Enjoy the Vietnamese kitchen: Hanoi Delights and Discover old temples: Hue Impressions

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cat Ba and the islands and caves
in Lan Ha Bay: Have a quiet time

See the locations on Cat Ba Google Map

So many islands... A look from a mountain on Cat Ba Island, picture by Xuanxu

If you think, that Halong Bay is a crowded place, and if you are looking for a more quiet experience in a landscape, that is not less impressive than Halong Bay you are right with Cat Ba Island . It lies between Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay. Lan Ha Bay is "as magnificent as Ha Long Bay", finds vietnamtourism.com. The bigger part of it belongs to Cat Ba National Park. Background about the karsts and caves you read on speleogenesis.

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba island is known for its rugged limestone mountains, hot and cold springs, moist tropical forests and coral reefs. A big part of the island belongs to Cat Ba National Park, a beautiful landscape with up to 300 metres high mountains and nice beaches (read Biosphere Reserve Information by Unesco, Cat Ba National Park by Lonely Planet) and this report. In the park you can visit caves, where 7000 years old tools of men have been found (Trung Trang, Quan Y Grotto and Thien Long Grotto) and trek up to Ngu Lam Peak or Navy Peak. A special type of tree called “Cay Kim Giao” is unique to Cat Ba. This is one of 118 timber species on the island. 745 species of plants are recorded for Cat Ba, more than 100 with medicinal value. The national park is home to 32 types of mammals and more than 70 species of birds. There is a beautiful lake inside the national park called Frog Lake (Ao Ech). Two groups of people live on Cat Ba Island. The ethnic Vietnamese, or Kinh people, moved to Cat Ba after 1979. The second group are the Viet-Chinese, they descended from fishing communities that have existed on Cat Ba for many generations. Fishermen and farmers live in Tran Chau (the oldest and largest village on the island); in Gia Luan you find farmers, fisherman and some hunters; in Phu Long fisherman and salt farmers; in Xuan Dam farmers. In the smallest village, Viet Hai, 200 people live in simple, houses made of bamboo, wood, leaves and earthen walls.

See a video about Cat Ba by electronicaleyeview, video part 3, video part 4, video part 5 with Ngu Lam

The door to the port and Cat Ba National Park

Full of boats: the port of Cat Ba, picture by mckaysavage

Cat Co 2 Beach, picture by Houston Marsh

View from top of Cat Ba, picture by Puff's Daddy

On the road, picture by kontell

Picture by mulaohu

Fields on Cat Ba, picture by Ben Beiske

The landscape, picture by solarfeet

Rent a bike and discover..., picture by Ben Kullen-Kerney

Frog pond on the way up to Ngu Lam Peak. Picture by kevincure

Nice flower, picture by hifix

A temple, picture by diego hernandez

Picture mattjkelley
On the wai to Viet Hai

Viet Hai Village, picture by dom

Near Viet Hai Village, picture by dom

Picture el_floz
Near Viet Hai

Picture mattjkelley
View after a hike near Viet Hai

If you have luck when trekking you can see a very endangered species, the Cat Ba langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus poliocephalus), also known as Golden-headed langur.

The golden-headed langur, picture by conservation.or.jp

This species only lives on Cat Ba, nowhere else in the world. By the year 2000 poaching had reduced this species to only 53 individuals in several isolated sub-populations and the Cat Ba langur became listed by the IUCN, the World Conservation Union, as one of the world’s most endangered primate species. Towards the end of 2000, the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP) and Münster Zoo (Germany) formed a cooperative partnership with Vietnamese conservation agencies, and the “Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project” was initiated. Since then, langur poaching has been brought under control and in 2003, for the first time in decades, the population of the Cat Ba langur increased. Read more about this project.

Gia Luan Harbour, picture by Binh Giang

Hoa Cung Cave: Near Gia Luan village, 100m from the road. See picture

Hotels in Cat Ba

Sunrise Resort: "Gorgeous spotless pool, semi-private beach with a sheltered bay, views to die for from almost all of the rooms", comments awry on tripadvisor.com.

Sunrise Resort

View from the room

Beach with own bay

If the sea is wild, you have a nice pool...

Cat Ba Island Resort & Spa: Cat Co 1 beach. Mixed reviews on tripadvisor.com

The resort

View of the bay, picture by Mạnh Tuyến

Princes Hotel: Critical review on tripadvisor.com, good review on travelfish.org

Holiday View Hotel: Mixed reviews on tripadvisor.com and on travelfish.org

Holiday View Hotel, picture by nicholasjes

Nam Phuong: Good review on travelfish.org

Quang Duc Family Hotel: Good review on travelfish.org

Whisper Nature Bungalows: In Viet Hai Village, seven single private bungalows, a large bungalow for groups and a triangular bungalow where a bar is located with food, drink and wine.

Restaurants in Cat Ba:
Green Mango:
Tuyet Beo: Floating restaurant.

Seafood delicatesses: fish with tomato at Tuyet Beo. Picture by hifix

Tours on and from Cat Ba:
Cat Ba Ventures: Trekking tours, fishing tours, snorkeling and boat tours
Slo Pony: Rock climbing, kayaking, boating.

