Cat Ba (Halong Bay), Vietnam

Area Code 0313, $1=16,000D, July 21, 2007

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Ha Long Bay is roughly used for the bay area N part of Vietnam but actually the area is consisted with 3 bay areas, Ha Long Bay(N from Cat Ba island), Bai Tu Long(NE from Cat Ba) and Lan Ha Bay(E from Cat Ba) The islands in Ha Long Bay are big and big tourist ships can travel. Lan Ha Bay has smaller islands and smaller channels between them. Lan Ha Bay gives much more intimate feeling.
Most of the boat tours available at Cat Ba town are for Lan Ha Bay, not Ha Long Bay. Tours for Halong bay with a larger tourist boat can be arranged on request.

How to come here:
By tour from Hanoi:
The popular and easy way. Many travel agents in Hanoi offer cheap tours. Some of them are cheaper then one you arrange by yourself. Make sure what your tour includes(where to see, meal, accommodation, etc)
2 Day 1 Night Tour:
$25/p+ incl 5 hour Halong Bay(or Lan Ha Bay) boat trip and 1 night stay on a boat or at hotel
All tour includes transport.

By yourself:
The minimum costs for 2 night 3 day trip
Hanoi -> Hai Phong: Train
22,000VD
Hai Phong -> Cat Ba:
Boat 70,000VD
Accommodation: $10/room/night ($5/p if sharing)
Meal: $4/meal (1 lunch + 1 dinner +1 breakfast) $12

Boat trip (Day tour):
$12
Cat Ba -> Bai Chay Bus + Boat
$8
Bai Chay -> Hanoi: Minibus $2.5
Total about $50/p or $100 for 2

Orientation:
Cat Ba's tourist center is the Cat Ba harbor. The boats from Hai Phong arrive at the pier in the middle of the harbor.
A road is running along the bay, stretching N to S for 1.5km and many hotels and restaurants are along this road. Local market is at the N end and Cat Co Beaches at the south end of the road, 1.5km walk.

$ Bank: No bank in the tourist area. I was told there is one in the town, walking up the hill from the local market.
m Market: N end of water front road.
Many local sea food restaurants can be found here.
s local shop: water front street, just right from Bamboo Cottage. Coke 6000VD, water 5000VD cheaper than most shops.
ta1 Information & Development Center: water front road
Bus + Boat to Bai Chay:
100,000VD dep 8:00,
Baot to Hai Phong: fast boat
100,000 dep14:45, slow 70,000 dep 5:45, 12:15
ta2 Diem Ban Ve: water front road, just next to ta1
Boat to Hai Phong:
normal 70,000VD dep5:45, 12:30, Express100,000VD dep 15:00,
Baot to Halong/Hongai:
80,000 dep7:00
ta3 travel agent: water front, Boat to Hai Phong 100,000 dep 6:10, 7:50, 9:10, 10:20
Tour: Day tour to Lan Ha Bay
250,000/p
ta4 Catba Ventures at Phong Lan Hotel: Catba National Park 1 Day trekking $12/p 8-17:00, Half Day $10 8-12:00 or 13-17:00,
Lan Ha Bay1 Day
$12 8-17:00,
Catba -> Hanoi
$10 dep 7:30 arr 16:00 bus and boat(2 hrs in Halong Bay boat trip)
@ Ha Anh Computer: #11 Main road to the inland left side, 5000VD/min. Japanese OK, slow

