Prior to arriving in Cat Ba, I'd never heard of Phong Nha before. When I got to my hostel, though, I looked at the list of options by bus and Phong Nha happened to be between Cat Ba and the next stop on my list, Hoi An. A quick Google image search gave me lots of gorgeous pictures of caves and jungle, so I decided to book the ticket. I would take a bus leaving at noon, first to a town called Ninh Binh, about 6 hours from Cat Ba, and then overnight to Phong Nha, arriving around 4am. Everyone I met in Cat Ba that had been to Phong Nha recommended the same hostel: Easy Tiger. It wasn't on the usual booking websites I used, so I had to email them to make my reservation, but they luckily had 3 nights available on the short notice I gave them.
Cat Ba Island wasn’t on my original itinerary for Vietnam, but seeing the world famous Ha Long Bay has been on my bucket list for a long time. I originally planned to skip Cat Ba because it was so far out of the way on my north-to-south plan and I had thought I’d be wanting to spend a week in each place on my itinerary. So far on my trip, I’ve found 2-3 nights per place to be the perfect amount of time, so I decided to wing it and see where I can get cheap bus tickets to and just make my way down. As long as I’m in Siem Reap, Cambodia by July 13, everything is golden.