problems, but Viet Hai are now considered the idea tourist atraction with the pristine beauty of natural landscapes and friendly local people. If you want to stay away from the crowd, noise and exprience the rural life with locals, Viet Hai is your choice.
There are 2 ways to get to Viet Hai:
+ By Boat from Beo dock ( Cat Ba town). You have to buy the entrance tickets at 80.000 vnđ to get through Beo dock.
– Public boat: 30.000 vnd/ticket ( cheap & slow): This boat departs at 11.00 am & 16.00 pm from Ben Beo dock to Viet hai port. (60 mins). It takes more 40 mins walking or 15 mins driving from the port to the village. For the return: There are boats at 6.15 & 12.45.
– Taxi-motor boat : There are many taxi boats at Ben Beo dock. You can hire your own at 600.000 vnđ ( 30 mins). It will be cheaper to share with other tourists.
– Boat trip: Some Lan Ha boat trips offers visiting Viet Hai.
+ By jungle trail: you can trek to this village through the jungle of Cat Ba National Park (about 17km – 1 day trek).
5.Catba Ocean Coast Highway
Catba Ocean Coast Highway is one of the most beautiful drives in Vietnam there is. It runs along most of the coastline of Catba Island and is famous for its beautiful scenery. the best way of exploring it is by hiring a motorbike. You can combine hiking National Park with driving motorbike on this coast highway. You can rent an automatic motorbike for around 100,000 VND easily from most hotels in Cat Ba Town.