Co To Island – A more remote and less visited island in Quang Ninh Province.
- Co To Island (Đảo Cô Tô) – another way to visit the South China Sea in northern Vietnam. Co To Island is located about 50 km from Cai Rong port in Quang Ninh province and is significantly less visited by foreign tourists. It is popular and visited mainly in the tourist season by Vietnamese visitors. I visited this island after the main tourist season, and you can also visit another closest island – (as from Quan Lan Island), this island is also accessible from Cai Rong port in Van Don. I can recommend this island for a few days beach realax.
Part of the Van Don archipelago, which includes hundreds of small islands.
- Like the Island of Quan Lan, Co Co Island is a part of the Van Don Archipelago, which consists of up to about 600 smaller islands. However, many of them are uninhabited and inaccessible to ordinary tourists. According to what I could see (buildings under construction, hotels …) I conclude that the Island is preparing for a slightly larger tourist boom, but that’s just my assumption. Co To Island was in 2016 accessible for foreign tourists only with special permission, but that changed and you can go to the island with your original passport (you will be checked in Cai Rong port).
Co To Island will offer some very nice beaches, but again the problem – the rubbish.
- Right after you arrive at the island, you will appear at the main town of the Co To Island (with the same name). Already near the town begins the first largest beach – Tinh Yeu Beach (Bãi tắm Tình Yêu). The beach was quite clean at the time of my visit, the water was calm, warm, with some exceptions at the end of the beach, where lots of brothels and plastics from the sea had already appeared, the beach was almost empty all day.
- 2. longest beach in the east of the island – Hong Van beach (Bãi tắm Hồng Vàn, about 3.5 km long), completely abandoned and unfortunately clogged with brothel and plastic, but the water was also clean. But this beach could be clean in the tourist season, because there are also some homestays or bungalows, but it is limited.
Main beaches on the Co To Island – Tinh Yeu, Hong Van, Van Chay, Bac Van.
- There are several beaches on the island, but the four beaches are the largest. The absolutely clean beach was at the time of my visit just a very nice beach Van Chay (Bãi tắm Vàn Chảy) in the northwestern part of the island. Unfortunately, other beaches, such as Bac Van Beach (Bãi tắm Bắc Vàn), have been clogged with plastics and brothels (this may not be the case in the tourist season).
- All these beaches are easily accessible and can be reached by motorbike or bicycle. You can ride the whole island on a motorcycle in 1 day very easy and fast.
The beaches on the island were practically completely deserted and without tourists.
- Visiting this island off-season means significantly less tourists, I was almost alone on almost every beach (only a few local people came to the evening). More limited services, but unfortunately unkempt beaches clogged with brothels. It is important to add, in the tourist season count with more visitors and perhaps tidy and clean beaches, some local people told me that they are cleaning these beaches in the tourist season, but I cannot really guarantee these words.
Co To Island in a lighter phase of urbanization, new hotels were build? Maybe.
- Also on the island during the time of my visit, there were several constructions of the new roads, which was a bit uncomfortable with the movement on the motorbike (a lot of dust) and some new roads were built and some new hotels/guesthouses were probably built. When and what exactly will stand in the future – I really do not know, just wish they will not destroy this island. Just somewhat similar pictures to Quan Lan Island – it was the same situation.
Movement around the island – on a motorbike, bike, or exceptionally by a hotel minibus.
- Co To Island is a smaller island, about 10×5 km in size. You can reach the nearest and the main beach on foot, but if you go further, I recommend to rent a motorcycle/scooter or bicycle. Where to rent a motorbike or bicycle in Co To? Ask directly where you will be staying – at the hotel/guesthouse, I believe they will help you and rent a motorbike. There is also a small petrol station just outside the city port.
- Some larger hotels also have small open minibuses on the island (similar to Quan Lan Island), which will take people to the hotel and take them to the beach for a small fee, or to the island tour. However, in the non-tourist season, these minibuses can be limited and you need to check out the driving times on site. Of course you can move on foot, but if you want to walk every day, I’m not sure 🙂
Mong Rong and Cau My coast – you can go on foot in the south of the island.
- In the south of the island, about 3km from the small town, there is a nice rocky coast of Mong Rong + Cau My (Điểm nhìn toàn cảnh Móng Rồng + Bãi đá Cầu Mỵ) with some interesting sea and island sightseeing spots. This place is easily accessible by motorbike/bicycle, but also very easy on foot. The place offers mainly very nice sunsets and a few bays/beaches for the evening (however, during my visit, a brothel and plastics were often seen).
Lighthouse in the middle of Co To Island – easily accessible by bike or motorcycle.
