Where is Cat Ba?Cat Ba is the biggest island in the world famous Ha Long Bay, so it is easy to understand why it is well known to most tourists who visit Vietnam. This has helped add comforts and conveniences for the visitors. These days, in the heart of the island, Cat Ba Town, hotels and homestays are no longer an unknown development. At the same time, nature lovers can breathe a sigh of relief because it is still several steps away from becoming an urban jungle. This is because almost half of Cat Ba and its adjacent waters belong to a national park established in 1986 to protect the island’s diverse ecosystem. A few days of proximity to nature in Cat Ba, therefore, can comfortably rejuvenate you.
CAT BA ACTIVITIES#
- SQUIP FISHING
- STREET FOOD
ABOUT LAN HA BAY TOUR
Cat Ba Culture and History
Cat Ba HistoryCat Ba " Historical name called Cac Ba " Island means "Women’s Island" (Cac meaning all and Ba meaning women). Legend has it that many centuries ago, three women of the Tran Dynasty were killed and their bodies floated all the way to Cat Ba Island. Each body washed up on a different beach and all three were found by local fishermen. The residents of Cat Ba built a temple for each woman, and the island soon became known as Cat Ba. Archaeological evidence suggests that people have lived on Cat Ba Island for almost 6,000 years, with the earliest settlements being found on the southeastern tip of the Island close to the area where Ban Beo harbour sits today. In 1938, a group of French archaeologists discovered human remains belonging "to the Cai Beo people of the Ha Long culture, which lived between 4,000 and 6,500 years ago… considered to be perhaps the first population group occupying the northeastern territorial waters of Vietnam… [and] the Cai Beo people may be an intermediary link between the population strata at the end of the Neolithic Age, some 4,000 years ago." Cave Hospital In more recent history, Cat Ba Island was inhabited mostly by Viet-Chinese fisherman and was largely influenced by both the French and American wars. The island was a strategic look-out point and bombing during the wars often forced local residents to hide among the Island's many caves. Today, the best reminders of the two wars have been turned into tourist attractions. Hospital Cave, which was a secret, bomb-proof hospital during the American War and as a safe house for VC leaders. This three-storey feat of engineering was in use until 1975 is only 10 km north of Cat Ba town. The second attraction, the newly built Cannon Fort, sits on a peak 177 meters high, offering visitors a chance to see old bunkers and helicopter landing stations as well as views of Cat Ba Island, its coast, and the limestone karsts in Lan Ha Bay offshore. In 1979, the third Indo-China War broke out between China and Vietnam in response to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia that ended the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Relations between China and Vietnam collapsed, leading to the Vietnamese government evicting around 30,000 … of the fishermen, and most of the rest of the Chinese community from the greater Ha Long area.
Today, increases in infrastructure on the Island (including the building of bigger roads, dams to build harbors and to protect Cat Ba town from flooding, consistent electricity being brought to the island (which surprisingly happened as late as 1997) instead of having to rely on a generator, and large ferries and barges, able to transport trucks and cars to the Island from the mainland making daily trips to Cat Ba) made it easier for tourists to visit the Island, leading to a rapid increase in tourism and development in Cat Ba town starting in 2001. Since then, a stop on Cat Ba Island has been included in the itinerary of many Ha Long Bay cruises and a strip of tall, thin, five-storey budget hotels line the seafront, receiving more than 350,000 visitors a year. Currently, over 150 hotels are listed in Cat Ba Island’s tourist directory pamphlet, from cheap budget hotels to flashier upscale resorts, and construction is underway on many more. Right now, construction is under way on the colossal Cat Ba Amatina, an enormous project that will transform the southern coast of the island. The Amatina compound will be "a world-class integrated marina, casino, resort and theme park" spanning 171.57 hectares and (VITC) will be able to host almost 6,000 residents at a time. The Amatina will boast "seven resorts with over 800 villas, three marinas, one international convention palace, six five-star hotels and one four-star hotel" (VITC). The scale of this project is gigantic and will basically create a luxurious mini-city on Cat Ba and will attract tourists from around the world. Cat Ba Island has become the adventure-tourism capital of Vietnam, and many of the activities advertised are nature-based. Visitors can kayak and take boat cruises through Ha Long Bay and the Cat Ba Archipelago, hike through the national park, mountain bike around the Island, spend time hiking and swimming on Monkey Island just offshore, tourist can stay at Monkey Island Resort for real relax time on private beach, explore the Island's many caves, swim on Cat Co 1, 2, or 3 (three sandy beaches a short walk from Cat Ba town), or even go rock climbing and deep water soloing on the limestone karsts in Lan Ha Bay. With so many things to do, Cat Ba Island is slowly gaining popularity as an alternative to the crowded Ha Long Bay Town. With its scenery, its association with Ha Long Bay, its proximity to cities like Haiphong (50 km) and Hanoi (150 km), and even China (many regional visitors come to the Island in the summer, the busy season, to avoid the heat and pollution in the cities), and plenty to do, Cat Ba Island has become a major travel destination for foreign and Vietnamese visitors alike.