Coto island travel guide for first-time visitors

Ultimate Coto island travel guide

Coto island travel guide: Everything you need to know about the island

This article provides you with detailed information for a travel plan to Coto island, including our Coto Island travel guide,by Hanoi Eco Tour suggested itinerary, accommodation including hotels, motels, resorts and homestays, speed boat to CoTo and things to do and see in Coto.

Coto island is located in Co To Island Dist, Quang Ninh Province, 170 kilometres Northeast of Hanoi. The island is considered to have the most beautiful beaches in Northern Vietnam, together with Quan Lan island . Coming to the island, you’ll have chance to experience long white sandy beach, and see spectacular sunset view from Coto lighthouse. 

Things to see in Coto island

  Hong Vang beach in Coto island

  • Coto light house : The most common place for taking panoramic  view of the whole island 
  • Hong Van beach : It is located in the east of the island and 8 kilometers away from the town. It costs 6USD by motortaxi from the heart of the town to get there.  
  • Vang Chay beach : Located in the end of the island. An ideal place for watching the sunset 
  • Cau My Reef rock : A cool place for taking sunrise photography in the island
  • Small Coto island : The best place for swimming in the island with desserted beaches. 
  • Love of road : A quite romantic place for couples to walk and take a bike ride
  • Uncle Ho’ memorial house : Built in 1968, which is only 50 metres from seashore.  Located in Zone no 3, Coto town,  it is a relic complex in Coto island includes monument, stele pavilion, memorial house of Uncle Ho 

Read more : Top things to do in Coto island

Best time to travel to Co To island

The best time to visit the island is from early August to early November, the low season for domestic tourists. There will be plenty of Vietnamese tourists travelling during the summer time, from May to July, especially on the weekend from Friday to Sunday.

Hanoi to Coto island

Stage 1 : Take a bus/minivan from Hanoi to Cai Rong port

Van Don Xanh limousine : Transport service to Van Don

Van Don Xanh Limousine : Transfer service from Hanoi to Cai Rong port

Hanoi to Cai Rong port 
Travel distance200km
Duration4 hours
Ticket fare220.000VND to 260.000VND

From Hanoi, you have lots of choices with 30 daily departure, arriving in Van Don within 3.5 to 4 hours depending on traffic. There are five companies to choose from: Tam Bao Anh, Coto Ha Thanh, Van Don Xanh, Trung Thanh Limousine, Ninh Quynh Vip Car.

The ticket price ranges from 200.000VND to 260.000VND depending on which seat you pick. The 4 middle seats is the best choice with the most comfortable one, 260k per seat

In my opinion, Van Don Xanh and Coto Ha Thanh is the most recommended companies which offer good services. 

Schedule: The service is available from 5.00am to 8.00pm, every half an hour or one hour. I recommend taking the one leaves at 8.00am so you can get to the island around 1.30pm which is around lunch time. Please contact them for details

Tickets for all Hanoi to Van Don can be pre-booked via online booking platform VEXERE

Alternatively, you can take a taxi or private car from Hanoi to Van Don which costs around $130 USD to $140 USD one way by travelling via the new Expressway from Hanoi. I prefer roundtrip service, which saves lots of money, you only pay around $15 USD per night extra for overnight stay fee of the car. This can be arranged with your accommodation in Hanoi.

Contact no of Van Don Xanh Limousine :  (+84) 0964.240.240

Contact no of Coto Ha Thanh Limousine :(+84) 0978 901 901

You can also book a ticket online via the online booking platform VEXERE

Stage 2 : Take a speed boat from Cai Rong port to Coto island

Coto island speed boat

Speed boat to Coto island

After lunch, walk to the ticket office, there are a few choices there based on the schedule. I  often take Manh Quang Speed boat (Hotline : +84 912263597 or +84 985669276) departing at 14.00pm for 200,000VND/per person. Please make sure that you won’t get any sea sick when taking the speed boat. It takes a hour to get to Coto Island.

Stage 3 : An electriccar ride from the dock to your accommodation

Electric car is a good mean of transport around Coto island

Electric car ride in Coto island

Upon arrival at the island, please take a electric car hotel, they will charge 1USD/ per kilometer. Every trip is under 2 kilometres will be charged at least 2 USD. On the other hand, please contact your hotel where you stay to arrange a pick up at the port. Please send them your minivan & speed boat schedule to arrange the pick up by tuk tuk at the port in Co To Island

Havaco company also offer the Catamaran cruise from Cai Rong port to Coto island which takes 1 hour and 15 minute. 

