Discover the best of Vietnam islands from North to South

Vietnam boasts a diverse array of islands scattered along its approximately 3200 km coastline, ranging from small uninhabited islets to popular tourist destinations. Despite the country’s abundant stunning beaches and coastlines, the captivating islands along Vietnam’s picturesque shoreline often go unnoticed. To make the most of your island-hopping adventure, it’s essential to research and select islands that align with your interests, ensuring a tailored and fulfilling travel experience.

For those seeking recommendations, we’ve curated a list of the finest Vietnam islands that deserve a spot on your itinerary. Delve into this guide to uncover hidden gems, explore unique cultures, and bask in the natural beauty that these islands have to offer. From pristine landscapes to vibrant local life, each island presents a distinctive charm, waiting to be discovered and woven into the tapestry of your Vietnam travel experience.

Vietnam islands – the gems you need to make your vacation extraordinary

With an extensive sea area and a lengthy coastline, Vietnam boasts a vast archipelago of over 3,000 islands, encompassing both large and small landmasses, including notable islands such as Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, along with around 1,000 reefs. This island system is categorized into two main segments: The coastal island system comprises approximately 2,800 diverse large and small islands, primarily concentrated in four provinces: Kien Giang, Quang Ninh, Khanh Hoa, and Hai Phong; and the offshore island system features over 2,000 islands of various sizes scattered across the East Sea.

Renowned for their scenic beauty and diverse recreational opportunities, the best islands in Vietnam are ideal destinations for beach outings, swimming, and diving. Each island offers a unique blend of majestic landscapes, youthful charm, and warm hospitality from the local residents. Choosing a famous Vietnam island to visit not only allows you to enjoy picturesque scenery and engage in water activities but also provides a chance to immerse yourself in the islanders’ fishing lifestyle. The sea is intricately linked to the daily life, culture, and traditions of the Vietnamese coastal communities. If you’re seeking recommendations for your upcoming trip, read on as we guide you through the best of Vietnam islands from North to South.

Cat Ba Island

Nestled in the embrace of nature, Cat Ba Island stands out as the most enchanting destination in Vietnam’s northern seas, adorned with unspoiled beaches, ancient forests, diverse ecosystems, and a mild climate. Shaped by successive limestone peaks, the island boasts a majestic panorama when viewed from above, showcasing a stunning interplay of the sea and verdant mountains. Situated approximately 60 km from Hai Phong city center within Cat Hai island district, Cat Ba ranks among the finest islands in Vietnam, earning its place on your summer getaway list.

The island enjoys pleasant weather and fresh air throughout the year, making it an ideal destination for visits at almost any time, particularly from April to September to escape the summer heat. Beyond exploring attractions like Cat Ba National Park, Trung Trang Cave, and Cai Beo ancient fishing village, consider these must-do activities:

  • Discovering Lan Ha Bay: 

To fully appreciate the bay’s beauty, opt for a kayak rental, allowing you to navigate closer to the limestone islands and concealed water caves tucked within the rocky formations. For a seamless sightseeing, experiential, and dining experience, consider embarking on a cruise tour.

  • Spending Time on Monkey Island: 

Home to over 20 endearing and lively monkeys, Monkey Island offers impromptu encounters where you can feed and interact with these charming creatures. Cat Dua Beach, featuring crystal-clear blue waters and gentle waves, is an ideal spot for relaxation and swimming.

  • Visiting Cannon Fort: 

Steeped in history from the wars against France and America, Cannon Fort, or Peak 177, boasts large cannons, intricate tunnels, and military trenches. Gain insights into history and marvel at the panoramic view of Cat Ba town and the sunset through a telescope.

Ly Son Island

Located in the vast ocean, Ly Son Island stands as the sole island district of Quang Ngai province, located 15 nautical miles from the mainland (approximately 27 km). The allure of Ly Son is intricately woven into its illustrious historical significance, the warm-hearted coastal community, and the enchanting natural panorama, featuring pristine blue seas, ivory-white sands, and golden sunshine.

