We’re heading north and our next stop in Vietnam is Halong Bay. We have been looking for a way how to get on a Halong Bay boat trip without destroying our budget. Internet advices said that we should try Cat Ba Island. And after the price and possibility surveys, we finally did. There is located a national park and bays on the island, so it sounded even more interesting. In this article you will find out how much we paid for a boat trip, what company we recommend and why a trip to Cat Ba Island is a great choice 🙂
How to get to Cat Ba by bus
There are direct buses to the island from Hanoi, Sapa or Ninh Binh. We arrived here from Ninh Binh with Daiichi travel bus company and we were very satisfied with it (miracle in Vietnam :D). First, the bus take you to the port near Hai Phong and in the port either change or take the bus to the ferry, which will take you to the island 🙂 On the island the took us to hotels or city center
How to choose best boat trip on Cat Ba island
There are several companies on the island that offer one or more day trips to Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay. On the Internet it is recommended at least 2 day trip with overnight stay in the Bay. Due to bad weather and finances, we chose only one day trip, which was enough for us. We were looking for the company we are going with according to google reviews. For a multi-day trip, we would advise to choose a company depending on whether you want to sleep on a boat or somewhere on the mainland. Cat Ba Vision, for example, offered sleeping in a floating fishing village. For example you will overnight in tourist lodge in floating villages with Cat Ba Vision trip.
In our opinion, the three best companies are:
1. Cat Ba Vision
Price for one day trip: 25 USD
We chose this company because it had the best price-performance ratio. In the end, all companies offer a similar program, but we wanted to make sure that they would not cheat us. In the price of the trip is usually included a boat trip to Lan Ha Bay, Ha Long Bay, kayak, lunch, water, floating fishing villages, swimming and snorkeling and relax on the boat. Cat Ba Vision has a brand new ship that has great deck chairs or a minibar on board. More information can be found on their website here
2. Cat Ba Ventures
Price for one day trip: 29 USD
The company with a good and at the same time the highest rating seemed to be very nice and professional. In the end we did not choose it because they offered the same program as Cat Ba Vision, but at a higher price. More information and other types of trips can be found on their websites here
3. Signature journey
Price for one day trip: 25 USD
This company is run by a few young and eager girls who do everything they can to enjoy the trip. We did not go on a trip with them, but eventually we took their bus to Sapa and it was great ok. The ratings of the trip to Halong Bay are very good and the price is comparable to Cat Ba Vision.
Of course you will also find companies with cheaper prices (below $ 20), which mostly offer hotels directly. But we wanted to be sure that the trip will be successful, the boat will go and quide will take care of us 🙂
Our Halong Bay boat trip experience
We had meeting at 7:45 am with the other people in front of Cat Ba Vision office located in the middle of the main street. We were only 9 on the trip, which was ideal because we did not want to have Halong Bay overcrowded by kayaks and the fight for deck chairs. This low number of tourists was due to the fact that in February there is no season in northern Vietnam, and because of the corona virus (Chinese tourists cannot enter to Vietnam).
Together with our guide, we took a bus to the port, where we switched to our boat, listened to guide instructions and headed for the bay. The first activity was kayaks, because the water level was just for sailing through the caves. It was an amazing experience as we sailed through the bay, saw some caves, and eventually met the rare Langur monkeys that only live in that bay. After about an hour and a half in the kayak, we went back to the boat and sailed toward Halong Bay. We anchored somewhere in the middle and had lunch that was really rich. There was so much food that we didn’t even manage to finish it, and that’s a miracle, especially when you’re traveling with Tom. The views from the boat were great and we were so terribly pleased that is nice weather (previous days it was still raining, the fog and zero visibility). We stopped again after one hour for swimming break. But only one lady was brave enough to swim 😀 The rest sat wrapped in watm clothes on a deck chair and admired her courage.
In the end, we continued to sail until we reached the floating fishing villages near Cat Ba Island. There are not many of them left because people prefer to move to the island and work in tourism, but even so it was interesting to see. People make their living here by fishing and shells. We also stopped in a fishing village and the guide showed us a Grouper fish. The locals are competing for who will raise the biggest fish and this one should be the winning one! Who has the biggest fish will gain the greatest respect and authority 🙂
And around 5 pm we went back to the island. It was a long day and we did and saw a lot. For that price it was a really great experience!