Schedule and rate for Catamaran cruise from/to Van Don (Cai Rong port)

From Van Don : 7.00am, 11.00am, 13.30pm 

From Coto island to Van Don : 8.00am, 12.30pm, 14.30pm

Rate : 250,000VND ($12 USD) per ticket per way

Hanoi to Coto island by motorbike

Getting to the island on a motorbike is a fun, easy and flexible way to get to Coto island. You can stop wherever you want to relax, take photos. Because of the long-distance, I do recommend travelling with one big backpack per person only. If you are experienced in driving around Vietnam, then there is no problem. To be honest, the traffic in Vietnam is quite a challenge

From Hanoi to Cai Rong is 200km or 125 miles. You first get to the national highway No 1, then No 18. Turn left at the intersection of Tuan Chau – Bai Chay. Then keep going straight to the intersection of Van Don.

Take a right turn and cross Van Don bridge. You can choose to leave the bike at the port, the parking fee is around 20k per day or brings it with you to the island

There are two options of going to the island to choose from either by speed boat or wooden boat. To be honest with you, I prefer going by speed boat, especially Caramantan, the first five stars cruise to Coto from Cai Rong.

You no need to worry about seasick or strong wave when it comes to a windy day. The scenery from the port to Coto isn’t that beautiful because there isn’t much limestone rock formation like going to Quan Lan island. 

How to get to Coto island from Halong

Catamaran cruise : The finest way to get to Coto island

Catamaran cruise to Coto island

If you would like to combine your Halong bay tour with a trip to Coto island. There is now a choice to take a  Catamaran cruise from Tuan Chau port to Coto which takes 2 hours and 15 minutes.

The ticket values at 500,000VND ($23 USD) per way. The capacity is 300 passengers per trip. There are three ports for cruising Halong is Tuan Chau, Hon Gai and Sun Group. Check which port will you be taking the cruise trip. 

How to get around Coto island

By motorbike

2USD/ an hours  – Filling fuel by yourself

10USD/ whole day (From 8.00am to 5.00pm) – Filling fuel by yourself

15USD/ 24 hours – Filling fuel by yourself

Note : You are able to hire a motorbike at your accommodation such as hotel, motels, homestay

There are some places required 10USD for deposit.

No passport required if you hire a motorbike at your accommodation.

By Electric car :

There are many electric cars in the island. If you are travelling in a group, we recommend to hire an electric car which takes you to most of tourist attractions in the island. 50USD/ 7 seats electric car 60USD/ 9 seats electric car and 90USD for 14 seats electric car

Bike for rent 

 1 USD/ 1 hour

5USD/ whole day (From 8.00am to 5.00pm)

10USD / keeping the bike overnight.

Required : Valid passport and 200,000VND for deposit.

Motorbike taxi

It costs around 60 cents per kilometer. Every ride is under 1 kilometer will be charged 1,5 USD.  The best way is to negotiate with motor taxi driver. 

The distance to tourist spots from Coto town.

Coto island map

Coto island map

Translation from Vietnamese to English on the travel map of Coto island above

Bãi tăm : Beach

Thị trân : Town

Câu cảng : Harbour

Bãi đá : Reef rock

Con đường tình yêu : Love road

Khu : Zone

Đài tưởng niệm Hồ Chí Minh : Uncle Ho memorial monument

Bãi tăm Băc Vàn : Bac Van military port 

Câu cảng Thanh Lân : Pier for taking boat to Thanh Lan island 

Distance among attractions 

Coto town – Coto Wharf : 300 meters

Coto town  – Uncle Ho Statue : 150 meters

Coto town – Coto light house : 4 kilometers

Coto town – Hong Van beach : 5 kilometers

Coto town – Vang Chay beach : 8 kilometres

Coto town – Bac Van military port : 7 kilometers

Cotown town – Cau My reef rock : 1 kilometer

Coto island travel tips

These are local insider tips for travelling Coto island, written by an expert local guide from the island

Don’t travel Coto island during the high season, just for people watching only

You shouldn’t travel to Co To island is those national holidays such as 30th of April, 1st of May, during Vietnamese independence day 2nd of Sept. To be honest, there are too many Vietnamese tourists which won’t allow you to have a pleasant holiday.

May to August is considered a peak season in Vietnam. We suggest not to travel there at the weekend from Friday to Sunday to advoid disappointment for being with many people on the island. 

Eat from the street stalls 

For low cost food is to eat at local hawker stalls which is available in Mai Chau town and good for those who aren’t a big eater. There is a plenty of choices for breakfast and limited choice for lunch and dinner.

If you are staying far away from Coto town then having meal at your accommodation is the best way. I recommend to eat with local family if you are staying in a homestay.

Ask the staff at your accommodation for planning an itinerary with you

Before going out, please ask the hotel staff how many things that you want to do and they will help planning, when and where to go first to make a smooth trip for you. Especially, arranging a trip by hiring a boat in advance to make sure its availability and reasonable cost. There is also language barrier in Coto island because, there aren’t many people are able to speak English. 

Hire a scooter for getting around 

Only 10USD, you can hire a scooter and get around on your own which save lots of money than going on a private electric bus.There is a very few vehicles on the island, there’s no big deal about driving around the island. 


