Cu Lao Cham (also known as Cham Islands) is a group of eight small islands in the South China Sea, about 15 km from Hoi An city in the Quang Nam province of central Vietnam. It is a part of the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park, which was established in 2009 and recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2017. It is a place of natural beauty and biodiversity, with coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, and marine animals. It is also a place of cultural heritage and diversity, with ancient temples, fishing villages, and ethnic minorities.
Cu Lao Cham is a popular destination for tourists who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland and enjoy the tranquility and simplicity of island life. It is also a paradise for adventure seekers who want to explore the underwater world and experience the thrill of water sports and activities. It is also a haven for eco-conscious travelers who want to support the conservation and sustainability of the environment and the community.
In this blog post, I will introduce you to some of the main features and attractions of Cu Lao Cham, as well as some tips and recommendations for visiting this amazing place.
The Natural Beauty and Biodiversity of Cu Lao Cham
The main attraction of Cu Lao Cham is its natural beauty and biodiversity. The islands have a total area of about 15 km2 and a population of about 3,000 people. The largest island is Hon Lao (Pearl Island), which has most of the facilities and services for visitors. The other islands are Hon Dai (Long Island), Hon Mo (Tomb Island), Hon Kho Me (Dry Island Mother), Hon Kho Con (Dry Island Child), Hon La (Leaf Island), Hon Tai (Ear Island), and Hon Ong (Man Island).
The islands are surrounded by crystal clear water that has a visibility of up to 30 m. The water temperature ranges from 24°C to 30°C throughout the year. The water is home to more than 1,500 species of marine life, including fish, coral, seaweed, mollusks, crustaceans, turtles, dolphins, etc. The islands are also covered by lush green vegetation that has more than 500 species of plants, including trees, flowers, herbs, fruits, etc. The islands are also inhabited by various animals, such as birds, lizards, snakes, monkeys, etc.
The best way to enjoy the natural beauty and biodiversity of Cu Lao Cham is to go snorkeling or diving. You can rent equipment or join a tour from Hoi An or from the islands. You can also take a boat trip around the islands or visit some of the beaches that have white sand and blue water. Some of the beaches that are worth visiting are Bai Ong (Man Beach), Bai Huong (Fragrant Beach), Bai Xep (Folded Beach), Bai Chong (Pile Beach), etc.
The natural beauty and biodiversity of Cu Lao Cham are stunning and impressive. They are also precious and fragile. Therefore, it is important to respect and protect them by following some rules and guidelines:
- Do not litter or leave any waste on the islands or in the water.
- Do not touch or damage any coral or marine life.
- Do not collect or buy any shells or souvenirs made from coral or marine life.
- Do not feed any fish or animals.
- Do not use any sunscreen or chemicals that can harm the environment.
The Cultural Heritage and Diversity of Cu Lao Cham
Cu Lao Cham has a long and rich history that dates back to thousands of years ago. The islands were inhabited by various ethnic groups and civilizations, such as the Sa Huynh culture (from the 1st millennium BCE to the 2nd century CE), the Champa Kingdom (from the 2nd to the 15th century CE), the Dai Viet Kingdom (from the 15th to the 19th century CE), and the French colonial rule (from the 19th to the 20th century CE). The islands were also a strategic location for trade and navigation between Vietnam and other countries and regions, such as China, Japan, India, Southeast Asia, etc.
The history and culture of Cu Lao Cham are reflected in its attractions and landmarks that showcase its heritage and identity. Some of them are:
- Hai Tang Pagoda (Chua Hai Tang): A Buddhist temple that was built in 1758 CE on Hon Lao Island. It has a unique architecture and design that combines the styles of Vietnam, China, and India. It has a large statue of Quan Am (the Goddess of Mercy) and a collection of antiques and relics. It is also a place of worship and pilgrimage for the locals and visitors.
- Cham Museum (Bao Tang Cham): A museum that was established in 2011 on Hon Lao Island. It displays and preserves the artifacts and sculptures of the Cham culture that were found on the islands or donated by the locals. It also provides information and education about the history and culture of the Cham people and their influence on Cu Lao Cham.
- Tan Hiep Market (Cho Tan Hiep): A market that is located on Hon Lao Island. It is the main commercial center of the islands where you can buy and sell various goods and products, such as seafood, fruits, vegetables, souvenirs, etc. It is also a place where you can experience the daily life and culture of the islanders.
- Fishing Villages (Lang Chai): The fishing villages are scattered around the islands where you can see the traditional houses and boats of the fishermen and their families. You can also interact with them and learn about their customs and traditions. You can also join them in some of their activities, such as fishing, netting, weaving, etc.
The cultural heritage and diversity of Cu Lao Cham are fascinating and charming. They are also authentic and lively. Therefore, it is important to appreciate and support them by following some rules and guidelines:
- Respect the local culture and religion and dress modestly when visiting temples or pagodas.
- Ask for permission before taking photos or videos of people or places.
- Bargain politely and fairly when buying or selling at the market or shops.
- Do not disturb or interfere with the fishing activities or livelihoods of the islanders.
How to Visit Cu Lao Cham
Cu Lao Cham can be reached by boat from Hoi An city. There are two types of boats: speedboats and wooden boats. The speedboats take about 20 minutes to get to the islands and cost about 150,000 VND (about 6.5 USD) per person for a round trip. The wooden boats take about 90 minutes to get to the islands and cost about 80,000 VND (about 3.5 USD) per person for a round trip. The boats depart from Cua Dai Pier (Ben Cua Dai) or Bach Dang Pier (Ben Bach Dang) in Hoi An city. The boats operate from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm every day.
The best time to visit Cu Lao Cham is between March and August, when the weather is dry and sunny. The average temperature is about 28°C (82°F) and the humidity is low. The rainy season is between September and February, when the weather is wet and cloudy. The average temperature is about 25°C (77°F) and the humidity is high. The typhoon season is between July and November, when there may be strong winds and storms.
The cost of visiting Cu Lao Cham depends on your budget and preferences. You can find accommodation options for all price ranges, from homestays to hotels. You can also find food options for all tastes and budgets, from street food to restaurants. You can also find transportation options for all modes and distances, from bicycles to motorbikes to boats.
There are some things to keep in mind when visiting Cu Lao Cham:
- Book your boat tickets in advance as they may sell out quickly or be canceled due to weather conditions.
- Bring your passport or ID card as you may need to register at the island’s authority office.
- Bring water, snacks, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, swimsuit, towel, etc.
- Do not bring any plastic bags or bottles as they are banned on the islands.
Cu Lao Cham is a charming archipelago that offers a lot of natural beauty and cultural heritage for visitors. It is also a place of adventure and relaxation that offers a lot of fun and enjoyment for visitors. It is a place where you can experience the island life at its best.
If you are interested in visiting Cu Lao Cham, you can book your trip online or contact us for more information and assistance. We hope you will have a wonderful time at Cu Lao Cham! 😊