We spent a relaxing 4 nights on Cat Ba island in Northern Vietnam. One of the highlights of Vietnam is taking a 2 day/1 night cruise of Halong Bay from Hanoi. However, we found staying on Cat Ba, the biggest island in the region, was a much better option. The winner of the debate for Halong Bay vs. Cat Ba is slowly tipping towards Cat Ba. Halong Bay is getting more and more crowded with tour groups and questionable cruise companies.
Cruise the Bays – Lan Ha Bay and Halong Bay
The karst limestone islands and sheer cliffs disappearing into the ocean is an iconic image. The majority of visitors book themselves on a 1 or 2 night cruise on the bay from Halong City, as a short diversion from nearby Hanoi. Instead, we went to the island of Cat Ba, giving us easy access to Lan Ha Bay. Lan Ha Bay, next to Halong Bay, is just as beautiful and much less touristy. These are both highlights of Vietnam. The day cruise we chose to take from Cat Ba took us through both bays, with amazing scenery the entire way. And because we left from Cat Ba early in the morning, our boat was able to go to less trafficked areas of the bays.
Explore Cat Ba Island
We actually had time to explore on land as well, one of the biggest benefits of staying on Cat Ba Island. We toured the island by scooter, finding hiking trails in the National Park, historical sights, and hidden water views.
Rather than writing up a full post on our time on Cat Ba Island, we thought we’d present it as a gallery. The photos speak for themselves.
Check out our full galleries, including Vietnam, here.