Cham Island, also called Cu Lao Cham, is located 20 km to the east of Hoi An Ancient Town, and 50km from Da Nang City, Vietnam.
This region used to be the residence of the Cham people, so it got the name of Cham Island. The island had been a commercial port for trading ships to rest since the 15th century. It also belonged to the Silk Road, international species, and ceramics.
Cu Lao Cham consists of 8 islands: Hon Lao, Hon Dai, Hon Mo, Hon Kho Me, Hon Kho Con, Hon La, Hon Tai, and Hon Ong. The population on these islands consists of about 3,000 people, working as fishing men, and a few of them serving tourists when tourism started here.
Travel to Cham Island is an exciting journey to live with the sea, enjoy the lovely white sandy beaches of Bai Dang, Bai Ong, Bai Chong, and Bai Huong, and visit Hai Tang Pagoda, 200-year Ancient Well, and Lang Yen Communal House. Besides, you can do many sea activities, such as snorkeling, and watching coral reefs.
Vietnamdrive would like to share the valuable information from our experiences at Cham Island. You will find out the guides to visit Cham Island in this article.
1. Best time to explore Cham Island
2. Reasons I like Cham Island
3. How to get to the island
4. Local food to taste in Cu Lao Cham
5. Accommodations on the island
6. Popular places to visit in Cham Island
7. Fee to visit Cham Island
8. Local gift to buy
9. A suggested tour to visit Cham Island
1. The best time to visit Cham Island
The best time to visit Cham Island is from March to September when it is dry season in this region.
You should know that if you travel to the island for diving and swimming, come to Cu Lao Cham at the end of April. In March or the beginning of April, the water is still a little cold and sometimes gets big waves to do some activities in the sea.
The most beautiful place for swimming and diving in Cu Lao Cham is Hon Dai and Bai Xep.
Cham Island as well as other parts of Central Vietnam has two seasons of rain and dryness. Due to the impact of global climate change, storms can affect the island from the end of June to September. If you want to make sure your trip is better, you should check the weather forecast before booking your journey to this island.
2. Reasons why I like Cham Island
Cham Island always brings satisfaction to most tourists when coming here. Check the top things I like when visiting this island.
- The fresh environment of nature: Cu Lao Cham has clean air and good security. Many trees in the hills and coral reefs are preserved to preserve rare coral varieties and to develop the local tourism industry.
- Friendly fishermen: You will meet a lot of friendly and open-minded people. They will welcome you as their relatives. Sometimes you see a stranger greeting, smiling, or quickly talking to you.
- Beautiful beaches: Many beaches in Cham Island, which are considered the beautiful beaches in Hoi An, are still wild with clean water for swimming and diving.
- Fresh seafood: Cham Island is an excellent place to taste fresh seafood. Most of the people are fishermen, so you can find a lot of fresh seafood just coming from the sea, and many crabs or fish are still alive at the markets or local restaurants.
- No plastic bags: Cu Lao Cham does not use plastic bags. The local people support this activity strongly to protect the environment of the island, and the tourists should note this.
Now is your turn to explore Cham Island and share it more with us and your friends.
3. How to travel to Cham Island?
Many years ago, when tourism was underdeveloped, Cu Lao Cham was a pristine island with the local people mainly fishing. And, the only transportation was a wooden boat (Tau cho) moving from the mainland to the island and vice versa, one trip per day. The wooden ships bring all necessities and people to the island.
In 2009, when Cu Lao Cham was recognized as a World Biosphere Area, visitors started traveling to the island. And, the high-speed canoes have served. This means of transportation fixes the needs of tourists for sightseeing, traveling, diving, watching coral, and participating in fishing tours.
Nowadays, the local people on the island of Cu Lao Cham still use wooden fishing boats, round bamboo boats like the ones in Cam Thanh Coconut Village serving tourists, and motorbikes to go around the villages around the islands.
If you choose a motorbike to travel around the island, the locals can supply it 150,000 – 200,000 VND/day (the price is for reference only) without the cost of gasoline. You need to pay attention that many vertical slopes and rough roads are difficult to move on the main island, so you need to check the brakes of motorbikes carefully, and it is especially noteworthy to wear a helmet when riding it. No cars are available on the islands.
