Posted By : Threeland Travel / Travel Guide (Top Tips & advice)
Hoi An, Da Nang, or Hand Golden Bridge may sound familiar with you as researching for your Vietnam Holidays. But Cham Island amongst Hoi An’s attractions may be the first time you’ve heard of. Cham Island (known as Cu Lao Cham in the Vietnamese language) has been recognized by UNESCO as one of the biosphere reserves of the World. With such special potentials and advantages, Cu Lao Cham is considered as the "Pearl of the East Sea". So is Cham Island worth visiting during your tight plan for Vietnam and Cambodia tour? Guides below will help you to find your proper answer.
WHERE IS CHAM ISLAND?
Situated in Quang Nam province in the central region of Vietnam, Cham island is a cluster consisting of eight small islands located about 15km from Cua Dai pier on Hoi An coast.
HOW TO GET TO CHAM ISLAND?
From Hoi An there are few ways to get to Cham Island:
Wooden boat to Cham Island - photo by Kristen Wells
1. By public ferry (the wooden boats): it’s the slowest with cheap fare than other means. It carries people and goods
- Departure: at 7:30 AM the ferry departures from Bach Dang Wharf, then stop by Cua Dai Pier on Hoi An coast for passengers pickup. Around 12 AM-13PM, the boat will turn back to Hoi An
- Distance: 90 minutes to arrive at Cham Island pier
- Only 1 round/day, every day
- Fee: around 100,000VND/way (4usd) for a foreigner, another 50,000vnd/way for a bike, and taking the ferry also requires a 70,000 VND (3 USD) entrance fee as per Quang Nam’s policy due to the Cham Islands being a marine protected area. By the ticket at Cua Dai Pier.
- Note: The public ferry is not recommended for people who are prone to seasickness
2. By speed boat: carry people only
- Distance: 20 minutes to arrive at Cham Island pier
- Fee: around 300,000VND/way (12usd) for a person included a 70,000 VND (3 USD) entrance fee as per Quang Nam’s policy due to the Cham Islands being a marine protected area. You could buy the ticket at your hotel or any travel agent in Hoi An/Da Nang, or even book directly with captains at Cua Dai pier. The speedboat fare may vary upon peak/low season, weekend, and public holiday.
- Note: Be aware that after 1:00 PM, the chance of getting a speedboat back to the mainland will begin to dwindle, thus plan your trip accordingly. To return to Hoi An from Cham Island, there are a few agents in Bai Lang that will arrange a ride for you. Depending on the time of day, the price may vary on what boats are available.
3. By private boat:
You can hire a private canoe for a personal and customizable experience, however, it’s not recommended as the price is fairly expensive (215usd for about 5 hours) and you hardly hire a private one during the peak season.
4. Organized tour:
Due to the limited time and boat from Cham Island back to Hoi An, buying an organized Cham Island tour may be a better choice. For the best representation of what the islands have to offer, you’d better opt to have a tour running from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m provides you with multiple snorkeling spots and ample time to soak up some rays on the beach.
Note: From Hoi An to the pier, you can easily take a bus, taxi or self-driving motorbike (parking at the pier). If you are in Danang, you can opt to go by bus, taxi or tourist car!
Read more: Boat trip to Cu Lao Cham tour
ACCOMMODATION IN CHAM ISLAND
There are only two villages on the island, Bai Lang and Bai Huong. You can find accommodation in both villages. There is no resorts or five-star hotels here. The main accommodation options here are guesthouses and homestays at prices ranging from 120,000 VND (5 USD) per person per night, and up to 600,000 VND (26 USD) per night for a room.
Useful tip: Chong beach is located between the two villages and is a comfortable place with chairs, restaurants, and shade. You can easily find a local restaurant here.
BEST TIME TO VISIT CHAM ISLAND
Photo: Instagram - Johnhiguera10
According to local’s advice, the ideal time to get the best trip to Cu Lao Cham is from March to August with pleasant weather, sunny sky, and tranquil sea. This time is very suitable for your excursions, picnics or shooting plans. In other months (September to February), Cu Lao Cham is almost isolated by rough seas, it begins to rain heavily and is generally attacked by storms.
