Co To is an archipelago in Co To district, Quang Ninh province. It is comprised about 40 islands varying in size, lies in the East of Van Don island. There are 3 major islands which are Thanh Lan island, Tran island and Co To Island, which is the most prosperous island. The ancient name of Co To was Chang Son (means Chang mountain), was long an anchor place of fishermen in Tonkin gulf but had no resident due to the regime of Chinese pirates until when Nguyen dynasty took place. At present, Co To has become one of the most attractive places for tourists all over the world because of turquoise water, white smooth sand, pristine forest and tranquil atmosphere that you can’t find it anywhere else. This island is heaven for adventure, and a relaxing vacation.
The following are everything you need for a memorable adventure in Co To:
I. WHEN TO TRAVEL TO CO TO ISLAND, VIETNAM
1. Weather in Co To Island, Vietnam
Co To island has tropical monsoon climate, divided into 2 seasons:
A. Summer season (April to September)
The baking hot weather of summer in Northern Vietnam will be displaced by the more comfortable sunny that allow you to lie on the sand relaxing or start the discover the pristine nature. In July, storm season begins so you have to update weather information frequently or you adventure will turn into a disaster. The tourist season in Co To is mainly from April to June, when it has not too cold to swimming yet. Especially in early summer from April to May, most of the tourist activities are held at that time.
B. Winter season (October to March)
Autumn and winter in this island are pretty cold. It is dangerous to swim in the sea at that time. You might consider visiting Co To in the winter, when the beaches are more secluded, privately and peaceful.
3. Best time to visit Co To Island, Vietnam
Co To is an emerging tourist destination in recent year. Therefore, the activities in Co To Island is limited. You can visit Co To Island at any time in the year but the best time will be in summer when you can enjoy every activity on the island.
See Co To’s weather forecast here
II. HOW TO GET TO/AROUND CO TO ISLAND FROM HANOI
Co To island is the furthest inhabited place in the Northern area, to get to Co To you must use boats from Cai Rong port. There are several ways to arrive Cai Rong port:
1. Getting to Co To by shuttle bus from Hanoi
If you use transportation services, remember to remind the staffs that you want to get down at Van Don T-junction. The trip takes about 5 hours. Once you get there, you can catch a bus or hail a cab to arrive Cai Rong port. Motor taxi is a good choice when you have light luggage to arrive the port for VND 60,000. If you choose the bus, get down at Van Don post office and walk 1.5 km to Cai Rong port. The price for the bus is VND 5,000 – 8,000/person.
Or you can catch coaches to Cua Ong, Mong Cai, Cam Pha. The prices are from VND 100,000 – 130,000 (US$ 5 – 7).
|Kumho Viet Thanh||My Dinh – Cam Pha||(+84) 968 360 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Hong Van||My Dinh – Cua Ong||(+84) 976 721 966|
|Dai Phat||Gia Lam – Mong Cai||(+84) 983 651 728||Fanpage Facebook here|
|Quy Ngoc||Gia Lam – Cam Pha||(+84) 913 266 197|
|Thao Thieu||Giap Bat – Mong Cai||(+84) 913 578 413|
|Hoang Long||Nuoc Ngam – Cua Ong||(+84) 2253 920 email@example.com|
To see more, click here.
If you get to the port late and there is no more trip left, just take a rest in Van Don to prepare for the next day trip. These are some hotels and guest houses near Cai Rong port:
- Phuong Thao guest house
Phone number: (+84) 2033 793 888
Benefit: 50 m to Cai Rong port
Price: VND 120,000/night in winter and VND 250,000 – 450,000/night in summer.
- Van Nam hotel
Phone number: (+84) 948 146 399
Price: VND 200,000/night in regular day.
- Thai Hoang hotel
Phone number: (+84) 2033 793 383
- Viet Linh hotel
Phone number: (+84) 2033 793 898
- Van Don Bay hotel
Phone number: (+84) 2033 991 199
- Travel tip: Never forget to ask for the price before hiring a room.
