Elevation: 229 ft
GPS: 20.771, 106.996 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Ken H on Mar 18, 2011 with updates from ALee R
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Butterfly Valley or Lien Minh has the largest concentration of routes on Cat Ba Island. The land is private and owned by several families in the valley. Passes to climb in the area must be purchased for approximately 50,000 Dong/day (Approximately 2.50 USD.) You can purchase these passes at "The Hive" (a family home and restaurant) that caters to local climbers or at the Asia Outdoors (Formerly Slo Pony Adventures) office.

Butterfly Valley itself is an isolated area at the heart of Cat Ba island. It is home to around 60 sport routes (and more are being bolted.) The rock itself is tufa-covered limestone with a variety of overhung and steep routes.

Vietnam is tropical and muggy a good deal of the year, so it's recommended to bring light rain gear and bug spray if you're prone to attract mosquitoes. Since a lot of the routes are fairly steep, some routes will remain dry, even in rainy conditions.

Getting There

There are two main ways of getting to Butterfly Valley, one is with a guide, the second is on your own. If you talk to Asia Outdoors you can pay for a guide (depending on how many people are working) to show you the ropes and teach you basic to advanced climbing techniques. If you're trying to maximize your dollars and you've climbed before, definitely opt for getting there on your own.

The most practical way of getting to Butterfly Valley is to rent a motorbike in the town of Cat Ba. Most or many restaurants will rent bikes for around 70,000 VND per day. These come with helmets. HELMET LAWS ARE STRICT IN VIETNAM. Wear them or you face very large fines, both as a local and even more as a tourist. Check the fuel before you go, you can fill up on the way to the crag. Approximately 1 liter should be enough to get you there and back. Be sure to check the price of fuel and show the appropriate amount of money to the attendant, otherwise, they will fill your tank.

The roads are narrow and full of curves and turns, and if you're not used to riding a motorbike, definitely ride it around town to get used to it. You may encounter tour buses or other motorbikes while riding out there.

As for actually getting there, Asia Outdoors has the new guidebook, which should have a map. You can also purchase a drawn map if you're not looking to get the guide. asiaoutdoors.com.vn/climber…


Most people stay in Cat Ba, and accommodation can be found easily since it's a tourist town. The land in/around Butterfly Valley is private so camping is generally not an option.

The owners of The Hive are great cooks and can make you a tasty meal for around 70,000 Dong. You can organize this with Asia Outdoors, or directly with the family. However, their English is not fluent and it would be best if you had a decent understanding of Vietnamese.

Obviously, you can also bring your own snacks, Cat Ba has multiple markets, restaurants and a sandwich place to get your fix.

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l rs  
RU kidding- stay AWAY from SLO PONY- they are NOT climbers- they are after MONEY ONLY. Jul 27, 2012
Tyler Quesnel   Eliot
I disagree with the comment above. It's been a couple years since I was in Vietnam, but I felt Slo Pony was helpful and what fees they did charge were nominal. Dec 6, 2012
"they are after MONEY ONLY." -> Not particularly. I mean, they're a western company operating in Vietnam ... not much money is to be made.

Slo Pony (now Asia Outdoors) is a legitimate organization. I had the opportunity to work with them for about 5 months and enjoyed my time. Ownership of the business has changed since me being there, so I'm unsure how that has effected the services. But, in my experience, they're friendly, passionate about climbing, and in business for the right reasons. Apr 14, 2014
I found the tour rate and gear rental rates fair. Took a DWS trip (very fun) and rented gear to go sport climbing at a nearby crag (BV). Its been said the grades are slightly soft here which may be so but there are some tricky starts and a couple slippery finishes here, or so it seemed to me anyway.

The staff all climb. Some quite well. As I observed, anyway, so I'm not sure what the issue from the earlier commenter was/is, but its two years on now. They keep whiteboards with all the latest beta on the tides for DWS, status of routes (issues with animals, nests, etc are updated frequently) and they are very engaged in keeping the routes up and clean as far as I could tell. Oct 27, 2014
Ken H
Granite, UT
Ken H   Granite, UT
Nick I'm not exactly sure where your comments are directed?

