Embraced by the clear waters of Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba Island is a Northern Vietnam travel destination no less famous than Halong Bay, especially among Vietnamese tourists. Cat Ba Island is divided into two distinctive parts: the lively Cat Ba Town with a concentration of tourism services, and the remote Cat Ba National Park with dense jungle and rich biodiversity.
Cat Ba Island is the largest out of 366 islands in the Cat Ba Archipelago, and also in Halong Bay, with a surface area of about 140 km2. The island is home to 6 communes with around 13,500 inhabitants. It is one of the few inhabited islands in Halong Bay because the islands here are often small and steep, unsuitable for habitation.
Cat Ba Town has well developed services to meet tourism demand. Still, for many Western travellers, the infrastructure and facilities here do not yet meet their standards. Despite that, with a fair budget, you can find a good hotel worth the money you spend. Nightlife here is quite bustling, especially during July and August, the high season for local tourism. A wide waterfront promenade along the harbour is bustling with local vendors serving fresh seafood.
Cat Ba National Park was established in 1986. After a re-arrangement of the park boundaries in 2006, the park now comprises of 109 km2 of land area and an additional 52 km2 of inshore waters and mangrove tidal zones. Cat Ba National Park was Vietnam's first national park to include both terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
Cat Ba Island, its national park and the surrounding area are nationally and internationally recognized for their importance to biodiversity conservation, exemplified through the 2004 recognition of the Cat Ba Archipelago as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve. About 1,400 vascular plants, including 23 Endangered and Critically Endangered species, have so far been recorded. Most noteworthy perhaps is the Cat Ba Langur (Golden-headed langur), with the some 60 individuals living in the park being the only extant population of the species in the world.
Spectacular scenery and a wide diversity of landscapes make Cat Ba a special place to spend your holidays. Come and visit its attractions, trekking in Cat Ba National Park, discovering Vietnamese history in Hospital Cave or enjoying sunset from Cannon Fort.