The Essential Guide to Vietnam’s Islands

Many enjoy traveling to Vietnam’s rich and diverse islands, not only for the sun-drenched, idyllic beaches but to immerse themselves in traditional village cultures, adventure through luscious forests, experience mysterious grottoes, snorkel through rare marine areas and visit ancient temples.

Vietnam has many islands that offer so much to travelers and tourists, and so this list is here to help you narrow down your decision of where to visit next!

Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc Island
Photo by Eila Lifflander on Unsplash

Travelers searching for an island that offers them a little bit of everything will not be disappointed with a trip to Phu Quoc Island. The idyllic beaches are the ideal location for nightly romantic sunsets, while the evergreen forests are perfect for adventurous hikes and a peaceful sanctuary away from Vietnam’s bustling cities.

Find Phu Quoc in the far south of Vietnam, located 45 kilometers west of Ha Tien. This island is the only visa-free destination to visit in Vietnam, allowing you to travel directly to the island’s international airport. The north of the island is mostly occupied with the UNESCO world heritage-listed national park. However, the south of the island is a stark contrast; bursting with artsy cafes, lively bars, and luxury resorts.

Cham Islands

The Cham Islands are found in central Vietnam and are comprised of eight small islands just off the coast of Hoi An. Central Vietnam’s summer season is from January right up until August, so this is the ideal time to visit. The Cham Islands are a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, making this a popular destination for keen scuba divers and snorkelers.

To explore some of the rarest marine life Vietnam has to offer, travelers should head to the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park. Those who enjoy sunbathing on pristine beaches and partaking in thrilling water sports will be best suited to Hon Lao, home to the Cham Islands’ many fishing villages.

The most popular style of accommodation on Hon Lao are homestays located along Bai Chong Beach.

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island
Photo by Krzysztof Grech on Unsplash

Cat Ba Island is located in northern Vietnam, and it’s the largest island in Ha Long Bay. Many choose to visit this island with tour companies operating out of Hanoi, going on a day trip to the island to experience a few of its many sights.

However, there are also many great hotels, restaurants, and bars on this thriving island. The beaches of Cat Ba are great for sun-bathing enthusiasts and swimmers alike, especially during the summer months. Travelers who prefer to avoid the crowds can travel via kayak or speedboat to Monkey Island or Lan Ha Bay to enjoy more private beach sanctuaries.

Unlike the many caves of Ha Long Bay that are fitted with artificial lights, tourists and locals enjoy the caves of Cat Ba National Park for a more natural experience. For this reason, it is worth investing in good quality caving gear and exploring with knowledgeable local guides. 

Nam Du Island

Nam Du Island
Photo by Ka Dờ on Unsplash

Nam Du is an archipelago found in southern Vietnam, around 40 kilometers from Phu Quong island. Nam Du is made up of 21 islands and known for its vibrant marine life and coral reefs. Note that only 11 of the islands are inhabited, and Hon Lon is the most popular island for tourists. Sun-bathers, swimmers, and fans of water sports should check out the Dat Do, Mam, Nhuh and Men beaches.

Keen snorkelers and divers will enjoy the many day tours or charter boat options around Hon Dau island. Unlike Phu Quong, traveling to Nam Du requires the correct documentation, including a passport and visa.

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