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I arrived in Cat Ba Island on 21st December 2015. This is ‘off season’ and it rains most days. Also, some days (and many nights) are quite cold so you need to wear long trousers and warm tops / jackets.
I planned to stay for nearly 2 weeks through to the 2nd January 2016; so, I was going to be there for Christmas and New Year.
It was going to be important to find the right spot…
I travelled from Hoi An to Cat Ba and landed at the boat pier on the north west of the island.
On the shuttle bus into Cat Ba Town, I could see that there weren’t many ‘out of town’ accommodation options to choose from.
In ‘off season’, Cat Ba Town was where I needed to be. There was no ‘extra value’ to be had from booking into a more expensive beach-side location.
My first booking was for a Delux Double with Sea View for US$10.80 / night; breakfast included.
The Delux Double was not available on my new dates, so I had to book the second best option: a Standard Double with breakfast for US$7.20 / night.
On BOOKING.COM changing the booking is easy to do.
There were no cancellation nor re-booking fees nor credit card adjustments to be made.
I just went to my online booking and made the change.
I got off of the shuttle bus on the Cat Ba Town waterfront. It was an easy 200m walk down the road to the Full Moon.
There were a couple of lads outside waiting for my arrival. When they spotted me, they called me in.
I checked into my room. It was a big room with a big ensuite and two double beds but it was ‘just below’ GRANDPAcking standard. It came with aircon, wall fans, and cable TV with English sports and movie channels.
On check-in, the receptionist apologised for the noise next door – where they were doing renovations. The noise wasn’t that bad and they only worked from 7am to about 5pm… so it didn’t concern me much.
WHERE TO STAY:
On my first full day in Cat Ba I went for a long walk around the beaches and Cat Ba Town.
The GRANDPAcking options were in Cat Ba Town. I spent the afternoon looking at the hotels on the waterfront.
I thought that it would be nice to get a room with a seaview – so I went in search of the best Seaview Double Room prices.
This is what I was able to negotiate for a promised 10 night stay:
The figure next to the property name is the ‘rating out of 10’ that the property gets in online reviews. Underneath the property name I show the square metrage of the room, the room rate (US$s) and whether or not Breakfast is included.
Whether or not breakfast is included is significant as, if you are anything like me, the simplest breakfast is going to cost you about VND70k (US$3) each per day:
- Fried Eggs or Omelette with Baguette (VND30k)
- 2x Black Vietnamese Coffee (VND15k each)
- Big Bottle of Water (VND10k)
You, obviously, pay a little bit more for a Seaview Room than you do for a ‘standard’ room.
But, even for Seaview rooms, it became obvious very quickly that you had to pay US$15 or more to get something better than the room that I already had at the Full Moon.
Many in the US$6-US$10 price range may have had the seaview but the rooms weren’t as nice and / or the rooms were a lot smaller.
You had to pay US$25 or more to get anything ‘significantly’ better than the others.
Full Moon Party Hotel:
They could only offer me a Mountainview Room including breakfast for US$7 / night.
I stopped late that afternoon, had a beer and thought about it…
I didn’t need a sea view and I would have to pay another US$18 / night to upgrade to anything significantly different.
That is VND400k per night – that is more than I needed every day for my food and drink.
I decided to stay at the Full Moon… I would use the money that I saved on accommodation to do some nice excursions.
Besides, I liked the boys that worked there; they were all very friendly. I had the feeling that this would be a fun place to stay and that I was going to meet a few good people during my stay.
I asked if they could give me a better room. They did.
I was moved out of my 6th floor room into a room on the 4th floor with mountain views.
This was still a ‘just did not make GRANDPAcker standard’ room. It came with aircon, wall fans, hot water ensuite, good in-room wifi (good enough to stream EPL soccer), and a cable TV with English sports and movie channels.
It is worth noting that all of the other places offered these things too.
The Full Moon won’t win any culinary awards for their breakfast.
You don’t have a choice, you get the same thing every morning:
- Two slices of toast
- A 1-egg plain omelette
- 2 small plain pancakes
- Free butter & Jam at the buffet table
- Free cucumber & tomato slices at the buffet table
- Free unlimited coffee / tea at the buffet table
You can buy a cold Big Water for VND20k; which is a bit expensive compared to other places. If you care about the extra VND10k per bottle, just pop down the road 20-30 metres to the Mini Mart… here you can by big waters for VND9k.
Alas, after deciding to stay in the Full Moon for another 10 nights, the renovations next door took a turn for the worse. The renovations got noisier and started with pneumatic drills at 7am!
If you choose the Full Moon, check on the state of the renovations first.
HOWEVER, once peak season comes, prices can almost double.
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