- In the middle of the northern part of the island, there is a lighthouse (Hải Đăng Cô Tô) which can be easily reached by motorbike, see map. The lighthouse has the best panoramic view of the entire island of Co To.
- You can use Google Maps for the whole movement and orientation on the island, as well as the main roads, as well as often smaller side roads eg to the beaches. Count on the fact that you will not be able to communicate with most people in English.
What are the roads and weather on the island and when to visit Co To Island?
- The island is intersected by several different small roads and small paths, as well as side field paths. The main roads and the bigger roads are in a good condition and moving in the island is very easy. Some minor paths may be unmaintained, but overall, moving on a motorbike is the best option. Some other roads at the time of my stay were being repaired and even completely new.
Tourist season on the Co To Island starts from May and ends in September.
- Tourist season on the Co To Island is almost the same as on Quan Lan Island – it starts from May and ends in September and temperatures are about 30 °C (may be higher). This period is also the best for swimming, in a non-tourist season, swimming in the sea may not be safe and, as already written, beaches can be unmaintained by mess and plastics. At the time of my stay, in November, the temperature was about 27 °C.
- Tourist season – more tourists, available services, sea is safe for swimming
- Non-tourist season – limited services, less tourists, not safe for swimming.
Where to eat and where to find accommodation on the Co To Island?
- The best place to eat is in the town of Co To, right by the harbor, the center of services, restaurants and shops, as well as the accommodation of this island. There is a sufficient number of different restaurants (predominantly seafood dishes) but also several cafes, even a small supermarket, shops (+ ATM) so everyone can choose almost everything. Of course, in remote villages outside the town, the choice is much smaller, so I recommend to buy some food/drinks for the trip if you go to the beach (most of the refreshments at the beach can be closed in the non-tourist season).
Hotels + Guesthouses on the Co To Island (Book online):
▶️ Homestay CôngAnh ▶️ CôTô Starlight Boutique Hotel ▶️ Sao555 Hotel ▶️ Coto Life-Mini Resort ▶️ Maldives Resort Co To ▶️ Homestay CoTo Haki ▶️ Cuong Thinh Homestay ▶️ Mai Linh Hotel
Guesthouses, homestays, hotels, bungalows/cottages – in the town or at the beach.
- Accommodation on the Co To Island – there are various accommodation options, in the town of Co To there are small hotels, guesthouses, homestays mostly average standard quality. Outside the town, for example, in the vicinity of beaches can be accommodation in the form of bungalows or cottages. Prices for accommodation may vary, ranging from about 10 – 70 USD/night/room.
More accommodation options will grow in the near future on the Co To Island.
- In the non-tourist season, there were other ongoing construction of some new hotels and other accommodation facilities or shops. The island will be more open to commercial tourism, so it is possible that the number of tourists and visitors will increase in the future. In many places, mainly in the middle of the island, new roads were being built and other roads were being repaired.
- However, Vietnamese arrive mainly in the tourist season (summer months), at this time, according to local people – beaches are clean (for such statements, however, I can not guarantee this information). There are significantly fewer tourists in the non-tourist period, but the beaches can be unkempt but on the other hand half-empty.
Frequently asked questions about Co To Island:
Where is Co To Island located?
- Co To Island is a part of Van Don Archipelago, located in Quang Ninh province, Van Don district. It is about 200 km from Hanoi to Cai Rong port and about 35 km by boat from Cai Rong port to Co To Island.
How to get and travel from Hanoi to Co To Island?
- Boats on Co To Island depart from Cai Rong harbor (Bến khách Cái Rồng, Cai Rong town). I recommend to go first from Hanoi to Ha Long and then by local bus to Cai Rong (Van Don). There is a public bus between Ha Long (Bai Chay bus station) and Cai Rong (Van Don), ticket costs about 30-50 000 VND, travel by bus from Ha Long to Van Don takes about 1-1.5 hours, the bus often stops, the bus stop is a short walk from the center of Cai Rong (about 1.5 km from the port). Travel by bus from Hanoi to Cai Rong (Van Don) takes about 5 hours (depends on the stopover in Ha Long).
- Boat ticket from Cai Rong port to Co To Island costs about 8-12 USD/pp, again you have to find out the exact times on the spot (there are about 2-3 boats every day). Boat tickets could be sometimes booked online at Baolau, but it has not been possible lately, but you can try Baolau tickets again. Boats from Cai Rong Port go to the main port in the western part of Co To Island. The harbor is approximately 600m from the town of Co To.
Where to stay on Co To, where to find some accommodation?
- I recommend to choose the town of Co To, about 600 m from the main boat port. There you will find several different guesthouses and hotels. There are plenty of restaurants, snacks, cafes and a small supermarket in the town, it’s an island base. You can use Airbnb and Agoda (search for Ha Long area and then choose your hotel from the map).
