Best Islands in Vietnam

The best Vietnam islands to visit

Vietnam’s popularity as a beach destination is growing, and it’s slowly becoming a favorite in South East Asia for beach escapes. Vietnam’s beaches can absolutely keep up with those of nearby Thailand. And while most visitors flock to the mainland with maybe a quick side trip to Phu Quoc island, most other islands in Vietnam still remain fairly quiet.

I’ve asked some travel blogging friends to share their favorite islands.

Here are some of the Vietnam islands to visit if you’ve got some time to explore the country:
(title picture: Con Dao’s Nhat Beach)

Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc Island Vietnam

Located just off the border with Cambodia, Phu Quoc Island is located in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s well-known for the white-sand beaches, quiet red dirt roads and its palm tree-lined coast. At least 50% of the island is part of the Phu Quoc National Park, which means you have jungle, hiking trails and mountains to explore if you want to move away from the gorgeous palm covered beaches.

There’s seafood galore here and the night market in Duong Dong is easily accessible and serves the freshest of options with a cold refreshing beer or two.

The island is quiet compared to many others, there are street vendors, beach vendors but not the hassle from them that you expect on the mainland. Phu Quoc is a place to relax and enjoy. Perhaps take a cooking class, or explore the history of the island at the Phu Quoc prison. Phu Quoc is a great place to explore by motorbike, as the roads are quiet and it’s easy to explore.
Phu Quoc’s location on the Cambodia to Vietnam border makes it a great stopping off point for a trip between the two countries and it’s an excellent island to relax on.

by Sarah Cartner from ASocialNomad

Con Dao

Con Dao Island Vietnam

If you are going to Vietnam, one of the best places to visit is Con Dao. Located to the south of the country, Con Dao is a group of several islands, of which only one, Con Son, is inhabited.

Con Dao has some of the best beaches we saw in our five month trip in SE Asia. There are several around the island, and you can easily explore most of them on a motorbike. Our favourite beach in Con Dao was Dam Trau, which was also fantastic to snorkel from. Snorkeling and diving boat trips are also available on the island.

Con Dao is also ideal if you are looking for luxury. The famous Six Senses resort, part of a chain of luxury hotels in exotic destinations around the world, has its own private beach and is a great getaway from everything.

Beaches aside, Con Dao has a number of historical sites you can visit. It used to be a place of exile, and its once horrific prisons and concentration camps have been restored and turned into grim museums. The Con Dao cemetery is a place of pilgrimage for the Vietnamese, who come here to celebrate their national heroine, Vo Thi Sau, who was executed by the French.

In terms of tourist infrastructure, Con Dao is still fairly primitive. We suggest that you visit as soon as you can, and discover its unspoilt beauty.

by Dave from Dave’s Travel Pages

Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island, Ha Long Bay

Cat Ba Island, near Halong Bay in North Vietnam, is one of the coolest islands anywhere in Southeast Asia. It’s a great base from which to explore Halong Bay, and has a ton of unique experiences to offer in its own right.

You can book a bus from Hanoi to Cat Ba—all of these tickets include the boat ride, too. They’ll drop you off in front of your hotel or hostel on the island. I recommend Cat Ba Oasis Bungalows; they have luxurious private rooms as well as affordable dorms, depending on your travel style. The pool is sleek and clean, and you’ll get a discount on the restaurant’s food and drinks. Best of all, you can book your Halong Bay, Cat Ba National Park, or rock climbing tours through their helpful staff.

Cat Ba Island is a delightful gem in and of itself, managing to stay somewhat under-the-radar so far. It’s developing quickly, though, with a new resort in the works. Thankfully, I didn’t really notice (plus, it’s hard to avoid in Southeast Asia these days).

My favorite activities on the island are hiking in Cat Ba National Park, eating seafood hot pot (head a few blocks inland for better prices), and swimming. Specifically, you’ve gotta go night swimming with the bioluminescent plankton. You can totally choose your vibe on Cat Ba, whether you want a quiet trip to enjoy nature or partying on the beach—or both!

by Kaisa Lee from Glam Granola Travel

Cham Islands

Cham Islands Vietnam

The Cham islands are a group of 8 islands located off the coast of Hoi An. It’s only recently that the largest, inhabited island has been opened for tourism. Half of the island is still occupied by the military and is therefore closed off to the public.

You can travel by speed boat to reach the island in about 20-30 minutes, or take the daily ferry (about 1.5 hours). The boat docks at the larger village, which has good amenities for tourists and boasts some lovely beaches.

Alternatively, you can continue onwards on-board a smaller boat (or a motorbike) and head about 5km east to the smaller village. The beaches are a little rocky, but with only a couple of restaurants and two main lanes, authenticity is the major drawcard here.

There are homestays in both villages, and luxury accommodation options are currently being developed in between the two villages. Fishing, snorkelling and kayaking trips are available through accommodation providers.

If you prefer a bit of DIY, you can hike along the road that runs between the two villages and stop off at the gorgeous bays in between. [Note that currently, in 2019, this is the only area of the island that is open for hiking].

Or of course, you can do nothing at all. Sometimes the beauty of coming to a place like this is simply to enjoy ‘being’.

by Elly McGuinness from Parenting, Passports and Profits

Other Vietnam islands to visit

Nam Du

The Nam Du Archipelago lies just South of Phu Quoc. It’s been off limits to foreign travelers for a long time, but is now accessible by ferry from Rach Gia, with accommodation options growing over the past couple of years. The archipelago is best explored by boat (arrangements for private boat trips can be made at the local fishing ports).

Nam Du has little tourism infrastructure, so you’ll spend your days going island hopping, eating fresh sea food or simply lying on the beach.

Ly Son

Ly Son is a volcanic islands located in Southern Vietnam, in Quang Ngai province. Whilst it’s easily accessibly by ferry from Sa Ky port, it’s not as well known with international travelers as it doesn’t have the range of picturesque white sand beaches that Phu Quoc and Con Dao have. Vietnamese travelers flock to Ly Son to explore the volcanic terrain and the cliffs towering over the island’s beaches. The island’s sea food is traditionally flavored with lots of garlic, which grows in abundance on Ly Son.

Ba Lua Archipelago

Ba Lua Archipelago has been labeled the “Ha Long Bay of the South”. It consists of over 40 tiny islands and islets, just a few miles off the mainland in the Gulf of Thailand near Rach Gia. Only a few of these islands are currently inhabited, making Ba Lua an attractive destination for explorers looking to get away from the crowds of nearby Thailand.

Some of the islands are so close together and the water is so shallow that at low tide, a popular activity is to wade from one island to another in the knee-deep water.

An Binh and other Mekong Islands

An Binh Island Mekong Delta

Did you know that there are also plenty of small islands on Vietnam’s mainland? Particularly in the Mekong Delta, the rivers and canals have formed lots of little islands which bring a bit of the island flair to the mainland, while being super easy to reach.

An Binh, set in the river just across from Vinh Long town, is one of the more popular islands, with home stays lining the riverbanks. Most of the roads on the island are too narrow for cars, making them ideal for a relaxing bicycle or scooter ride.

More beach destinations in Vietnam

Beaches on mainland Vietnam
Looking to check out more tropical beach destinations in Vietnam? Check out my guide to the best beaches in Southern Vietnam!

One thought on “The best Vietnam islands to visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *