Cham Island Accommodation: A Complete Guide to Staying Overnight on the Cham Islands
Watching the sun set from secluded beaches and rise over local fishermen’s boats out at sea is something you can only experience on the Cham Islands when you find accommodation there and stay overnight.
Located just 15km from the coast of Hoi An, the Cham Islands are a cluster of eight islands known locally as the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park. Recognised by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, these beautiful and culturally-rich islands offer adventurers a slice of real Vietnamese island life.
On the main and only inhabited island of Hon Lao, a small variety of accommodation types give visitors the chance to experience a different side to the island. The daytrippers leaving by boat at similar times reveal a quieter and more peaceful island.
However don’t expect five-star accommodation or huge resorts (for now, anyway). Instead, there are humble homestays and guesthouses in the villages and tents on the white sandy beaches. Think of your stay as more of a cultural exchange than a luxurious getaway.
There are a number of accommodation options to stay overnight on the Cham Islands. Our comprehensive guide gives you all the information you need while planning your trip and finding an accommodation type best suiting your needs.
Travelling Between Hoi An and the Cham Islands
Cham Island Speedboats
The fastest way to reach the Cham islands is by speedboat. Buy a one-way ticket directly at Cua Dai Harbour. The boat leaves here between 8.30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Alternatively, buy a ticket from your hotel or travel agency. The average price is 300,000 VND (13 USD). This way the journey only takes around 30 minutes. So be ready for a bit of a bumpy ride!
Cham Islands Public Ferry
The public ferry is a more budget-friendly option. Leaving from Cua Dai Harbour between 8-8.30a.m. It costs 100,000 VND (4 USD) and an additional entrance fee of 70,000 VND (3 USD). The ferry also leaves from Hoi An Old Town on An Hoi from the tiny lane just after the Silk Marina Resort between 7-7.30 a.m. It costs 150,000 VND (6.50 USD), plus the entrance fee.
It’s a much slower ride time than the speedboat. So you arrive at the island between 10-10.30a.m. There’s no need to pre-book as everything is paid for on the ferry, including a 50,000 VND (2 USD) fee for bringing a motorbike onboard. This wooden boat offers a more authentic experience as locals often travel on it with many goods and livestock.
If booking your overnight stay with a tour company, rest easy as your transport is arranged for you. This usually also includes hotel transfers for added comfort. Prices vary depending on the company and the nature of the overnight stay.
The Return Trip – Cham Islands to Hoi An
When you’re ready to return to Hoi An, the ferry leaves between 11-11.30 a.m. while the speedboats start to leave at around 8 a.m. Your chances of getting a speedboat after 1 p.m become slim and almost non-existent after 3 p.m.
Hidden Hint: There are definitely worse things than being stranded on a tropical island. But nevertheless, to avoid bad weather and cancelled boats we recommend traveling between March and September.
Bai Lang Village
Hon Lao’s main port is in Bai Lang, the larger out of the two villages on the island. Most affected by growing tourism, Bai Lang houses the majority of the island’s restaurants, souvenir shops, accommodation and people.
Bai Huong Village
Located on the more remote side of the island, Bai Huong is a sleepy fishing village with a population of just 450. To reach Bai Huong ether take a small ferry from the port in Bai Lang for around 50,000 VND (2 USD) or travel 5km southeast along the coastal road by motorbike. Additionally, your host family will more than likely arrange transport between the two villages for you.
Why Stay Overnight in Accommodation on the Cham Islands?
The most valuable advantage of staying overnight in accommodation on the Cham Islands is time. With its pristine beaches, colourful ocean life, historical sites and vast jungle, a day trip is not nearly enough time to explore everything that the Cham Islands has to offer. By staying overnight, the full extent of Hon Lao’s charm is better experienced in the times in between the influx of tourists.
Things to Do on the Cham Islands
Cham Island Beaches
The eight beaches of Hon Lao offer idyllic views, silky-white sand, turquoise waters and impressive rock formations. Around midday, the beaches are likely overcrowded, especially those closest to the main port. Bai Chong is one of the island’s most popular beaches, and arguably the most beautiful, making it a lunch-time hotspot for daytrippers.
Once the main bulk of tourists leave, expect to spend an afternoon (or early morning before they arrive) on a quiet, secluded piece of paradise. This beach has an entrance fee of 23,000 VND (1 USD), much better value for money when you have the extra time to spend here.
Hidden Hint: Visitors to the Cham Islands are requested not to bring plastic bags with them, in order to reduce pollution. Remember to leave only footprints and take all rubbish with you to preserve the islands’ natural beauty and marine life.
Snorkelling and Diving on Cham Islands
One of the most popular activities in the Cham Islands is snorkelling and diving. The underwater views may not be the most vibrant in all of South East Asia, but the large variety of live coral and exotic fish still make a dip in the ocean worthwhile.
Hon Lao is home to 25 religious and architectural monuments including the Tien Hien communal house, Bird’s Nest Temple, Hai Tang pagoda and the Cam Village Ancient Well. All offering an insight into the island’s rich cultural history.