2. Getting a boat to Co To Island, Vietnam
A panorama view of Cai Rong port from above. Source: zing.vn
You can choose whether wooden boats or speedboats:
Wooden boats are slow (3 hours) and usually to transport commodities. If you like to relax and have some fun in the sea, consider this option. Wooden boats leave the wharf to Co To at 7:00 A.M from Monday to Friday, at 13:00 P.M on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday; it returns to Cai Rong at 7:00 A.M from Monday to Sunday, at 13:00 P.M on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Manh Quang wooden boats contact: (+84) 912 263 597
Speedboats are much faster (1 hour). There are boats leave Cai Rong port from 6:00 A.M to 17:00 P.M every day.
The price for a ticket of
- Speedboat: VND 200,000/person (US$ 10).
- Wooden boat: VND 110,000/person. (US $ 7)
Contact list for booking:
|Brand name||Starting time from Cai Rong||Starting time from Co To island||Contact|
|Manh Quang||8:00 – 14:00||8:00 – 13:30||Phone number: (+84) 912 263 597
|Kalong||6:00 – 12:15||9:00 – 13h30||Phone number:(+84) 1697 886 886
|Havaco||6:00 – 17:30||7:00 – 16:30||Phone number: (+84) 946 193 193
|Nguyen Viet||5:30 – 16:30||7:35 – 15:30||Phone number: (+84) 987 989 888
Fanpage facebook here
You better get on the boat 30 minutes early to pick the best seat.
The price may change during tourist season.
In case of bad weather, all trips are canceled.
One more thing, the sea doesn’t always peaceful and the water beyond the bay doesn’t meek. Thus, unless you had already been in the ocean before, you better prepare for seasickness with medicines and citrus peels.
3. Getting to Co To Island by private vehicle
You can hire a motorbike or a car to arrive the wharf. Even though, only motorbike can go with you to Co To Island. The price for carrying your motorbike is VND 90,000 – 100,000. You can also leave your motor at the parking plot for VND 50,000/day.
Start from Hanoi, you may use QL5B/ĐC04 (221 km) highway to arrive Quang Ninh after about 4 hours 30 minutes: Enter 1A highway through Linh Nam street. After that, turn into QL5B/ĐC04 highway and then turn left onto highway 10. Keep moving and turn right to get on highway 18. Now you are in Cam Thinh. Turn to Ly Thuong Kiet, through Cua Suot and Ly Anh Tong. Cai Rong port lies at the end of Ly Anh Tong street.
4. Getting around in Co To Island, Vietnam
a. Using motorbike on Co To Island
You can use your own vehicle which was carried from the mainland. If not, you can hire a motorbike for VND 150,000 – VND 200,000/day (US$ 7 – 8) (exclude fuel). Fuel in the island will be a little bit expensive. You can ask the staff of the hotel where you stay and someone will bring a motorbike for you.
Hire a motorbike is the best option to move around Co To Island. Source: chothuexepy.com
b. Hailing a cab in Co To Island
Another option is just simply hailing a cab. It is the best option if you need to be hungry or you are usually get lost and you even won’t have to drive. Even though taxi in the Co To island doesn’t too expensive: VND 30,000 for the first kilometer, VND 20,000 for the next two and VND 10,000 for the rest.
c. Hiring an electric car
You can hire electric car which is cheaper than the taxi and the driver can become your tour guide. But the electric car is weak and slow, sometimes it forces you to hire a motor taxi to visit some destination like the lighthouse, your experience might not be sanctified. The cost for a 7 seats electric car is VND 200,000 – 800,000 (~US$ 10 – 40).
