VIETNAM 2024 – Discovering Cat Ba’s War Time History

We continue our Halong bay tour in Vietnam, with our first stop at Cat Ba Island.

Day Three – Discovering Cat Ba’s War Time History

For the final day of my Halong Bay Tour I was going to CAT BA ISLAND. This beautiful island isn’t actually part of Halong Bay (which lies directly to the north of the island) and has its own island archipelago to the south – LAN HA BAY. In hindsight, you need to spend a few days on Cat Ba for a full sightseeing experience (which would also include touring Lan Ha Bay).

A one day tour, although very interesting, doesn’t do it justice. For this tour I was taken, once again, to Tuan Chau Port, and then boarded a speed boat across to the northern tip of Cat Ba Island. On arrival at Cat Ba, a local guide was there to accompany me for the day’s excursion.

Cat Ba Island Landscape

The rugged mountainous landscape of Cat Ba Island.

Day Three – Hill Trekking Through the Kim Giao Forest to Dinh Ngu Lam, Vietnam

My original plan for Cat Ba Island, was just to visit two cave sites. My guide told me we had plenty of time so first up we did a hike to a lookout on DIN NGU LAM Peak.  This is a bucket list stop for most visitors to the island and takes approximately one hour to ascend to the lookout on the peak. The terrain on Cat Ba Island is rugged, and spectacular, and is comprised of jungle covered karst peaks.

Trail map

The map of the trail to the peak of Din Ngu Lam.

Day Three – Visiting Vietnam Tourist Attractions – The Din Ngu Lam Lookout

The trail to the top: Being a popular attraction, the trail to the lookout on Din Ngu Lam has been properly developed for safe hiking experience. There are stairways and handrails in place on the steeper sections. The trail runs through some heavy jungle and as such, there’s plenty of shade for the hike.

Local guide on the trail

My local guide leads the way on the trail to the top of Din Ngu Lam Peak.

Side attractions: There’s also a couple of locations where the trail deviates off to sightseeing attractions enroute. The value of going with a guide is you don’t end up on the wrong trail, if wanting to view these side attractions. Note: if it’s been raining, or it’s damp, the trail, although developed, is slippery under foot. Wearing solid footwear, and not flip flops, is well advised.

The Jungle Trail

One of the side attractions on the trail to Din Ngu lam peak.

The lookout: Once you arrive at the main peak, there’s a cement lookout tower, with a roof, to rest and recover after the near vertical ascent up the final twenty meters. For most people, this is as far as they go and, as such, the place tends to get a bit crowded.

Din Ngu Lam lookout platform

The lookout platform on Din Ngu Lam Peak.

At the very top: For an even better view, there’s a second lookout, approximately fifty meters above this first one. The trail continues on, from the rear of the lookout platform. My guide led me on and after another fifteen minutes of huffing and puffing, we arrived at the higher peak for some spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. Understandably, we were the only ones up there.

Cat Ba Island

The view from the very top of Din Ngu Lam peak.

Day Three – Caving In Vietnam – The Tri Trang Cave Exploration

Exploring the Tri Trang Cave: This is another bucket list stop on a tour of Cat Ba Island and, to be honest, after visiting the caves in Halong Bay, it wasn’t too impressive. Like all the other cave sites, this one has also been developed for a safe sightseeing experience. There’s a solid stairway, with handrails, up to the cave entrance.

Doing the cave tour: It takes about 20 – 30 minutes to go through the cave. There’s a cement trail and internal lighting for safe sightseeing. This cave had very few formations and was more like a narrow tunnel. There was quite a few low hanging sections I had to get down on my haunches to pass through. According to my guide, this cave was used as a shelter, from bombing raids, for local military personnel during the war years.

Tri Trang Cave Tour

My local guide leads the way through Tri Trang Cave.

Uniqure Vietnam Caves – A Tour Of The Hospital Cave

Discovering Cat Ba’s war time history through the Hospital Cave: This site was the last stop on my tour of Cat Ba Island and, as it turned out, was probably the most interesting. More a bunker than a cave, the internal areas are completely concreted and was used as a safe haven for wounded military personnel, during the war years. Its construction is definitely a bomb proof bunker. There’s a triple door entrance, with heavy steel doors, to access the internal room areas.

Hospital cave entrance

The triple door entrance to the hospital cave.

Doing the tour: The bunker was purely a hospital shelter for the treatment of wounded soldiers. There’s a main corridor with rooms branching off. Within these rooms, mannequins are in place to give a feel for the historical aspect.

Inside the Hospital cave bunker

The main corridor through the Hospital Cave Bunker.

Inside Hospital Cave Bunker

One of the display rooms within the Hospital Cave.

A tour through the hospital cave will take approximately 30 – 40 minutes and is well worth a look if you’re on Cat Ba Island.

If you missed the first part, take a look at the days one and two of our HALONG BAY tour.

Safe travels,

Mega.

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