CAT BA ISLAND - Accommodations

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Over $70

Those looking for Cat Ba class have two choices.

Fronted by the okay Cat Co 1 beach and a garish pirate-themed water park, the Cat Ba turns off many first glimpsers – but once inside you’ll find the resort is newer and more stylish than the other high-end option. Opened in 2006, the 109-room resort is backed by rocky cliffs, has two pools and a tennis court. Rooms have white wicker armchairs, bed frames and desks, all with sea-facing balconies. ‘Superior’ rooms are a bit tight, not any less comfy than the more expensive ‘deluxe.’ The resort’s planning to add WiFi in the rooms.
Tel 0313-688-686;; Cat Co 1 beach; superior/deluxe rooms US$90/120, online promotions from US$72/97

This 39-room resort sits snug on the nicer of the resort beaches and is only reached by steps (a bit arduous for those trekking all day, perhaps). It’s more intimate than Cat Ba Island Resort, with its rooms’ balconies looking over the pool, beach bar and shaded lounge seats on the sand, but its rooms are a little cheap for what you pay for (superior rooms, about US$10 extra, have a bit more style). Contrary to the resort’s boasts, the beach is not private – as the tide of afternoon swimmers coming from Cat Ba town attest.
Tel 0313-887-366; [email protected]; Cat Co 3 Beach; standard/superior rooms US$99/109

$25 to $70

Only a couple hotels run this range, but are priced well beyond their worth. Yep, it’s either resorts or budget hotels, once again.

Under $25

Cheapie group tours tend to stick to the side streets way from the water: generally boiler-plate family-run budget hotels with typical tiled rooms and prices ranging from US$7 during the week to US$25 on weekends in summer. One with a nice English-speaking manager, and plenty of computers for Internet, is NGOC BICH (tel 0313-216-305; Nui Ngoc St), on the side street straight in front of the pier.

Of all things, this nice newby budget hotel, on the east end of Cat Ba’s waterfront, backs its sea-front room beds to the windows – so the focus is on the TV and pink walls, not the dipping sunset offshore! Anyway, it’s good-value, and the rooftop café has some good views for your morning eggs or afternoon ice coffees (they may put on Kenny G for you when you sit though). Elevator.
Tel 0313-888-309; rooms Mon-Wed US$20, Thu-Sun US$25

Pleasant 22-room hotel with generator-run power and an elevator is right across from the pier. Run by Mr Du (James), who speaks good English and is happy to chat over tea in the colorful lobby about Cat Ba, travel options or life. ‘There’s no restaurant because we want to keep it clean.’
Tel 0313-888-201; Nui Ngoc St; rooms in summer Mon-Thu US$15.60, Fri-Sat US$28, winter US$12

Cat Ba’s great budget-sleep secret is the ‘hidden Cat Co 2’ beach – reached by a suspended cliff-side walkway, where you can rent tents and eat in the (shockingly not overpriced) restaurant and take in the pleasant beach. There are showers (US$0.15), lockers (US$0.35) and tents (US$7.50) to use. You’ll be alone until hundreds of Vietnamese come for an hour or so around 4pm or 5pm.
Cat Co 2 beach; camping US$7.50

The Australian owner puts a lot of attention to the excellent second-floor pub, and far less for the OK rooms (or laundry service). It’s a common hub at nights for drinkers, and has a fun feel, no doubt. You’re certainly welcome to partake if you stay elsewhere though (and many do). It’s on the waterfront strip, right across from the pier.
Tel 0313-888-363; [email protected]; rooms with air-con from US$15