On arrival, you will see an old fishing village. There are stilted houses, huts made from bamboo, wood and soil and old iron pots cooking on the fire. Just outside the village, the buffalos are ploughing the fields. Farm produce feeds the village. The fishermen also provide nutrition to the village. The carpenters and blacksmiths are forging buildings and materials to be used in the village. Children can be seen coming out of the bamboo looking framework known as the village school. It is idyllic. You go back in time. Then you’ll probably meet a motorbike taxi wearing an Í love Vietnam’ tourist t-shirt.
Most of the village rely on living through a sustainable lifestyle. There’s no doubt about that. It’s surrounded by jungle terrain, karst mountains covered with lush greenery and there are fresh streams all around. The villagers have modernised a bit through tourism. You can get motorbike rides, volunteer tour guides and even accommodation at the village. There are locally produced drinks and food available, at the street side or events such as a dinner service in a bamboo hut. Local handicrafts can be purchased as souvenirs. The villagers love visitors especially tourists. It brings them more fortune.
Viet Hai wasn’t known by many people until Halong Bay was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors have only been coming for a few years. Before visitors started coming, the villagers lived a very similar life for a long time. Deliveries would come and go, but there was rarely access to the bigger world outside. It is in a remote location. It’s on Cat Ba island but is a bit of a distance from Cat Ba Main Town. It is only accessible via dirt tracks on a motorbike. You can trek 8km through the jungles to get to the village. Most take a boat trip from Cat Ba’s main port or have a visit to the island included in their cruise itinerary.
It’s close to Cat Ba national park. Once here, you’ll be made to feel welcome. Locals will give you a seat and offer drinks and snacks. You can stroll around the village to see the daily activities taking place. This is a very peaceful experience and one to take make the most of, especially if you live in a city in your daily life. You can feel the tranquil atmosphere, breathe in the fresh air and listen to the soothing melodies of the jungles and mountains and the life which comes with it.
It offers a diverse viewpoint into the way people live. The locals enjoy some extra money but recognise how fortunate they are to be living in such a sustainable environment. They can keep their cultural identity and values which are held dear to them. Be sure to wear strong clothes if trekking to the village. If arriving by boat, make sure you can bring extra money. It’s good to tip local people who provide a pleasant and enjoyable experience in such a gregarious manner. There are a few homestays available, in case you want to stay longer than a few hours.
Viet Hai Village can be accessed on foot or by boat. Homestays are available at various prices.