Cau Ngu festival in Cham Island
• If you want to combine your Vietnam and Cambodia trip with a visit to Hoi An ancient town, better go in the full moon day (14th and 15th) of every lunar month when Hoi An is lightened up at the night with a tremendous amount of lanterns.
• Don’t skip festivals in Cham Island such as Cau Ngu (Cầu Ngư) festival (3rd and 4th of April of lunar calendar) or Gio To Nghe Yen (Giỗ Tổ Nghề Yến) (Anniversary of a death of Yen field at 9th and 10th of March of the lunar calendar) to participate in cultural rites of the inhabitants of the island
TOP MUST-VISIT ATTRACTIONS IN CHAM ISLAND
Cham Island Marine Museum
The first stop upon arrival is the Cu Lao Cham marine museum. This is where you can learn about the history, traditional customs, festivals, marine products ... of this island as well as help you have a panoramic view of the island and its people.
Address: Ong Beach (Bai Ong), Cham island
Hai Tang Pagoda
Hai Tang Pagoda is a religious architectural work devoted to worshiping Buddha in combination with holy worship to meet the religious beliefs of fishermen on Cu Lao Cham Island. Travelers are amazed by its unique ancient architecture and the mystical features. This destination is always a part of Vietnam and Cambodia Holidays package.
Address: Hon Lao Island, Cham island
Cham’s people ancient Well
Cu Lao Cham island has many typical historical relics characterized Champa culture, but the most impressive to the travelers when visiting here is Cham’s people ancient Well (also known as Cam Cam well), has been classified National monuments in 2006. This well is a source of fresh water for all people living on the island. Whether dry season or rainy season, this well never runs out of water.
Address: Xom Cam Village, Cham island
Tan Hiep Market
Each trip is not complete without shopping time. It’s time to walk around the Tan Hiep Market - the favorite destination for many travelers. This market is home to seafood, wild animal specialties, and various souvenirs. You can buy half-dried cuttlefish as a gift to bring back home.
Address: Cham Island Pier
Grilled sea snail
Useful tips: If you want your independence and mobility to explore the island, bikes are available to be rent. Bicycles rent are much easier and cheaper than a motorbike. For a 24-hour motorbike rent, it can cost you between 150,000 VND (6.50 USD) and 200,000 VND (8.60 USD). Please keep in mind that it’s safe to drive with the low speed due to the bumpy small roads.
TOP ACTIVITIES IN CHAM ISLAND
Cham island diving/snorkeling:
With its turquoise waters, Cham island provides visitors with snorkeling, diving and fishing opportunities, along with many powdery sand beaches to choose from. It’s a great chance to explore and be overwhelmed with the colorful coral reefs of Cham Island Biosphere Reserve. At the island pier, you can buy a ticket to go snorkeling with full equipment and a guide as well as the price around 200,000 VND (9usd)
Note: You should not do any harm to the coral reefs and refrain from touching the beautiful corals to protect the biodiversity of Cham island currently in danger of being destroyed.
If you can walk and breathe, you can Sea Trek. This is an unmissable experience for those who want to experience walking on the ocean floor in the unique environment and even hand feed the fish on the ocean floor
Island tour on boat and swimming
Hon Lao is the main island of the Cham cluster, and around Hon Lao, the other seven islands are just as beautiful as Hon Lao with crystal water and idyllic scenery. You can hire a boat to visit other islands. Normally, a boat can carry up to ten people and the owner will drive you to visit Hon Ba, Dao Yen (salangane island), and Bai Bim.
Useful tips: Bring along your swimming suit, you’ll have some time to comfortably immerse yourself in the immensity of the sea and have fun with the cool sea water in Bai Bim or others
Camping in Cham Island
In addition to hostels and homestays, you can go camping on your own to enjoy the wild environment of this island. Cu Lao Cham night is very quiet, there is not so much electric light as in the city so there is nothing more wonderful if you lie on the soft sand, listen to the whispering waves and watch the starry sky. This will be like a happy ending for your holidays in Vietnam and Cambodia :)
Camping on Cham island