The Cat Ba archipelago consists of 366 islets and islands with a total area of approximately 20,000 hectares dotted with beautiful beaches and caves.
The island of Cat Ba, 20 kilometers from Haiphong , with the Gulf of Tonkin to the west and Vinh Ha Long (Halong) to the east, has 190 square kilometers. Its beautiful landscapes include forested mountains, coastal mangroves and swamps, lakes and freshwater waterfalls.
Much of the island is covered with trees. Half of the island territory, together
with 90 kM2 of the coastal waters, is part of a national park. The enormous diversity of flora and fauna of this park includes 21 species of birds, reptiles and 28 species of mammals, including wild cats, wild boars, porcupines, monkeys, deer and gibbons.
However, no matter how much you walk, you are not likely to see any of these fabulous animals, although some lucky people claim to have seen butterflies.
The most picturesque way to circumnavigate the island of Cat Ba -recalling in the coastal towns of Halong Bay- would be to do it aboard one of the small two-masted reeds.
Usually made with planks of interwoven reeds. Propelled by the characteristic orange sails typical of the bay, they usually also have an outboard motor. They may seem fragile, but it is common to see solitary fishermen in these types of sailboats.
The smaller boats are rowing boats, which operate as taxis through the port of Cat Ba and whose rounded hull is made of interwoven rushes and sealed with tar.
Hiring the services of one of these taxi drivers from Halong Bay , who usually roam near the shore, and see closely the motley flotilla and a truly unusual way of life.
There people live on day boats and go fishing at night. Everyday life (cooking and ironing, toothbrushes hanging from the masts, crawling babies) takes place on the deck, in full view of some. Some of the inhabitants chapurrean some English, although most are illiterate and very few children attend the school.
Two daily ferries connect Cat Ba with the city of Haiphong .
Haiphong is a beautiful town in Vietnam . It has wide tree-lined streets, well-tended green areas and a surprising number of colonial-era administrative buildings and wooden shop houses.
The urban center traces a curve along the banks of the Tam Bac River . In this place you will find several splendid hotels and some superb administrative buildings of the colonial era, as well as the mysterious museum of the city, built with red sandstone and a little further on from the Catholic Cathedral a square presided over by the Municipal Theater , a neoclassical pink building, also known as the Opera House .
Like all cities in Vietnam , Haiphong has its own temples. The pagoda of Du Hang , in the south, was built three centuries ago, but since then it has been restored several times.