Where is Cham Island in Vietnam?
Cham Island is located off the coast of Hoi An and Da Nang in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam.
It's everything you would expect a stereotypical island to be - a small village looking out over pristine waters surrounded by lush tropical vegetation.
Even though Cham Island is just a few miles off the coast of Hoi An, it feels like you're in a completely different country. The locals do a fantastic job of keeping the island clean, even providing recycling bins along the road, which you rarely encounter in Vietnam.
Less than 5% of Cham Island is developed. The majority of the island is lush green vegetation, most of which is controlled by the military. You are free to travel to all sides of Cham Island, but there are restricted areas, primarily up on the ridge, which sadly offers the best views.
Cham Island is less than 170 miles from Hainan Province, China, and is exposed to the South China Sea, hence the strong Vietnamese military presence and restricted areas.
Still, there are plenty of vantage points to look out over the South China Sea.
The views are breathtaking, some of the best sea views I have experienced in South East Asia.
How Big is Cham Island?
Cham Island is 4.6 miles (7.4km) long and about 3 miles (4.8km) across at the widest point.
There are two villages, the main village in the north near Ong Beach and Bai Huong in the south. Both villages are small enough to walk across in under 10 minutes.
Getting To Cham Island
Cham Island does not have an airport, so you will need to fly into Da Nang International Airport.
Once in Hoi An or Da Nang, getting to Cham Island is very easy. Speedboat ferries leave from Hoi An in the morning and return in the afternoon.
If you plan to spend the night, you must catch a ferry that takes you to Cham Island's main pier. Most day ferries arrive at Ong Beach (Bãi Ong), a beautiful beach to chill and swim, but it's a 1km (1,100 yards) to town. There are no taxis on Cham Island, so you'll have to walk if you arrive at Ong Beach.
How to Get to Cham Island from Da Nang
To get to Cham Island from Da Nang, you must travel to Hoi An by land first. For this reason, I recommend staying in Hoi An rather than Da Nang.
You can catch a bus or taxi from Da Nang to Hoi An. I have always used Grab or arranged with my hotel for a car to meet me at the airport. A taxi is about 250k - 300k (USD$11-12) one way between Da Nang and Hoi An.
How to Get to Cham Island from Hoi An
To get to Cham Island from Hoi An, you'll need to catch a speed boat ferry from the Ben Cua Dai Tourist Port (Cảng Du Lịch Cửa Đại), 2km south of Cua Dai main beach.
Depending on which travel company you choose, speed boats depart from Hoi An to Cham Island starting between 07:00 and 08:00.
In most cases, you can arrive and book on the morning of departure. But if you want to play it safe, head down to the Ben Cua Dai Tourist Port the day before to make sure you secure your place.
The boat ride to Cham Island from Hoi An takes around 20 minutes and costs 150k (USD$6.40) each way. You also have to pay a national park fee of 100k (USD$4.30). The total cost for a return ferry from Hoi An to Cham Island, including national park fee, is 400k (USD$17.20). Prices may vary slightly depending on the season and demand.
Getting Around Cham Island
If you are staying on the main road, you'll likely walk from Cu Lao Chàm pier to your accommodation.
To explore the island, you will need a scooter. There are no taxis on Cham Island, and the roads are far too steep to cycle up. You could walk, but it's pretty far from the town over the hill to the east coast.
It's also scorching hot, so the more you're in the direct sunlight, the worse your sunburn is likely to be!
Depending on how many stops you make to admire the view, a scooter trip around the entire coastline will likely take less than an hour.
Cham Island East Coast
Cham Island's east coast looks out over the South China Sea. With the road being the only piece of infrastructure on this side of the island, you hear nothing but the wind and waves.
You are relatively high up on the ridge, offering seeming endless views of blue sky and ocean. The odd fishing boat an insignificant speck of nothingness in the vast blue expanse.
There is so much blue, it's difficult to see where the sea ends and the sky begins.
