Cat Ba is an archipelago covering approximately 336 islands of different shapes and sizes. The main island is Cat Ba, located 30 nautical miles from Hai Phong with an area of approximately 200km2. The topography of the Park mainly consists of limestone mountains with many grottoes and caves, as well as beaches with white powdery sand. The limestone mountains have an average height of 150m, the highest of which is Cao Vong Peak, 322m above sea level. Cat Ba is characterized by beautiful natural scenery, abundant forest and sea resources. There are numerous beaches around the side of the island that are clean and smooth, with translucent blue water. Cat Ba National Park has the largest area of tropical virgin forests in Vietnam and boasts diversified by rare fauna and flora.
According to researches, there are 620 species of plants, 438 lines of descent and 123 families, among of which there are 350 medicinal plants such as Cho Doi, Trai ly, Lat Hoa and Va Nuoc. There are more than 30 species of mammals, 69 species of birds, as well as 20 species of reptiles and amphibians can be found in Cat Ba National Park. The golden headed langurs, a rare and endangered monkey is found on some separated islands in the National Park. The yellow monkey, chamois and many beautiful birds such as kingfisher, sea hawk, fishing eager also live on the island.
LAN HA BAY
Lan Ha Bay is the smallest bay compare with two other bays those are Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay, however this is the most beautiful one. The bay covers an area of 70km2 of which 54km2 is under the Management of Cat Ba Government, 16km2 of the bay belongs to Ha long Government.
Lan Ha Bay is located in the Southeast of Cat Ba island. It is surrounded by hundreds limestone islands of different shapes and sides, forming enormous natural picture. Unlikely Ha Long Bay, the islands around Lan Ha Bay are smaller and shorter, covered by a thick layer of tropical plants, of which some are medicinal ones. Lan Ha Bay is also famous for swimming and snorkeling activities because around the bay there are so many natural beaches which always come out at low tide time, bringing a very good chance to tourists coming here to entertain and relax themselves by sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling.
The Cannon Fortress is located on the Peak No 177of Cat Ba island, adjacent to the center of Cat Ba town. From the Cannon Fortress visitors have a good chance to enjoy spectacular views of Cat Ba Island as well as Lan Ha Bay from all directions at dawn or sunset. That is why this area is considered as one of the most spectacular landscape viewpoints in Vietnam. The historical evidence is also shown by two cannons, many kinds of bullet shells, a system of trenches and observatory complex built right on the top of the mountain which remained intact despite decades of the war. There also has a gallery of artifacts during the war and a windy open-air café.
Hospital Cave is located nearby the main road, 13km far away from Cat Ba Town. The Cave is also known as the military hospital because it was a field combat hospital during the American’s bombing in the North Vietnam since 1963-1965. The Cave was built by a good association of Chinese as well as the islanders’. During the war time, the Cave was an important hospital to cure wounded soldiers and also a very good shelter for the local residents to avoid the bombs.
CAT BA NATIOANAL PARK
Cat Ba National Park is a tropical primeval forest, rich in fauna and flora, abundant of interesting caves and grottoes.The Park covers an area of 15.200 ha, including 9.800 ha forest and 5.400 ha of sea surface. The National Park’s eco-system consists of 745 different flora species, including precious woods such as the shore arobusta and pedocarpus fleuryi, a white color wood given as gifts to Kings in olden times in order to detect toxins and poisons in food before eating. The National Park comprises 20 different animal species, 69 bird breeds, 20 amphibious reptiles and 11 breeds of frog. The golden-headed langur is a beautiful black monkey with striking golden fur covering the top of their head and splattered on their chest. They live on local leaves, insects and fruits. As of July 2007 there are believed to be 67 langurs alive, all in Cat Ba National Park, and it is now the subject of intense international conservation efforts. Doing a trek through the National Park, you may have good view of the langurs coming out and have a good chance to enjoy bird watching and squirrel dancing around the way.
In the National Park, climbing over the May Bau top, through the primeval forest, where has an ancient Banyan tree, visitors have chance to enjoy the views of a flooded valley of which all of its side surrounded by limestone mountains and decorated by so many trees and flora. The valley with the name as Frog Pond is a natural fresh water lake, features the largest of its type on the island and located on the great height from sea level.
VIET HAI FISHING VILLAGE
Doing a trek through Cat Ba National Park, you may come across the 100 year old Viet Hai fishing village. For travellers seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of more developed tourist locations, Viet Hai offers a unique overnight stay option with local villagers. Viet Hai residents continue today to live in simple houses made of bamboo, wood, leaves and clay.
At a low cost, visitors can stay overnight at the village, in safe and secure rooms and enjoy the relaxing lifestyle of the village and wander through the pristine natural surroundings. One can enjoy a wonderful local meal of traditional Viet Hai cuisine, which, if lucky, may include local Cat Ba mountain goat or hill-walking chicken. These animals are traditional foods of Cat Ba Island and highly sort after, but due to an inability to meet local demand they are now no longer sold in restaurants in Cat Ba and available only through local villagers.
BEO FISHING VILLAGE-AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
Ben Beo or Cai Beo floating fishing village is located approximately 1.5 km away from the center of the town. This is a flat valley with three of its sides being limestone islands. Ang Carpet and Bu Nau, are located 200m from the village, which are sheltered, quiet and scenic. This is very convenient for living and fishing. The natural beauty and favorable terrain, rich in animal products have helped Cai Beo’s ancient inhabitants live here for many years, creating distinctive culture. Historically, there have been four archaeological excavations carried out around this area. The first time in 1938, by the French archaeologist Max Colani who discovered Cai Beo as a home of ancient Vietnamese culture. Based on this information, the Institute of Archaeology conducted surveillance and discovered the beginning of the sea culture. In 1981, the Vietnam History Museum excavated an area of 78m2, where archaeologists found many stone artifacts in two successive stages of development. These were identified as Pre-Ha Long and Ha Long.
In 1986, the third excavation commenced and archaeologists discovered almost 180 stone tools including basic and grinding tools made by hand, 9 fragile ceramic pieces and 6 animal bones. On 5th December 2006 the final excavation was carried out, revealing 10 tombs, 137 stone artifacts and 1424 pieces of pottery shards. Analysis showed that all of the artifacts collected were made from granite, ceramic, twisted rope, crude stamping, fish bones, shells and sea oysters.
The evidence from these finds has determined Cai Beo as a site of archaeological significance. The Neolithic period characterized by the Cai Beo archaeological finds suggests a difference to the Ha Long culture. Cai Beo is recognized as one of the most precious relics of the Northern Coastal area. This is an ancient fishing village with the largest scale known in Viet Nam. The development of tourism and new policies given by the government have brought a new breath to the people living around the village. Nowadays, people earned their living mainly in three areas: catching fish, seafood farming and doing business on tourism. There are more than 300 fishing families living around here with around 1000 residents, of which 300 are children. And the children living around here are much more lucky than other children living in another floating fishing villages in Vietnam because they have a good chance to go to the island to get an education. They go to school by a water taxi and back home by the same one late in the afternoon.