If you have time, please take a motorcycle ride from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island (Hai Phong) to experience a completely new feeling of a path of the forest and sea.
Among nearly 2,000 islands of Ha Long Bay, the largest one – the Jade or Cat Ba Island -, is a tourist destination famous by its emerald green water beaches, by fine white sand and by a wide range of services that meet all tourists’ demands, from simple to hi-class.
Visitors usually get to Cat Ba Island by speed boat, hydrofoil boat or car-carrying ferry. These modes of travel could save them the time. However, travelers would miss a very interesting part of the travelling. If you have time, just try going to Cat Ba by motocycle and feel the completely new image of the Island.
Starting from Hanoi, you can take Tuan Chau (Quang Ninh) - Gia Luan, or Dinh Vu (Hai Phong) - Cat Ba ferry routes. We would prefer taking Dinh Vu – Cat Ba route. You do not have to wait for long, because the ferries depart Dinh Vu terminal hourly. After about an hour and a half of ferry travel, you will put your foots on the island.
If traveling by speed boat, you'll be taken directly to the district center. Leaving Cat Ba ferry terminal, you will take a 25km coastal road with unforgettable panoramic views: the winding road is nestled under the high cliffs, stepping up and down the mountains, hiding in or going out from corners. The views are no less beautiful than that of the famous mountainous roads of northwest Vietnam.
Dinh Vu - Cat Ba ferry is operating whole day, from 6AM to 17PM. It consists of two parts: from Dinh Vu (Hai Phong city) to Ninh Tiep (Cat Hai island) and from Got (Cat Hai Island) to Cai Vieng (Cat Ba Island). Ferry fare is quite cheap: 5,000 VND and 3,000 VND for each part respectively. Guests also have to pay 20,000 VND and 12,000 VND for motorcycle.
While the road views in Northwest Vietnam create a sense of wild and fierce nature, the paths in Northeast area, including Cat Ba, has far more soft, gentle views, despite the fact that they both have steep cliffs up high into the sky. Perhaps because the northeast roads that run alongside the coastline, with so many lakes, ponds, marshes, farms ... make much more peaceful and cooler feelings.
Cleanness and order are the first impression that tourists may have in Cat Ba. The cleanness and order is shown alongside the whole flat way of nearly 30 km from ferry terminal to district center. Motorcycle riders can enjoy the beauty, the cleanness and freshness of smooth white sand beaches, clear blue waters, the things that car-riders may miss while falling asleep inside the smooth-going cars.
Early afternoon is the time visitors can reach the district center. Even though the time is being a tourist season, is not too difficult for visitors to find room whether they are backpackers or hi-class customers. At this time of the year, the room rate is ranged from 300,000 or 400,000 VND/day to a few million VND/day, depending on room and service quality. During the tourist down season, room rate of less than 200,000 VND / day is found-able.
After a short rest, the journey continues with Gun Fortress. Steep winding path goes up to a height of 177m above sea level. This is the historic battlefield of the big guns and a network of shelter tunnels and trenches, built during the 1940s.
From the Fortress, visitors can look down to a whole range of sea in sight. You'll see firsthand both 138mm guns, produced more than 100 years ago in France (1910), with a fire range of up to 40 km.
There is a small corner no visitors could have to miss. It's Phao Dai (Fortress) cafe. It is a very quiet café located high on the mountain, where visitors can slowly enjoy their coffee, breath the sea breeze and catch into their eyes all the beauty of Cat Ba Island, including the two most beautiful beaches of the island: Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 2 and the whole Cat Ba Island district center.
Inside Cat Ba Bay, hundreds of fishing vessels and cruise ships covered the bay like scenes from the Troy bastion war. Out in the distant sea, big and small islands situated close and far, like the figures on a chess board. It seems to you that Monkey Island, Kneeling Elephant Mountain, Long Chau Island, Cat Ong Island and other island are floating on sea waves.
Afternoon gradually sets down, and the 1-4 road leads visitors to the Cat Co beach. Here at the beach, visitors may choose to deep themselves into the cool waters, or to walk on the unique path hanging on cliffs and connecting cliffs Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 3 beaches.
After dinner, everyone goes down to the main street of Cat Ba townto enjoy cool sea breeze blowing. Someone sits sipping cool beer on the banks of the bay while watching the flashing colored lights on the boat-bar floating up and down the waves.
From Cat Ba, you can also take ride to Viet Hai, Hien Hao villages... to see the life in places thought to have been isolated from the outside world. You can also leisurely stroll alongside the Lan Ha Bay shore with many of caves probably undiscovered ... or take the long journey of discovery inside Cat Ba National Park ...
The road that runs along border of the National Park, with one side facing the forest, and the other side looks out to the sea, always make riders surprised. The local tourist businesses are very happy to rent a small scooter to tourists for the self-discovery tour of the island district.
Come and experience Cat Ba once, on rolling wheels of motorcycle.