Because there are a few different routes to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island, planning your trip can be a little confusing. If it’s your first backpacking trip there, we’ve done the research so you don’t have to.
We’re going to tell you the cheapest and best ways to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island, the route we recommend and another couple of options for you to consider.
But first a little bit about Cat Ba Island. It’s the largest of 367 islands in the Cat Ba Archipelago and is one of the most visually stunning in Northern Vietnam. Lan Ha Bay surrounding Cat Ba Island is equally as impressive as nearby super touristy Halong Bay.
So going from Hanoi to Cat Ba and exploring Lan Ha Bay is a really good alternative if you want to avoid some of the crowds and overpriced excursions.
Okay let’s dig into the cheapest and best ways to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island. There are essentially three, we’ll cover the easiest and our preferred method first of all.
Direct Bus from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island
Since the completion of the longest sea crossing bridge in Southeast Asia, Tan Vu – Lach Huyen, the route from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island has been substantially shortened. The bus from Hanoi to Cat Ba is a direct route with a short 10 minute speedboat ride in the middle.
Here’s the details for how to get to from Hanoi to Cat Ba by bus:
For the Hanoi to Cat Ba bus, you will leave from the Cat Ba Express office, a 10 minute walk from the centre of Hanoi’s Old Town. From Hanoi, it’s just over a 2 hour drive to the east coast and out over the sea bridge to the tiny island of Cat Hai.
From here you will take a short 10 minute speedboat ride from Bến phà Gót Port to Cái Viềng port on Cat Ba Island.
The last leg of the journey from Hanoi to Cat Ba by bus is a 45 minute journey. This will take you down the South West coast and along the edge of Cat Ba National Park into Cat Ba town.
- Departure address: 37B Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
- Arrival address: 220 Đường 1/4 Cát Bà, Cát Hải, Hải Phòng
- Total journey time for bus from Hanoi to Cat Ba: 3 hours and 3 minutes
- Cost for the Hanoi to Cat Ba bus: 360,000 VND ($15.50USD/£11.75BP)
- Bus from Hanoi to Cat Ba times: Everyday at 07.15, 10.00 and 14.00
For us, the Hanoi to Cat Ba bus route is the best way. It’s a no stress option as you are taken directly from place to place with little or no waiting time. There’s no negotiating with individual providers. And the coaches and speedboats are extremely comfortable and well maintained.
Now onto your alternative options. Both of these involve first travelling to Hai Phong, then taking a boat from there to Cat Ba Island. And while they are slightly cheaper, they are way more hassle in our opinion.
Not only do they involve lugging your stuff between transfers, you will also have to find your own way from the train station or bus station to the ferry port in Hai Phong.
Train and Boat from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island
First let’s cover the details for taking a train and then a speedboat from Hanoi to Cat Ba via Hai Phong. Hanoi Railway Station is pretty central and only around a 20 minute walk from the centre of the old quarter.
From here you will take a train into Ga Hải Phòng Railway Station. This part of this route option from Hanoi to Cat Ba will take around 2 hours 45 minutes.
Here are the details for how to get to Cat Ba Island by train and boat:
- Departure address: Hanoi Railway Station – 120 Lê Duẩn, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
- Arrival address: Ga Hải Phòng Railway Station, 75 Lương Khánh Thiện, Lương Khá Thien, Ngô Quyền, Hải Phòng
The trains from Hanoi to Hai Phong run everyday at 06.00, 09.17, 15.20 and 18.15. Times may vary slightly so always check your specific journey day and time.
Costs for trains from Hanoi to Hai Phong vary depending on whether you are travelling on a weekday or the weekend. And also whether you want a hard seat or a soft seat.
Personally for such a small price difference we’d go for a soft seat. Because as the names suggest the softs seats are more comfortable and usually recline. Whereas the hard seats are just that, wooden benches.
- Monday – Thursday: 65,000 VND ($2.80USD/£2.10GBP) for a hard seat or 70,000 VND for soft seat (£3.00USD/£2.30GBP)
- Friday – Sunday: 75,000 VND ($3.20USD/£2.45GBP) for a hard seat or 85,000 VND ($3.70USD/£2.80GBP) for a soft seat
Then from Ga Hải Phòng Railway Station it is around a 25 minute walk to the Phá Bính Ferry Port. This is where you will take the speedboat to Cat Ba Island.
