Read this article to know more about the Cham islands, how to get there, the Cham islands tour, and things to do here.
About Cham islands Vietnam
Cu Lao Cham, or Cham islands, is a historical and cultural relic associated with the formation and development of Hoi An port town.
The Cham islands is also a tourist destination with a cool year-round climate, rich flora, and fauna. The coral reefs in Cu Lao Cham are also highly appreciated and included in the protection list.
In 2009, the Cham islands were recognized by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve.
Cu Lao Cham consists of 8 islands: Hon Lao, Hon Dai, Hon Mo, Hon Khoi, Hon Kho Con, Hon La, Hon Tai, and Hon Ong.
Hon Lao is the main and only inhabited island, and the remaining islands are only rocky mountains.
Best time to visit Cham islands
The ideal time to travel to the Cham islands is March to August.
At this time, the weather is warm, sunny. The sea is clear and calm, as well. Due to storms and rough seas in the remaining months, the islands become isolated areas.
If you want to combine your trip with visiting the lanterns of Hoi An ancient town, you should go on the full moon day of the lunar months.
If you’d like to participate in the religious culture of the residents, you can join festivals such as Cau Ngu Festival (April 3-4 in the lunar calendar).
Where are the Cham islands?
Cu Lao Cham belongs to Tan Hiep Island Commune, Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province.
The islands are located about 15km from the coast of Cua Dai beach, Hoi An, and about 40 km from Da Nang city.
How to get to the Cham islands?
From Cua Dai Port in Hoi An, you can travel to Cu Lao Cham in 2 ways:
- A trip by speedboat takes about 30 minutes
- A journey by market boat
Cham islands Boat schedule
a) Cham islands Speedboat schedule
- Morning departure from 8 am to 10:30 am and returning in the afternoon around 3 pm (frequent departure)
- Afternoon departure at 2 pm and returning the next morning (this trip you have to check in advance because not often departure)
b) Cham islands Market boat schedule
- The boat time for market boats, which are for people traveling to transport food in and out of the island, usually departs at 8 am from Cua Dai pier.
Getting around Cham islands
The most common way to get around the main island is through motorbikes. You rent at motels on the island for 80,000 – 200,000 VND a day.
Also, you can visit the surrounding islands by boat at 300,000 – 1,500,000 VND. These boats all include scuba diving services.
Cham islands tour
We opted for the Cham islands tour on our visit as it was the most convenient way. The tour was well-organized, and our tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly.
Snorkeling was fun, and the view of chams island was beautiful. Luckily, the weather on that day was lovely to enjoy the best things here.
The tour included pickup and drop-off services, speedboat trips to the islands, lunch, tour guide, and ticket fees.
Cham Island Day Tour with Snorkeling itinerary
- 8 am-8:30 am pick up at hotels within Hoi An Ancient Town
- 8:30 am-8:45 am transit to harbor
- 8:45 am-9:30 am embark on speed boat to Cham Island
- Visit Protected Marine Area, The Boat Shelter, Hai Tang Pagoda, and traditional fishing village
- 10:30 am-11:30 am swimming and snorkeling
- 11:30 am-2:15 pm lunch and relax at Bai Chong or Bai Ong beach
- 2:15 pm-3 pm return to Hoi An via speed boat, end tour, drop off at hotels within Hoi An Ancient Town
Cham island tickets
Cham islands Boat ticket price
- Speedboat ticket price to Cham islands: 450,000 VND per person to go back in the day. This ticket price includes a ticket to visit Cu Lao Cham 70,000 per person and an eco fee in Cu Lao Cham, 20,000 VND per person.
- Market boat ticket price to Cham islands: 30,000 VND per person or 80,000 VND if you bring your bike
Cham island activities ticket price
- The ticket price for scuba diving at a depth of 7-8m with scuba oxygen is 800,000 VND per person.
- After diving, if you want to experience Parachute fly, you can contact the owner of the diving boat to try it for 700,000 VND per person.
Things to see and do on Cham islands
You should arrive at Cua Dai pier at 7:30 am to buy tickets for a speedboat or market boat to the island.
1. See the Champa ancient well
Champa ancient well has a depth of about 5.5 – 7 m. The circle of the well is about 2m wide and 1.2 meters high. It has clear water and no fishy smell.
The well is nearly 300 years old, and neighbors have always used water here. Notably, the well has never run out of water, even when it’s a month-long dry season without a drop of rain.
2. Explore the Marine Protected Area
Don’t forget to visit the marine protected area of Cu Lao Cham on your trip. This place holds many rare and precious marine species that need protection.
In addition to the Cu Lao Cham ecosystems, you can see the model of small beaches of the Cham islands.
3. Visit Hai Tang Temple
This ancient and sacred temple in Cu Lao Cham was built in 1958. People visit this temple to pray for safety from natural disasters and fishing rituals.
Nowadays, the temple is still not affected much and sustains harsh weather.
4. Explore the local fishing market
You should visit Tan Hiep market, often known as Cu Lao Cham Market. The market is located near the dock area, selling seafood and souvenirs.
You can buy fresh seafood here and ask a restaurant to cook for you. I recommend trying squid and crab.
4. Relax on the beaches
Cham islands have seven beautiful beaches, so you can choose one of these beaches to bathe and relax.
The beach here is extremely clean because the people and local authorities are determined to keep the green environment and do not allow plastic bags on the island.
4. Go snorkeling and watching corals
Most tours of Cu Lao Cham have coral diving that includes life jackets, goggles, and boats taking you to the diving area.
The water here is very clear, so you only need to swim on the surface of the sea and wear diving goggles to view the corals.
5. Visit the islets by boat
Around Hon Lao are seven other small islands.
You should rent a boat to visit these islands if you have time. The price is 600,000 VND for one morning or one afternoon.
A boat can carry up to 10 people. Join in groups if you travel with fewer people to save money. You can visit Ba island, Hon Yen island, and snorkeling. (excluding diving rental fee).
You can rent a boat to visit Yen Island separately, and the price will be 300,000 VND / boat.
6. Go fishing
You can also rent a tourist boat to go fishing. You will be prepared gear and bait and instructed by the boat owner.
At night, you can go squid fishing. After catching, you can ask the eateries to prepare for you and pay them a cooking fee.
Cham islands travel tips
- Cham Island doesn’t allow plastic bags, so don’t bring any!
- Flycam is not allowed, and welcome banners (written in any language) are not allowed.
- Taking videos and photos within Army Zones is prohibited
- When diving to watch coral, it is strictly forbidden to break the coral or bring it back to the mainland.
- You should pack essential items such as hats, sandals, sunglasses, sunscreen, water, and insect repellent (if you intend to camp)
- Bring ID card/ passport.