Cu Lao Cham – the friendly green island

Ben En, home to many rare species
Ben En, home to many rare species

Cu Lao Cham is known as a beautiful island with various wild animals and legendary landscapes. The large island consists of eight islets, 20 kilometers off the coast from Hoi An Ancient Town in Quang Nam Province.

It has wonderful sandy beaches, forested hills and the sea. With a primitive landscape, the island is ideal for camping, swimming and scuba diving to enjoy the corals and beautiful marine life.

It has wonderful sandy beaches, forested hills and the sea.
It has wonderful sandy beaches, forested hills and the sea.

Cham islands are reportedly the first place where Cham people landed, coming to Quang Nam Province from Indonesia (small monuments, dikes and basin to grow rice on terraces are hidden in the forest, as well as 17th century pagodas and small temples in the two villages).

Therefore, being well-known since earlier Cham domination (from 4th to 14th century), the island became one of the main ports of Champa Kingdom. Situated some eight miles offshore of Hoi An, it was also part of Hoi An historical international trading. From 15th century till the beginning of 20th century, the old city was a meeting point for international vessels and junks.

According to archaeologists, Cu Lao Cham first settled there 3,000 years ago and established business contacts with other countries some 1,000 years ago. Cu Lao Cham has preserved many architectural constructions which date back to the 18th and 20th century. They include the shrine dedicated to Than Yen Sao, built in 1843 at Bai Huong, and Hai Tang Pagoda, built in 1753 on the western hillside of Hon Lao. Still, Cu Lao Cham has more to offer. After a three-hour canoe trip, one may hop over to the famed Well of the Cham people.

Cu Lao Cham is also home to salanganes, birds whose nests have long been considered a delicacy by aristocrats and the wealthy. The nests may cost as much as $4,000 per kilogram. On a beautiful day, tourists are able to see cliffs where salanganes build their nests and talk with salangane-nest collectors.

Around the island there are many colorful corals under the water. Situated in a salty-water area, this square-bottom well, amazingly, provides clear fresh water all year round. Enjoyable extras include white-sand, pristine beaches and captivating attractions evocatively named  Bai Ong, Bai Bim, Bai Chong, Bai Bac, Suoi Tinh, Cau Mo, Suoi Ong and so on, where tourists can relax, go hunting, and fishing.

During the summer, if you reach the island by normal boat, it takes 2 and half hours, but only 30 minutes by speedboat. There are 10 guesthouses for tourists who don’t want to spend the night in a tent on the beach. Transport from the mainland to the islet is quite comfortable.

Visiting Cu Lao Cham, you will have chances to view the sea swallows’ nests clinging to the towering cliff. Cu Lao Cham wins kudos for its seafood and delicacies (octopuses, lobsters, fish’s fin, abalone, kaki, hind, cholonia’s eggs, bird’s nests) and fascinating souvenirs (pearls, conches, tortoise-shells).

Moreover, you can take a tour to Lang beach to see interesting places as such Au Thuyen-a shelter for boats during bad weather, a 100-year Tay Tang Pagoda, and the Ong temple, a place worshipping a big fish buried here.

Close to Hoi An town, Cu Lao Cham has high potential for tourism development.