Cu Lao Cham (called Cham Isles) is an area including eight small islands in Quang Nam Province which is only 68 kilometers from Da Nang – the capital city in the Central of Vietnam. Besides Hoi An Ancient Town and My Son Sanctuary, Cham islands is a charming destination that Quang Nam offers its guests. This place has been designated as World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO thanks for its biological diversity. Mother Nature granted Cham Isles with majestic mountain slopes, beautiful landscapes and a wide range of plants as well as animals. The isles cover an area of almost 250 square kilometers with eight islands Hon Lao, Hon Kho, Hon Cu, Hon La, Hon Tai, Hon Lo and Hon Dai.
There have been people who were called Cham people inhabiting on Cham Islands since 2,500 years ago during which this place served as transshipping spot to the mainland. Nowadays, approximately 3,000 residents live along Lang and Huong beaches in Cham Islands and make their living mainly by fishing.
Things to do and see
Cham Island appeals tourists with a variety of leisure activities taking place in the background of picturesque mountains, white-sand beaches and pristine jungles. The main attractions on the island are the beaches including Chong Beach which is located two kilometers south starting from the main village. The white sand, umbrellas made with coconut leaves and a long line of lounges which are surrounded by greenery slopes would make visitors drown in the peaceful nature. If you prefer somewhere more private and fewer people, Xep Beach is an excellent choice which is not only beautiful but also quiet with a little noise of human life. Heading to the South of the island, we can catch the sight of Huong Beach which is not only beautiful but also inhibited by a full-of-character village nearby. Visitors can have a meal with fresh seafood or take part in fishing activities with the locals. There is a temple built in the 19th century in tribute to the gods who endowed collecting bird nest which now becomes a traditional occupation of people living here.
For people who are fond of water activities, Cham Island has a lot to offer such as water skiing, scuba diving, boat racing, beach volleyball, kayaking, boat racing, etc. As being a part of Cham Isles Marine Park, this place is like a kingdom of aquatic species like sea grasses, marine algae, and especially colorful coral reefs. Tourists will have a chance of experiencing the feeling of being surrounded by a world of colorful fishes, mollusk under the blue water surface.
Apart from being the hub or recreation activities, Cham Islands is well known for being cultural attraction which has grown up with the foundation and establishment of Hoian Ancient Town. There are cultural exhibition portraying history and the lives of local people, an ancient well from a long time ago and fishing villages for visitors if they want to take a look at the culture here.
Another appealing characteristic of Cham Isles that may lure visitors is the hospitality of people who are nice and being known for possessing a lifestyle that is in much harmony with the surrounding nature.
Best time to visit?
It is recommended that Cu Lao Cham be visited during the dry season which lasts from March to September. The ideal time for underwater exploration such as scuba diving or snorkeling is between June and August. Sometimes, boats coming to and from Cua Dai Beach could be delayed due to strong wind which makes visitors wait until it is safe again to sail off.
The wet season from October to February is not the time for Cu Lao Cham when it is stormy and dangerous to have a journey in the sea.
How to get there?
There are daily flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang International Airport from where you can catch buses or taxis to Hoi An Ancient Town. The price is not too high, which ranges around 16 to 19 dollars for such a journey. If visitors find Cu Lao Cham worth spending time in, there are tours departing from Hoi An Ancient Town. The first way yet the most costly one is hiring a speed boat from Cua Dai in Hoi An which takes you only 30 minutes to reach Cham Island. Nevertheless, some high-speed boats are sometimes overloaded, especially at peak time. Therefore, in case the sea is rather rough, visitors had better choose another way to get on the islands or simply wait for one more day. Another way is choosing boats sailing to Cu Lao Cham leaving Cua Dai at 8am every day. The journey would take you 1 hour at a cheaper price than the first choice. The other option is going by tour boats which are offered by many tour booking offices in town.