Cat Ba island Overview
Posted Date: 11/5/20138:06 AM

Fishing village in Catba

Except for a few fertile pockets, the terrain is too rocky for serious agriculture, most residents earn their living from the sea, while others cater to the tourist trade. Life has always been hard here and many Cat Ba residents joined the exodus of Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s and ’80s. Although the island lost much of its fishing fleet this way, oversea of Vietnamese have sent back large amounts of money to relatives on the island, fuelling the hotel boom of the past decade. Cat Ba is still relatively laid-back, despite about a 20-fold increase in hotel rooms (and karaoke machines!) since 1996.

Almost half of Cat Ba Island (which has a total area of 354 sq km) and 90 sq km of the adjacent waters were declared a national park in 1986 to protect the island’s diverse eco-systems. These include subtropical evergreen forests on the hills, freshwater swamp forests at the base of the hills, coastal mangrove forests, small freshwater lakes and coral reefs. Most of the coastline consists of rocky cliffs, but there are a few sandy beaches hidden away in small coves.

There are numerous lakes, waterfalls am grottoes in the spectacular limestone hills, the highest of which rises 331m above sea level The largest permanent body of water on the island is Ech lake, which covers an area of 3 hectares. Almost all of the surface streams are seasonal; most of the island’s rainwater flow into caves and follows underground stream to the sea, which creates a shortage of fresh water during the dry season.
The waters off Cat Ba Island are home to 200 species of fish, 500 species of mollusc and 400 species of arthropod. Larger marine animals in the area include seals and three species of dolphin.

Ho Chi Minh paid a visit to Cat Ba Island on 1 April 1951 and there is a large annual festival on the island to commemorate the event. A monument to Uncle Ho stands on Mountain No 1, the hillock opposite the pier in Cat Ba town.

The best weather on Cat Ba Island is from late September to November, particularly the latter, when the air and water temperature is mild and skies are mostly clear. December to February is cooler, but still pleasant. From February to April rain is common, while the summer months, from June through August, are hot and humid. This is also peak season and the island is overrun with Vietnamese tourists from Hanoi and beyond.

Internet Access

There are now several internet cafes in Cat Ba. Prices tend ti be higher than the mainland, and the connection is quite slow. There are a couple of places to the southest of boat pier, plus one or two on “hotel alley”.

Remarkably, there are still no banks on Cat Ba Island, but Vu Binh Jewellers (Tel: 88641) can change cheques at 3% commission and does credit car cash advances at 5%. The nearest ATMs are in Haiphong or Halong City.

The main post office (Đ 1-4), is a one-stop-shop for postal needs and telephone calls.

Tourist lnformation 
There is now an official Tourist Information & Development Centre (Tel: 688 215; Add: Đ 1-4), located almost opposite the boat pier in Cat Ba town. The staff here can bring you up to speed on transport options in and around Cat Ba, plus it has Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve maps available. Most guesthouses and hotels can ‘help’ with tourist information (booking you on their trips, in other words).
Kayaking Hoa Binh Lake & Trekking Chieng Yen Valley Kayaking Hoa Binh Lake & Trekking Chieng Yen Valley

Hoa Binh Reservoir is an ideal place for kayakers thanks to its gorgeous beauty. The beauty of the reservoir can be fully reflected whilst paddling among evergreen tropical forest, karst mountains...

Relate Article