A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An in the central province of Quang Nam would be incomplete without dropping by Cu Lao Cham (Cham Island), an archipelago off the coast of the central province.
About Cham island
Situated about 15 km from the ancient town of Hoi An, Cham Island comprises eight islets of different sizes with each boasting a different feature and thus creating a picturesque landscape that waits to be discovered.
Recognized as the world’s biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2009, the archipelago has many rare and valuable flora and fauna species and historical sites associated with the development in the past of the commercial port town of Hoi An.
Once arriving in Cham Island, nature enthusiasts should explore the largest islet, Hon Lao, covering an area of 1,317 hectares and home to more than 600 households with over 3,000 residents, who mostly earn a living by catching fish and catering to tourists. A prominent venue on the island is Hai Tang Pagoda, which was built 250 years ago. Despite the ups and downs of history, the ancient pagoda has remained a common sacred site for local residents to practice religious beliefs and attracted thousands of tourists from far and wide every year.
Previously, the provincial government decided not to construct a cable car system connecting the mainland and Cu Lao Cham while restricting the number of visitors to this nature reserve, said Dinh Hai, director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Cu Lao Cham is known as an ideal hideaway for tourists to Quang Nam Province. While developing tourism products, the province will also pay proper attention to the conservation of the nature reserve, Hai added.
An Untouched Paradise for Adventurers
What appeals to tourists in Cham Island is its wide variety of leisure activities in a picturesque and pristine setting. Traditional forms of recreation range from swimming on crystal-clear beaches, sunbathing on long-stretching white-sandy coast to exploring the forest. For those who are interested in marine life exploration activities, there are available facilities for water sports like: swimming, water skiing, paragliding, kayaking, kite flying, boat racing and scuba diving. This kingdom of aquatic animals is a collection of marine algae, sea grass, sea creatures and especially coral reefs. Tourists are expected to encounter a beautiful marine world with an abundance of colorful fishes, lobsters, mollusks under the clear water-surface.
Home to cultural authenticity
In addition to recreational activities, Cham Island also gains fame for its cultural attractions such as: an exhibition of nature and Cham island people’s culture, Lang Ong, Hai Tang – a 300-year-old-pagoda, the old well and Huong fishing village. Cham Island is a cultural-historic site, which grows along with the establishment and development of Hoi An City and also has some relics of Cham people’s civilization, dating back hundreds years ago.
Hospitable people and environmental friendly practices
Leading a simple and hospitable life, local residents on Cham Island are also well-known for their environmental-harmonizing lifestyle. In a country where nylon bags are thought to be vital, visitors would find it surprising to see a big panel saying: “Please don’t bring nylon bags to the island” at the entrance of the ship dock and also with a complete lack of this material in the area.
How to get there
Interested tourists can book a tour from Hoi An, which departs daily in the morning to the island. The tour usually includes guide, transportation and a decent meal on the island. If you want to explore the island on your own, take a taxi to Bach Dang pier. Boats usually depart at 7:30 AM and fare is $2 per person. Make sure you sit on the second level for the best view on the way to Cham Island.
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