List of electric car provider
|Brand name||Type of vehicle||Price (VND)||Contact|
|Phuc Xuyen||7 – 14 seats||1,000,000 – 1,800,000||(+84) 2033 889 999|
|An Tam||9 seats||1,200,000||(+84) 965 154 780|
|Bon Vuong||8 seats||1,200,000||(+84) 1635 858 570|
III. WHERE TO STAY IN CO TO ISLAND, VIETNAM
1. Resorts in Co To Island
Co To has plenty hotels and resorts in all range, like these following:
a. Coto Life mini resort – An eco-friendly destination in Co To island, Vietnam
Every room is designed as 100% nature wood bungalow which roofed with grass. It located on a side of forest and view to Hong Van beach so you can watch the sunrise in your bed. Each room is 30 m2 large with tempered glass door and 2 windows. They have a wooden restaurant serves VND 150,000 diet set or order from a given menu. In addition, you can order a small BBQ party of 20 dishes, free wine in the beach for VND 350,000 – 500,000.
The price for a night is VND 1,000,000/bungalow for regular day and VND 1,400,000/bungalow for weekend and holiday. You will get free breakfast and pick up from the wharf.
- Beautiful view
- Delicious food
- Shuttle service
Price: VND 1,000,000 – 1,400,000/night;
Address: Hong Van beach, Dong Tien, Co To
Contact: (+84) 988 722 688
Fanpage Facebook here
b. Coto Eco Lodge – The fancy accommodation in front of Co To’s beach
It is only 100m far from Hong Van beach, Coto Eco Lodge is one of the first resort in Co To island. It was a series of the famous duck huts are loved by many young Vietnamese for its infrastructure and services quality. In 2017, they removed the duck huts and replaced by stronger, quiet, airy and more convenient houses which will offer you the best experiences.
- Shuttle service
- Free parking
Price: VND 900,000 – 1,000,000/night;
Address: Hong Van Beach, Hong Hai Hamlet, Dong Tien Ward, Co To District, Quang Ninh
Contact: (+84) 988 071 100
Email for booking: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Hotels and guesthouses in Co To island, Vietnam
a. Green Co To Hotel – The only hotel that owns a beach in Co To Island
A 26 rooms hotel located at Dong Tien hamlet, this is the only hotel in the whole island that has a private beach. It was built for a relaxing, tranquil vacation with friend and family. Thus, it is pretty far from the port (1,8 km) to avoid the noise and pollution of boats and ship. They provide electric car service if customers want to go back to town or go to local fish market. The price is VND 10,000/trip. Furthermore, Green Co To Hotel built their own café, restaurants, BBQ party and many team building activities.
If your trip was canceled because of bad weather, your deposit will be restored and when bad weather made you can’t go home, half of the room charge will be reduced.
- Provide electric car to return the town
- Private beach
- Pick up from the dock
- Cancellation policy
Price: VND 600,000 – 900,000/night
Address: Love beach, Dong Tien, Co To Island
Contact: (+84) 904 099 399
b. Royal Co To Island Hotel – A convenient place in the center of Co To Island:
The opposite of Green Co To Hotel, Royal Co To Island Hotel lies right in the center of Co To town, where you can blend into the peaceful regular daily life of the local citizen. As a newly built accommodation, this hotel offers you modern convenient beach view rooms with air condition, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi.
From the center of the town, you can easily move to every destination on the island.
- Currency exchange
- Near the tourist spots
Price: VND 450,000 – 700,000/night
Address: Center of Co To town, Co To Island
Contact: (+84) 1236 916 414
c. Tuyen Tam guesthouse – A fine accommodation near the wharf
Located in Sector 3, Co To town, 300 m far from the sea and 800 m far from the wharf, the customers can easily come to Tuyen Tam guest house. The guest house includes 6 rooms with full of convenient equipment. Besides, they provide beach BBQ, hiring motorbike service and small Co To trips.
- Vehicle hiring
- Provide boat to small Co To and other islands
- Provide tour
Price: VND 400,000 – 600,000/night
Address: Nam Hai Co To town, Co To Island
Contact: (+84) 1636 410 510
3. Homestays in Co To island, Vietnam
Besides hotels, resorts and guesthouses, you can try out homestay. It is local’s house that they allow tourists to hire to stay. Homestays are cheaper and the equipment is fine enough. If you choose homestay, you can ask them to cook your meal. Locals can choose the best food for the finest price and their cooking isn’t worse than any restaurant chef. Furthermore, if you want to buy some fresh seafood back to the mainland, who could be better to help you than a local that you stay with?