Ferries to Cat Ba:

The boat has a lot of room for bikes and motorbikes

From Tuan Chau Island to Gia Luan: Every hour from 6.00 to 18.00 (45 minutes).
From Halong City, Bai Chay Harbour: Tourist boat at 8.00 to Cat Ba Town, taking 4 hours. From Cat Ba Town: 13.00
From Haiphong to Cat Ba: Hoang Long takes you by bus and speed boat (1.30 hrs. From 4 Le Thanh Tong in Hai Phong at 8.00; 10.00 and 14.00.
From Haiphong to Cat Ba: Take the slow ferry (every hour) from Dinh Vu ferry station to Cat Hai island. Drive 7 km to the Got ferry station. Take the ferry to Phu Long, then drive 40 mins to Cat Ba town (3 hrs).
From Haiphong to Cat Ba Town: At Ben Binh ferry station there are Hydrofoils (8.30 and 9.00) to Cat Ba town (45 minutes) and ferries (6.00, 12.20, 2 hrs). From Cat Ba the hidrofoils leave at 14.45 and 15.00 pm, the slow ferries at 5.45 am and 12.20 pm).
From Haiphong to Cat Ba: Cat Ba Tourist Transportation company takes you from Ben Binh harbour (06.40; 08.15; 09.45; 13.40; 15.10; 16) by mini bus to Dinh Vu ferry station. A high speed boat takes you (07.15; 08.45; 10.15; 14.14; 15.45; 17.00) to Phu Long (it takes bicyles and motorbikes also). Then a mini bus brings you to Cat Ba Town. From Cat Ba Town at 06.10; 07.50; 09.10; 13.10; 14;50; 16, from Phu Long at 06.45; 08.30; 10.00; 14.00; 15.30; 17.00.

Map of Cat ba Town:

Read more about Cat Ba:
Cat Ba in the Evening
Ah... Cat Ba...

Discover Lan Ha Bay

Dau Be Island
See Dau Be Google Map and other map. There are sandy coves, a small settlement of fishers and a peak reaching 139 metres above the sea. Not far from the beaches there are some diving spots with rich corals. On the western side of the island you discover Ho Ba Ham, a grotto with three lakes inside, which are enclosed by cliffs on all sides. You can get through only at low tide in a small rowboat. The tunnels flood at high tide and get dangerous. Read more about these lakes by Speleogenesis.info. Read, which animals and flowers you will find near Ba Ham Lakes.
See pictures by cxc

Entrance to Ba Ham Lagoon, picture by Andrew. See more pictures by Queen Hanh

Monkey Island
See pictures of Monkey Island Resort and another one by Ends of Earth. Read about the stay of Davidsmeaton and the experience of An Thi with the monkeys.

Monkey Island, seen from the top, picture by Getting My Sarong On

Bungalows on Monkey Island, picture by tuantrekkingtravel

Ocean Beach Resort: Bamboo huts on Cat Ong Island, 3 miles southeast of Cat ba. "Each bungalow has two rooms and being only a thin wall between the two it can be noisy if you get snoring people in the next romm - so take ear plugs", comments Helen78 on tripadvisor.com, who found the resort beautiful and relaxing.

Approaching the island, picture by Linh

The resort, picture by Winemaker01

The beach, picture by Linh

Read more about attractions near Lan Ha Bay

How to choose the right junk for Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay
Bai Tu Long Bay
Quan Lan Island
Co To Island

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1 comment:

  1. Phuong Phuong restaurant in cat ba island
    Phone :0084313888254
    Address : No. 232 1-4 street cat ba island - viet nam
    Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7WUWEtN6Wk
    We walked by Phuong Phuong Restaurant on our first night in Cat Ba village and decided to give it a chance and use the free WiFi.

    Our meal that night was so good that we decided to come back for breakfast the next day.

    After an amazing breakfast we knew that we had found our spot and we kept coming back every day.

    The service was always friendly and each meal was fresh and delicious.

    The owners were an older couple who would come out and ask us how our food was and smile at how many dishes were on our table.

    In Vietnam, It's best to share everything so you can try lots of different dishes.

    The owner's lovely daughter was the lead waitress and she and her two cute friends are the staff.

    We stayed in Cat Ba a full week and ate every meal at Phuong Phuong except one dinner and after that dinner we wished that we had eaten at Phuong Phuong.

    The food was the perfect fuel that we needed for long days of rock climbing.

    Our favorite dinner dishes were:
    Steamed spinach with garlic
    Vegetarian spring rolls
    Tofu with tomato sauce
    Vegetarian fried rice with egg
    Mixed vegetable fried rice with shrimp
    Fried noodles with squid
    Steamed tuna with garlic
    Fried potato with garlic

    For breakfast we tried:
    Seasonal fruit with yogurt and toast (freshly prepared fruit!)
    Pineapple pancakes
    Mango pancakes
    Pineapple / yogurt shake
    Mango / yogurt shake
    Tomato and egg omelette

    The pancakes are prepared with fruit and eggs, without syrup. Not fluffy but flat. They were great!

    On our last night we ordered the Horseshoe Crab. This was a perfect way to end our trip. The crab was prepared both as a soup and served with local herbs and spices on a plate and it was delicious.

    Phuong Phuong is not only one of my favorite restaurants in Vietnam, but one of my favorite restaurants in the world!