Located in the heart of Cat Ba National Park, Viet Hai Village (also known as Viet Hai Fishing Village) is a hidden gem in Vietnam that offers visitors an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Surrounded by lush greenery and pristine mountains, this remote village is home to a small community of fishermen and farmers who have lived there for generations.
Despite its secluded location, Viet Hai Village has become increasingly popular among tourists who want to experience authentic Vietnamese culture and immerse themselves in nature. The village has managed to retain its traditional way of life while also catering to visitors with homestays, restaurants serving local cuisine, and guided tours of the surrounding area. In this article, we’ll learn more about what this village has to offer.
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Viet Hai village is located in the core of Cat Ba National Park, about 18 kilometers from Cat Ba Island’s center. The small village is typically picked as part of a Ha Long – Lan Ha Bay Cruise itinerary, which is why many people believe Viet Hai is part of Lan Ha Bay. Its administrative bounds, however, are belong to Cat Ba Island in Cat Hai District, Hai Phong City.
This charming village is covered 150 hectares and known as “Island inside Island” because it is isolated from the outside world by its own ecosystem, which includes mountains, streams, forest, and the sea.
Viet Hai village was virtually “completely isolated” not long ago due to its particular position. But, thanks to the tourism boom in Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay, it’s becoming increasingly popular, gradually opening up its natural beauty and culture to the rest of the globe. For international visitors, the rural location provides a calm getaway from the frenetic city life, making your journey to these areas quite an adventure.
The Beauty of nature and local life
It has been said that 100 years ago, while looking for shelter during a storm, a group of fishermen discovered a valley surrounded by lush greenery and water in the middle of the sea. They then opted to settle in the area, forming the hamlet that is now known as Viet Hai Village.
The small community is now home to 70 families of fishermen and farmers who live basic lives in close harmony with nature. Visitors can observe and even participate in traditional farming methods such as rice production and fishing techniques. Walking through this rural hamlet, you’ll witness several traditional stilt house fashioned from locally obtained materials and hear about the history of this one-of-a-kind location.
And its local simple yet peaceful life
The villagers live a simple yet peaceful life. It’s surprising to learn that the community appears to be “immune” to crime.
When you go there, you’ll see that they always leave the doors open, even at night. Motorcycles, a major asset to this impoverished town, are parked freely outside without being locked, but they are never stolen. A further sign of how tranquil Viet Hai Village is is the lack of a crime record for numerous years.
To be honest, Viet Hai Village is a poor village as well. Their main source of income is fishing. Local people collect fish from the sea using traditional methods such as casting nets and bamboo baskets. They also use sustainable fishing methods to safeguard the survival of marine life in the area.
Locals now have additional ways to make money as tourism has grown in recent years. They may come over every day and offer motor taxi services to tourists visiting the village. In the surrounding neighborhood, homestays and restaurants are springing up. Life is improving, but their genuineness and helpfulness will last a long time.
Viet Hai Village seamlessly harmonizes the captivating beauty of nature with the authentic fabric of local life, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in a world where serenity, cultural immersion, and natural wonder intertwine.
How to get to Viet Hai village
There’s 2 popular ways to get to Viet Hai Village.
Easiest way: By a Lan Ha Bay Cruise
The most convenient and straightforward method is to book a package Lan Ha Bay Cruises. These cruises usually include the village on their itinerary. Visitors can also enjoy breathtaking views of Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay while cruising towards Cat Ba Island.
When guests arrive at Cat Ba Island’s port, they get to take an exhilarating speedboat trip across Lan Ha Bay to Viet Hai Village. The cruise operator arranges everything, making the trip stress-free.
More adventure way: On your own
Step 1: Getting to Hai Phong City from Hanoi
Begin your journey from Hanoi and head east on Highway 5 or the Pham Hung/Tran Duy Hung Road, depending on your location in the city. Follow Highway 5 through Bac Ninh Province until you reach Hai Duong Province. Look for signs directing you to Highway 18, also known as the National Route 18. Continue on Highway 18, heading northeast through Hai Duong Province. As you exit Hai Duong Province, you will enter Hai Phong City.
Step 2: Take a Ferry Ride to Cat Ba Island
In Hai Phong City, cross the Dinh Vu – Cat Hai Bridge, one of the longest bridge in South East Asia connected Hai Phong City and Cat Hai District. This bridge offers stunning vistas of the surrounding water and islands, enhancing your journey to Viet Hai Village.
Then, follow the signs leading to Got Wharf, where you can board a ferry to Cat Ba Island. The ferry operates regularly throughout the day, providing a scenic journey across the water. Enjoy the views as you sailing to Cat Ba island.
The ferry departs from Got Wharf every 30 minutes, with the earliest at 4:30 and latest at 19:30. Ticket fee is about 45,000vnd/person.
Step 3: From Cat Ba Island to Viet Hai Village
After arriving Cat Ba Island, there 2 ways to get to the village:
- By Ferrry: Take a taxi or motorbike taxi to Beo Wharf (right in the centre of Cat Ba Town). Then, you could take canoe/tender/boat from Beo to Viet Hai Village. Below are the rates for these services:
- By Trekking: Another adventure way is by trekking. From Cat Ba downtown, hire a motorbike or a taxi to Cat Ba National Park (about 15km from the downtown). Buying the ticket (80,000VND) to the park and don’t forget to book a tour guide with you as the journey is quite rough. The trekking to the village would be around 12km and might take you all day so, keep that’s in mind.
