Halong Bay’s biggest island is the hub for DIY bay trips

Cat Ba bayThirty kilometers tall, and just southwest of Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island is a destination in its own right, and one that can be seen independently. Halong Bay visitors on two-night tours usually spend a night at Cat Ba town, on the south end of the island (about 50km south of Halong City). But it’s easy to get here on your own – from the Haiphong ferry, or direct bus/boat/bus services from Hanoi – and enjoy the beaches and jungle walks that the bulk of group tours miss. Halong Bay looms to the northeast of the island, and equally beautiful Lan Ha Bay to the southeast. Both can be seen by joining group tours here, or hiring a private boat.

If you’re lucky, you may spot one of the 60 or so remaining golden-headed langurs who live on Cat Ba. This wild langur live only on Cat Ba and are the world’s most endangered primate. Fifty years ago their population was nearly 3000, but poaching has hurt their numbers.

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