Cát Bà National Park takes up a great big portion of Cát Bà Island, so how could I not pay it a visit when I was passing through?
The island itself is essentially a giant sized version of one of those limestone karsts that can be viewed from nearby Halong Bay. As a result of this, the islands topography is pretty insane, and the view from the top (the reason why you need to go to the National Park) is pretty spectacular.
Getting to the entrance of the park is a small challenge, but I found the best option was to just hire myself a motorbike and ride out (sorry mum!). It’s about a 20-30 minute ride from Cát Bà Town (dependent on your speed – as a newbie to riding, I’m pretty slow) and only costs 80,000 VND for the full day. Other options would be the tourist bus or a motorbike taxi.
Once you’re there, you’ll have to fork over the 40,000 VND entrance fee (and possibly the 5 – 10,000 VND motorbike parking fee), then you’ll be set to get your sweat on… I mean your hike…
I stuck to the peak walk given I didn’t want to venture too far into the park solo in the crazy heat of the day. I tracked the whole thing with my Garmin, so here’s a little info on what to expect:
Walking Time: 2 hours, 17 minutes
Lowest Elevation: 30m
Highest Elevation: 296m (but see comment below)
Total ascent / descent: 563m (but see comment below)
Now, if you’re freaking out about that first climb, never fear! I’m pretty sure something crazy happened with the GPS and that didn’t actually happen. Given a track closure, I essentially went up one way and back down the same track. The only difference came just prior to the final climb where I’d taken the less steep incline to get up, but came down along the other path. So, assume that the initial kilometre should be similar to the last kilometre!
Saying that, this isn’t the easiest little climb I’ve done.
I realise we’re not talking about a long hike, or even a high altitude, but the HUMIDITY! Well, if you could see me when I reached the peak… Lets just say my T-shirt has never been so wet when it wasn’t getting washed… You’ll definitely need to remember plenty of water for this one!
Those views you get at the top make it all worthwhile though. And another tip – don’t be an idiot and forget a memory card for your camera! Sadly, I’ve only got a few phone snaps to share with you now, but they do alright (especially since I refused offers to get in front of the camera – it would not have been pretty).
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