Taking the bus from Hanoi to CatBa Island is much easier and also a faster option than taking the train. Another advantage is that the bus picks you up in the Old Quarter in Hanoi and brings you straight to the center of CatBa Island.
When you travel by train, you have to take the train to Hai Phong, a taxi to the ferry station and a ferry from Hai Phong to CatBa. The journey by train takes about 3 hours more compared to taking the bus if you include the transfer time. We only recommend this option if you are already on the train from another destination to Hanoi. In that case, you can take another train from Hanoi to Hai Phong.
A combined bus and ferry ticket from Hanoi is a very convenient option and saves you the hassle of arranging a ferry ticket and getting to CatBa town.
The most common route for the combined bus ticket is Hanoi – Dinh Vu (Hai Phong ferry station) – Cai Vieng – Cat Ba Town.
We recommend travelling with CatBa Express since they offer the most luxurious buses. The company receives very good reviews and they operate with new buses (Feb 2017) which include free wifi and USB chargers.
Another option is to buy your ticket from one of the local agencies or hotels in Hanoi. These tickets include the bus ride from Hanoi to Hai Phong Harbour and the ferry ticket to CatBa Island. They also include a bus ride to CatBa town when the ferry doesn’t stop at the harbour next to the main street.
Although a combined ticket from a local agent might be a bit cheaper, their buses offer less comfort and often take longer than the buses of CatBa Express or any bus you book with BookAway. Another advantage of buses booked online is that they pick you up at your hotel when you are staying in the Old Quarter of Hanoi and drop you off at your hotel in CatBa.
Duration: 4 hours excl transit time Cost: 360,000 VND ($15.50)
We advise taking the bus from Hanoi to CatBa since this saves you the hassle of arranging a ferry ticket and switching between operators. But if you really prefer to take the train, you have 3 steps to follow. Take the train from Hanoi to Hai Phong, go to Hai Phong Harbour by taxi, and then take the ferry to CatBa Island.
Step 1: Hanoi to Hai Phong by Train
Duration: 2.5 hours Cost: 70,000 VND ($3.10)
There are 4 trains leaving daily from Hanoi to Hai Phong. We advise taking a train that leaves before 12:00 since the last ferry to CatBa island leaves at 16:00.
Pha Binh Harbour is a 10-minute taxi ride or 20-minute walk from the railway station in Hai Phong. In front of the railway station, you can find a taxi which brings you for about 50,000 VND ($2.20) to Pha Binh Harbour.
Make sure to agree on the price and the right harbour before you leave! The taxi should bring you to Pha Binh Harbour, which is 4km from the railway station (10min). Some will try to scam you and bring you to Dinh Vu harbour, which takes almost one hour by taxi.
From Dinh Vu Harbour, you also find ferries leaving for CatBa almost every hour, but these ferries only go to the north-east of Cat Ba and not to the central ferry port. This means you have to take another bus (45min) to CatBa town. When you book this ticket, make sure the bus ticket is also included.
See below the options for the different harbours.
Step 3: Pha Binh Harbour to Cat Ba by Ferry
Duration: 45min Cost: 240,000 VND ($10.50)
You can buy a ticket for the hydrofoil ferry at Pha Binh/Benh Binh ferry station. This ferry brings you in 45 minutes to CatBa Town.
Be aware that the ladies who want to sell the ferry tickets might overcharge you or put you on a different boat. This doesn’t mean you cannot buy from them, but just check the current price at the ferry desk before you purchase a ticket.
The normal rate is 240,000 VND ($10.50) but in the low season, these tickets sell for 180,000 VND ($8).
Ferry from Pha Binh (or Benh Binh)
Cat Ba Island Resort & Spa 9:00, 13:00, 16:00
Mekong Hoang Yen 8:45
Hadeco 9:00, 13:00, 15:00
Tickets cost 180,000 VND ($8) to 240,000 VND ($10.50) and the ferry takes about 45min. The ferry station in CatBa Town is located on the main street of CatBa where you also find most accommodations.
If you want to save some money, you can also buy a ticket from one of the companies below. These companies bring you from Pha Binh/Ben Binh to Din Vu by bus, then with the ferry to Cai Vieng, and from this harbour in CatBa with a bus to CatBa town. This is often a cheaper option, but ferries run less regularly, times can change without notice and the journey takes much longer.
Ferry from Din Vu Harbour
Van Tai Cat Ba
Cost: 150,000 VND ($6.50), duration: 1.5 hours
Departure times: 8:30, 10:30, 13:30, 15:30
Cost: 120,000 VND ($5.20), duration: 1.5 hours
Departure times: 9:00, 14:30
Thong Nhat – local slow boat
Cost: 110,000 VND ($4.80), duration: 2 hours
Departure times: 12:00, 12:30
When you book a bus or a ferry from Dinh Vu Harbour, you will probably end up on the North-East side of CatBa. From here you have to take another bus to CatBa Town. It depends on your ticket if this bus ride is included or not. Otherwise, you also have to arrange a bus or ask around for a taxi(bike).