I have no personal interests in Vietnam. I visited Cat Ba in 2011 and wrote about my experiences about a country I visited once for 10 days. Maybe you think I shouldn't have posted anything about my visit because I lacked sufficient details. Well I'm pretty sure some of those who used these pages might disagree.

If you're looking for directions: I recall feeling the guidebook was required to find Butterfly Valley and do not wish to mislead anyone with poor information. After visiting once I found it fairly easy to return to but the first blast off on a motorbike into the jungle was an adventure when we were there.

Pay to climb: Yes when I visited you had to pay to climb. I saw no way around it.
-Butterfly Valley: From the comments it sounds like it will cost about $2/day/person to climb at Butterfly Valley. Plus the cost of a motorbike and gas (maybe $4/day).
-Ha Long Bay: Seems like Asia Outdoors is the only game in town still. asiaoutdoors.com.vn/indepen…
Website says 600,000 VND ($26 conversion at this time) for a seat on the boat if it is going out. I don't know how you'd find your way if you were not on one of their tours.

Asia Outdoors: clearly from the comments visitors have differing experiences with this operator. I can't say I find it surprising some visitors might have had a bad experience.

Many climbers find two items shocking visiting Cat Ba: Deep water soloing in the area is dependent on the tides AND you will have to pay money everyday you want to climb. After you experience the VISA process for a communist country this may be less shocking. If you find either of these items unacceptable you may want to skip visiting Cat Ba. Jan 4, 2016
Luca Dg  

When they first told me that I had to pay to climb I was shocked. But I ended up working three months for Asia Outdoors and the reasons for the access passes are very good: Obtaining access permissions to climbing areas has been a complicated and time consuming process. Most crags are located inside UNESCO World Heritage boundaries, National Park or military areas, and on private land. Asia Outdoors’ founders invested immense effort to secure the necessary licenses that now allow you to climb here. Also Asia Outdoors is paying a monthly rent to the owners of Butterfly Valley and most of the other crags. Through your contribution Asia Outdoors can continue renting the land and ensuring the crag’s safety and further development. I think this explains it pretty well.


Having worked for them I have a pretty good insight in this company. First of all you have to understand that it is a company and as such is working for a profit. But I can guarantee that nobody is getting rich. In fact it is very hard to operate a climbing business in a country like Vietnam, where climbing is not a recognised sport. The authorities look suspiciously at climbing and are afraid of bad press in case of a serious accident. It has been extremely difficult to set up this business and maintain good relationships with the authorities. The people I have worked with (2015-2016) were all super nice and super motivated climbers. They were all very helpful to independent climbers as well and many of those stayed to volunteer for a while as climbing guides. Also until now (December 2016) Asia Outdoors is the only licensed climbing operator of the area. Asia Outdoors has set up the great majority of the climbs in and around Cat Ba and written the two existing guidebooks of the area. Yes, it is not cheap, but the reason for the price is not greed, but the hidden costs like the quick gear deterioration in the marine environment and the rent that Asia Outdoors pays to the land owners and for the licence to operate. Dec 30, 2016
Luca Dg  

Hello climbers,
if you are interested in climbing in Ha Long Bay or Cat Ba Island you might be interested in the new guidebook of the area. It was commissioned and published by Asia Outdoors in 2016. It is now on sale at the Asia Outdoors shop on Cat Ba Island and on the major Amazon sites (17 GBP, 20 Dollars, 20 Euro). The 140 page guidebook contains more than 120 sport climbing routes on 13 crags, from 4a to 8a, more than 230 deep water solo lines on 24 cliffs, from 4a to 7c+ and 30 pages with additional information (climbing pics, maps, access info, rock climbing history, climate and geology, and other useful information).

Guidebook excerpt: EXCERPT
AMAZON.COM (Also available on Amazon EU and UK)

Have fun!

Dec 31, 2016