Because the island usually lost electricity in the weekend, you might want to choose homestay which is near to the sea, the hot of summer will become easier.
Below is a list of some homestays in Co To island:
Experience the local regular daily life in a homestay is always an interesting option. Source: tripnow.vn
|Ha Le Homestay||Sector 4, Co To town, Co To island||(+84) 974 690 875|
|Phuong Ngoan Homestay||Sector 2, Co To town, Co To island||(+84) 943 730 730|
|Khac Pha Homestay||Nam Dong hamlet, Dong Tien, Co To island||(+84) 1682 894 977|
|Hoang Khuong Homestay||Truong Xuan, Dong Tien, Co To island||(+84) 1694 793 866|
|Duc Khanh Homestay||Sector 4, Co To town, Co To island||(+84) 975 791 676|
|Mai Tuong homestay||Sector 4, Co To town, Co To island||(+84) 986 316 552|
IV. THINGS TO DO IN CO TO ISLAND, VIETNAM
After arrived in Co To island and settled the luggage, it’s time to consider what you’re going to do.
1. Swimming in the beach of Co To Island, Vietnam
Co To owns plenty of charming beaches: Hong Van beach, Vang Chai beach, Bac Van beach, etc. The water is clean, slight wave and the bottom is shallow so you can freely swim without worrying. When you are tired, you can lie on the smooth white sand or join in a BBQ party with friends and family.
During tourist season, there are many activities occur on the sea like Kayak sailing, Snorkel driving or Paragliding at Co To park. The ticket’s price is VND 250,000, allow you to play every game in the park without limit.
The beaches are crowded in tourist season but later, it becomes so quiet, so peaceful. This is why some people choose to visit Co To in the winter. Of courses, it is too cold to swim, but what they need is standing before the secluded ocean, hearing the voices of the sea and feeling their soul flies to the sky.
2. Squids fishing in the night
Co To island is famous as a major inhabited place of squids and the special unique taste of squids that you can’t find it anywhere else. Squids fishing all night and enjoy the fished will become one of the most memorable experience for tourists.
You can ask for the information of squids fishing from any local. They will lead you to a fishermen village which has traditional of squids fishing for decades in Dong Tien commune. According to a skilled fisherman, fishing squids is art. Because the fisherman has to understand everything about squids or he shall empty hand.
When go fishing, you have to stay on a small boat, sailing about 1 km off-shore and fishing whole night long. If you come with friend and family, you can ask the fisherman to take a break, grill what you have fished, take a beer and party in the middle of the sea. The delicious taste and flavor smell of grilled squids, the cool of ocean and the cheer of working make this’s the most memorable experience you might have in lifetime.
Even though, beware of bad weather. Big wind and high wave can turn your experience into a nightmare. Thus, you should ask for fishermen’s opinion before setting sail to the sea.
3. Discovering an off-the-beaten-track island: The small Co To
Located 1 km far from the major Co To, small Co To owns the most beautiful beaches of the archipelago. This is a military island and completely no resident.
The first impression is the perfect pristine, like the first day Robinson Crusoe in his island. White sand spread out around the island like a pearl necklace, around is the transparent turquoise water pouring the island, make it a beautiful charming picture. You can find here a lot of shellfish like barnacles or scallops. Burn some wood and grill them all, and you can slowly enjoy your “delicious” result. Small Co To is such a heaven for people who love adventure.
And then when the night falls, you can sleep over on the island, to experience a night in the wild. If you sleep over, you will have to prepare tent by yourself and other necessary stuff. Be careful and think twice because if there is any trouble happened, you have your own.
Tourist can hire wooden boats to get to small Co To island after 25 – 30 minutes. Each boat can carry 12 people. It cost VND 600,000 – 800,000/trip
V. WHAT TO EAT IN CO TO ISLAND, VIETNAM
1. Nail-shaped shellfish – The specialty of Quảng Ninh province
It sounds weird from the name, right? Its body is slim and long look like a finger and so are the shells. When you visit this charming island, remember to add this dish in your order. You will find it sweet and crispy flavor. Nail-shaped shellfish can be caught in every season in the year but mainly at the early rain season (from May to June) when the taste is most delicious. There are different dishes this shellfish can be used to cook, you can ask the local people for the recipe.