There is no access to the beach on the east coast; it's just cliffs and vegetation.
Cham Island's east coast is one of the most peaceful locations I've found in Vietnam.
Perfect if you're looking for a quiet place for some meditation or introspection.
Cham Island Beaches
Most of Cham Island's coastline is rock or cliff with the only access to beaches on the west coast. The best beaches are just north and south of the main village. So, you could walk if you prefer not rent a scooter.
Bãi Bắc (Bac Beach)
The best beach on Cham Island is Bac Beach. It's Cham Island's most northern beach located in a small bay just north of Ong Beach.
The beach is popular with day tours, so expect some people, but definitely not as crowded as Ong Beach.
They are in the process of developing luxury villas on Bac Beach. Good news for those who prefer premium accommodation rather than the modest homestay options available on Cham Island.
Just south of Bac Beach, towards Ong Beach, is a small stretch of sand that is somewhat secluded. Swimming is not permitted at this beach, but it's a great spot to work on your tan. Be warned there is no shade on this beach, so you will get toasted pretty quickly!
Bãi Ông (Ong Beach)
With its pristine white sand and blue water, Ong is Cham Island's most beautiful beaches. It's also Cham's most popular beach with day tours arriving and departing frequently.
If you're looking for a peaceful place to chill out on Cham Island, Ong Beach, isn't it! Especially from midday into late afternoon when tourists are lining up on the beach to be ferried back to Hoi An.
Bãi Làng (Lang Beach)
On the southern end of the main road, just outside Monkey Homestay & Bar, is Lang Beach. The beach stretches for about 200 meters (220 yards) to large rocks on the southern end.
Even though many boats are anchored on Lang Beach, it's still clean, and there is a place to swim and tan.
You'll find the best place to tan and swim at the beach's end near the rocks. The water is shallow here, so there are fewer boats. There's also a cafe nearby serving food and drinks.
Bai Xei (Xei Beach)
South of Lang Beach is a stretch of rocky coastline arriving at Bai Xei. Bai Xei is somewhat secluded, so use Google Maps or might miss it. You can walk there from town, and a scooter ride will take you less than a couple of minutes.
The beach is split in two by a cluster of rocks in the middle. There are rarely many people about and, because of the shallow water and rocks, no boats.
If you are looking for a peaceful beach to chill out within walking distance of the village, Bai Xei is your best option.
South of Bai Xei is a few hundred yards of rocks before you arrive at a small sand stretch called Bãi Xếp (Xep Beach). This is another beautiful secluded beach, but almost a mile's walk from the main village.
Bãi Chồng (Chong Beach)
Just over a mile south of the main village is Chong Beach. Chong Beach has a couple of restaurants/homestays and a dock for boats, so it can get busy. But definitely not as hectic as Ong Beach.
Chong Beach is the last beach I would recommend to the south of Cham Island's main village. As you go further south, the beach access is more frequented by local fishermen with lots of boats, ropes, nets, and other equipment stored along the shoreline.
Bãi Bìm (Bim Beach)
The next little bay south is Bim Beach and the northern edge of Bãi Hương (Huong Beach) Village. I never visited Bim Beach, but it didn't look too attractive from the road.
Bãi Hương (Huong Beach)
Huong Beach is the southern, more rural village on Cham Island. The beach serves primarily as a dock for fishing boats, so it isn't the place you want to tan or swim.
Where to Stay in Cham Island
Most people make a day trip to Cham Island. Leaving in the morning around 8am and returning late afternoon. But there is accommodation available, and you can stay on Cham Island.
All of the accommodation on Cham Island is homestays. If you're looking for 5* luxury, you would be best making a day trip and staying in Da Nang or Hoi An.
The average price for a single room in Cham Island is between 280k - 300k VND (USD$12 - USD$13) per night.
I stayed at Monkey Homestay & Bar, located on the southern end of the main road of Cu Lao Cham village. It's a 450m (500 yards) walk from the pier.
