From getting there to what to do and where to eat when you’re there, read my Cat Ba Island travel guide to discover everything you’ll need to know when visiting.
Getting to Cat Ba Island from Hanoi
Travelling to Cat Ba Island from Hanoi was surprisingly easy. We booked a bus-ferry-bus ticket with Good Morning Cat Ba directly through our hotel for 17USD. I think this was slightly more expensive than booking directly with the company, which I believe would have been around 11USD. We thought it was worth it, however, to ensure we were booked with a reputable company rather than one of the many dodgy ones that litter the town – you just have to take a look at all of the copycat Sinh Cafes to be cautious. It also meant the hotel manager sorted it all for us and the bus picked us up directly from there.
The journey consisted of a 2.5-hour bus trip to Dinh Vu port, a 25-minute speedboat journey to Cat Ba Island and a 40-minute drive to Cat Ba Town, where all customers were dropped off at their chosen hotel. The bus was clean, comfortable and modern – like most places in Vietnam, it even had WiFi – and the ferry was comfy enough and safe. I advise boarding quickly though, as there weren’t enough seats for everyone.
The Good Morning Cat Ba buses depart twice a day from Hanoi, with departures at 8am and 2.30pm (pick-ups between 7.15am-7.45am and 2pm-2.30pm). More info can be found on their website.
Getting to Haiphong from Cat Ba Island
Leaving Cat Ba Island was just as easy as getting there. We simply booked a Hydrofoil ticket with Cat Ba Ventures to Haiphong, which cost 180,000 Dong (around 8USD) and took 45 minutes. Multiple Hydrofoils depart from Cat Ba Town port a day and ours left right on time. After the Hydrofoil, we got a taxi from Haiphong port to the airport, which cost 140,000 Dong. They will quote you 200,000 but be sure to barter as it shouldn’t be more than 140. If you’re returning to Hanoi, Good Morning Cat Ba offer return bus-ferry-buses departing from Cat Ba Town.
Day trips and Ha Long Bay tours from Cat Ba Island: Cat Ba Ventures
We booked two trips with Cat Ba Ventures during our stay on Cat Ba and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. The first trip was a half-day hiking tour for 16USD. This included a private tour guide, who drove us to Cat Ba National Park and led us on a hike up to a beautiful viewpoint (pictured above) with many stories about the island on the way. On the way back, we stopped off at the Hospital Cave, which they definitely undersell. We were expecting just a small cave with nothing much to see, but you actually get led through an impressive maze of 17 rooms where the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong Guerrillas hid during the Vietnam War.
Our second trip booked with Cat Ba Ventures was a full-day boat tour of La Han Bay and Ha Long Bay for 26USD. This included kayaking, swimming, a hearty lunch, an English speaking guide and the option to buy extra drinks on board. I have written more about this tour in my Cat Ba Ventures Ha Long Bay Tour post.
Cat Ba Ventures can be found at 223, 1- 4 Street, Cat Ba Island – opposite Cat Ba Town’s ferry port.
The best restaurants and bars on Cat Ba Island
We weren’t blown away by the food and drink options on Cat Ba Island (one night I was given completely raw pork!) so I only have a couple to recommend. However, it’s unlikely you’ll be staying on the island for more than two or three nights so that shouldn’t be an issue.
LePont Bungalow Hostel
Located on a hill overlooking Cat Ba Town and its bay, this is the perfect spot for an evening beer. There is a huge outdoor terrace as well as a couple of tables and chairs located on a viewing rock – get there early to grab these and revel in finding the perfect sunset drinking spot. They also do a happy hour that gives you three beers for two, meaning you can get three beers for 50,000 Dong (around 2/2.5 USD).
Probably the priciest restaurant in Cat Ba Town, Green Mango is a welcome respite from the more casual dining options. Not all the food is necessarily worth the higher price point – the Thai Green Curry was relatively bland – but other options such as the Pad Thai were certainly worth the visit. Nice décor, good service, ice cold beers and clean toilets also add up to an enjoyable dining experience. Our meal came to 415,000 Dong (around 18USD) for two main courses and four beers.