When traveling to Hoi An, you may want to consider taking the time to explore an extraordinary island near Hoi An. Cham Island is a group of eight islands, and they are all located directly off the coast of Hoi An. The eight islands are Hon Ong, Hon Lao, Hon Tai, Hon Dai, Hon La, Hon Mo, Hon Kho Con, and Hon Kho Me.
You must take a boat ride to the islands, but it only takes approximately thirty minutes to reach any of them from Hoi An. While you can stay on the islands, you can also choose to do a day trip as well.
The best time to visit Cham Island is any time from the month of March through the end of September. It is during that time that the weather is sunny, warm, and always beautiful! The rest of the year brings horrendous monsoons and all that rain makes any island near Hoi An inaccessible.
One of the best ways to explore Han Lao Island, which is the largest of the eight Cham Islands, is to hire a driver. Your driver will take you along the road that circles the island, so you can see the scenic tour. During this time, you will see phenomenal views of the water, as well as any of the nearby islets. Once you have a general idea of where everything is, you can easily wander around on your own.
Cu Lao Cham Marine Park is one of the best places to see on an island near Hoi An, especially if you are visiting during the summer months. The coral reef is so colorful and full of marine life and it is the perfect place to do a little diving.
If you are not ready to leave the water, you can easily rent a kayak or jet ski, so you can spend hours watching the marine life frolic in the water and just soak in the sun. The best place to rent these items is Bai Cong Beach, but you can also simply relax on the sand there if you are too tired from too many adventures. Other beaches that you may enjoy includes Bai Ong Beach, Bai Xep Beach, and Bai Bac Beach.
Bai Bac is known for being practically empty all the time, despite having numerous natural caves to explore. Bai Xep is also practically deserted most of the time and it is a wonderful place to do a little meditating and thinking about life. If you love swimming, you may also want to consider Bai Bim, while Bai Huong is best if you want to see boats and eat delicious seafood.
As you walk around near Bai Ong Beach, you will find that there are numerous places to purchase souvenirs of your time on the islands, as well as a good number of places to grab a drink and a bite to eat. It is also necessary to keep an eye out for artifacts that have been on the islands since the Cham civilization.
You never know when you will stumble upon a building that has been standing for hundreds of years or when you will discover a long-lost item that no one knows much about!
Artifacts can also be found at the Cham Island Marine Museum and you will learn so much about the island too. The Ancient Well might hold the most history of the island though and it has provided fresh water for more than two hundred years without going dry at all.
Those visitors who love experiencing new cultures will fall in love with the Hai Tang Pagoda. The pagoda was constructed in 1758, although it was in a different location not too far from where it currently was in the beginning. You will find the Hai Tang Pagoda at the bottom of a mountain on Hon Lao Island and it overlooks a paddy field. While there, you can worship Buddha, as well as Bodhisattva, the local god, and even the sea god.
Another temple for worship is the Temple of Bird’s Nest and it is best to visit this one early in March, because that is when the locals celebrate each new harvest of bird’s nest.
Everyone needs to eat while they are traveling, and while you can dine out often, you can also find quite a bit of food to eat and prepare at the Tan Hiep Market. The locals refer to this market as Cu Lao Cham Market though, so be prepared to hear it called both names. A few must-purchase items include souvenirs and the half-dried cuttlefish.
All the Cham Islands are spectacular, so it doesn’t really matter which one you choose to visit when in Hoi An. While you may be ready to visit just one, you may want to see a couple others, just so you can have a well-rounded experience in this part of the world!