If you want to admire the hidden beauty of these islands, you can rent a wooden boat or a high-speed canoe (if your budget allows, the canoe moves more quickly and safely).
4. What is the local food in Cham Island?
Many specialties of the sea and mountains in the islands might attract you because of their unique flavor.
Vu Nang (Her Breast): has become a famous specialty in Cu Lao Cham because of its taste and strange name. Vu Nang is a kind of sea snail with its shell like a cone, or like a breast of a girl. Typically, its body has a light yellow and blue color, but every time a person touches it by hand, it turns to a pink color, like a shy girl. Vu Nang, then, can be processed into many dishes such as boiling, grilling, or cooking as a soup.
Cua Da (Rock crabs): are not very big with an impressive color. Their carapaces and legs have a purple-brown color, and the abdomen is yellow. The rock crabs are very strong, run fast, and often only head out of the cave to find food when night falls. That’s the time when the islanders hunt the crabs. If a crab hunter sees ten crabs, catching 4 or 5 ones is a good job. These crabs just eat vegetables, making their meat fragrant and tougher. It’s better to steam rock crabs with lemongrass and ginger; this can keep the original flavor of the crabs, steam them with beer makes the crab flavor special, roast them with tamarind and salt, or frill them on chart coals (without anythings) creating the very good smell.
Dry squid: The local people choose fresh squids from the sea and dry them in the strong sunshine for only one day. Squids become a little too dry and keep the sweetness and freshness. The only dish from dry squids is to grill on the charcoal, and when they change into light yellow, it’s ready to taste with chili sauce and beer.
Scallops with spring oil and onion: have white meat, a lightly sweet taste, not very tough, and the flavorful smell of roasted peanuts and onion.
Abalones: often cling to coral reefs in high salinity, so it is difficult to find them. To catch abalones, experienced fishers must dive deeply into the sea, and use a knife to separate them from the rocks or corals. It is tasty to grill abalones with oil and onion like cooking scallops, or just steam them with lemongrass. When tasting them, they use more lemon and chili.
Sea fishes grilled in silver paper: When using the silver paper to rap and grill the fish, its meat becomes very white and sweet. Combining with the species, these grilled sea fishes make almost all guests love its flavor.
Banh La Gai (little cakes): is one of the famous desserts in Vietnam, and our group was surprised by their taste because the locals used the la gai (the thorny leaves) in the forest to grind them with sticky rice. Thus, the little cakes here have a unique flavor.
5. Where to stay at Cham Island?
There are no big hotels in Cham Island, so you stay at the accommodations of homestays. This also makes your trip exciting and a good chance to explore the local life on the island.
- To make sure the room is available, typically in Summer from May to the end of August when plenty of guests travel to Cham Island, you should book as early as possible.
- The price of homestay services ranges from 150,000 VND – 200,000 VND/person, or 400,000 VND/2 person room for a few well-organized homestays.
- Most of the homestays in Cham Island serve free breakfast and often charge room rates including taxes and service charges.
- Most accommodations of homestays are concentrated mainly in Bai Lang. A few of them are in Bai Ong and Bai Huong.
Travelers can contact some homestay addresses as below:
The top choice is Sunbay Homestay, Address: Bai Lang, Cu Lao Cham, Hoi An, Quang Nam. Phone:
089 898 25 09
You may choose other accommodations:
We range the system of homestays in Cham Island with specific areas and standards so that you can contact them to book easily and quickly. There are not many homestays in Cu Lao Cham; we just want to introduce some famous homestays that are an ok and good standard and loved by many guests visiting the island.
- Homestay Ngan Ha, Address: Bai Lang, Cu Lao Cham, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam. 0914222347
- Tuan Thanh Homestay, Address: Bai Lang, Cu Lao Cham, Hoi An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam. 0906444450
- Cham Island Homestay, Address: Bai Huong, Cu Lao Cham, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam. 0789801331
- Hai Long Homestay, Address: Bai Huong, Cu Lao Cham, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam. 0962682742
People here are gentle, friendly, and very helpful. Although there are many services to choose from at homestays, Vietnamdrive recommends you book diving or guiding services from professional companies to get a safer and better experience.
