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Toby Keps

Travelled to 12 countries / regions

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Visited Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and Cat Ba in 2020

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Asia > Vietnam > Cát Bà Island > Useful Info
Submitted on Mar 22, 2020 Useful Info

Best way to get to Cat Ba Island from Hanoi, Vietnam

Summary:

  • Cat Ba Island is located 125km east of Hanoi. It's in the same area as Ha Long Bay
  • The best way to get there is by coach buses (I will list the ones I know of below), which takes you from Hanoi Old Quarter to the Cat Ba (the main town on Cat Ba Island), taking 3.5 hours each way
  • The nice thing about the coach buses is that you don't have to worry about transfers. You just book it and they will shuttle you all the way till Cat Ba (there's a speed boat leg of this trip, but the coach bus staff takes care of everything so you just have to stick with your group)
  • The only other way to get to Cat Ba from Hanoi is to take a train or bus to the town of Hai Phong, and then take a speedboat to Cat Bat. You have to arrange everything yourself, and it actually works out to be slightly more expensive than if you just take the coach bus, so I don't recommend it
  • (By the way, all these bus companies also offer Cat Ba tour services as well, so if you're looking for guided tours of the island, they may also be good options to consider. Check out their Tripadvisor reviews I've linked above for more details)


Details:

  • Option 1 (best option): Coach busesUser submitted photo of Cát Bà Island
  • This is the option I used. There are a couple of these coach bus companies operating. They way they all work is that they will pick you up from your hotel/guesthouse/accommodation in the Old Quarter in Hanoi (if you're not staying in the Old Quarter, you need to meet them at their offices), then drive you to Cat Ba. Part of the journey will be done on a speed boat, but the boat ticket is included in the bus fare and you don't have to worry about the transfer at all, just stay with your group and they will tell you where to go and what to do
  • The start-to-finish travel time is about 3.5-4 hours, including the time used to pick up passengers from various places in the Old Quarter
  • Cost is $13-$14USD per passenger from Hanoi to Cat Ba, and $11-$12USD per passenger from Cat Ba to Hanoi
  • There are three coach bus companies that I know of:
  1. Cat Ba Express: https://catbaexpress.com, rated 5/5 on Tripadvisor. This is the company that I went with
  2. Good Morning Cat Ba: https://goodmorningcatba.com, rated 4.5/5 on Tripadvisor
  3. Cat Ba Discovery: https://catbadiscovery.com, rated 4.5/5 on Tripadvisor
  • Departure times from Hanoi:
  1. Cat Ba Express: 3 daily departures from Hanoi at 7:30am, 10:45am, and 2:15pm
  2. Good Morning Cat Ba: 3 daily departures from Hanoi at 7:30am, 10:30am, 2:00pm
  3. Cat Ba Discovery: 3 daily departures from Hanoi at 8:00am, 10:30am, 2:00pm
  • Departure times from Cat Ba back to Hanoi
  1. Cat Ba Express: 4 daily departures from Hanoi at 9:00am, 12:25pm, 3:30pm, and 4:15pm
  2. Good Morning Cat Ba: not sure
  3. Cat Ba Discovery: 3 daily departures from Hanoi at 8:30am, 1:00pm, 3:30pm
  • You can book your ticket directly through these companies' websites I listed above. Once you book they will provide all the instructions to you. But the basic way it works is that they will pick you up from your accommodation in the Old Quarter in Hanoi; if you don't stay in the Old Quarter, you'll need to go to their offices to board the bus. Here are their office locations:
  • Cat Ba Express: here
  • Good Morning Cat Ba: here
  • Cat Ba Discovery: here
  • This is the option I used and I highly recommend it because for not that much money you don't have to worry about anything. It's literally a door-to-door service


  • Option 2 (don't recommend): train to Hai Phong then ferry to Cat Bat
  • I actually can't think of any good reason to use this option because it's more hassle and costs slightly more
  • Basically, you need to first take the a train from Hanoi to the town of Hai Phong, which is the closest major city to Cat Ba Island. Trains depart from Hanoi Railway Station and arrives at Ga Hai Phong Railway Station and costs $5-$7USD each way. Travel time is about 2h40min. There are four train departures a day from Hanoi at 6am, 9:17am, 3:20pm, and 6:15pm. You can find the current schedule and pricing on the official train booking site https://dsvn.vn (if you just Google Vietnam train booking, most of the results you see are 3rd party booking sites that masquerade as the official site)
  • Once you get to Ga Hai Phong Railway Station, you need to walk or taxi to Ben Binh Harbor (located here). It's 3km north of the railway station, and takes about 40 minutes on foot and 10 minutes by taxi

  • At Ben Binh Harbor, you'll be able to catch a speed boat or slow ferry to Cat Ba. Speedboat takes 45 minutes and costs around $7-8USD per passenger. Slow ferrry takes 2 hours but costs only $5-$6 per passenger
  • You can check the current schedule of these ferries and book them on Baolau, which is a major transportation booking site in Southeast Asia. You can also just buy the ferry tickets in person at Ben Binh Harbor; however, I've read that between May-August you definitely want to book ahead of time because the tickets may sell out
  • Again, I really don't recommend this option because there's no advantage compared to taking the coach bus. But, if you want to experience rail travel in Vietnam, or if you plan to check out Hai Phong anyway, then perhaps this is a good way to travel