• Discover Cham Islands, the offshore call of Hoi An
  • Discover Cham Islands, the offshore call of Hoi An

  • on Aug 14, 2019       By: Bảo Ngọc
  • Want to disconnect from urban life to immerse yourself in another world off the beautiful Hoi An? Wild beaches, tranquility and total change of scenery, the archipelago Cu Lao Cham or the Cham Islands surely enough will delight hikers, divers, and photographers.

    cu lao cham sea and bridge

    Overview

    Location: 15km from Cua Dai Beach, Tan Hiep Town, Hoi An city, Quang Nam Province (Central).

    With an area of almost 16 km2, the Cham Islands are a biosphere reserve recognized by UNESCO in 2009. It can be reached by canoe or boat from Cua Dai, in just 20 minutes. Cu Lao Cham is made up of eight islands: Hon Lao, Hon Dai, Hon Mo, Hon Kho Me, Hon Kho Con, Hon La, Hon Tai and Hon Ong, in which Hon Lao, the largest and most populated, is a great place for tourist activities.

    History

    The history of the Cham Islands is intimately linked to the ancient port city Hoi An because of its many footprints of Sa Huynh, Cham and Dai Viet cultures. In the mists of time, this place played a primordial role on the maritime map of the eastern sea, where many oriental and western boats abounded.

    Geography

    Known for its exceptional biodiversity, you can discover on the Cham Islands an underwater treasure, rich in rare species and especially a world of coral reefs multicolored preserved in the best conditions. Add to this is a wild surrounding beauty, endless sandy beaches, emerald and transparent water, all makes it a paradise for immersion in nature.

    cu lao cham seven beaches

    In total, the Cham Islands are home to 7 beaches stretching from north-west to south-east:

    - Bac Beach: little known wild caves

    - Ong Beach, near Lang Beach, near the pier, the busiest area where the restaurants are very lively at noon

    - Lang Beach, not a resort but rather a fishing pier, towards the Xom Cam residential area

    - Xep beach, undeveloped, deserted and peaceful

    - Chong beach, beautiful coast, coconut trees, pay bathrooms (15,000 VND/person), a lake crossed by a small bridge, 2 bungalows

    - Bim beach, free resort, clean water, remarkable rocks

    - Huong beach, favorable to taste the seafood, on the other hand not conducive to nautical activities because of the daily anchors. Each of its charm, the beaches of Cham Islands are all about 20m wide and a long between 100 and 300m. So you just have to find the one that best suits your expectations.

    Which tour to go?

    In case of time constraints, you can discover Cu Lao Cham yourself during the day or have a custom tour. For lovers of the sea, a tour of at least 2 days is ideal.

    When to go to Cham Islands in Hoi An?

    The best time to go is between March and August when the sea is calm with beautiful sunshine. Therefore, no need to go to Cham islands for the rest of the year because of the risk of a storm that makes the islands almost inaccessible.

    To combine the visit of Cu Lao Cham with an evening in Hoi An to lose yourself in hundreds of radiant lanterns, do not miss the 14th, 15th lunar days where a magnificent atmosphere reigns the already charming old city.

    The traditional festivities will be an opportunity to discover the rites and traditions that are enriched over time through annual festivals including the Feast of Fishermen (3-4th of the 4th lunar month), the Recognition Party of the tradesman of salangane (9-10th of the 3rd lunar self).

    How to get there?

    Starting from Hoi An, Cu Lao Cham is accessible by canoe or boat.

    - Canoeing from Cua Dai, you get there in 20 minutes (150,000 dongs per person). Several shuttles are scheduled during the day. A more practical and also more sensational way.

    - By boat, less expensive, so less fast. A simple but no less thrilling way over the water,

    - Departure from Bach Dang dock at 8am (50,000 dongs for domestic tourists against 100,000 dong for internationals, an extra 30,000 for one more motorcycle). Back at 1 pm from Cu Lao Cham,

    - Departure from Cua Dai is a return at 11am from Cu Lao Cham.

    Where to stay on the Cham Islands?

    * Homestay

    At the accommodation level, you will not find a resort or hotel. But, there’s a type of stay that is nice to fully enjoy the secret corners, homestay.

    The cost of homestay varies between 50,000 to 100,000 dong / person against 150,000 / two people.

    A variety of homestay types are offered at Bai Ong, Bai Lang and Bai Huong Beaches.

    Good addresses:

    - Bai Ong: homestay Tam Hien and Bich Van

    - Bai Lang: Homestay Huyen Van Tri and Thu Trang

    - Bai Huong: Homestay Ms. Lan and Ms. Hiep

    Meals, lingerie, rental of vehicle and boat, guide, diving to admire the corals... are also available in these accommodations. Add to that is the kindness and warm welcome of the residents.

    *Camping

    Besides the choice of homestay, in case of going in large group, you can go camping. In Bai Ong and Bai Huong Beaches, additional services are the most available.

    The beaches Bai Bim and Bai Xep with more open spaces are solutions for flexible choices.

    What to visit in Cu Lao Cham?

    In parallel with the hours of idleness and activities along the beautiful beaches, this place also has something to awaken the taste buds with tasty dishes based on seafood. Do not forget to take note also some interesting places to extend your experience pleasantly:

    The Maritime Museum of Cu Lao Cham: the first stop on your arrival is the maritime museum of the same name. This is an opportunity to have a panorama on the islands history, activities, traditions and local specialties.

