Cat Ba National Park resides in the north of Vietnam, situated on the small island of Cat Ba. The park is home to a diverse selection of wildlife, including the golden-headed langur, which is among the rarest primates in the world.
Cat Ba National Park is one of the most popular attractions on the island, and it’s easy to see why. Thick, lush jungle measuring around 160km in size, the park spans across most of Cat Ba island.
The park boasts some truly incredible views, all of which can be seen by following one of the many hiking trails. The trails range in difficulty from easy to hard, and each path offers a unique perspective of the park.
How to get to Cat Ba National Park
To reach the park entrance, at Trung Trang, we rented a motorbike for 100,000 VND (£3) and drove across the islands stunning land. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the town of Cat Ba. Alternatively, you can catch a public bus from the docks in Cat Ba Town for an affordable ticket price of 25,000 VND. The bus departs at 7 am, 11 am, and 3 pm every day.
The park opening times are between 8 am and 5 pm every day. Admission prices are 80,000 VND per person and 5,000 VND for parking. However, you can park for “free” across the road at one of the nearby vendors. They will expect you to buy something though and can be known to be quite pushy. But I guess they’re just trying to earn a living.
Finding your way through the park
The park is well signposted, so it’s easy to find your way. There are two main trails, one leading up to the viewpoint and another that takes you to the fishing village. The viewpoint trail is by far the easiest and takes between 30 to 60 minutes to complete.
It’s an enjoyable hike if you take a brisk walking pace. Dense jungle surrounds you in every direction, protecting you from the heat and rays of the sun. We were quite thankful for this as we were already working up a slight sweat.
One cool thing we did discover was a second viewpoint that was just slightly further along than the first. The first viewpoint is a giant wooden tower which you can climb up, and usually, you will find other visitors already in the tower.
The second viewpoint (and in our opinion, the better viewpoint), is just a short walk from the wooden tower. If you gaze around, you will find a narrow path that heads into the bushes. If you follow the path for a short five-minute walk, you will reach the second viewpoint. The trail is easy, and it’s definitely worth the extra time.
As fellow animal lovers, we were hoping to spot one of the golden-headed langurs: one of Asia’s most endangered primates. There is reported to be only 65 left in the world, the majority living in Cat Ba National Park. Sadly, we didn’t spot any, although we did see various lizards, birds, deer, and one giant black squirrel.
The Viet Hai Fishing Hike
The second hike is more enduring, the Viet Hai Fishing Village trail. We didn’t do this as it’s a lengthy 15km hike over a high-mountainous and deep jungle terrain. If you’re up for the challenge, though, we’ve heard it’s completely worth it! Just be prepared for a long and arduous journey.
Viet Hai Fishing Village is a small village situated in the heart of Cat Ba National Park. The residents who live in this village are the original villagers of Halong Bay, as their ancestors had lived there since many hundreds of years ago. The locals make a living by farming, fishing and breeding.
While being one of the most deprived areas in Cat Hai, the villagers are surprisingly happy and extremely content with their lives. Although poor in material possessions, they are very rich in gratitude.
Other Activities Near Cat Ba National Park
Besides the national park, the island of Cat Ba offers many other exciting and fun adventures. The most popular activities include Trung Trang cave, Cat Ba hospital cave, Butterfly Valley, and Cannon Fort.
If you want to discover more during your stay, we would highly recommend one of the cruise ship tours. There is no shortage of tour operators on the island, and you won’t need to look far to book your trip. Both single and multi-day excursions are available, but we found that one day is more than adequate to explore the main attractions. During the cruise, you will visit Monkey Beach and other neighbouring islands.
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