Not only bathing and enjoying seafood, when visiting the Pearl Island of Hai Phong – Cat Ba, you can also discover the uniqueness of nature and life of people in the fishing village.
History of Cat Ba
There are many beautiful legends about the name Cat Ba. According to the elders, in the wartime, women in Cat ba island used to support navy in the nearby island in the war against the invaders. In Cat Ba town, there is a shrine. The official maps of the French colonial period (such as the 1938 map) also recorded this land as Ladies island. Thus, perhaps, the names of the Ladies island which is “Cac Ba” in Vietnamese have been diverted to Cat Ba.
Cat Ba island is among 367 islands of the Cat Ba archipelago, in the southern part of Ha Long Bay and about 30 km from Haiphong city center. As the biggest island in Cat Ba archipelago, Cat Ba island or so-call “The Pearl Islands” has an area of nearly 300m2 with the population of 8.400 people. This beautiful and poetic island lies at an average altitude of 70m above the sea level.
Due to its’ unique location, Cat Ba island has been recognized by UNESCO as the world biosphere reserve since 2004.
In spite of staying quite far from the mainland, the infrastructure here is quite developed with a combination of many hotels, motels, resorts, pagodas and especially internet system.
How to get to Cat Ba
There are many ways to go to Cat Ba Island. There are two popular means of transport: high-speed trains and ferries.
High-speed train from Hai Phong
You can take the high-speed train from the Binh station in Hai Phong with the price of about 200 – 220 thousand VND / person. By this way, it will take you about 50 minutes to arrive Cat Ba island.
Ferries from Hai Phong
Or you can choose the more economical option is to go from Got station to Cai Vieng Port by a ferry with the price: 7,000 VND / 1 person. After 20-25 minutes you are present at Cai Vieng port, where you can take a bus to the center of Cat Ba island.
Take a bus from Hanoi to Cat Ba island
In case you go from Hanoi, you can take a bus with the price of 280,000 VND / person, which takes only 3.5 – 4 hours to arrive Cat Ba.
When is the best time to visit Cat Ba
Visitors can travel Cat Ba at any time of the year, but most suitable time is around April to October, which is the ideal time for the holidays to feel the fresh air and avoid the heat of summer.
Or you can visit Cat Ba from November to March to enjoy the peaceful nature here and discover the uniqueness of local culture.
But you should notice that as tourists often come to Cat Ba on weekends or holidays, you should book hotel rooms in advance.
What is special about Cat Ba
Beautiful nature: As one of the highlights of tourism in the Northeast, Cat Ba has its own characteristics compared to other tourist destinations. The green of rocky mountains, forest trees and marble color sea has made Cat Ba a splendid splash of heaven and earth with hundreds of magnificent mountains and mysterious caves.
Many of the bays are deep in the island with strips of fine sand and clear blue seawater. The streams wandering in the jungle all day and night has created caves across the mountain and unique cliff shapes, which makes the brand name for this land.
Diverse ecology systems: Cat Ba is a cluster of nature and ecological tourism. It has both forest and sea making it an ideal place for living of various type of rare plants and animals. Therefore, for the adventurous tourists, Cat Ba is an attractive tourist destination to discover one of the most special world biosphere reserve places.
In Cat Ba, you can find 4,500 hectares of primary forest, with flora mixed with broadleaf, coniferous and broadleaf forests growing on limestone mountains. And a variety of rare animals and plants should be a place to conserve genetic diversity. Cat Ba National Park has 22 species listed in the Red Book of Vietnam and six species recorded in the Red Book of the world.
Where to visit in Cat Ba
Going to Cat Co beach and admiring Cat Ba from above
In Cat Ba, there are three most popular tourist beaches, Cat Co No. 1, 2 and 3, with clear water and near the center of town. In particular, Cat Co 1 beach is the largest among the three beaches, with three sides almost surrounded by rocky mountains. Cat Co beach 2 and 3 are smaller but quite peaceful. These beaches are connected by a small path along the mountain.
From the center of Cat Ba town, you can walk or rent motorbike or tram to reach one of these three beaches. If you do not bring swimwear, you can rent at the service shops on the beach. There are dressing rooms with fresh water for you to clean after leaving the beach. You should not go to these shores after 6 pm because at that time, the tide is high and the waves are very strong.
Otherwise, you can spend time on the Fortress near the beach to see the whole Cat Ba under the red sun. This is also a chance to visit the historical remains of the Vietnam war including two canoes, observation system, and complex tunnels. Please note that you will need to buy tickets for entrance this area as well as pay a fee if using the observatory for sightseeing.
Visiting Lan Ha Bay
Among many beautiful stops in this island, you have to spend a day exploring the unspoiled beauty of Lan Ha Bay. Located in the south of Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha has many similarities with this world natural heritage with the rocky mountains surface and undulating islands. But different from Ha Long Bay, the 400 islands in Lan Ha Bay covered with green tree however small they are.
