The 17,363 ha park in the Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve, an archipelago in northern Vietnam, is not far from UNESCO world heritage site Ha Long Bay and about 45 km east of Hai Phong’s center.
Trekking to Kim Giao – Ngu Lam peaks
This is the most popular activity here, especially among young people. It is a trek that traverses two peaks, Kim Giao and Ngu Lam.
Kim Giao is 300 meters high with rows of stone benches serving as a place to rest before continuing on to Ngu Lam, which is 700 meters further down. After reaching the 220-meter high Ngu Lam peak, tourists can enjoy the mountainous scenery from an observation tower, which is also a great spot for lunch after the walk.
For this two-hour trek, visitors need to bring their own food and water as there are no shops selling them along the route.
Observation tower on top of Ngu Lam peak. Photo by Instagram/Richard Heng.
Frog Pond – Viet Hai Village
There are two places in Cat Ba dubbed Frog Pond (Ao Ech), one in the middle of the bay near the Gio Cung Border Guard Post and the other in the forest en route to Viet Hai Village.
To reach the latter, visitors need to travel to Anh Rang Slope before embarking on a four-kilometer trek through the forest. Though longer, it is not as challenging as the Ngu Lam trek, and can be completed in three hours. Every step takes tourists deeper into nature, with occasional sightings of rare mammals.
At the pond visitors are welcomed by the ribbit melodies of nature, and they can sight the rare small fresh-water crab and aphyocypris normalis fish, which are local specialties.
If visitors opt to continue, the next destination is Viet Hai fishing village, a demanding five-hour trip away. Those visiting the village usually spend the night camping in the jungle or renting a homestay.
Trung Trang Cave – Medic Cave
Besides these slightly difficult routes, there is a trekking route to Trung Trang Cave and Medic Cave (Hang Quan Y) which does not require much exertion.
Trung Trang Cave is also known as Bat Cave (Hang Doi) due to its marvelous bat-like stalactites on the roof. Visitors need to mind their head since at some places the roof is low, even requiring them to stoop to pass through.
The other destination, Medic Cave, is five minutes away by motorbike. Despite not being a part of Cat Ba National Park, the cave is renowned for its role in the Vietnam War (1954-1975). It was once a military resting point, separated into sections for various purposes, from surgery to telegraphy.
Hoi Lake Farmstay
Hoi Lake Farmstay is a site for relaxation that is popular among youngsters with amusement options ranging from campfires to kayaking. Visitors can come empty-handed since the place provides everything one needs for camping. At night tourists can sing karaoke or sip cocktails at the bar.
There are various lodging options ranging from VND160,000 ($6.86) for communal lodging to VND600,000 for a private family suite with breakfast.