    The former well of the Cham: also known under the other name, "Xom Cam", this vestige dated for almost 200 years, typical of the wells of Cham, is similar to those existing in Hoi An. According to the inhabitants, it represents an inexhaustible source of water that can meet local needs all year long.

    The Hai Tang Pagoda: built in 1758, this architectural and religious monument is dedicated to Buddhism and geniuses.

    The Tan Hiep Market: also known as Cu Lao Cham market, this corner located at the pier is a must where you can buy souvenirs and local specialties of forest and sea.

    The temple dedicated to the master of the salangane harvesting craft: nestled in the Bai Huong beach and built around the 19th century, this temple is dedicated to the recognition of masters and geniuses of salangane harvesting.

    What to do on the Cham Islands?

    cu lao cham diving

    * Diving to admire the corals

    This activity is part of many programs offered on the Cham Islands. This service is reserved either at the platform or through your stay.

    The diving fee: 150.000 VND per person, complete equipment and guide included

    * Visit the islands by boat

    In addition to Hon Lao Island, one can borrow a boat to explore the other 7 around

    - Fixed price (morning or afternoon): 600,000 dongs / boat of 10 people

    - Price to visit Yen Island alone: 300,000 dongs / boat.

    * Rent a motorbike to discover every possible corner

    Note that the trails, rough for the most part, are rather passable for good drivers. With this means, one could have unforgettable improvised stops by accidentally discovering a stretch of secret sand or seeing a breathtaking view of the whole island.

    * Watch a splendid starry sky

    What could be better than lying on the sandbank, listening to the waves and watching a starry sky as bright as it is mystical on an oasis? The most romantic experience to try without hesitation during your stay.

    Culinary specialties of Cu Lao Cham

    sea food cu lao cham

    Squid dried in the sun: Cu Lao Cham is well known for a wide variety of calamari, of which those dried in the sun once are always the best.

    Stone crab: This species, which only feeds on grass in the rock, is also called "red crab" and "vegetarian crab". Cream of the cream, it serves dishes of exceptional quality, taking on many other sea products.

    Shell vú nàng (a kind of cellana): On the day of the full moon, visitors will have the chance to enjoy the shells "vu nang" which serve succulent dishes with multiple versions.

    Shell "bào ngư": Very rare and known by many names, this shell is very popular with gourmands and gourmets in Cu Lao Cham.

    Forest vegetables: This is a set of 16 species of medicinal herbs that grow at the foot of the mountains at Cu Lao Cham. Cooking with water is the best way to taste these vegetables whose harvest falls in early summer.

    Cake "banh ít lá gai": It is a traditional cake that is eaten not only in Cu Lao Cham but also other regions. Still, trying this dish with its particular taste is a pleasant surprise.

    Dining on the Cham Islands, tips and experiences

    At your homestay, you can cook on the spot dishes made from seafood.

    Meal Price: 50,000 - 80,000 / per person / meal, depending on your choice.

    In the open air, you go to the beach Bai Huong around 10am to prepare before enjoying the freshest dishes at a reasonable cost.

    It is obviously more expensive to eat at restaurants along Bai Ong, Bai Lang beaches.

    Traditional festivities

    cu lao cham fishing festival

    Feast of Fishermen 

    With a lot of color, the Feast of Fishermen is one of the most important traditions to which islanders are attached. Held annually during the 3rd and 4th April (Lunar calendar), this ancestral rite aims to pray for peace and success of a new fishing season for villagers.

    Recognition party with respect to the salangane harvest master

    This festival takes place during the 9-10th March (lunar calendar) to honor the founders of the trade related to the harvest of salangane, dating from the 18th century. Visitors will also be able to enjoy many folkloric performances, traditional games as well as the gastronomic fair...

    Other tips for a trip to Cu Lao Cham

    Since Cu Lao Cham is a World Biosphere Reserve, protecting the environment is a top priority for both indigenous and visitors alike.

    As it is quite hot on the island, you have to prepare enough clothes against the sun and drinks.

    Only available in the evening, electricity is lacking during the day. Do not forget to make sure you have enough power tools in advance.

    Cham Island Discovery Program

    To discover Cu Lao Cham, two tours are possible, either a tour of 2 days 1 night, or 3 days 2 nights.

    2 days 1 night tour 

    Day 1:
    7:00 - Departure to Bach Dang Pier
    10:00 – Receiving room
    10:30 am - Boat rental for a tour of Yen Island (Salangane)
    12:00 - Lunch
    14:00 - Visit of Xom Cam and Bai Lang 
    16:00 - Swimming and diving to appreciate the coral reefs
    19:00 - Dinner

    Day 2:
    7:00 - Motorcycle rental for a tour of the island
    10:00 - Departure for Hoi An

    3 days 2 nights tour 

    Day 1:
    7:00 - Departure to Bach Dang Pier
    10:00 - Receiving room, rest and lunch
    14:00 - Rental of a boat for a tour of the islands, diving to admire the corals; visit Yen Island...
    19:00 - Dinner

    Day 2:
    7:00 - Motorcycle rental for a tour of the island
    10:00 - Stop at Bai Huong for seafood, lunch on the beach
    14:00 - Visit of Xom Cam and Bai Lang 
    17:00 - Swimming and outdoor dining with BBQ on the beach

    Day 3:
    8:00 - Stop at Tan Hiep Market, buy souvenirs
    10:00 - Departure for Hoi An


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