From June to September, Ly Son experiences pleasant and sunny weather, making it an ideal beach destination. For unique experiences, the garlic season unfolds from September to December, while the Hoang Sa Soldier Ceremony graces the island from March 18 to 20 in the lunar calendar. Here are some must-visit points on Ly Son Island, Vietnam:

  • To Vo Gate:

Standing at a height of about 2.5 meters, To Vo Gate boasts European-style lava rock architecture, marking it as Vietnam’s most beautiful natural lava rock arch—a testament to millions of years of natural evolution. Gazing south from To Vo Gate reveals a thriving fishing village. Catching the sunset here is an unmissable experience during your visit to Ly Son Island.

  • Thoi Loi Mountain:

As the tallest peak (149m) among the five mountains, Thoi Loi Mountain bears witness to the island’s volcanic history. Crowned with a flagpole displaying the national flag, the summit also hosts the Hang Pagoda (Cave Pagoda), perched on the sea’s edge. Accessible via stone steps carved by human hands, the pagoda invites you to light incense, offering a sense of transcendence in its fragrant ambiance, reminiscent of a fairy cave.

  • Garlic Fields: 

Dubbed the “garlic kingdom,” Ly Son Island is renowned for its distinct garlic, owing to the unique soil conditions. Exploring the garlic fields provides a delightful experience, strolling amidst fragrant garlic plants and witnessing the meticulous care bestowed upon them by the locals.

Cham Island

Cham Island Scuba Diving

Included in the elite category of the finest Vietnam islands, Cham Island, bestowed with UNESCO recognition as a world biosphere reserve, stands out as a must-visit destination. The period from March to August offers optimal weather conditions, featuring warm, sunny days and calm seas, making it an ideal time for exploration. 

Additionally, attending festivals such as the Cau Ngu Festival on April 3-4 or the Yen Craftsman Memorial on March 9-10 (lunar calendar) enhances the cultural experience. Key attractions on Cham Island include:

  • Cham Ancient Well:

Known as Gieng Xom Cam, this 200-year-old well exhibits a distinctive structure akin to other Cham wells in Hoi An. With its round tubular shape and well walls, it serves as the sole freshwater source on the island, remaining resilient even during the driest seasons—an exceptional feature.

  • Eo Gio (Wind Corner):

Embraced by verdant mountains and an expansive seascape, Eo Gio is an irresistible destination for witnessing breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.

  • Sea trekking to explore coral reefs:

A favorite among tourists, sea trekking unveils the mesmerizing marine kingdom of seaweed, coral, and sea creatures. The optimal time for diving is around noon, allowing the sun to illuminate the sea floor and showcase the vibrant underwater world.

Tre Island

Situated approximately 5 km east of Nha Trang city center, Hon Tre stands as an idyllic and secluded gem, often referred to as the green pearl of Nha Trang Bay. This island enclave boasts a mild climate with few storms, coupled with captivating natural scenery, earning it the distinction of harboring Vietnam’s most beautiful natural beach and becoming a renowned attraction in Nha Trang city.

The optimal time to explore this pristine island in Vietnam is from January to August, particularly during the peak tourist season of July to August. It is advisable to avoid visiting in October to November due to the possibility of storms and heavy rainfall. Hon Tre Island presents a range of tourist destinations, below are some of the best recommendations:

  • Vin Wonders Nha Trang (Vinpearl Land)

Renowned as an entertainment haven in Nha Trang, Vinpearl Land encompasses extensive projects featuring hotels, resorts, amusement parks, and shopping malls. Notably, visitors can experience Vietnam’s longest sea-crossing cable car route (up to 3320m) with 9 pillars, connecting VinPearl tourist area to Nha Trang’s Vinh Nguyen Cau Da port. Offering engaging games and attractions, such as the Aquarium and water music concerts, Vinpearl Land is an unmissable destination.

  • Bai Tru (Tru Beach)

Nestled in the north of Hon Tre Island, Bai Tru boasts a pristine natural beach adorned with fine white sand and crystal-clear blue waters revealing the seabed. Adjacent to the beach are small fishing villages that visitors can explore, providing insights into the daily life and customs of the local community.

  • Con Se Tre Tourist Resort

Crafted entirely from bamboo, Se Tre Tourist Resort exudes a tranquil and rustic village ambiance, set against a backdrop of azure coastline and offering professional service activities. The resort provides diverse water entertainment activities, including swimming, scuba diving, sea fishing, and water moto riding, inviting visitors to indulge in a variety of experiences.