Also, if you want a separate space, and live with immense nature, you can choose to stay in a tent. The rental price of one tent is from 150,000 VND to 200,000 VND per night. This style should be organized by a travel agent, or traveling with the locals.
6. Tourist sites to visit in Cu Lao Cham
Attractions that you can visit when visiting Cham Island are:
- Cham Island Museum
- Champa Ancient Well
- The cave of Swallow birds (Hang Yen)
- Seafood Market
- Hai Tang Pagoda
- Fishery Village Area
- Yen Village Communal House
- Au Thuyen (boat parking)
Tips: Rent a motorbike to visit around the island, rent a canoe to visit the islands, and hire a wooden boat to go fishing.
7. Ticket price for visiting Cham Island
You should know some information about the ticket price to visit Cham Island to plan your budget.
- High-speed Canoe ticket: 550,000 VND /2-way to pick up passengers at the port (not including meals or sightseeing fee)
=> Total fee when entering the island (not including transfer by canoe): 140,000 VND/guest.
- Environmental conservation cost: 90,000 VND/guest
- Cost to enter the island: 30,000 VND/guest
- Cleaning cost: 20,000 VND/guest.
The price is for reference.
And, if you feel complex about the fee for visiting this island, you will find a package tour for joining a group with the price of 650,000 VND and over.
A private tour or canoe will be given to you when checking on the correct date with a travel agent.
8. What to buy as a gift when visiting the island?
Cu Lao Cham has beautiful beaches, coral reefs, friendly peoples, many unique local dishes, gifts for relatives and friends, or for tasting after visiting the islands:
- Fresh seafood: This is just for Vietnamese travelers. They can buy different types of lobsters, rock crabs (the only specialty here), and many kinds of fish. The best place to buy them at Cham Seafood Market.
- The hammock is made of Ngo Dong tree (only available at Cu Lao Cham, you can order. After one month, you will receive a hand-made Ngo Dong Hammock. The price for a hammock is 2,500,000 VND – 3,500,000 VND.
9. A suggested tour to visit Cham Island
Many tourists staying in Hoi An or Da Nang City, Vietnam, like to visit Cham Island. So, the local companies organize a day tour or 2-day-1-night tour to explore this fantastic island. Vietnamdrive would like to introduce you to the one-day tour because this is a popular tour of Cham Island.
- 7:30 am pick-up: the car will pick the guests up at the hotels in Da Nang City if the guests join the Cham Island tour from Da Nang City.
- 8:00 – 8:30 am pick-up: The car welcomes guests from hotels if the guests stay at hotels in Hoi An City.
- The cars take you to the Cua Dai tourist harbor to go on a boat to prepare for departure to visit Cu Lao Cham.
- 08:45 am: High-speed canoes take 15- 20 minutes to run to Cu Lao Cham to start exploring the beauty of a beautiful island.
- 9:00 am – 11:00 am: Get on the island and visit Bai Lang, Cham Island Museum, Au Thuyen (boat parking), and Hai Tang Pagoda.
- 11:00 am, the high-speed canoe drives you to take a bath and snorkel to watch coral and see the only marine creatures that are available at Cham Island.
- 12:00 pm: Have lunch at the restaurant with seafood and local specialties.
- 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm: Tourists are free to sunbathe, swim, and explore the island.
- 2:30 pm: Canoe transfers you back to the Cua Dai Port of Hoi An City.
- The car will drive you to the hotels. The 1-day tour of Cu Lao Cham will end.
Many local companies organize the join group tours, especially for Vietnamese people. Thus, the quality of trips and tour guides is different from the requests of foreigners. If you want a private tour to get more comfortable in exploring Cham Island, please mention your need when you book a tour. Or, you can tell Vietnamdrive to support this activity.
Vienamdrive spent a lot of time giving you the best information about Cham Island and the ways to visit it. If you find this article helpful, please share it. Or, if you have any ideas (even correct and update any information), please tell us by leaving your comments or email to us. Thank you!
Vietnamdrive would like to sincerely thank “Sunbay Homestay” for allowing us to use the images depicted in the article.