Cat Ba – Vietnam – To Quan Lan

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I enjoyed my Christmas and New Year in Cat Ba Island even though it was the wrong time of year to be there.

It was time to move on…

I still had 2 weeks before I had to leave to The Philippines, so I looked at my options.

Whilst in Cat Ba, I did not see much of Halong Bay so I decided to go north into the group of islands.

The manager at the Full Moon Party Hotel, Cat Ba suggested that I go to Dao Co To; we looked at the map and he told me how to get there.

It didn’t work out (see below), so I changed to Quan Lan.


Cat Ba - To Quan Lan - Leave Gia Luan I walked about 50 metres down the road from the Full Moon to the Ferry Port.

There I caught a local ‘green’ bus to the northern port of Cat Ba: Gia Luan.

The bus was scheduled to leave at 7:40am. It left at 8:00am.

The journey cost VND25k and took 30 minutes.


We arrived at the Gia Luan and waited for the 9:00am ferry to Tuan Chau.

The ticket office was closed but opened at 8:50am.

The ticket was VND70k and the trip took 1 hour.

We passed a Floating Fishing Village on the way.


There are taxis waiting when you disembark.

The 10km taxi ride to the Bus Station cost VND110k. There are no other options.

When we arrived at the Bus Station the taxi driver showed me the bus that I needed to catch to get to Cai Rong. It was signed ‘Van Don’.

The bus left at 10:20am. The fare for the 2 hour bus ride was VND30k.

The bus conductor called me when we reached my stop.

The stop was on the main road and it was an easy 1km walk from there to the Cai Rong Ferry Terminal.


I entered the ticketing office and asked for a ticket to Dao Co To. She said no.

Slightly confused, I went outside and checked out the waiting boats… I could see a fastboat signed for Dao Co To. I asked the boat if I could buy a ticket. They said no.

I went back onto the street, sat down for lunch and checked the internet.

Apparently, there is a Vietnamese Army presence on Co To, so you need a permit ‘in advance’ to go there.

The only other place that I could get to from Cai Rong was Quan Lan Island.

I checked out Quan Lan online and decided to go there instead.

I went back to the ticketing office and asked for a ticket to Quan Lan. I got the ticket immediately. The cost was VND100k.

I went to the Quan Lan fastboat to get on but they directed me to the police office. There I had to fill in my passport and Vietnam Visa details.

Once done, I was able to jump on the fastboat.

The fastboat left at 1:30pm. It took 75 minutes to get to Quan Lan.


My quick look at Quan Lan on the internet said that there were 3 main areas to stay on the island.

2 of the 3 were more ‘up market’ resort areas.

Quan Lan Village was said to be the cheapest place to stay… Albeit too far away from the main beaches. But, this wasn’t beach weather anyway.

As you get off of the fastboat, you find waiting Tuk Tuks.

The cost to Quan Lan Village was VND20k and took about 10-15 minutes.


Given that I don’t speak any Vietnamese and that I only had a few notes on how to get there (and the names of each major place on the route) the trip went very well.

My door-to-door trip cost was VND355k (US$16):

  • Local Bus from Cat Ba Town to Gia Luan: VND25k
  • Ferry from Gia Luan to Tuan Chau: VND70k
  • Taxi from Tuan Chau port to the Bus Station: VND110k
  • Bus from Tuan Chau to Van Don: VND30k
  • Ferry from Cai Rong to Quan Lan: VND100k
  • Tuk Tuk from Quan Lan port to Quan Lan Village: VND20k

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