My 5: Sweet Potato Homestay – Cat Ba Island, Vietnam.

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1. Sweet Potato Homestay, April 2018. If I could only give one piece of advice to someone planning a trip to Cat Ba Island, it would be a categorical “Don’t stay in Cat Ba Town!!!” Check out My 5 on Cat Ba Town for more info. Instead, base yourself at one of the many charming guesthouses out on the island’s deep country lanes. You’ll be closer to The National Park and the Hospital Cave, while your nighttime meal comes with the gentle backdrop of buzzing grasshoppers. My Cat Ba base was the excellent Sweet Potato Homestay, a family-owned hostel famed for its laid-back vibe and friendly service.

2. Sweet Potato Homestay, April 2018. Sweet Potato’s dorms are basic, but clean and functional. Each bed comes with a fan, multiple plug sockets, a reading light and a sizeable locker for your backpack. I was overjoyed to have this dorm all to myself that first night, while for days two and three the arrival of a Canadian guy meant there were two of us in the eight-man dorm. What an inconvenience 😉 

3. Sweet Potato Homestay, April 2018. Sweet Potato’s ground floor bar/café is always a peaceful place to grab breakfast or dinner and your morning meal is usually included in the nightly rate. The wifi was reliable, never letting me down during my daily sessions of photo editing.

4. Sweet Potato Homestay, April 2018. The hostel is owned and managed by a Vietnamese husband and wife, Dai and Trang. And I think it’s these guys that make Sweet Potato as special as it is. They really are as friendly and helpful as all those TripAdvisor reviews suggest. In fact, Dai was essential in getting me around the island to see the sights. I wasn’t keen on driving a scooter, so he conscientiously took me over to The Hospital Cave and later picked me up from the national park to take me back to Sweet Potato. His charges for these journeys were very reasonable, cheaper than a moto taxi and it saved me the hassle of haggling.

5. Sweet Potato Homestay, April 2018. Sweet Potato’s resident pooch is pretty friendly too. Each night, as I did my photo work, he’d jump up on my lap and watch me type before falling asleep. Plus he also had great selfie game! When the time came for me to bid Cat Ba Island farewell, my final bill came in at 1.4 million VND (£46/€53/$61). The itemized breakdown? 3 nights board with breakfast, a pizza, a coke, a passion fruit juice, an egg fried rice, a bag of laundry, two motorbike taxis and a full day’s boat cruise around Lan Ha and Halong Bays through Green Trail tours. 

Like this? Then take a look at my other articles from Cat Ba Island.

And I’ve written many more 5s from all over Vietnam.

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