Route overview from CatBa to Ninh Binh
Bus from CatBa to Ninh Binh (recommended)
6 hours, 320.000 VND (€12)
We recommend booking a bus ticket including ferry from CatBa to Ninh Binh. You can buy a ticket from an agency or your hotel on CatBa Island or book your ticket online.
You can also book a ferry ticket to Hai Phong and arrange a bus ticket to Ninh Binh/Tam Coc from there. But this option doesn’t save you any money and doesn’t offer any benefit.
Ferry + Taxi + Train + Train from CatBa to Ninh Binh
We do not advise to travel by train, because it will take a full day and is more expensive. The closest railway station from CatBa is in Hai Phong. You can reach this by taking a ferry from CatBa to Hai Phong Harbour. From this harbour, you can take a taxi to the railway station.
Unfortunately, there is no direct connection from Hai Phong to Ninh Binh. This means you first have to take a train to Hanoi and then switch trains to Ninh Binh. This total journey will take over 8 hours.
Option 1: Bus
Route: Cat Ba Ninh Binh
Duration: 4,5 hours
Costs: 320.000 VND (€12)
The bus brings you from the main street in CatBa to the North-East side of the island (Cai Vieng). After this 45min bus ride, you are transferred to a ferry (50min) which brings you to Benh Dinh harbor. From this harbour, a bus will be waiting for you and bring you in about 3 hours to Ninh Binh or Tam Coc.
See our Ninh Binh destination page why we think you should travel to Tam Coc instead of Ninh Binh.
In case you still want to stay in Ninh Binh, make sure the bus company stops at Ninh Binh city! We heard stories that bus drivers are not stopping in Ninh Binh city and argued that they were going to Ninh Binh province and not the city.
Where to book your combined ticket bus?
There are several agencies on CatBa island where you can buy a combined bus and ferry ticket.
If you want some more comfort on the bus and don’t want to take the risk that the bus is fully booked, we recommend booking your ticket online with CatBa Discovery through Baolau.
Their service includes a free pick up from your hotel in CatBa town and drops you off at ‘Long Hotel’ in Tam Coc center. See here their schedule:
|Good Morning Cat Ba||08:00-13:00|
|5h||371.128 VND (€14)|
|Cat Ba Discovery|
|4h 30m||320.000 VND (€12)|
|Cat Ba Express|
(Go To Cat Ba)
|320.000 VND (€12) / 360.000 VND (€14)|
If the bus with CatBa Discovery is already fully booked, you can also request a booking on Goodmorning CatBa. This company also receives good reviews but the tickets are slightly more expensive.
When you want to buy your ticket from a local agency, we recommend booking your tickets at Alibaba (restaurant/guest house). Bus rides booked via Mr. Ba leave at 10:00 or 12:30 and take about 5 hours to Tam Coc. Tickets costs between 200.000-250.000 VND (€7-€9) at a local agency.
Tip: With Mr. Ba, you can also book a great tour on their family boat for just $12. Also, he has the cheapest motorbike rental on the island.
My favourite places to stay in Tam Coc (Ninh Binh)
Tam Coc Family Hotel
Want to stay in a real Vietnamese Guesthouse? Tam Coc Family Hotel is a perfect example why you don't have to spend more than €15 for a great guesthouse.The super friendly owners will tell you the best spots to visit and will make sure you have a good start of your day with a delicious breakfast. It's a 1-minute walk from the Tam Coc river and drop-off point of the bus.
Tam Coc Bungalow
Or do you prefer to stay close to the river? Tam Coc Bungalow has beautiful bamboo bungalows with spacious rooms from €23 or dorm rooms for just €5.
What we really liked about this place is that they have a great common area. Watch locals paddling back to Tam Coc town during sunset and dare the staff to play a game of pool in the evening.
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