Cat Ba island, Hanoi - Stein Travel
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Cat Ba island

For most, a trip in Halong Bay means at least a night on Cat Ba Island. Many enlist for a package tour of one night on the island and one on a boat, but Cat Ba is worth extra time to discover. This 54 sq mile (140 sq km) island houses equally impressive beach relaxation and hardcore outdoor activities including kayaking, trekking, and world class rock climbing. For those wishing to relax, three beaches, within walking distance of town, are spacious and each are protected inlets with views of Halong islands. Beaches one and three are the most secluded and their short walk along cliff lines provide beautiful views. For those looking for something more rugged, the many limestone cliffs dotting the island make dream rock climbing. Hotels located on the town's main strip offer guides and gear. Various treks range in length but most are fairly steep and a give bird's-eye-view of the island's national park which is also home to the rare Cat Ba Langur. All hotels can arrange excellent boat tours of the surrounding islands which include visits to deep caves with stalagmites and stalactites, secluded swimming holes, floating fish farms and kayaking. The tour is the same no-matter whom it's booked through so the cheaper the better. For relaxers or adventurers alike the day must end at the bay's floating restaurant for the best seafood in Vietnam.

Information & Facts

Language

The official language in Vietnam is Vietnamese. Some Chinese, English and French are spoken. Tour guides can also speak Russian and Japanese. Numerous ethnic languages are also spoken in parts.

Money

The official currency is the Dông (VND). There are no smaller denominations. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change, hotels and on the black market. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are becoming more widely acceptable, particularly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but it is best not to rely on them elsewhere. It is recommended that visitors bring travellers cheques in US Dollars, which can be cashed at major banks in the main cities and tourist areas. US currency acts as unofficial tender and is useful as a back-up when banks won't cash travellers cheques outside the main cities, but notes must be relatively new and unmarked. Dông can be withdrawn from ATMs, which are becoming more widespread.

Time

Local time in Vietnam is GMT +7.

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