The price of Nail-shaped shellfish in local seafood market is VND 140,000 – 180,000/kg.
2. Jellyfish salad – A healthy, delicious dish from Co To Island
From January to March in moon calendar (usually from February to April in the normal calendar), the off-shore water of Co To island bright up in the night, it’s time to catch jellyfish. Jellyfish salad is crispy, juicy and the cool feeling melts in the mouth. The jellyfish after being processed and gotten through boiling water will be chopped into pieces. Then it will be mixed with other ingredients like papaya, small torn boiled chicken, herbs, lemon, etc. make its flavor is sour and sweet. This dish is very good for your stomach.
3. Grilled oysters – Grilled in Vietnam style in Co To Island
Co To Island is a suitable habitat for oysters. Therefore, oysters on this island have their own unique flavor. Oysters can be cooked into different dishes but in my point of view, grilled oyster is the best. Oysters after processing, they put in it a little oil then grill. When the meat turns yellow, add some scallions and peanuts and serve. Be careful to avoid overcooked, it will spoil oyster’s flavor and texture.
4. Sea cucumber – A healthy diet in Co To Island
Holothurian in Co To island charmed tourist in a different way. Sea cucumber is famous due to its nutrition elements. This food has really less lipid and no cholesterol. Sea cucumber’s meat is crispy, sweet and especially easy to absorb the flavor of ingredients. Therefore, depending on the recipe of the dish, holothurians are ready to blow your mind with its wonderful flavor.
5. Sa Sung – The natural gift in Co To Island, Vietnam
Sa Sung looks like giant worm hiding under the sand. It is a naturally sweet ingredient for soup on a totally different level. Sa Sung meat is soft and sweet. Sa Sung fried with onion is a special dish of Co To. Dried Sa Sung is popular too. You need to quick fry it and eat with chili sauce, take a beer and you are in heaven.
Fresh Sa Sung is in the best condition in only 2 hours after being caught, so you can find it easily in Co To seafood market for VND 50,000-70,000/kg. Dried Sa Sung is much expensive, about VND 1,000,000/kg.
6. Be Be – The mantis shrimps of Co To Island
This kind of shrimp was called in some places as the mantis shrimp. Its meat is tough and sweet. You might want to try Be Be steamed with beer and Be Be fried with salt. Be Be steamed with beer is the best way to keep all the flavor and nutrition. The meat becomes really sweet and has the smell of beer. Add some salt, lemon and mustard and you find it in your mind forever.
Be Be is a wonderful ingredient for the noodle broth. You definitely have to try it.
Be Be can be found during the year and doesn’t expensive. Be Be dried is a wonderful gift for your family.
7. Abalone – Nutritious dish in Co To island, Vietnam
Abalone in Vietnam is very rare. They can be found only in some place such as Co To island (Quang Ninh), Bach Long Vi island (Hai Phong) and Khanh Ninh (Khanh Hoa). It is one of the most royalty dishes that for a long time only be served for the king. Abalone is a very nutritious food which increases “man’s power”, prevents cancer, and many more. There are many dishes from abalone like abalone soup with mushroom, grilled abalone, fried abalone and abalone gruel.
8. Sea urchin – Don’t miss this dish when you were in Co To Island
Sea urchin is a dangerous creature when living, but a healthy delicious dish on the table. The meat is sweet, feeling cool and crunchy. There are 3 main dishes of sea urchin, which are grilled sea urchin, gruel sea urchin and raw sea urchin.
The sea urchin has long and sharp quills on the outside. The hardest time when processing sea urchin is remove all of its quills. It’s painful and cost a lot of time. When sea urchin becomes a tennis ball, chop it in the middle and remove all the organ. The meat is very less, stick on the skin like a star is the most value of this animal.
