Affordable heaven

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2008, 12:00am

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Picture the scene You don't have to be a millionaire to enjoy a honeymoon on a private island. Cat Ba Island itself is a very public place, increasingly populated by tour groups and backpackers making their way over on the daily one-hour fast ferries from Haiphong, but the island is the base for exploring the thousands of deserted islands around it. So many in fact that it's quite easy to pick one out and have it all to yourself at least until sunset when it's time to return to Cat Ba Town. A small boat for the day for two with lunch should cost between US$50 and US$100.

Best time to go May or October

Upside It's cheap in Cat Ba but you don't have to rough it. There is a comfortable resort on one side of the island - the Sunrise Beach Resort - with rooms for about US$100 a night.

Downside You may have an idyllic island to yourself during the day but it's a different story in the evenings if you venture into Cat Ba Town. You will find yourself transported from paradise to some people's idea of holiday hell - a rapidly-developing seafront strip crawling with backpackers.

Getting there and costs Fly to Hanoi and arrange private transport to Haiphong (100km) where the fast ferry to Cat Ba Island leaves at about lunchtime every day. Outside the resorts, hotels on Cat Ba Island are plentiful and mostly basic, costing from US$15 a night.