Lan Ha Bay has 139 small and lovely golden sand beach. Many sandy beaches stretching between two rocky mountains are quiet with no big waves, which is the ideal destination to adore the peaceful moment of life. If you want to feel the full beauty of the bay, you Can rent kayaks to get closer to the limestone islands and visit many mysterious caves hiding in the rocky mountains.
Monkey Island (Cat Sand) is an indispensable stop on the journey to discover Lan Ha Bay. This place has monkey fun, very suitable for the delegation with young children. If you enjoy the sea, you can also take a bath at Cat Dua beach, a diving tour at a center on the island or enjoy scuba diving with instructors at the cost of about 1 million / 30 minutes.
Sailing boat to Cai Beo village
In Cat Ba, the most famous place for enjoying the local culture is Cai Beo fishing village. Not as busy as Lan Ha Bay, Cai Beo village is quite diverse in ships, boats, a ferry that are ready to take guests to discover the tranquility of the oldest fishing village Vietnam.
Cai Beo fishing village is attractive due to its’ gentle beauty, which you can find out during the journey on the boat driven by the fishermen here. On the small boat, you can discover many interesting surprises about the life of fishers in this village, and the idyllic beauty of Cai Beo through interesting stories. You can also stop at the someplace on the boat riding and enjoy the seafood either familiar meals or fancy dishes.
Tour around Cat Ba National park
Cat Ba Island is not only attractive by the beauty of the sea but also very attractive with rich forest resources. It will be a wonderful experience when cycling through this park and discover the fantastic side of nature.
Cat Ba National Park covers an area of 26,240 ha, including 17,040 ha of land and 9,200 ha of the sea surface. This place has three different ecosystems including mangrove ecosystems, forest ecosystems on limestone mountains, marine ecosystems with coral reefs.
With a diverse habitat, this place has variety of flora and fauna, including 2,320 species of flora and fauna. You can find the flora species here varied with 282 species live in the forest, 538 species of marine life, 196 species of marine fish. If you have the passion to discover the fauna system in the world, this place is where you can find 771 species of terrestrial plants, 23 species 75 species of seaweed, 177 species of coral.
Adventure in Viet Hai fishing village
Thanks to the pristine natural scenery and hospitable people, Viet Hai fishing village has attracted a large number of domestic and international tourists. If you have the opportunity to set foot in the fishing village, you will be suspired by the simple of people and life here.
Located entirely in the middle of the sea, surrounded by high mountains and jungle of Cat Ba National Park, Viet Hai fishing village is located in Cat Hai island district, Hai Phong. Visiting Viet Hai fishing village, you will feel the quiet and peaceful atmosphere, a charming landscape of the northern village in the old days.
Although it is one of the poorest communes in Cat Hai district, people here seem to be satisfied with their current lives where people love each other. This is a unique cultural feature that attracts more and more tourists to discover.
When traveling to Viet Hai village, you can walk through beautiful fields, breathe the fresh air of the forests and the salty air of the sea. All of that makes you feel the value of simplicity, pure and pretty side of the wild, majestic and charming nature.
Enjoy the specialties Cat Ba
Cat Ba has many famous delicacies made from seafood such as humpback, lobster, snapper, roach, sea bass, sea snake, etc. Depending on your preference, you can choose from grilled, fried or steamed seafood at many luxury restaurants in the town or visit Cat Ba market to discover delicious local food at a low price.
Now let’s take a look at some of Cat Ba Island’s unique specialties.
Geoduck is known as one of the rare seafood with high nutrition and special taste. People can make many delicious dishes from this species. It can be found in many regions, but the best place to enjoy this dish is Cat Ba island, where the sea suitable for the growth and development of this mollusk.
Cat Ba people process this dish in many ways creating many good dishes such as baked dishes, salad, porridge cooking, etc.
Sam is a kind of seafood can be processed many delicious and nutritious dishes with a very specific taste of the sea-land. You can find in Cat Ba dishes with this seafood including Sam Salad, sweet and sour Sam Fried, Sam Roasted or Sam boiled. Especially roasted Sam’s eggs are very tasty and contain a high amount of protein.
Tilapia is a type of fish living in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. There are up to 37 species of Tilapia. There are about 30 species of Tilapia in Vietnam. Cat Ba island has three types of Tilapia including fat Tilapia, black Tilapia, and bison Tilapia. Squirrelfish is a meat-eating fish that gives high nutritional value. From this fish, chefs in Cat Ba can make many attractive, nutritious dishes such as salad, porridge, hot pot, steamed sauce, grilled, etc.
Prawn noodles in Cat Ba are attractive in the taste of water, the aroma of fresh sea shrimp, the impetuous smell of local herbs. Also, this dishes is very delicious here thank the sour taste of tamarind. Try this dishes in Cat Ba with all fresh ingredients is a great experience in discovering the special of Vietnam cuisine.
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