Halong Bay on a budget? Stay on Cat Ba Island

Halong Bay on a budget? Stay on Cat Ba Island

Halong Bay on a budget? Stay on Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island in Vietnam is the perfect place as a stopover for a Halong Bay tour. You will escape Hanoi and have the possibility to arrange a cheaper Halong bay tour. Cat Ba island is a chilled out place with a few small, though nice beaches, a rich history and there are some spots with a good nightlife, which are pretty cheap!

cat ba halong bay vietnam beach love

During the wars, the island was a strategic look-out point. During the bombing, local residents hide among the island’s many caves. The cave hospital is one of the impressive leftovers.

Cheap Halong Bay tour from Cat Ba Island

We’ve booked a day tour at Cat Ba Ventures ($25, lunch + water) which was a good company. They will visit less touristy areas that are maybe even more beautiful than the famous part of Halong Bay.

Check out all hotels on Cat Ba under $50

halong bay vietnam beach swim

Around 8 AM you’ll take the boat from Cat Ba town through the floating villages, cruise through Lan Ha Bay and enjoy the hundreds of limestone islands.

The Halong Bay tour includes snorkeling gear, dry bags, kayaking, a great lunch and swimming at a deserted beach, all entrance fees into Halong Bay and an English speaking local guide.

cat ba halong bay vietnam kayak couple
cat ba halong bay vietnam locals

What to do on Cat Ba Island

Besides from the Halong Bay tours, Cat Ba Island has some more things to offer:

  • Visit a pearl farm
  • Rent a scooter and explore the island.
  • Visit the Canon fort (the old defense base)
  • Go get the cheapest food at market in town
  • Chill at the few beaches
  • Visit the cave hospital
  • Have a great night out

Check out all hotels on Cat Ba under $50

cat ba halong bay vietnam beach couple
cat ba vietnam view travel

How to get to Cat Ba Island

Visit Cat Ba Island to stay low on a budget to see Halong Bay. Make sure to get to Hanoi first!

After Cat Ba, take the bus + boat + bus to the beautiful Tam Coc, Ninh Binh.

Find cheap flight tickets to Hanoi

Easily find the cheapest flights tickets to here!

From Hanoi, you will have to take the bus to Haiphong, which takes around 2.5-hour. From there, take the ferry to Cat Ba and the bus to Cat Ba town (1 hour). The ferry cost you 70K Dong (~ $3) for a one-way ticket. The boat timetable will change so now and then. Please check their website.

Halong Bay cheap tour Cat Ba Island
Halong bay Vietnam Couple

Where to stay on Cat Ba island

Make sure to stay near the pier in Cat Ba Town, this is where the food and drinks are on Cat Ba. We’ve picked our two favorite places. We got you a $15 discount at Booking.com if you book via this link, you’re welcome! ?
Check out all hotels on Cat Ba under $50

29/09/2018 https://www.saltinourhair.com/vietnam/halong-bay-budget/
Blog comments (35)

Get a direct answer from the community, join our Travel Group on Facebook.

  • Hi, what month did you guys go?

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi! Last time we went in November and the weather was good. We have also been there recently (February), which is normally supposed to be good weather too but we were a bit unlucky this time…

  • hii…we are planning our honeymoon in vietnam..the plan is mumbai>hanoi>ninh binh>cat ba>mumbai
    is there a way to get from ninh binh tom cat ba?

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi! We never did this route but you can find a combined bus + ferry ticket from Ninh Binh to Cat Ba for a very reasonable price. You can also take the train but with this you will have to stop in Hanoi and change over either on to another train or bus. Hope this helps in some way :)

  • Thank you for such an informative post! I’m a solo traveller who was going to do an expensive cruise but came across this blog post! Now I’ve changed my mind thanks to you :-)

  • AsianWay Travel

    Thank so much for sharing your experience. Lan Ha Bay is also a great place to check out near Cat Ba Island.

  • Hi Peter
    Bus from Cat ba to Ninh go about 4 to 4:30 hours


  • Hi, could you please advice me, how long does it take from Cat Ba to Ninh Binh? Is it do-able after day tour to Halong Bay , to be in the evening in Ninh Binh ?
    Thanks a lot!

