CatBa is the second largest Island in Vietnam. It is located south of Halong Bay. Many tourists book a tour of a few days in Hanoi to visit Halong Bay or CatBa. But, you can also travel to CatBa island without booking a tour. This is a more unique and adventurous experience which allows you to explore CatBa Island as well.
Another advantage of visiting CatBa on your own, is that you can travel straight from CatBa to Ninh Binh. This saves you a trip back to Hanoi if you are further travelling South.
On CatBa you can explore the island by (motor)bike, visit beaches, do kayaking, rock climbing or watch the sunset at Cannon Forth. You can book a boat tour on the main street in CatBa town to explore beautiful Lan Ha Bay, or the southern tip of Halong Bay.
Lan Ha Bay is the closest national park to CatBa island. It offers the same beautiful view over the limestone rocks as the famous Halong Bay. Another extra is that you also pass the CatBa floating village where over 4,000 people are living on boats surrounded by lime stone rocks.
Ferry or buses bring you to CatBa town where you can find many accommodations and several good restaurants. If you want a local food experience, make sure you don’t miss Phuong Nhung Restaurant which is famous for their springrolls.
Tip: Book a day tour around Cat Ba/Halong Bay at Alibaba (restaurant/guesthouse). This tour costs just 270,000 VND ($11) for a full day and includes lunch and kayaking. The owner offers also cheap (but good) motorbike rental for 60,000 VND ($2.50) a day.