9. One-day dried squids – The specialty of Co To Island, Vietnam
Squids season in Co To is from April to July. The flesh squids after being caught will be processed and dried under the sun for a day. The special environment in Co To makes these dried squids a unique taste, sweet and tough but soft.
VI. WHERE TO GO IN CO TO ISLAND, VIETNAM
Now you restored your energy after tried the best dishes in Co To island, let’s stand up and explore the island
1. Cau My stones – The majestic of nature in Co To Island
A perfect combination of the ocean, the rock and the sky located at the south of the island. It’s a sedimentary rock system had been eroding for thousands of years and each rock layer have a different color make it a pure natural masterpiece. From the cliff, you can witness the most beautiful sunrise and sunset than anywhere else on the island. The perfect time to visit Cau My stones in June when the tourists haven’t too crowded yet, you are able to enjoy the pristine beauty of Co To and the majestic of the ocean.
2. Hong Van beach – The most beautiful beach in Co To Island
The most beautiful beach in Co To island. The water is turquoise, transparent and quiet. Where you can freely blend into nature. There are many activities occur at this location like Co To Park – where you can try many different awesome activities, BBQ party and sleepover in the beach. Watch the sunset on the beach is a romantic ideal. You can feel the fresh air when the last sunlight disappears behind the water, a purple romantic sky and the tide goes down, shows the smooth white sand to the horizon.
3. Co To lighthouse – A panoramic view of Co To Island
Located 70 m higher than sea level, Co To lighthouse is the highest peak in the island, where you can have the view over the whole island. It is one of more than 30 “night sea watching eyes” across the sea territory of Vietnam. This is another place that you can enjoy a wonderful sunset and sunrise.
Officers in the lighthouse are usually lack of water. You can be surprised when finding out how they fixed it.
4. Van Chay beach – The most peaceful beach in Co To Island
Van Chay beach lies in the Northwest of the island, 6 km far from Co To town. Here you can totally avoid the rush of modern life and spend time with family and friend. Unlike Hong Van, water in Van Chay is more energetic with 2 – 3 m high waves. You can hire equipment for snorkel driving, watching the variety of marine life. Or you can hire a playground to play volleyball with your companies. Stay in the beach overnight to watch the sunrise is also an interesting choice to consider.
5. The road of love – An ideal destination for couples in Co To Island
A 2km road lies in the middle of the island, 100 m far from the center of Co To town. The entire road is tiled with red bricks, both sides are 2 lines of poplars whispering in the wind and further is the coastline. A romantic atmosphere pours around to make it a perfect place for couples.
6. Small Co To Island – Experience the wild on an island
A military island that has no resident. Small Co To is truly an isolated island. You can hire a wooden boat from Co To island to arrive small Co To after 30 minutes. This island owns the most beautiful beaches in the entire archipelago. You can hire equipment to watch the wonderful marine life in here. You can collect shellfishes in the beach when the tide goes down and cook them. In addition, spend a night on a wild island is pretty cool. But make sure that you prepared everything necessary.
One more, nothing in this island is artificial yet so it’s your duty to keep it that way. Clear your trash and protect the forest.
VII. MUST-KNOW TIPS FOR A CO TO ISLAND TRIP
Prepare to face with seasickness, it is really awful. Use medicine if you need. Citrus peel can also help you effectively.
- Always ask carefully the price before buying anything, especially in tourist season. Some locals are very tricky and they will sell you stuffs for a really expensive price.
- Prepare water and snacks. Water in the island is very rare so it is not cheap. Besides, most of supply in the island came from mainland make it very expensive. Therefore, if you want something “not seafood”, buy it on the mainland.
- Don’t choose capsule room in front of the beach. They are really expensive and aren’t worth. These rooms are extremely many mosquitos as well as other bugs. In summer, it is baking hot because of roofing iron and very wet.
- District information office’s number: (+84) 2033 889 314
So that is everything you need to know for a wonderful trip to Co To island. The phone number and information were updated for 2018. Wish you find memorable memories in Co To.