Monkey Homestay & Bar is away from the main hustle and bustle, while still being within a few minutes of restaurants, bars, and the main market. They have a great restaurant where I ate most of my meals.
There are a few room options available at Monkey Homestay, including a large family room with two double beds. I stayed in their cheapest double room for 350k VND (USD$14) per night with a balcony and sea view.
There are cheaper options available on Cham Island, but I recommend staying on the main road overlooking the ocean if possible.
Staying in Bai Huong
Bai Huong is a fishing village in the south of Cham Island. There is also a large military base, so you see a lot of military personnel.
If you are thinking of staying in Bai Huong, you will find yourself somewhat isolated. Restaurant options are slim in this part of the island, which mainly caters to locals.
I briefly passed through Bai Huong and didn't find it to be accommodating to tourists.
If you are looking for a deal, accommodation is much cheaper in Bai Huong, with prices starting at 120k VND (USD$5) for a budget double room.
Where to Eat
Cham Island is small, and food options are limited. If you are vegan, then be prepared for salad or fried vegetables.
You can get some fantastic Vietnamese street food around the market in the village center or at Ong Beach during the day.
Most of the homestays on the main road have restaurants serving a mix of Vietnamese and western dishes. But don't expect any sort of gastronomic dining experience.
Expect to pay around 50k - 100k (USD$2.15 - $4.32) for a Vietnamese-style dish while western food like burgers and pizzas will cost between 150k - 300k (USD$6.50 - $13).
What to do on Cham Island
If you're into history, you will find three Buddhist temples to explore on Cham Island. The oldest of which is Chùa Hải Tạng (Hai Tang Temple), built in 1753.
Tịnh xá Ngọc Truyền (Ngo Truyen Monastery) is another beautiful temple on Cham Island with a pagoda and a large Buddha statue.
In the south you will find Tịnh xá Ngọc Hương (Ngoc Huong Vihara). A buddhist shrine built in 1843.
Swimming and Snorkeling
Cham Island is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The water is spectacularly clean, and marine life is well preserved.
You can rent snorkeling equipment from Ong Beach and swim off the beach or pay a guide to take you out to some of the reefs surrounding Cham Island. Snorkeling equipment and a guide cost about 200k (USD$8.50).
If snorkeling isn't your thing, simply enjoy bathing in the warm water or tanning on one of Cham Island's beaches.
Exploring Cham Island
Most of my time on Cham Island was spent exploring. I especially loved the eastern side of the island, where there is no infrastructure or people. The views are incredible, and riding the windy roads on a scooter is so much fun.
Bars and Nightlife
Don't expect to find a party vibe on Cham Island. It's very chilled with no nightlife at all. So, if you're looking for a party, it might be better to stay in Hoi An and make a day trip to Cham Island.
Most homestays serve alcohol, so you can have a few social drinks with mates or make your own party down on the beach if you wish.
Best Place for Sunset on Cham Island
I enjoyed one of the most spectacular sunsets on Cham Island. I found a spot on the northern end of the island, which faces almost due west towards Da Nang.
The vantage point is on a cliff with Hon La (La Island) off to the left and Da Nang in the distance. The sun sets just over Da Nang, and you get to see the city light up as it gets dark.
It's a remote part of Cham Island, so it's deathly quiet, with only the wind and ocean lapping against the rocks below.
Is Cham Island Worth Visiting?
If you have a few days in Hoi An, I highly recommend visiting Cham Island. And definitely spend a night if you have time.
I have visited Hoi An three times since 2018, once staying for six weeks and didn't visit Cham Island until my third visit in 2020. Something I now regret!
It's so peaceful on Cham Island, a rarity in Vietnam, and the scenery is spectacular.
Interactive Google Map of Cham Island with Points of Interest
I have created a Google My Maps with all points of interest marked out. I hope this helps you navigate your way around Cham Island.
If you have any questions or wish to collaborate, please feel free to contact me.