Cat Ba – Vietnam – GRANDPAcking Costs

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My costs start at Hai Phong Airport and include:

  • A Moto Taxi to Ben Binh Harbour
  • Ferry and transfers from Ben Binh Harbour to Cat Ba Town
  • 11 nights in a Double Room in a Budget Hotel with Aircon (which was not needed) and Cable TV as well as a ‘simple’ breakfast
  • 1x Scooter Hire (with Petrol)
  • Mobile Data / Communications
  • Trips / Excursions
  • Visa cost apportionment
  • My costs of Getting Away to Cai Rong Ferry Port
  • Lots of partying and entertainment (I was there for Christmas and New Year)


For more detail, read about Cat Ba – Vietnam – Information.

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Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.


Cat Ba GRANDPAcking Costs


Accommodation: My accommodation was a ‘below GRANDPAcking Standard’ Double with mountainviews, aircon, in-room wifi and cable TV (with English sports and movie channels) on the Cat Ba Town waterfront. It had a simple breakfast included.

Transport: You can walk everywhere; including to the beaches. You don’t need bicycles and (unless you are arriving or departing) you don’t need taxis. I rented a scooter for 1 day to tour the island.

Communications & Fees: In Saigon, I had already purchased a 1 month Viettel SIMcard which I had already ‘topped up’ with another 1.5GB for VND120k in Nha Trang. This lasted me in Da Nang but I had to top it up again in Hoi An. This now had enough on it to last me until I left Vietnam. There are so many places providing free internet that I hardly used any of my data.

Food: I averaged  VND110k / day but I didn’t fully follow the ‘GRANDPAcking standard’. Having breakfast included in my hotel saved me about VND60k / day (food at VND30k and 2 coffees at VND15k each).

LIVING Costs: In Cat Ba I partied (I was there for Christmas and New Year). Under normal circumstances, my ‘Happy Hour’ evening drinks would have averaged about VND50k / night. However, I partied a lot and ended up spending an average of VND76k / night on beer, partying, and entertainment. I also rounded up the cost at the end of the night and left a few tips.

I also benefited from being in the Full Moon Party Hotel for Christmas and New Year as they threw a party on those 2 nights with free food and beer.

Thanks guys!

My ‘Cost of Existing / Day’ was VND253k / NZ$18 / US$12 / €11 / £8. This was my cheapest yet in Vietnam but, because of my cheaper accommodation, I was ‘backpacking’ rather than ‘GRANDPAcking’.

This put a ‘good’ budget roof over my head, gave me necessary transport & other basic necessities, fed me 3 times each day in ‘local cafes’ & cheap ‘westernised cafes’, and paid for my refreshments.

My available ‘LIVING Funds’ each day were VND888k / NZ$62 / US$42 / €39 / £29.

My actual GRANDPAcking costs came in at VND390k / NZ$27 / US$19 / €17 / £13 per day. This was only 34% of my total budget AFTER all of the fun that I had… I still had 66% of my budget left.

I had more than enough LIVING funds to have fun as and when I wanted to. I would, normally, have used up more of my LIVING funds SCUBA Diving, snorkelling, or going out on boat trips… but, alas, it was the wrong season for that. If I had, I would have eaten into that remaining 66%… and had a whale of a time!


Accommodation: You should be able to book a GRANDPAcking Standard room on-line for under VND300k / night (US$14 / night) for your first couple of nights. This should be on the Cat Ba Town waterfront and should include breakfast. For VND350k / night, you should be able to negotiate a long term rental in a nicer place with seaviews inclusive of a good breakfast. Make sure that you get breakfast included (and make sure that it’s a decent one).

Transport: I have included a shared scooter for 1 day each week (including petrol) so that you can get out of town on excursions.

Communications: I have included a prepaid 1 Month Viettel 3GB package with 30 minutes of talk time.

Food: Having breakfast included in your accommodation will save you about VND90k / day (and, should, provide you with a better breakfast) – but, you will still need to buy a couple of large bottles of water. For Lunch and Dinner, I have included a budget for eating in local cafes or on the street – there are many to choose from at this price. But, you will still need to shop around to find the ‘cheaper’ places to eat.

The ‘Costs Of Existence’ of 2 GRANDPAckers is about VND523k / NZ$38 / US$25 / €23 / £17 per day.

This is about VND621k per day to LIVE on (i.e. 54% of your GRANDPAcking budget).

With that money you could:

  • Upgrade your dinner and eat in a ‘westernised’ Restaurant (and still have VND300-400k left)
  • Drink 62 Happy Hour beers
  • Drink 20 Happy Hour cocktails
  • Rent 2 scooters with petrol for the day (and still have VND400k left)
  • Walk to the beach for the day free
  • Save up for 2 days and go on a boat around Ha Long Bay

With that amount of LIVING funds available each day, every day is a good day.


If you come to Vietnam and don’t come to Cat Ba, you will be missing out. BUT come in Shoulder Season when you get sunny weather and can get the best out of what the island has to offer.

In Cat Ba, you can LIVE a 3 STAR lifestyle on a Retired Couple’s State Pension.

However, I don’t think that it is a long-term destination… you will go ‘stir crazy’ if you stay too long. 1 month would be more than enough.

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