Invisible from both road and air, Hospital Cave was strategically important in the Vietnam-American War.
Built from 1963-65 with the help of the Chinese, the concrete bombproof cave was laid out over three stories; the bottom two acted as a hospital where soldiers could rest, recuperate and relax, and the tiny third floor acted as a safe house for Viet Cong leaders. The shelter was equipped with access to fresh water and ventilation shafts, and there are even escape tunnels ready for the event of a quick getaway.
Hospital Cave was abandoned in 1975, but in recent years has become a popular attraction on Cat Ba, where English-speaking guides show visitors around, fully justifying the extremely cheap 15,000 dong entrance fee. Although the rooms are now empty, it’s possible to see the how the Hospital was once set up. It includes an operating theatre, doctors office, several recovery rooms, and a huge natural cavern that was used as a cinema room.
Know Before You Go
Hospital Cave is a popular stop off for day-trippers on Cat Ba Island. Located on the road linking Cat Ba town to the National Park and the ferry port to Haiphong and Halong city, but is difficult to get to without private transport. The easiest way to get there is to rent a scooter from one of the many rental shops in Cat Ba town (usually costing around 100,000 – 150,000 Vietnamese Dong) and then travel 10km North until signs for the cave appear. Cat Ba Island is one of the easiest places to ride a scooter in Vietnam, with mostly well maintained roads carrying little traffic. However, if scooters aren’t for you, then a taxi from the town is the next best option.
The Cave is located high up in the mountain, and there are steep and uneven flights of stone steps at both the entrance and exit of the cave.