Eight rustic, rocky Vietnam islands, collectively known as the Cham Islands, sit off the coast near Hoi An. Also called Cù Lao Chàm, the archipelago is only 9 miles from the mainland coast – which makes it a perfect day trip from Hoi An. Eager to spend a day in the sun and sea, we joined an excellent Cham Island tour for a full day of adventure.
Cham Island Day Trip
The islands were designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2009, which has only increased the popularity of the islands. Most Hoi An day tours to Cham Island include multiple activities – from cultural experiences to fun-in-the-sun. Book this tour now!
Cham Island Tour Itinerary
Our Cu Lao Cham tour itinerary included sightseeing, snorkeling, swimming and a seaside lunch.
Boat to Cham Island
Day tours from Hoi An depart from Cua Dai Harbour in motorboats or wooden boats. The vessels race across nine miles (of sometimes choppy water) to the Ben Tau wharf in the village of Bai Lang on the largest Cham island. We took seats in the front of the speed boat for the view…and got a wild, exhilarating and very bumpy ride to Cham Island from Hoi An. Note: If traveling by wooden boat to Cham Island – rather than speed boat – the travel time is doubled to 1 hour…or more.
Check prices and itineraries for the Wooden Boat Cham Islands Snorkeling Tour here!
Tour Cu Lao Cham: Hon Lao
Our Cham Island tour from Hoi An explored the largest island in the archipelago, Hon Lao. Of the eight Hoi An Islands, Hon Lao is the only one inhabited with people (about 3,000 residents). In fact, the island has been home to civilizations for the past 2,500 years…which is about 500 years longer than people have lived in Hoi An. Yet, the mountainous island remains relatively undeveloped.
From the Ben Tau main harbor, we walked through the Bail Lang fishing village as our Hoi An travel guide shared his knowledge about the island and people. Resources are scarce on the island; drinking water comes from a well in the center of town and generators are the primary source of electricity. Many of the houses, which are clustered together, double as tourist shops – and it seems the revenue focus has shifted from fishing to tourism throughout the village.
Cham Island, Vietnam Sights
Our Cham tour including sightseeing beyond the village, too. We followed our guide to a temple, school and pagoda that sit prominently at the base of the mountain. The structures are accessible via a small path that winds through an open field of grazing cows (and getting past them was half the fun!). The traditional, wooden Hai Tang Pagoda, which was built in 1848, is where locals go to practice Buddhism and worship spirits.
Cham Island Snorkeling
The Cham Islands may not have the best snorkeling in Vietnam, but it is the best place for snorkeling in Hoi An. Due to recent storms, during our trip the reefs and corals lacked clarity, but we were still able to see many fish and sea creatures. The highlights of our Cham Island snorkeling tour were spotting ‘Nemo’ in an anemone and swimming alongside a 4-foot-long trumpet fish. Top Tip: Want to scuba dive? Look for a tour provider that offers Cham Island diving from the boat, too!
Seaside Lunch on Bai Bac Beach
Our seaside lunch was a fabulous feast of grilled seafood and fresh produce. Food was brought to our table in an endless parade of local specialties. Fresh fish, seafood salad on a shell, seasoned shrimp and Fish Head stew were among our favorite options. Our tour group shared the platters family-style – and plates covered the entire table. As soon as a platter was empty, it was replaced by another delectable dish – and we ate until we couldn’t eat any more.
Cham Beach and Swimming
After lunch we had free time to walk on the beach or head into the sea for a swim. Even though we felt full from lunch, we opted for a refreshing swim in the cool water. We waded out to where it was deep enough to bob in the water and take in the glorious view of the beach and mountains. A perfect way to end a perfect Hoi An-Cham Island tour!
Read other traveler reviews and book your Cham Island tour by speed boat online!
What You Will Need for Your Cham Island Tour from Hoi An
Although it doesn’t take much preparation for a Cham Island tour, there are a few things you will want to have with you to ensure you have an enjoyable trip!
- Most of the day will be spent in the sunshine! Make sure to bring sunscreen (if you plan to snorkel, bring reef-safe sunscreen) and a wide-brimmed hat.
- On Hoi An Snorkeling Tours, the snorkel gear is provided, but we recommend bringing your own mask and snorkel to ensure it fits properly.
- Don’t forget an underwater camera to get footage while you snorkel and swim. If a Go Pro is out of your budget, opt for a less-expensive action camera.
- We think insurance is essential – especially in Vietnam! Travel protected with insurance by World Nomads.
Looking for other Vietnam islands to visit? Check out our tips for Phu Quoc, Vietnam!
Da Nang Day Trips to Cham Islands
Visitors staying in Da Nang have options for Da Nang day tours to Cham Islands, too! Search for day trips from Da Nang on Viator!
How To Get To Cham Island Without a Tour
Want to plan your own DIY Cham Island Day Tour? There is a slow ferry to Cham Island (find information for the Hoi An-Cham Island Ferry at the Cua Dai port). However, be aware that without a tour guide, visitors will be solely responsible for sorting out the details of getting to Cham Island, arranging on-island activities and paying any associated visitor fees.
Cham Island Accommodation
Visitors who want to stay on Cham Island will not find resorts or even a Cham Island hostel. However, there are several Cham Island Homestay options in both the main village, Bai Lang, and in the smaller southern village, Bai Huong. Search for the best accommodations and read fellow traveler reviews on Booking.com!
More Day Trips from Hoi An
Although visiting the Cham Islands near Hoi An is the most popular day trip from the city, there are other tours from Hoi An! Spending a day at the My Son Sanctuary or visiting the iconic Golden Bridge are two other top-rated trips from Hoi An. Find the best day trips from Hoi An, Vietnam on Viator!
Need more ideas of what to do in Hoi An? Check out our list of the Top 10 Things To Do in Hoi An – coming soon!
We Want To Know: Have you been on a Cham Island Tour from Hoi An? What was your experience like? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
Like what you’re reading? Join the journey!
Subscribe to JetSetting Fools and get new blog posts and our quarterly newsletter direct to your inbox:
Pin it! See all of our travel pins on our JetSetting Fools Pinterest Board.