Vietnam has been bestowed with more than 4,000 splendid islands, which has significantly contributed to the growth of national marine tourism. Some are really well-known like Phu Quoc, Cat Ba, but others are still hidden gems that need discovering. For nature lovers, you have to visit one of these top 10 paradise islands at least once in your lifetime.
Con Dao Island (South Vietnam)
Also, Con Dao island has an important part in Vietnamese history. Here, you can see the French colonial prisons and learn more about the Vietnam war.
Phu Quoc Island (South Vietnam)
When you picture the most idyllic island imaginable, it is highly likely that an image of Phu Quoc springs to mind. With pristine turquoise waters surrounding the palm tree-lined perfect white sands of the beaches, it really is paradise on earth.
Lying off the coast of Cambodia, the island is very mountainous and beautifully cloaked in dense jungle. It is quite large, so there is loads for you to see and do. Because it is becoming increasingly popular, it is a good idea to book ahead and reserve a place at one of the numerous resorts dotting the island.
Renting a motorbike is a fun way to get around Phu Quoc and perfect if you want to enjoy all that is going on at Long Beach while staying somewhere a bit quieter. Sao Beach is ideal for relaxing on and there are some smaller beaches around, where you will almost certainly be the only person for kilometers – although rubbish does, unfortunately, wash up from time to time.
Whether it’s snorkeling the coral reefs, kayaking around the island’s small inlets or delighting in the local cuisine, Phu Quoc is an absolute joy of a place to visit.
Cham Islands (Central Vietnam)
A tiny collection of islands just off the coast of central Vietnam, the Cham Islands have been accessible to foreign tourists for some years now. Despite being within easy reach of one of Vietnam’s most famous tourist spots,Hoi An, development has been slow. Only the largest island is inhabited and it’s here that you’ll find tantalizing ribbons of white sand, blue bays and densely forested hills. Most of the tourism here is based around day trips on boats from Hoi An, including beach-hopping, snorkeling and seafood lunches. However, for more intrepid travellers, it’s possible to escape the day-tripping crowds by travelling to the islands independently via public boat and then camping on the beach. But you’ll need time and patience to do this.
What to do?
Diving, snorkeling and swimming are the most popular activities on and around the islands (see image below). Most day tours from Hoi An have snorkeling equipment. Diving can be arranged through The Dive Bar in Hoi An. Cycling around the island on its beautiful (but very steep) coastal roads is the best way to explore the beaches. Hire a bike from Hoi An and take it on the public ferry to the island.
Where is it?
The Cham Islands are around 20km off the central Vietnamese coast, east of Hoi An and Danang. There are 8 islands in this mini-archipelago, but only one, Hon Lao, is inhabited but this is known to most travellers simply as Cham Island.
When to go?
Late spring to late summer is best: the weather is warm and sunny most days, but there are still plenty of tropical downpours around. During the winter months, seas can be rough and temperatures pretty chilly (for Vietnam). Avoid weekends and public holidays, when the island’s beaches become crowded with domestic tourists.
How to get there?
Many tour operators in Hoi An can arrange day trip packages to the Cham Islands, including transport. Alternatively, there is a daily local ferry (2 hours) leaving Hoi An in the morning, which allows you to travel to the islands independently. You can even take a bicycle with you to amble around the island on two wheels.
Ly Son (Central Vietnam)
Known as the remnant of a volcano approximately 25 million years ago, Ly Son Island today, one of the best islands in Vietnam, is more popular with tourists who are curious about special garlic field and marvelous lava rock mountains along the seaside.
If you love the placidness and adventurous drive, just try watching moonlight on the Thoi Loi peak and letting serene sound of waves lull you into sleep by renting a tent on the seashore.
How to get there
Ly Son island is off the coast of Quang Ngai Province. It is easy to book a flight, train or sleeper - bus ticket from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Quang Ngai City. Then, sit on a high-speed boat from Sa Ky Harbor, which costs about 170.000. You don’t need to book in advance, because there are boating going there every 30 minutes.
Things to note
The best time to visit is between June and September, the island is still untamed so don’t worry, there are not too many people. Local residents are all friendly, and speak very little English.
There are a Little Ly Son Island (just 10 minutes of traveling by ferry from the Big one) which provides coral reef- watching opportunities and surprisingly cheap tasty seafood. However, the facility there has not yet been developed, so don’t expect to stay in a 4-star hotel, there are some fancy glittering homestays instead. Fresh water is precious here, so don’t forget to bring enough water if you have decided to stay overnight.
Ba Lua Islands (South Vietnam)
Known as the Halong Bay of the South , the Ba Lua island is well-known for its picturesque beauty defined by some 45 islands and islets of which about 10 are inhabited. Hon Dam Duong, Hon Duoc and Hon Gieng are the best known beaches, where you can walk at certain times of the day during low tide from one island to another. The feeling of standing between the sea will make you feel both afraid and excited. That is not the only amazing thing, you can also discover numerous caves on each islets. Ba Lua Islands are relatively far from major cities in Vietnam, making them an ideal holiday destination amongst adventurous travelers looking to enjoy a secluded vacation.
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