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Cat Ba Island is the largest Island in Halong Bay. Cat Ba creates it's own bay, Lan Ha Bay, which is even more beautiful than Halong bay - a breath taking place to go for a sail or a kayak. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world and should not be missed if you are coming to Vietnam
Cat Ba town is not super exciting. There is one main street filled with hotels and cafes. One kilometer away on the other side of the hill the town continues for a bit. Way less touristy, probably worth a look. Cat Ba town also has a pretty cool market that is worth checking out.
There are three beaches around the back side of Cat Ba Town. There is a walk along an elevated boardwalk that is absolutely breathtaking and should not be missed. Bring your camera.
The best part of Cat Ba is the nature. Over half of the Island is in a national park. There are two main hikes in the National park. The first goes from the entrance to a viewing tower a steep 45 minute walk away. Beautiful view. The trail is frequently filled with people so don't expect to see any wildlife on your walk.
The second trail at the national park goes 18 kilometers up and down hills from the park's entrance to Cat Hai Village and then the sea. Most people who go on this trail go with a tour which includes a boat that takes people on the last leg of the journey back to Cat Ba Town. (36 km round trip is impossible for most people. This trip is highly recommended for those in good physical condition.
It is also possible to set out on a billion different small trails that are all around the island. Most of these trails are unmarked and not maintained. This option is only recommended for the more adventurous and experienced. There is a beautiful marked and maintained 2 ½ hour loop trail (pretty steep) leaving from just behind Cat Ba Eco-Lodge. A free map of the trail is available for all nature lovers at the lodge's reception.
Cat Ba Island is also covered with caves. Most visitors enjoy a tour of Hospital Cave which was used as a bombproof hospital for VC leaders during the American War. There are several other caves besides.
Getting to Cat Ba Island is very easy. It is possible to arrive from Hanoi, Hai Phong, or Halong City. See detailed and regularly updated information on bus and ferry schedules to Cat Ba.