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Although white sandy beaches are not the first thing that may pop into your head when you think of northern Vietnam, several in Halong Bay - reknowned for its spectacular scenery - definitely are on par with some of the gorgeous strands of the south! There are three beaches within walking distance of town on the bay's largest island, Cat Ba. They are named Cat Co 1, 2, and 3, and it's very easy to find them as they are essentially all on the same road. On all of them you may have to pay to use the sun loungers but it shouldn’t be more than 100,000 Vietnamese dong.
Where to Stay in Ha Long Bay or Cat Ba?
For a trip to Ha Long Bay I would recommend to stay on a boat - I had a fantastic experience with Indochina Sails. On Cat Ba we stayed at Lepont Bungalow and Hostel after it was recommended to us by a friend. We had such a great experience there! It was a perfect location and the rooms look over the water. It’s definitely one of the best moderately priced hotels on the island.|
How to Get to Ha Long Bay?
Depending on where you are coming from there are different routes but it is quite standard to either take a car or a bus to Ha Long Bay city and then from there go to your hotel. If you are taking a boat tour they will arrange pick up times with you and most will even pick you up in Hanoi and drop you back off there.
How to Get to Cat Ba?
From Hanoi you can take the train to Hai Phong. At Ga Hanoi, Hanoi’s train station, you will be able to buy tickets at the window for Hai Phong, a pleasant two-hour journey away. When you arrive in Hai Phong there will be many drivers trying to sell you tickets to get on the ferry to Cat Ba. We fell for one and ended up overpaying for the taxi to the pier which was only about five minutes away, not 20 as the driver was saying.
At the pier or at the train station you can buy tickets for the slow boat or the “hydrofoil” speed boat. We opted for the faster one, around 200,000 VND, and we got there in about an hour. When you get to Cat Ba island you can either rent motorbikes from vendors around the pier or take a taxi to your hotel. The island even has open-air taxis that run on a loop around the island.