One of the highlights in this easternmost country in the Southeast Asian Indochinese Peninsula, is the long ranging coastline with top islands found off of its shores. Take a day trip to try scuba diving or snorkeling, or stay for an extended period on one of these fabulous islands.
Let’s learn about some of the best islands to visit in Vietnam on your next holiday. Note that there is one island on this list that is only open to Vietnamese citizens, so no foreigners. The other four can be enjoyed by all.
If relaxing away on an island beach is your definition of paradise, or a prominent item on your bucket list, these Vietnamese islands are sure to suit you. They all feature lovely stretches of white sand beaches and various water sports. Full of friendly locals who love to show you their island way of life.
Here are the best island beaches in Vietnam, in no particular order:
1. Phu Quoc
This idyllic island has everything from quiet white sand beaches, views of romantic sunsets, sprawling forests, relaxing atmosphere, and the ultimate getaway from the busy city towns on the mainland. It is a mere 45 kilometers west of Ha Tien located on the southern end of Vietnam.
The island is a favorite for nature lovers, since the northern part of the island has remained untouched due to being protected by its status of being a UNESCO-listed national park. When on the island, take the opportunity of relaxing by the beach, or visiting some of the small traditional villages with friendly locals. You will also see Buddhist pagodas, stunning towering trees, expensive and fancy resorts, and a range of Vietnamese street food. There’s a lot of fun things to do in Phu Quoc.
Getting to Phu Quoc Island
The whole island is easily travelled by motorcycle, taxi, or on one of the organized tour groups. To get to the island itself, you can either opt to take a fast ferry from Ha Tien or Rach Gia. There are also options for a slow ferry from Ha Tien, Express VIP Catamarans, local boats, or even a ferry from neighboring Cambodia and Thailand.
There are many overnight accommodations, from homestays to vacation rentals, including a few luxury hotels. Learn about the best luxury hotels in Phu Quoc if you crave that upscale experience.
2. Con Dao Islands
Another one of Vietnam’s best attractions is the stunning Con Dao Islands. The largest of 15 islands, Con Dao provides visitors the opportunity to see stunning coral reefs, white beaches, gorgeous bays, and tropical forests. Originally this isolated piece of land rising from the azure waters was a destination where political prisoners and undesirables were sent.
When visiting this gem, you will have the opportunity to spot some of the incredible native flora and fauna both above and below the surface of the waves. See if you can spot the giant black squirrel hopping through the trees, or the bow fingered gecko running across the walls of your accommodation. Each of the islands in this collection of islands has it’s own unique attractions to offer. Take your time to visit the Phu Binh Camp, Van Son Temple, Bao Tang Con Dao Museum, or the historic Tiger Cages.
Getting to Con Dao Island
Con Dao has an airport that is located 13 kilometers from town, which takes a short 20 minutes to get to and from by taxi, or motorcycle. The only airline that flies to this airport is the VASCO airline, which is a subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines. There are several flights departing from Ho Chi Minh City every day, with prices remaining relatively constant. When traveling in between the islands you will most likely opt for a local boat, or ferry options. All of which can easily be organized from your accommodation.
Hotels and homestays are in fair supply on this developed, but lesser traveled island. You can find a handful of luxury hotels in Con Dao to make your vacation unforgettable.
3. Cat Ba Island
The largest island in Halong Bay provides tourists the choice of many hotels, restaurants and bars. There are also options to visit the island on a day trip, by bus from Hanoi, then ferry out. The beaches on this island are a highlight, where many visitors flock to sunbathe and swim in the hot summer months. Unfortunately, due to their popularity, Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 2 can be quite crowded.
If you prefer a quieter beach atmosphere, you have the chance to rent a kayak or speedboat and head over to the more relaxing Monkey Island and Lan Ha Bays. These beaches also tend to be cleaner, due to the decreased traffic. If you are a fan of snorkeling, diving, or swimming, then you can most certainly jump onboard one of the many guided tours leaving from the hotels and resorts. The island also offers adventurers the chance to trek, cave, and rock climb on the impressive and stunning cliffs on Cat Ba.