For the second leg of how to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island via this route, you will travel by speedboat from Phá Bính port in Hai Phong to Cat Ba Pier. The boat journey will take around 45 minutes.
- Departure address: Phá Bính Ferry Port at 4 Bến Bính, Minh Khai, Hồng Bàng, Hải Phòng
- Arrival address: Cat Ba Pier in Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba, Cát Hải, Hai Phong
- Cost for speedboat from Hai Phong to Cat Ba: 180,000 VND ($7.75USD/£5.85BP)
- Boats from Hai Phong to Cat Ba Island times: Everyday at 07.00, 09.00 and 13.00 and 15.00
Depending on whether you choose a hard or soft seat option and whether you are travelling on a weekday or weekend, the total cost for this route from Hanoi to Cat Ba will be 245,000 – 265,000 VND ($10.50-11.35USD/£8.00-8.65GBP).
The total travelling time from Hanoi to Cat Ba via Hai Phong is around 4 hours 10 mins. This is minus any waiting times and so will likely be closer to 5 hours.
Please note you will need to buy the tickets for the train and speedboat separately so make sure you allow yourself enough time to make your connection.
Bus and Boat from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island
This last option for getting from Hanoi to Cat Ba involves first taking a bus from Hanoi to Hai Phong and the speedboat option from Hai Phong to Cat Ba as detailed above in option 2.
Here’s the details for how to get to Cat Ba Island by bus and boat:
From Hanoi Bus Station you can go to one of two bus stations in Hai Phong, Niem Nghia Bus Station or Cau Rao Bus Station.
These busses from Hanoi to Hai Phong run everyday and times for both are every 30 minutes from 6.30 to 19.00. The cost is 100,000 VND ($4.30USD/£3.25GBP).
- Departure address: Gia Lam Bus Station, 132 Ngô Gia Khảm, Ngọc Lâm, Long Biên, Hà Nội.
- Arrival address 1: Niem Nghia Bus Station, 275 Trần Nguyên Hãn, Nghĩa Xá, Lê Chân, Hải Phòng
- Journey time from Hanoi to Niem Nghia Bus Station is 1 hour 20 minutes
- OR Arrival address 2: Cau Rao Bus Station, 1 Thiên Lôi, Cầu Rào, Đằng Giang, Ngô Quyền, Hải Phòng
- Journey time from Hanoi to Cau Rao Bus Station is 1 hour 10 minutes
There isn’t much difference in which bus station you go to in Hai Phong as neither are that close to the Phá Bính Ferry Port. You will either have to grab a taxi or jump on a local bus.
We haven’t personally done this route but apparently there are buses every 20 minutes from Niem Nghia Bus Station more or less right to Phá Bính Ferry Port. The cost is 12,000 VND ($0.50USD/£0.40GBP) and the journey takes 35 minutes.
From Cau Rao Bus Station there are local buses to Phá Bính Ferry Port every 15 minutes, the journey time is 45 minutes and the cost 15,000 VND ($0.65USD/$0.50GBP). However there is around a 20 minute walk from the bus stop nearest the port on this route.
You can use the bus station and port addresses to check the exact routes and times in Google Maps.
Then you will need to get a ticket for the route from Phá Bính Ferry Port in Hai Phong to Cat Ba Pier on Cat Ba Island.
Please note again, you will need to buy the tickets for the bus and speedboat separately so make sure you allow yourself enough time to make your connection.
You can check availability and book your tickets online to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba or Hai Phong here:
Whichever route you choose to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island we hope you have an awesome time, we sure did. It truly is a magical place and was a highlight of our Vietnam trip.
You may also find our guide to what to do in Cat Ba Island useful.
Do let us know in the comments, if you found this information on how to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island helpful. And how your time on the island was!
Oh and one more thing! If you haven’t yet got your visa, this is the Vietnam Visa on Arrival service we used for our trip. It was very quick, straightforward and we’d recommend using these guys.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
As with any trip abroad, make sure you have a good quality travel insurance in place. Our go to travel insurance provider is World Nomads.
They have a no bullshit approach to travel insurance policies & are perfect for adventurous travellers like us. Get a quote here:
This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been completely revamped to provide you with the most up to date and accurate information.
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Travel lover, professional writer and football (soccer) obsessive, James loves nothing more than getting outside and exploring little known corners of the globe. He’s also very partial to a drop of Guinness.