  • Hanoi to Cat Ba

    Thank you very much for sharing about Cat Ba.
    We are providing travel services in Cat Ba. We are proud to have someone to evaluate, share about our hometown.
    One more time thank you very much.

  • Hello!

    You have a really lovely blog! Thank you for great tips and advice!

    Me and my partner are traveling to Vietnam in March, and I just wanted to ask if you pre-booked your tour from Cat Ba Island in advance or found one when you where already on the island?

    • saltinourhair

      Thank you so much Alice!
      We found one when we’re already on the island. There are so many tour operators so it won’t be a problem :)

  • Tonkin-Travel

    Amazing blog with the vibrant photos. I think you miss one place in this area is Bai Tu Long Bay, which is located in the East of Halong Bay. This is considered the off beaten track for cruising. You can get away from big groups of tourists and explore the locals life with authentic experience. Thanks for your post! Hope that you will come back Vietnam

  • initially, i was planning for the halong bay cruize tour from hanoi, but after reading your amazing trip, i will be going for Hanoi- Cat Ba- Hanoi, this seems more intereting to me.
    Could you please help me in planning little bit.
    I will land Hanoi on 22nd dec at 2:40 PM (local time) and have return flight on 25th dec 5:20 PM(local time) from Hanoi.

  • HI, love your blog!

    Wondering which tour you went on from Ca Ba Ventures? They have so many options!



    • saltinourhair

      Hi Olivia! Thank you :D Not sure about that since it is a little while ago. What we know is that we did a full day tour with lunch and kayaks. It was superb!

  • We are planning to head to SAPA from Hanoi for 2 nights. I have a few questions.
    1) Best site to book TAPAS ECo lodge?
    2) Any recommendations for sight seeing?
    3) Travel from Hanoi to SAPA?

  • Hello!

    I read your blog a couple of days ago and after reading more blogs and more research.. I want to fit Ninh Binh into my trip… I will be in Hanoi then have 4 days and 4 nights before returning to Hanoi.. In this time, I want to fit both Ha Long Bay and Ninh Binh. At first, I thought my best option was to do a two day and one night cruise, stay the second night on Cat Ba and then journey to Ninh Binh the morning of the 3rd day, stay two nights and return to Hanoi from Ninh Binh. However.. I emailed my hostel in Hanoi for recommendations and they said it is not possible to stay on Cat Ba from Ha long because it is too far away? After re-reading your blog, I noticed maybe getting to Cat Ba on our own from Hanoi and possibly searching for a cruise from there may be a better option than booking a cruise from Hanoi to include transportation? And getting to Ninh Binh from Cat Ba seems do-able from there… any comments/concerns/advise would be greatly appreciated!

    • saltinourhair

      Hi Taylor! We highly recommend going to Ninh Binh from Cat Ba. What we did was:
      – Day 1: Take the bus-boat-bus from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island
      – Arrange a tour at the Cat Ba Pier the same day (for the day after) & a bus-boat-bus ticket to Ninh Binh.
      – Day 2: The boat tour – You will be in another less touristy part of Halong Bay, which is better if you ask us.
      – Day 3: Long ride to Ninh Binh, chill for the day, Arrange bus tickets back to Hanoi in for day 4
      – Day 4: Visit Ninh Binh in the morning and take the bus back in the afternoon.

      Hope this clear things up a bit! :D

  • Can I ask what company you did a tour through and how much?

    • saltinourhair

      Hi Jenn! We booked it via Cat Ba Ventures but we don’t know the exact price anymore, sorry! They are located in Cat Ba near the pier.

  • Looks like you were lucky with the weather :) Halong Bay is gorgeous!

  • Samuel Mozilo

    These are some incredible photographs, truly felt like I was there with you to encountering this place.

  • I like your photo! May i know you use which camera and lens?

  • Trails Unblazed

    This place looks awesome!

  • Anna, loveYouPlanet

    Staying in Cat Ba is really incredible experience. Your photos are very nice!)

  • What a beautiful paradise. Cat Ba looks like El Nido Palawan in the Philippines. I’ve never been to Vietnam but if I’ll be given a chance, I’ll be dropping by.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This travel blog was about
Cat Ba Halong Bay Tour

More travel blogs? Follow us on Facebook!