As far as you know, burgaining in Vietnam is common and Coto island isn’t an exception. Dealing wityh street vendors, hawker stalls, sellers at the local market is an art. I can’t tell you how many percent which you should offer for an discount. 

Take enough cash

If you rely on paying by credit card or withdraw money from an ATM every day to pay for your personal expenses, you might be not happy. On the other hand, each transaction is only allows you to get 2 million dongs ($90 USD). Remember cash is king for traveling Coto island to advoid any inconvenience. 

Prepare enough medicine

Coto is a small town, so it is hard to find an English speaking doctor, good health care service, or a good phamary. The closet hospital with English speaking doctors in Halong city, which is 1 hour by boat to the mainland and another 1.5 hours drive so take along with you all the medicines you need. 

Bring a simcard for internet use. Suggested service providers : Vinaphone and Viettel. Vietnam mobile is low connection here. To be, Vinaphone is the best service provider in term of 4G internet in Vietnam. 

Going on a guided tour for unique experiences

Basicly, you can travel Coto island without going on a guided tour. But for unique experiences, you do need a guided tour, for example, fishing trip with locals, walking along the forest, taking a boat trip to the small Coto in less touristy part . It is impossible to do it on your own. 

Travel on a very first 5 stars Catamaran cruise

Officially opens on 20th of Apirl, this is the best ever Catamaran cruise for traveling from the mainland to Coto island and all Northern Vietnam. The ticket costs $12 USD per person from Cai Rong port (Van Don) to Coto island. Worry-free for sea sick and strong wave. This is a cool experience I have to say. 

Enjoy a BBQ seafood dinner on the beach

Best ever dining experience for honeymoon couples, group of friends with awesome food, cool atmostphere, romatic secene with lights and candle sticks. Please note that BBQ in the cave or on the beach is now forbidden in the Halong and Bai Tu Long bay area. 

Check the weather forcast before traveling

The typhoon season starts in June and ends at early Octorber. Make sure that you check the weather forcast in advance because the boats and tours to Coto island will be cancelled because of bad weather conditions.

Please don’t worry too much because there’s one or two typhoons every month during the typhoon season. 

Where to stay in Co To island

Bungalow on Coto island

Bungalow on the beach in Coto island

There is a ton of homestays, hotels, bungalows, mini resorts in Coto island to choose from, I will list some of the good ones in my opinion. I can find out more at Air Bnb, and Expedia

Co To Centre Homestay :

A true home away from home about 1 miles away from Co To town. You can easily walk to Uncle Ho Beach which is only 400 meters. There are 7 rooms in the homestay .

There are 3 old rooms and 4 brand new rooms which is built in 2017 . The cost is about 25USD/new room and 15USD for old room. All room are equipped with hot shower and air-conditioning.  

There is a garden on the right hand side of the homestay, you may capture a nice photo of the beautiful flowers in the garden.

Hai Mai motel

The motel is located 50metres from Vang Chay beach. The room has standard facilities and wide room. You can order food at the motel at affordable cost. The room rate is from 20USD to 30USD/ per night, depends on the season

Co To Eco Lodge

located 200m far from Hong Van beach. Coto Eco Lodge offer high quality room , quite location to suite for those who like peaceful setting after a long travelling day.

Coto Life

It is a mini resort with 100% bungalow room by wood, this is a true romantic paradise for couples . You can order BBQ dinner on the beach which costs 15USD/ per person. The room rate is around 40USD from Monday to Friday and 50USD/per room on Saturday and Sunday.

Thai Ha hotel

It is one of the most beautiful hotels in Co to island , which is located right in the heart of the island, 500 metres from the wharf.

Khanh Linh hotel

It is located in the centre of the town. This is a good choice for backpacker and indepent travellers.

Golden Coto Hotel

It is a new hotel in the heart of Coto island . There are 40 rooms in the hotel with fully equipped with hot shower, air conditioning and so on.

Note : Stay in an accommodation in the town just in case I would like to travel conveniently or it will be people watching when it comes to the tourist season from May to August (especially the weekend)


What to eat in Co to island

Seafood dinner in Coto island

A BBQ seafood dinner at a homestay in Coto island

To be honest, you are not able to find a good restaurant which is offer good service and tourist standard unless you stay in Coto town. Please note that the food quality is average and its services is just okay.

My advise is to order meals like lunch and dinner at your accommodation. Homestay is a way better with fresh seafood , good cook  and reasonable price as well.

There is an array of choices for restaurant in Coto town which is near the harbour. 

Nightlife in Coto island

Coto nightlfe

Golden Cafe and Louge in Coto island

In fact, there is a few cafes and pubs available. there is only one famous coffee shop which is in the town . I have forgotten its name. The drink is inexpensive , which is only 2 USD/per drink, depends on what you order. Goden Cafe and Louge is a good choice for Westerners. 