Nam Du Island

vietnam island

Located southeast of Phu Quoc Island, Nam Du archipelago stands out as one of the finest destinations among Vietnam’s islands. Positioned 65 nautical miles from Rach Gia’s coast, Nam Du Island is renowned for its azure coastlines, pristine white sand, coconut groves, and captivating rocky beaches, exuding a wild yet alluring charm.

Ideal for year-round visits, the period from December to March offers calm and clear seas, facilitating smooth boat travel without concerns about seasickness. However, the months from April to November, marked by stormy weather, necessitate preparations such as raincoats and umbrellas for potential heavy rainfall. Tourists exploring Nam Du Island can discover noteworthy sites, including the following destinations:

  • Thien Lanh Ghost Hill: 

Laden with legends, this hill is associated with tales of fairies descending on its summit, known as the fairy yard. En route to Thien Lanh Ghost Hill, visitors encounter a Buddha statue and ancient inscriptions on the rocks.

  • Bai Chet: 

Impressively showcasing an array of fresh seafood available in department stores, restaurants, and coffee shops, Bai Chet Beach boasts a wild appearance with fine white sands, embraced by surrounding mountains. It transforms into a vibrant seafood market in the morning, allowing visitors to purchase fresh and affordable seafood for subsequent preparation in local restaurants or accommodations.

  • Hon Lon: 

Acknowledged as Nam Du Island’s most beautiful beach, Hon Lon offers crystal-clear and refreshing seawater. Visitors can engage in activities such as fish-catching dives, coral exploration, and rock-snail collection. A stroll on the pristine white sands and a swim in the clear blue waters create a serene escape, momentarily easing life’s burdens with the rhythmic sounds of the waves.

Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc sunset on the beach

Embraced by the azure sea and adorned with stretches of golden and white sands, Phu Quoc Island stands as a hidden and enchanting haven in Vietnam. Its untouched and mysterious allure captivates travelers with pristine coastlines winding along turquoise waters.

With an average temperature of around 28oC throughout the year, Phu Quoc is a suitable destination for travel at any time. While April to September witnesses peak tourism, the dry season from October to March is considered the best time to explore the island. Monitoring the weather forecast helps avoid unexpected stormy days.

Phu Quoc boasts some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, such as Sao Beach and Dai Beach, making it a paradise for water activities. Some noteworthy favorites among seasonal travelers are:

  • Sao Beach (Star Beach): 

Retaining its wild charm, Star Beach remains less frequented by tourists. The clear water and smooth white sand create an idyllic setting. Every night, the beach comes alive with tens of thousands of starfish covering the sands, hence earning its name. In the summer, Sao Beach offers calm waves and a serene atmosphere with minimal shops, providing a uniquely peaceful experience.

  • Truong Beach:

Stretching over 20 kilometers along Phu Quoc’s south coast, Truong Beach, also known as Long Beach, features grainy yellow sands and occasional fishing hamlets. The beach is largely deserted, save for resorts and guest houses at the northern end. Visitors can enjoy amenities, massages on wooden chairs right on the beach, and explore the open and airy spaces, making it an ideal spot for picnics.

  • Dinh Cau Cape: 

Beyond its spiritual significance, Dinh Cau Cape is a renowned landscape offering breathtaking sunset views. Perched on a rocky cliff with a distinctive shape facing the sea, an ancient temple stands proudly against the crashing waves. The cape hosts a grand festival every year on the 15th and 16th of October (lunar calendar), providing visitors with a chance to partake in local celebrations.

Final thoughts

From the ethereal beauty of Cat Ba to the secluded paradise of Phu Quoc, each of these Vietnam islands is a chapter in a story written by nature’s artistic hand. Including these islands in your itinerary is not just a travel choice; it’s a decision to delve into the undiscovered, where turquoise waters caress pristine shores, and vibrant cultures are woven into the very fabric of the landscape. 

Viland Travel’s customized tours serve as the keys to unlock these island treasures, curating experiences that go beyond the surface. It’s not just travel; it’s a symphony of senses, where each island becomes a note in the grand melody of your journey. So, let Viland Travel orchestrate your island odyssey – a bespoke composition of discovery, adventure, and cultural immersion. Unleash your wanderlust and let these islands be the vivid strokes on the canvas of your travel masterpiece.