Vietnam is a coastal country that possesses thousands of islands. Therefore, whatever definition of “island paradise” you have, we can deliver. From the tourist famous to the local favorite, simply choose a place that fits your taste and embark on a get-away journey to the sea!
Phu Quoc – The Must-visit Pearl of the Southern Sea
Phu Quoc from above
Located in the southern tip of Vietnam’s territory, Phu Quoc of Kien Giang Province is the largest island in our country. Come to Phu Quoc, and you are guaranteed a “Maldives Alternative” experience. Besides the popular Long Beach and Sao Beach that are always jammed with people during holiday seasons, try exploring Phu Quoc’s neighboring islands such as Mong Tay Islet (“Fingernail” Islet) – a landscape of marvelous beauty and little human impact.
Perfect destination for your summer retreat
If you get bored of the sand and sea, you can always visit other attractions such as Phu Quoc Prison, Da Tranh Waterfall, and Pepper Garden.
Best time to visit: October to March
How to get there:
- Direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Rach Gia, Can Tho
- Express boats from Rach Gia (VND 330,000/person) or Ha Tien (VND 230,000/person)
Find discounted tickets to travel from Ho Chi Minh to Phu Quoc below:
Con Dao – The Phoenix Rising from the Dust of Wars
Only a 45-minute flight away from Ho Chi Minh City, Con Dao is one of the islands of Vietnam worthy of a visit. Tipped eastward, this isolated archipelago is made up of 16 islets, but only Con Son, the main island, is (sparsely) inhabited.
Con Dao possesses the same beach-holiday features that you would expect anywhere like palm trees, white sand, and turquoise water. However, Con Dao has this unique tranquil ambiance that contrasts with its chaotic past.
Can you feel the stillness of Con Dao?
Con Dao used to be the preserve of political prisoners during the wars. Thankfully, the pain and atrocity now can only be observed in Con Dao prison. Many high-ranking Vietnamese leaders were kept here. If you have done strolling through the prisons, visit the Hang Duong Cemetery nearby to learn more about the war and pay homage to the fallen.
Best time to visit: March to September
How to get there:
- Direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho
- Superdong Express boats from Soc Trang (and Vung Tau in 2019) (VND 310,000/person)
- Standard boats from Vung Tau (VND 400,000/seat and VND 533,000/bed)
Ly Son – The Island of Garlic
When it comes to Vietnam islands to visit, it would be a huge mistake to omit Ly Son Island (Quang Ngai). Though best known for its garlic, the island is slowly gaining recognition as the gem of the middle coast.
Ly Son is an “isolated” island, so the infrastructure is nothing world-class: taxis are rare, there are no big hotels or restaurants, and power only exists for a limited time. But all those shortcomings are compensated for by the island wildly picturesque scenery. Some popular attractions include To Vo Arch, Hang Pagoda (a pagoda inside a cave facing the ocean), Mount Thoi Loi (the highest point of the island), and An Binh Island.
Hang Pagoda- an unusual building
To Vo Arch – an excellent spot for photos
Best time to visit:
- Summer (June to September)
- Garlic Season in September
- Garlic Harvest Season in December
How to get there: Navigate by plane/bus to Quang Ngai Province. Then, you can take buses or taxis to Sa Ky Harbour and then a boat to the island (VND 115,000/person/one way). Note that as foreigners, you will have to go through some security procedures to buy tickets.
Nam Du – The Hidden Gem of Mekong Delta
Nam Du of Kien Giang province is the place to go if you want a more rustic, blend-in-with-the-locals kind of trip.
Nam Du islands managed to escape the tourist eyes for quite some time. However, the island is gaining publicity from media coverage. The sudden burgeoning demand in tourism put pressure on local authorities and the underdeveloped infrastructure on weekends and holiday seasons. Therefore, choose the dates for your trip carefully.
When visiting Nam Du, you cannot miss Hon Lon – the largest island – with some nice beaches and the famous Nam Du lighthouse, Hon Dau Island with the signature palm tree that bends over the ocean, and Hon Mau Island which is home to the only true white beach sand in Nam Du (Chuong Beach).
An Instagram-worthy photo spot
Best time to visit: November to May
How to get there: Express boat from Rach Gia (~VND 440,000/round-trip)
Cham – The Island for the Diving Enthusiasts
From the list of the islands of Vietnam worthy of a visit, Cham Island stood out for its coral reefs reputation. The two most popular traveling destinations are Cu Lao Cham Marine Park and Hon Lao Island. While the former caters to tourists who want to submerge underwater and take a peek at the colorful corals and diverse marine life, the later is home to the many beaches and fishing villages.
Tourists going for diving sessions in Cham
The most popular overnight accommodation here is homestays, but you can also rent tents for about VND 150,000 a night. Foreigners are not allowed to rent motorbikes, so you will have to hire a driver to get around (~ VND 300,000/2 hours). Also, Cham is a plastic-free island, so don’t bring any plastic bags or bottles along!
Best time to visit: March to August, and avoid the remaining months because of storms
How to get there: Navigate to Hoi An first. Then you can commute to Cham by:
- Canoes from Cua Dai (Hoi An) at VND 150,000/person
- Wooden boats from Cua Dai or Bach Dang at VND 30,000/person
Cat Ba – The Mountainous Island on the Outer Edge of Halong Bay
Cat Ba (Hai Phong) would be a nice addition to your usual Halong Bay cruise. Geologically, this area is an extension of the UNESCO Heritage, with almost the same beautiful scenery but with fewer tourists.
Unlike the beachy islands above, Cat Ba is more famous for its unspoiled wilderness: dense jungles, large caves, and awe-inspiring waterfalls. There is also the spectacular Cat Ba National Park that hosts extraordinary wildlife that made up half of the island. Therefore, Cat Ba is one of the Vietnam islands to visit if you are into physical activities like cycling, trekking, or rock climbing.
Hiking path through Cat Ba National Park
Kayaking through the striking Lan Ha Bay would also be a memorable experience. There are more attractions such as Monkey Island and Viet Hai Fish Village.
The breath-taking Lan Ha Bay
Best time to visit: All year round, but avoid the weekends in summers as the island will be very crowded
How to get there:
- From Hanoi, there are buses from Luong Yen Station that take you straight to the heart of Cat Ba. You won’t have to buy separate tickets and worry about missing a ferry (VND 200,000/person)
- From Hai Phong, you can take either a ferry from Dinh Vu Harbor or an express boat from Binh Harbor (from VND 200,000/person)
- From Ha Long, you can take an express canoe from Tuan Chau (Ha Long) to Gia Luan (Cat Ba) (about VND 150,000/person)
Check prices and reviews of top hotels in Vietnam:
Final Thoughts on Vietnam Islands to Visit
Most Vietnam islands have military bases, so stay away from those spots and never take photos of soldiers or the buildings. Generally, islands in the South (from Da Nang downwards) are ideal to visit all year round thanks to its moderate temperatures. The northern ocean can get chilly during autumn/winter (from November to April), not to mention the presence of storms. Keep these in mind and you are guaranteed an unforgettable island retreat!