My 5: Cat Ba Town – Cat Ba Island, Vietnam.

Cat Ba Town waterfront

1. Cat Ba Town, April 2018. At first glance, Cat Ba Island’s overdeveloped main drag is little more than an uninspiring stretch of toothy low-rises, beat-heavy bars, tout-inhabited tour offices and kebab carts. Easily the least impressive area of the island, I’m amazed that so many visitors choose to base themselves here. Having set myself up at a charming hostel out in the rugged countryside, it was nevertheless comforting to come into town for dinner at one of a handful of excellent cafes.

2. Cat Ba Town, April 2018. Get away from the main street and you can start to recover some sense of peace and beauty. A walk down the promenade showcases fine views of a floating restaurant village, nestled beneath a vaporous backdrop of misty mountains.

3. Cat Ba Town, April 2018. The town also boasts a sleepy, pretty harbour. It was nice to sit for a bit in the park on one of the benches and watch the odd boat going back and forth. For once, I was the one sittin’ doin’ nothin’.

4. Cat Ba Town, April 2018. Boat tours around the island leave from this terminal on the drag’s main square. It’s a popular meeting spot and a place for group photos and selfies. Which is strange, as it’s not particularly scenic. Still, I had a giggle watching this Vietnamese group going to great lengths to get the perfect shot.

5. Cat Ba Town, April 2018. You can find all the usual trappings in Cat Ba Town. There are plenty of bars, cafes, restaurants, massage parlors, souvenir shops and mini supermarkets. If you’re looking for the best place to eat, I thoroughly recommend Green Mango Restaurant and its wonderful Nom Ga dish: chopped chicken breast, rice noodles, carrots, peanuts, lemongrass and salad in a sweet and sour sauce.

There are a handful of worthwhile sights within walking distance of Cat Ba Town’s main drag. Check out my articles on Cat Ba Cannon Fort and Cat Co Cove 3.

And I’ve written more pieces from around Cat Ba Island.

Like these? Why not leaf through my many other 5s from all across Vietnam

Leighton Literature travel reports short stories travel blogger

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Freelance travel writer, voice over and English teacher from London. Former music and film journalist, interviewer of the stars. Passionate about travel, film, music, football, Indian food.

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