Vietnam // The northern coast //

The rest of the island

One of Cat Ba’s main draws is its rugged unspoilt scenery. A recommended outing is to rent a motorbike or a car for the day and explore the island’s few paved roads and its isolated beaches.

Quan Y Cave

The main cross-island road climbs sharply out of Cat Ba Town, giving views over distant islands and glimpses of secluded coves, and then follows a series of high valleys. After 8km look out on the right for the distinctive Quan Y Cave, a gaping mouth embellished with concrete, not far from the road. During the American War the cave became an army hospital big enough to treat 150 patients at a time.

Cat Ba National Park

Taking up much of the island is Cat Ba National Park, established in 1986 and little changed in decades. Its most famous inhabitant is a sub-species of the critically endangered golden-headed langur, a monkey found only on Cat Ba and now probably numbering fewer than sixty individuals. Considerably more visible will be the rich diversity of plant species, including some 350 of medicinal value, as well as birds, snakes and plenty of mosquitoes.