Cat Ba Island, World Biosphere Reserve

Cat Ba is the largest island of the homonymous archipelago of about 370 small islands well-known for its beaches and karst landforms that shelter the last Yellow-headed langurs, a rare species of primate in the world and endemic to the island

This limestone island is 48km to the east of Hai Phong (2.5h boat cruise) and about twenty kilometers south of the famous Halong Bay. Being a national park where live wild animals of 32 species, 69 bird species and 20 species of reptiles and amphibians, it is a particularly attractive destination that deserves a stopover after visiting the eighth wonder of the world.

A foreign tourist noted in the Guestbook of the Park Visitor Center: “ I had heard praise the beauty of Cat Ba before going there. And yet, I gasped when I saw for the first time these high gray cliffs dripping forest.”

Recognized as World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2004, Cat Ba National Park, which covers 4,200ha of sea space and 9,800ha of forest, has something to fascinate you: fiords sleeping between cliffs and small yellow sand beaches to clear water, caves with steep rocks. The beautiful body of water called “Frog Lake” is the heart of the high-altitude rainforest reservoir for animals and plants. This land was also deemed to be the refuge of pirates in 1893 rebels and patriots moving the Red River Delta to the shores.

A legend explains the topography of the archipelago whose geological formation dating back to the end of the primary era. Once a monster fish caused terrible havoc to the people at Bach Dang mouth. The young and beautiful genius – Heavenly Fish – straddling a yellow dragon engaged in single combat with the monster battle that lasted all summer. The dragon exhausted and died; his body was pushed by the waves to a strike in Cat Ba, currently named Phu Long strike (Floating Dragon). The divine knight jumped to a place called “Landing of Talon” (Bến Gót). There he killed the monster and threw his sword and club into the sea that became the island of Sword (Hòn Gươm) and Mace (Hòn Chùy). He married a fairy from Heaven on the back of an elephant and she brought a sacred water gourd owed to supply these forces and saline land in freshwater. The elephant turned to Elephant Head Mountain (Núi Đầu Voi) while the couple, giving up heavenly life, led an earthly life devoted to fishing and gathering forest fruits.


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