ATM in Coto island

There is only 1 Agribank ATM( see here) located in the town. Maximum transaction is only 2 million VND which is equal to 90USD.

Hospital and heathcare center in Coto island

Coto Health Centre (See here): Vietnamese are spoken. If you are a foreigner then you do need an interpreter. If you book a guided tour from Hanoi, then your tour guide will be the interpreter as well.

Address : Zone 2, Coto town

Phone : +84 (203) 3889229

What to bring for traveling Coto island

Sun scream, sun-glasses, inspect spray, hat, umbrella, cash in local currency, warm clothes from late November to late March, valid passport for Non Vietnamese citizens.

Suggested itinerary for traveling Coto island

Day 1 : Minivan from Hanoi – Co To Island

Please follow the information of how to get there above to get to the island. You will be arriving in the island around 3.00pm then take a rest at your accommodation. If you like to see amazing sunset view, please hire a motorbike which cost 10USD/per day excluded fuel to get to Coto Light house and Vang Chay beach

Note : If you hire a motorbike somewhere not at your accommodation, you need to show your passport.

Day 2 : Coto Island Discovery

  • Watch the sunrise at Cau My Reef rock at 5.00am . Then keep driving on your scooter to these attractractions. Mong Rong rock area, My bridge, Mr. Minh Cape- the most magnificient wonder in Co To island. 
  • Bac Van Military Port
  • Boat trip to the small Coto island. An awesome places for swimming in the island area.  Please remember to bring your own towels from your accommodation. On the other hand, there is no toilet on the little island.
  • Enjoy the picnic lunch on the small Coto island
  • Check out one of the most  beautiful beaches in the island :  Van Chay

Day 3 : Morning market – Speed boat to Cai Rong port – Hanoi.

Wake up in the morning to see local market then have tasty breakfast in the market . to see 360 degrees panoramic view of the whole island. Have free time at the island. Have lunch Take 13.30am speed boat By Kalong company (Hotline : +84 1654.156.156, 200,000/ per person) (back to the wharf around 14.30pm for Van Don Xanh limousine back to Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi around 19.30pm  

Read more : Coto island discovery

Questions and answers about traveling Coto island

Do foreigners need permission when visiting the island?

No, you don’t. Just go to the ticket booth and show your passport to get a ticket for speed boat to Coto island. Since 3rd of Sep, 2015, you are freely to visit the island without permission as earlier

Can you extend your trip to Coto island after Halong bay?

Yes, you can. There is a direct Catamaran cruise from Tuan Chau port to Coto island

Is there any places for money exchange in Coto island?

Money exchange is available at Aribank (Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 5.00pm). There are hotels, homestays and resorts offer this service as well but exchange rate is lower than the market.

What should I do if I get stucked by a typhoon ?

Well, just sit back and relax. Next, wait until the typhoon stop for the soonest boat trip back to the mainland.

What is the closest airport of Coto island?

Van Don airport is only 4 miles way from Cai Rong port. There are flights to Central and Sourthern Vietnam. 

Is there any volunteer works available in Coto island?

Coto Youth Union has organised lots of voluntary activities of educational project, collecting rubbish on the sea during off-season.

How long should I stay in Coto island?

My advice is to stay there at least 3 days 2 nights cause you spend 4.5 hours (drive + boat trip) to the island for 1 way. 

Where should I stay? in the town or in the village or near the beach?

Well, there is an elephant in a room.

If you like confortable stay, then the town is the best choice with lots of nearby cafes, restaurants and local eateriers

If you are a fan of beach gateway. For sure, staying in a mini resort on the beach will be your perfect choice

To be, staying in a homestay 1 mile from the town is the best which is in between beach and the town. 

When to see the rice field in Coto island?

For rice harvest season, late May and early Octorber is the best time to see the rice field in Coto island

Is the beach clean when is off-season?

It is less clean when it comes to off-season but there are volunteers from the Youth Union to support cleaning at that time. 

What is the attractions nearby Coto island to visit?

Thanh Lan island is a great place for well off the beaten track with lots of desserted beaches and unexplored area

Quan Lan island is another island famous for beach gateway and less tourist and less developed than Coto island

What can I eat if you I can’t eat seafoods?

There is an array of food choices from seafood, meat to vegetables. Please be sure that you should inform your accommodation in advance with a speacial food request. Bear in mind, some homestays don’t offer breakast so please check carefully

Recommended tour : Hanoi Eco Tour offer Coto island tour in 3 days

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Written by David Nguyen from Hanoi Eco Tour

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David Nguyen : Freelancer tour guide as well as a passionate writer for Hanoi Eco Tour, who has been working over 10 years in the tourism industry. All articles are written by him from his REAL travel experiences, down to earth and unique.

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