How to get from Co To Island back to Cai Rong?
- There are boats from the port of Co To Island. There is a boat terminal at the harbor where you can check out the boat departure times and buy a boat ticket.
How to get from Co To Island to Quan Lan?
- There should be a boat between these islands. However, my personal experience is that I wanted to make the trip, I asked for the boat at the boat terminal on the Co To Island and they told me “Yes, there is a boat at 8.00 am”. But when I came the next day, I was told that the boat unfortunately does not go. Unfortunately, I do not have more information, no one could explain the reason, so try to ask in this terminal.
What is the closest airport to Co To Island?
- The closes airport to Co To Island is Van Don International Airport, opened in the end of 2018. The airport is approximately 10 km from Cai Rong Port. You can get there by air from some destinations in central and southern Vietnam.
How large is Co To Island?
- Co To is a small island in the South China Sea, the size is approximately 15×8 km. The size could be compared to Quan Lan Island. In about 1 day you can ride the island on the motorbike.
What to see on Co To Island, what are the interesting places?
- Beaches on Co To Island – Tinh Yeu, Van Chay, Hong Van, Bac Van
- Rock area/coast – Mong Rong and Cau My on the south of the island
- Lighthouse in the northern part of the island (Hải Đăng Cô Tô)
- Monuments Souvenir Zone President Hu on the island of Co To
- A Buddhist temple with a bell – 3 km east of the town (Chùa Cô Tô)
- Churches Co To (Nhà thờ đảo Cô Tô)
What are the most beautiful beaches on Co To Island?
- For me, the most beautiful beach was Van Chay beach and then the main beach at Co To town – Tinh Yeu. Van Chay Beach was the cleanest beach on the island during my stay, with no garbage, really nice and clean, calm sea. Even the remaining 2 large beaches – Hong Van and Bac Van are not at all ugly, but unfortunately they have been messed up with plastics (it should be clean in the tourist season).
Where to rent a motorbike/bicycle on Co To Island?
- I didn’t see any official motorbike/scooter rental on the island, but it is possible in the near future it will change. So, ask at the hotel, I think they will help you, they have motorbikes and bicycles. Renting a motorbike costs the same as elsewhere in Vietnam – about 7-12 Usd/ 1 day, I personally rented a motorbike at the hotel.
How much is Co To Island visited?
- It depends when you come. There are only a few tourists in the non-tourist season, but the disadvantage is that the beaches are abandoned and unkempt. During my stay, I was alone on many beaches, without a single tourist. In the tourist season, however, the situation may be different and certainly more Vietnamese will come.
When is the tourist season on Co To Island?
- The tourist season on Co To Island (and also on Quan Lan Island) starts in May and ends in September. That means – many tourists, good time for swimming and available services. Average annual temperatures are up to 25 °C, in the tourist period they are about 30-35 °C.
Is it possible to buy some refreshments right on the beaches?
- At the time of my stay, almost all the restaurants and refreshment stands at all the beaches on Co To Island have been closed, in the tourist period the situation will certainly be different and the restaurants will be open. I recommend – take at least a drink on the trip with you if you go to the beach.
Is it necessary to travel to Co To Island with a tourist guide?
- No, it is not necessary, to travel to Co To Island with a tourist guide. The island is small, easy map orientation, you can not really get lost and there are no historical monuments on the island to which you would need expert commentary.
Is it neccesery to have some special travel permit to Co To Island?
- About 3 years ago, foreign tourists had to have a special permit to visit the Co To Island. However, this is no longer the case and you can simply get to the island with your travel passport. There is only a short immigration procedure in Cai Rong port (about 15 minutes), present your passport, the official will take your passport for a few minutes and then return and you can board the boat to Co To Island. There is no special fee.
Which closest islands of Co To Island you can visit?
- There are 2 significantly less urbanized islands that can be reached by boat, approximately 2km from Co To Island.
- Thanh Lan Island (Đảo Thanh Lân) – a relatively larger island, almost entirely wooded and with only 2 small villages.
- Co To Con Island (Đảo Cô Tô Con) – a tiny island with several beaches, designed for 1 day trips.
Guesthouses + Hotels on the Co To Island (Book online):
▶️ Homestay CôngAnh ▶️ Coto Jade Island ▶️ CôTô Starlight Boutique Hotel ▶️ Sao555 Hotel ▶️ Coto Life-Mini Resort ▶️ Maldives Resort Co To ▶️ Homestay CoTo Haki ▶️ Cuong Thinh Homestay ▶️ Mai Linh Hotel
Various photos of the Co To Island:
Ha Long Bay + Map icon-angle-double-right