Coming: First you’ll take a bus to Nihn Bihn. The night bus from Phong Nha will get you to the station at around 4 am with the connecting bus at 7ism am. You’ll then take the bus a few hours to the ferry, ride the ferry to the island, and get on another bus to town. Once here you can stick around one area easily or rent a bike to explore the island.
Sleeping: Cat Ba Central Hotel – Good breakfast, good location, clean rooms, great price. Vibe meh, but mostly made friends on the boat.
Overall: 8/10 Price: $10 USD for a private double (so $5/night) Cheap/Average for the island
Eating: Wasn’t too impressed with the food options here. Take side streets to find the Vietnamese joints.
Doing: Take a boat tour of the bay, bike around the island or head to the beach.
Ha Long Bay- Cat Ba is the largest island in the Bay of Ha Long Bay. Take a day tour out to see Monkey Island and cruise through the famous bay. You’ll kayak around, take a small hike, get a chance to swim and relax on the boat enjoying the scenery. There are many booze cruises available in Hanoi to see the Bay, but they’re very pricey and it just didn’t fit into my budget. Everyone who went on the booze cruise had an absolute BLAST. They all came back with a literal boatload of new best friends, fuzzy memories and questionable decisions they’ll have forever. Everyone who I talked to who saw the bay without taking a booze cruise from the mainland was disappointed. This seemed like a happy balance. The tour was a few hours longer than my attention span could handle due to the distance the boat had to travel, but definitely still worth the trip out!
You’ll also make a stop at Monkey Island for a hike up to a viewpoint. This Monkey Island is much nicer than the Monkey Island down near Koh Phi Phi in Thailand.
Cost: Ask your accommodation and shop around. We booked through the hotel and were satisfied with the price for what we got. (I just can’t for the life of me remember how much we paid)
Rent a motorbike to see more of the island and explore some of the beaches. This will depend on the time of year you go, though.
Staying: 2 days was enough, but had crappy weather which limited activities
Going: Take the ferry back and head towards Hanoi where you can reach anywhere! If you’re heading south, head to Nihn Bihn or Phong Nha.