Getting to Cat Ba Island
The best way to get to Cat Ba island is a bus plus ferry departing from Hanoi, which will take you around 4-5 hours total. You’ll depart by boat from Hai Phong. Just like all the other islands and mainland in Vietnam, getting around Cat Ba is easy by motorcycle taxis. If you wish to venture further inland and visit one of the Cat Ba national parks, it is advisable to rent your own motorcycle to get the ultimate Vietnamese experience. If you’re planning to stay near the port’s hubbubs, you will be able to wander around the many bars, shops, hotels, and restaurants by foot.
4. Binh Ba Island
The island was previously run by the military, and still has strict visitor regulations. In fact, foreigners are currently forbidden from the island. You’ll need to check with the local authorities about when foreigners can visit this dazzling destination. Otherwise this island is only open for local Vietnamese.
A slightly lesser visited island, Bihn Ba is known as the Lobster Island due to its incredible richness. It’s a relatively small island, with an area just over 3 square kilometers. It’s located 600km from Nha Tang. The island itself is an astonishing representation of Vietnamese nature, with stunning rocks covered in a variety of endemic tree species rising from the twinkling waters. The islands coasts are surrounded by serene beaches, and the coral reef systems beneath the waves are thriving.
Swimming, sunbathing, and nature viewing are the most popular past times on this secluded island. The many beaches also provide the perfect backdrop to enjoy the stunning sunrise, which casts magnificent colors over the clean water and silhouetted hills.
Getting to Binh Ba Island
To reach Binh Ba Island, you must first make it to Cam Ranh City. Either fly directly to Cam Ranh International Airport, then take a taxi to Da Bac Port (more boat travel to the island than Ba Ngoi Port). Once on the island, there are plenty of taxis waiting to take tourists to the various destination. One of the best things about this island, is the opportunity to pick between hotels and homestays, which will give you an authentic Vietnamese experience.
5. Binh Hung
A short 10 minute ride from the mainland and you’ll be on the Binh Hung island. There is a tiny fishing village where local inhabitants make money by selling fresh seafood to the large number of floating restaurants. There is minimal information online, and majority of the communication on the island will require some form of charades.
The island is mostly uninhabited and features rugged landscapes with dry scrub, large boulders, and the historic Hon Chut Lighthouse. Unfortunately, recent changes in regulations means that foreigners are not allowed to stop there and walk around. This island is a great option for a day trip, as you can travel along the 17km stretch of scenic coastal road named the Vinh Hy Binh Tien Pass. Along the way, you’ll be met with stunning views and incredible beaches that are calling out for a swim.
When you reach the beaches, which are roughly seven kilometers south from Binh Tien, you’ll have an abundance of options for floating restaurants, or local boats that can take you to the uninhabited eastern side of the island. The boat trip will give you vivid views of the whole island, along with the chance to hop into the crystal clear water and the vibrant coral reefs. Jump off the deck, try your free diving, all while surrounded by panoramic views of this spectacular part of the world. If you wish to stay on the island, the best option is to pick one of the home stays. The home stays include boat transfers, home cooked seafood dinner, along with accommodation.
Getting to Binh Hung Island
To get to the island, simply get a ferry from the coast south of Cam Rahn Bay, which is on the south east coast of Vietnam, to this small rocky island.
Whichever island you decide to visit in Vietnam, prepare to be met with exquisite natural beauty, kind and generous locals, and enthusiastic inhabitants offering boat tours, seafood dinners, and homestays. For a truly authentic experience, the homestays will certainly provide you with memories you’ll never forget. The friendliness of the Vietnamese people is world renown, and any gaps with language can easily be filled by smiling and hand gestures.
Most important of all, make sure to leave us a comment about your experience traveling Vietnam’s islands and what tips you would recommend to future visitors!