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January 30, 2020

3 Days In Cat Ba Island | Photo Diary + Travel Guide

Photo from Cat Ba Island Travel Guide with Annie Miller

Sharing our tours, experiences and photos of Cat Ba, Vietnam.

Day 1

Scooter trip around Cat Ba Island

Views from the scooter trip around Cat Ba, Vietnam by Annie Miller
Views on Cat Ba, Vietnam by Annie Miller
Boats in the water in Cat Ba, Vietnam by Annie Miller

Head to Vietnam War “Hospital Caves”

As you leave town, you may be accompanied by some livestock. We certainly were.

The Vietnam War Caves were easy to find and cheap to get into. I think we paid about $5 USD. And they are worth far more than that. Don’t expect a European or Westernized tour here. There are no booklets, no plaques explaining what you’re looking out, and no headset directing you through the caves. But just entering the caves from the middle of the jungle is worth it.

When you think about the context in which the caves were constructed and used, it is truly amazing. And the caves are so well hidden. One would not know they existed without knowing where the single entrance and exit were located.

Photo of livestock on the road by Annie Miller
Photo of livestock in the road by Annie Miller
Annie Miller in the Vietnam War Hospital Caves
Inside the Vietnam War Hospital Caves
the ceiling of the caves
Photo of the Vietnam War Hospital Cave

Cat Ba National Park & Den Tho Thien Quac Mau Ha Gia Luan

Views in Cat Ba National Park by Annie Miller
Inside Cat Ba National Park
Photo of a boat on calm water by Annie Miller
Annie Miller explores a bridge in Cat Ba, Vietnam
Photo of architecture in Cat Ba, Vietnam

Day 2

Cat Ba Tour + Canoeing

Photo of canoeing in Cat Ba by Annie Miller

Straight out of the gate, I have to suggest to a tour of the bay. You can do fancy pants tours where you stay on a ship or boat for two to three days. But that didn’t appeal to us. We didn’t want to be stuck on a boat with other humans whom we did not have control over. So, if you don’t stay on a cruise ship, definitely do a bay tour.

Also worth noting – we were there in a non-ideal time of year for the color of the water. It was still green, but not the gorgeous teal that you see in Pinterest photos. It’s pretty typical to get in the water and swim on these tours, but the weather was not warm enough, and to be honest…the water did not look sanitary. This could be a seasonal thing, but there was A LOT of trash and debris floating in the water. It kind of felt gross even canoeing in it.

But it was fun nonetheless, and I much preferred the low tourist season. We literally had the bay to ourselves.

Stop 1: Canoeing

In this tour we started just perusing the bay, then stopped at a house of sorts, got in the canoe and had about an hour to canoe + hang out and drink a beer at the house.

Dog on Cat Ba
Small docks in Cat Ba, Vietnam
Photo of small dock and green water in Cat Ba
Annie Miller enjoying a beer in Cat Ba
Boat tours of the island

Stop 2: Tour Island

Then it was off to a tiny island which was part of the tour. This is where we would have swam if it was warmer out. But we took the opportunity to gather some drone shots instead. Which was approved by our guide, and well worth the photos we got of the bay. In these photos you can better see the color of the water. It was a true green color but murky by the shores. And per most of our weather in Cat Ba, it was hazy out.

Annie Miller on an island tour in Cat Ba, Vietnam
Views of the island tour
Photo of the tour boat
Drone photo of Cat Ba, Vietnam
Arial photo of Cat Ba, Vietnam by Annie Miller

Stop 3: Monkey Island

If there ever was a tourist attraction, this is it. Monkey Island in Cat Ba, Vietnam. There is not much going on here. Just some monkeys, a beach and a little snack and beer stand. So, we had a few more beers, guarded our goods from the handsy little monkeys, and enjoyed the view for a bit.

After Monkey Island, it was back to Cat Ba for dinner and relaxing before our tour the next day.

Annie Miller on Monkey Island in Cat Ba, Vietnam Travel Guide
Monkey on Monkey Island in Cat Ba, Vietnam by Annie Miller
Photo of Monkey on Monkey Island in Cat Ba, Vietnam by Annie Miller

Day 3

Fishing Village Tour

Annie Miller on a bike in Cat Ba, Vietnam

Back on our private tour boat for another trip around the bay. This time, to the old fishing village. I was sad to learn that the bay used to be full of fishing villages, but that is no longer true. You can see remnants of what used to be as you travel through the bay.

My understanding was that the fishing village tour would be more…interactive. But I must have been mistaken. More on that in another post.

You’ll board your boat, and take off toward the fishing village docks. Once you arrive, you will need to rent a scooter or a bicycle because you’ll be traveling through the jungle on a small road in order to reach the village.

Annie Miller on the tour boat in Cat Ba
Nate Miller on the tour boat
Photo of fishing boat on tour
Fishing boat in Cat Ba, Vietnam
Old Fishing Village in Cat Ba, Vietnam
a fishing boat from the tour in Cat Ba
Photo from the Fishing Village tour by Annie Miller
more views from the fishing village tour by Annie Miller
Annie Miller biking through Cat Ba, Vietnam
Road sign from Cat Ba Travel Guide by Annie Miller
Lone fishing boat in the waters off Cat Ba Island by Annie Miller
Drone image of the old fishing village

When you reach the village, there isn’t much to do. I was a bit disappointed to be honest. But the drone shot was worth it I suppose. We also took the easier route back. It was MUCH easier than the way we took when going toward the village. The exercise was good for us I suppose.

From the village we returned straight back to our private boat, and headed home. It was a great half day adventure.


Cat Ba was worth going to. You certainly don’t need more than three days here. Two would likely suffice. But the real win with Cat Ba Island was visiting in the off season. It was warm enough to wear summer clothing while still adventuring without being drenched in sweat. If you go in high season, when it’s warmer, I reckon you just spend more time in the actual water…which is hopefully clean.

Accommodations in Cat Ba, Vietnam

We stayed at Quang Tung Hotel. The view was winning. The room was large but pretty bare. The staff were the most helpful and even took care of our laundry for us for a small fee. It was great. It was no five star, or even four star hotel, but the location was awesome and we booked all our tours directly through the hotel.

When we were there, there was a massive five star resort being built on a private beach to the left of the bay. It looked absolutely gorgeous from the photos. But that also means even more tourists flocking to Cat Ba. So, choose your timing wisely my friend.

Interested in traveling to Cat Ba? Pin this post for later!

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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