Accommodation

No budget hotels in the tourist area.Expect to pay at least $10. Weekend, many hotels raise their rates.
All has HW
hB1 Van Anh: T888201, a/c ab TV(V) fr d$15, view $20 C4
hB2 Family Hotel Quang Duc Hoang Thi Nhan: T888231, a/c ab TV(V) fr d$15 C4 looks OK
hB3 Thang Loi Hotel: T888531, a/c CTV Su-Th d200,000VD(500,000), view d240,000VD(500,000) At the peal period the rate could be 500,000VD
hB4 Phong Lan: T888605, a/c CTV d$15 C3 large and clean rooms
hB5 Trung Hoa: T888426, a/c $15-20 C3
hB6 Thu Ha Hotel: T3888343, a/c CTV d200,000VD(weekend 300,000) C4
hB7 Huyen Nhung Hotel: T888405, a/c CTV fr d500,000VD C4
hB8 Phu Gia 2: a/c ab CTV d200-250,000VD C3 balcony
hB9 Hotel Huong Cang: T888399, a/c CTV balcony d$15(weekend $30)
hB10 Thanh Tung Hotel: T888364, a/c CTV HW ab d$10 C4
hB11 Thao Minh Hotel: T888408, a/c CTV fr HW ab no view $10, view $12 C3 small rooms but clean Rec
hB12 Nam Phuong: f TV(V) HW d$5($8) a/c CTV d$8($12) C4 view Rec
hB13 Sunset Hotel: no review
hB14 Trang Anh Hotel: T688468, a/c TV HW d12($20) C3 clean
hB16 Thanh Tung Hotel: T888364, a/c CTV summer $10 view $12, winter $5-10 C4 View with $7 or more.
hC1 Vien Dong(Fareastern)Hotel: T888555, a/c CTV fr HW ab d$15-35 C4 winter $10
hC2 Hoang Huong: T888274, a/c CTV fr HW no window d$15(weekend $20), window/view $20(weekend $24)
hC2a Noble House(IHY): T888363, reception at 3F, a/c TV HW ab d$15-20($18-25) C3 R(view) run by a Australian
hC3 Khach San Tra My: T888650, a/c CTV HW d$20(38)
hC4 Nam Duong Hotel: T888586, ac TV(V) fr HW d$15
hC5 Bamboo Forest: a/c CTV HW no window d200,000 window 250,000(300,000) C3
hC6 Gieng Ngoc Hotel: T888286, a/c CTV HW d$25(50) C4 view, ok size but old hotel.
hC7 Hoa Phuong: T887735, a/c CTV HW ab d$20 C4 very large rooms and beds
hC8 Hoang Ngoc Hotel: T688788, a/c CTV fr HW ab d$18-25($25+) C4 good furniture Highly Rec
hC9 Holiday View Hotel: T887200, http://www.holidayviewhotel-catba.com a/c CTV fr HW d$35 C5 balcony with view
hB16 Giangson Hotel: 1/4 st. T031-3888214, near the market.

Food

Many sea food restaurants around the market and on the road toward inland from the pier.
r1 My Ngoc: water front road. good restaurant

Transport

To return to Hanoi:
There are 2 way to go back to Hanoi.
1.) Cat Ba - >(boat) -> Hai Phong ->(a minibus or a train) -> Hanoi route: See F1 below and Hai Phong transport info.
2.) Cat Ba - >(minibus)-> Gia Lu n port ->(Boat)-> Bai Chay ->(minibus) -> Hanoi: You can enjoy 2 hour boat trip in Halong Bay, very scenic. See B2 below
B Bus stop: N part of the harbor road, next to the market.
Local bus to Hai Phone
30000VD(for foreigners ?)

Stops in Hai Phong
Cat Ba Market Cai Vieng Cat Hai Ninh Tep
04:45 05:30 06:10 07:00
06:00 07:00 07:40 08:00
12:45 14:00 14:40 15:30
B Tourist minibus+boat+minibus: A travel agent can arrange the whole route($10) to Hanoi. Or you take a transport only to Halong Bay(Bai Chay)($8) then find a tour bus($2-2.5/p) to Hanoi at Bai Chay boat pier which has a empty seat. Many tour groups take lunch near the port. Try to find tour conductors and ask.The restaurant in Thang Long Hotel opp from the Bai Chay harbor may be a good place to find.
F1 Cat Ba harbor pier: in the middle of the bay.
Boat to Hai Phong: Fast boat
100,000VD dep 14:00 14:30, Slow 70,000, dep 5:45 12:00
F2 Gia Lu n harbor: boats to Halong city. 45 mins from Cat Ba town by car. Many large tour boats travel from Halong city.
If you want to take a boat from here, you usually book
F3 Boe harbor: Small tour boat harbor about 30 mins on foot or 10 mins by moto(5000VD or less)

Sight
S Tours: info at Phong Lan Hotel
The most tours include transport & food/tea
Cat Bay N.P(National Park): 8-17:00
$12/p for 4 or more group or $45 for 2 including meal and tea
Cat Bay N.P. half day(8-13:00 or 12-17:00)
$10/p
Ha Long Bay:
1 day 8-17:00 $12/p for 4 or more group or $50 for 2 including meal and tea
Long Ha, Ha Long, Baitu Long Bays:
2 day $35/p or $100 for 2
Long Ha Bay with a boat and kayaking: 1 day $15/p or $55 for 2
Catba to Halong City boat trip:
7-16:00 $10
Bad common practice:
The tour boats leave from a bay, 2km N from the town.You tour agent provides transport to the bay. But in some case, even they say "all transport included", when you come back to the bay after the tour, the same driver takes you back to your hotel and asks you to pay the transport cost. Your tour agent suddenly disappears. It seems to me this is a common practice here. You can insist to the driver "Ask to the tour agent".
S1 Cat Co Beaches: Take a water front road to S and after you cross a small hill, 15mins on foot, you will reach the entrance of the passage to the beaches. Then walk around the cliff on the wooden decks, you will reach 2 small beaches.

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