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“Sailing Expeditions - kayaking in Cat Ba island, Ha Long bay, Vietnam”
Review of Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island
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2-day explore Cat Ba Island - Visiting Monkey...
Ranked #4 of 37 things to do in Cat Ba
Certificate of Excellence
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Reviewed December 3, 2008

When we arived in the North of Vietnam we were thinking about going to Cat Ba Island, however we were put off by the mass of tourist package deals on offer in Hanoi. After asking around at several tourist offices it became obvious that they were only interested in selling their own expensive tours. It was then we found http://catbaventures.com/ run from Phong Lan Hotel. This informative website had all the information needed to get to Cat Ba island using Hoang Long Transportation Company.

Ha Noi – Hai Phong – Cat Ba takes 4 hours and buses leave from Luong Yen Bus Station several times a day for about $9.

Once in Cat ba you realise just how easy it is to organise the trip yourself allowing you to do exactly what you want in a small private group of just 2 -6 people. (At a fraction of the price the big tours charge) Mr Tung offers tailor made guides for independent travellers. The list of activities includes; rock climbing, kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, trekking in Cat ba national park.

We found www.catbaventures.com from other very good backpacker bogs (see bellow)



13  Thank Martin W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 29, 2008

Perhaps, many people think that Cat Ba Island is not a good place for them to go sightseeing. I was attracted by its strange beauty, especially Thien Long cave.
I went to Cat Ba on Superior boat owned by South Pacific Travel. After nearly one hour, I laid my feet on the island. Cat Ba do not have exquisite and noisy beauty like Halong, Cat Ba always has its own quiet and peaceful beauty. If you go there to find yourself in outdoor activities, you may not be satisfied with it, Cat Ba includes a national park and a group of caves, and this is good place for anyone traveling for the purpose of dicovering the natural wonders. I did not have chance to visit national park, but seeing Thien Long cave was very interesting.
Thien Long is located in Phu Long town, which is isolated from the area around. When we (I and other accompanied people) came there, one man, short but kind, picked up us and took us to the cave. The cave was quiet at that time, there was no one else except us, the man, living in and managing the cave, told us about discovering the cave and an ancient tomb. According to him, the ancient tomb was 1000 years old and excavated in 2002 in the recent years. Going around the cave, I saw the root of hundred year Si tree which was planted on the top of the mountain (Si is a plant symbolized something old and holy, and usually grown in temples, pagodas, and communal houses in villages). The cave’s air is so cool and fresh; at times some bats flew over our heads and made us nervous. The man smiled and said that many people were afraid of bats however they were good animal, the cave had many mosquitoes. He also explained more about the ancient tomb, a skeleton of solider, sacrificed in a battle.
We went around the cave and enjoy the extraordinary figures of stones; I freely imagined and guessed what form stones were. The little man described the stones up to his opinion which made us surprise and funny. He seemly understood this caves clearly and felt proud of saying about it. Before, we left the cave, he offered a music performance by tools of stones. That was very interesting!

2  Thank alexakane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2008

After reading a dozen reviews about avoiding Cat Ba Island, we decided that we were keen on organising our own trip to Halong Bay rather than going through a tour operator from Hanoi.

We got to Cat Ba Island on the "Hoang Long" (branded) bus from Hanoi (leaves from Luong Yen bus station) which takes you to Haiphong (approx. 3- 4hours). Take a taxi to the bus station, it is not easy to find on a map, walk to the back of the station bypassing all the ticket counters to purchase bus ticket direct from bus driver, they leave quite frequently.

*TIP - bring your ipod if you don't enjoy listening to 4 hours of vietnamese music and some snacks to nibble on as there is no petrol station stops*

Once you arrive at the bus station at Haiphong you will need to take a ferry to get to Cat Ba island - now here is the tricky part and the reason why so many people would stay overnight at Haiphong.

The 'Hydrofoil' ferries from Haiphong to Cat Ba Island leaves at 8:00am, 8:30am, and 9:00am - which sucks if you are not a morning person. It can mean you will not make it to the island on the same day if you to leave Hanoi after 5:15am. However, it is still possible to get to Cat Ba Island which we discovered once we got to Binh port where the ferry departs from - last one departs from 3pm (or so they say?)

For 250,000 VND(approx. $15USD), you get a mini van that transports you jetty where you get on the ferry (approx. 1hour) ride to Cat Ba Island. A mini van then takes you from the jetty to the main part of Cat Ba Island town - where you can find a handful of affordable places to stay to choose from (we stayed at one for $25USD triple share).

Okay how much more did we pay to get from Haiphong to Cat Ba at a time that suits us? The cost for a ferry from Haiphong to Cat Ba if we made it to one of those three times would be 90,000VND (approx. $5.46USD) - so a difference of $10USD which would be roughly the same cost if you stayed overnight in Haiphong, we were also under time constraints, with only 7 days in Vietnam - we were keen to get to Cat Ba Island asap.

Once we arrived in Cat Ba Island, we found a place to stay and arranged a private tour to guide us through a hike of Cat Ba national park and take us around Halong Bay. When looking for a guide we did a bit of shopping around - not all tours were able to offer the flexible tour we wanted ie.taking a hike, avoiding the many caves, taking a boat to Halong after the hike. We found this one guy that sat in this white box office who came close to offering what we wanted.

For $100USD each (group of 3), we got a guide to take us through a 18km hike through Cat Ba Island, at the end of the hike we walked to a jetty where we jumped onto a private boat which took us to around Halong Bay and moored at a fishing village overnight where we slept.

The next morning we woke up to the splashing of fish and sailed around the Bay for a swim. The boat dropped us off to visit Monkey Island (not worth visiting if you have seen monkeys before) and arrived back in Cat Ba Island at the time we specified. All meals where included in this tour but excluded drinks. If you are planning to do the hike - I would recommend bringing lots of water, a sensible pair of hiking boots, hydralytes for your water to avoid dehydration. The vietnam jungle is humid and speaking from an average fitness level person - you sweat like a pig.

As for Cat Ba Island, we rented motorbikes and to get around. There were mainly Vietnamese holidaying in their own country so it was not as bad as the other reviewers had put it. Perhaps it was the timing - we were there at the end of July and found more Vietnamese people than backpackers.

20  Thank SayNoToSharkfinSoup
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 14, 2007

Had a great time with our two small children. Booked a package tour from Hanoi, including AC minibus to Halong, then a boat to Cat Ba island, and then two nights in the Holiday View Hotel.

We did not stay on boats overnight as my wife fears being seasick.

Cat Ba town is nothing to get excited about but there are decent restaurants, and since it was off-season (November) there were no loud karaoke bars going.

The beaches nearby are nice, and the boat-rental we arranged for a day was a highlight of our trip to Vietnam.

We got a boat from the owner of a restaurant in town, whose uncle runs a floating restaurant in another bay. We had it for a day including kayaking, visit to Monkey Island, and he provided beer/sodas. It was super.

14  Thank twowheelsgood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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