Remember to check for any updates or changes to the routes and ferry timings to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey to this captivating village.
Things to do in Viet Hai Village
In Viet Hai Village, a range of activities awaits, offering a blend of natural exploration, cultural immersion, and relaxation. Whether you prefer adventure, cultural experiences, or simply basking in the serenity of the surroundings, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this enchanting destination.
Trekking to Viet Hai Village
As the village is separated from the outside world by forest, you’ll have to trek through Viet Hai village on a 12 km trail covered with diverse flora and fauna to get to the area. Along the way, you’ll pass through Cat Ba National Park with stunning scenery of towering trees, spot rare orchids, and listen to the melodies of birds that inhabit the area. Trekking or hiking Viet Hai Village is suitable for different skill levels, allowing you to tailor your experience to your preferences.
Note: This trek might be rough, so it’s better to hire a local guide. These guides could be booked when you buy the tickets at the entrance of the village.
Explore viet hai village by bicycle or motorbike
After arriving, you can immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of Viet Hai Village by taking a journey through the idyllic countryside on the back of a motorbike or ride a bicycle.
Many locals offer motorbike taxi services across the village. Hire one and take in the lovely green scenery, meandering streams, and cascading waterfalls of the area. Enjoy the fresh air and peace while admiring the beautiful environment that surrounds you.
Cycling Viet Hai village is an ideal choice if you wish to explore the village on your own. The journey through Viet Hai Village offers amazing views of the surrounding area and passes through wonderful terrain.
Bicycles may be rented for approximately $5 per day from your hotel or hostel, while motorbikes can be rented for about $10 per day.
Engage with locals and be a fisherman
The residents in the village are very friendly. They would love to welcome you to their homes for a drink.
After hearing many interesting stories, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the secrets of traditional fishing tactics by joining local fisherman on a fishing trip. Learn how to cast nets, row bamboo wood boat, and enjoy the excitement of capturing fish in traditional ways. This pastime reveals the peasants’ close interaction with the sea and their reliance on fishing for sustenance.
Enjoy Local Cuisine
Aside from exercising, one thing that should not be overlooked is sampling the local cuisine. Viet Hai, as a fishing community, is well-known for its seafood. They serve a variety of fresh seafood, including “Sam” and “Song” fish, squid rolls, and more. All are prepared immediately after capturing, making the cuisine as fresh as it has ever been.
Finally, after a long day of walking, riding, and fishing, it’s time to unwind with a fish massage. Immerse your foot in a water pot full of small “doctor” fish for one of the most intriguing activities ever.
The “doctor fish” will congregate around your feet and use natural techniques to remove all the dead skin. As they’re toothless, there would be no discomfort or harm throughout the practice. It would be an odd but pleasant experience.
Best time to visit Viet Hai village
The best time to visit Viet Hai Village is from April to September. During these periods, the weather is generally pleasant with mild temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploration.
Spring (from Jan to March) in the other hand brings cooler temperatures, providing a comfortable environment for trekking and enjoying the scenic beauty of the surroundings.
Editor notes: Read on more about our Halong Bay weather guide
- Pack Accordingly: Make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes, lightweight and breathable clothing, as well as sun protection essentials such as hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses. It’s also advisable to carry a light rain jacket or umbrella in case of unexpected showers.
- Stay Hydrated: Remember to carry a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated during your visit. It’s important to drink plenty of water, especially during outdoor activities and hikes in the village.
- Respect Local Customs: Viet Hai Village is home to a close-knit community with its own customs and traditions. Show respect for their way of life by observing local customs, such as dressing modestly and being mindful of cultural norms.
- Engage with the Locals: Interact with the villagers and embrace the opportunity to learn about their culture and lifestyle. Engaging in conversations, asking questions, and showing genuine interest will enrich your experience and foster meaningful connections.
- Follow Sustainable Practices: Help preserve the natural beauty of Viet Hai Village by practicing responsible and sustainable tourism. Dispose of waste properly, respect the environment, and support local businesses that prioritize sustainability.
- Be Prepared for Limited Connectivity: Viet Hai Village is a remote destination, and internet and mobile network coverage may be limited. Be prepared for this and consider it an opportunity to disconnect and fully immerse yourself in the peaceful surroundings.
- Capture Memories: Don’t forget to bring a camera or smartphone to capture the stunning landscapes and memorable moments during your visit. However, remember to be respectful when taking photos of locals and seek permission when necessary.
Viet Hai Village offers a unique experience for visitors seeking an authentic glimpse into the traditional ways of life in Vietnam. From the stunning natural scenery to the local customs and practices, it is a place that will leave you with lasting memories. It is also an opportunity to support sustainable tourism and help preserve the culture and livelihoods of the village residents. So why not take a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life and immerse yourself in this charming little community? Visit Viet Hai Village today and experience a different side of Vietnam that you won’t find elsewhere.