The travel to Cat Ba Island was a little painful for our group of 4 adults and 3 kids....however, if you can suck it up, the trip to the Island is well worth it IF you are going to do a tour of the bay! It's one of those once in a lifetime opportunities!
You can find very detailed instructions on travel to Cat Ba at this link http://www.junkcatba.com/2012/01/how-to-get-in-cheapest-way-from-hanoi.html.
However, those instructions don't include the fact that the bus literally stops the entire trip. It mentions that it may stop to let a few people on/off, but the reason the trip takes 2.5 hours is because it stops SO much. Also be prepared for the honking! The bus from/to Hanoi is the worst part. Once you get off of that long one it gets much easier. The shortest bus ride from where you get off of the boat to go to the middle of the island is very bumpy and curvy because it follows the mountain roads along the coast, but it's only about 30 min.
Once you get to Cat Ba, it didn't seem like there was too much to do in town. There are several restaurants and bars on the main strip, but we are not bar people, so it wasn't much for us. The motor bike taxi drivers will surround you if you look lost or like you don't know where you want to go. The souvenir merchants were a little pushy for my taste. I did buy a pearl necklace from a lady and then was offered the same thing for $10 less later that night by a different person. I do think they were actually real pearls...there is a pearl farm on the bay...so i still got a great deal on them, but it was frustrating to know I could have gotten them for less. *Make sure to ask what currency they are quoting to you.*
However, we booked we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Cat Ba Island Resort and Spa. We also took a kayaking tour with Asia Outdoors and our trip would not have been the same without that.
Overall, Cat Ba is a place you need to visit at least once in your life if you are going to get out on the water, but it probably wouldn't be a repeat family vacation location for me.
Also, we visited in October and the crowds were very sparse. I heard that in the summer it's packed though.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.