Enjoy guided treks through the dense forest and rocky mountains to scenic viewpoints. Fish with the locals and shop for fresh seafood and medicinal forest tea at the local markets.
The Homestay Programme
In 2010 Vanessa Weiss, a Swiss woman came to Bai Huong as a volunteer English teacher. She ended up setting up the Homestay Programme offering visitors something unique while also giving local people a new form of income to survive after the surrounding ocean became overfished.
Homestay Bai Huong is a not-for-profit organisation placing visitors in one of the five participating homes in the peaceful fishing village. Far away from the crowds in touristy Bai Lang. The rooms are basic but have the essentials like fans and mosquito nets. By spending quality time with your host family, you fully immerse yourself into Cham Island culture.
Hidden hint: Don’t forget to bring your passport to guarantee your stay. The local authority does not allow Chinese or Hong Kong passport holders to stay overnight on the island.
Overcoming Potential Language Barriers
Spoken English is limited but the homestays are prepared with an English-speaking menu. With English words for things like dietary requirements and toiletries. Booklets in English with all the necessary information about the island are also supplied.
For a no-frills, genuine, authentic experience, there’s no better option than this programme. Above all, knowing that all the money goes directly to the host family is a big added bonus. This includes profits from the plentiful home cooking as well as the fishing, snorkelling and trekking trips that they take you on.
With activities priced at 150,000 VND (6.50 USD), rooms at 120,000 VND (5 USD) per person per night and food between 30-70,000 VND (1-3 USD), this programme is one of the cheapest ways to experience Hon Lao.
Hidden Hint: Now may be the best time to visit the Cham Islands if you want a less touristy experience. A huge resort is currently under construction in Bai Huong…
Pre-Booking Cham Islands Accommodation Online
First a note – as is true with the rest of Vietnam, and all of South East Asia for that matter, the word homestay accommodation on the Cham Islands seems to lose its meaning as tourism grows. Nearly every form of accommodation in Hon Lao is referred to as a homestay. However, the large buildings with in-house restaurants and a variety of rooms with modern amenities, most of which are found in Bai Lang, are perhaps better described as guesthouses and bed and breakfasts, rather than a spare room in a local’s home.
Pre-booking this accommodation on websites like Booking.com gives potential visitors the chance to compare their options and choose the one that’s right for them. Prices range from 110,000 VND (4.50 USD) to 700,000 VND (30 USD) . We’ve highlighted some of our favourites for you.
One of the most popular picks for couples and families, located just a few metres away from the main port in Bai Lang. Meals and tours are organised on request and the rooms all have added comforts like air-con, WiFi and ensuite bathrooms.
Another best-seller in Bai Lang within walking distance from a beach and the pier. Newly built accommodation equipped with a restaurant, terrace, WiFi, air-con, and some private bathrooms. This is a family run place so you can expect wonderful hospitality and hosts who genuinely want to help you have the best Cham Islands experience. Motorbike rental and boat trips can both be organised here with the boat trip being fully flexible for those who want to swim, beach hop or just sit and enjoy the view.
Bai Huong Homestay
Website – Address: Tan Hiep – Price: 120,000 VND (5 USD) per single room / 320,000 VND (14 USD) per double room / 680,000 VND (29 USD) per double room with balcony and sea view / 700,000 VND (30 USD) per quadruple room
However, it is possible to stay in the remote fishing village without partaking in the homestay programme. Bai Huong Homestay offers a more authentic experience while still providing a number of modern luxuries. With communal home-cooked meals, it is a great option for people wanting to meet other like-minded travellers hoping to escape the crowds.
Booking Accommodation on the Cham Islands
For the laid back and spontaneous traveller, there are options still available even if you don’t pre-book. So if you don’t meet any hosts at the pier offering rooms, enquire in the Tourism Reception Office in Bai Lang for details about available accommodation. Hosts are also likely to offer rooms if you express interest as you walk by.
Hidden hint: There are no ATMs on the island. Come prepared with enough cash for all eventualities, including extending your stay.
Stay Overnight as Part of a Tour Group
Definitely, the most hassle-free way to stay overnight in accommodation on the Cham Islands. Transport to and from the islands, all food and drink, all activities and overnight accommodation in a Bai Lang homestay are organised and pre-paid for.
There are hundreds of travel agencies scattered around the streets of Hoi An, most offer an overnight trip with accommodation on the Cham Islands at an average price of 2,000,000 VND (85 USD).
When deciding on a tour, look out for the return times and activities offered. These tend to differ slightly from company to company. Some tours head back to Hoi An in the morning and are more focused on snorkelling. Others don’t depart the island until the afternoon and focus more on the cultural sights.
Cham Island Diving
We recommend the tours by Cham Island Diving, especially for diving enthusiasts. Certified divers spend up to two nights in one of the company’s trusted guesthouses for 3-6,500,000 VND (135-280 USD) depending on the number of dives included. Beginner divers also stay overnight for 2,900,000 (125 USD) and snorkelers for 2,300,000 (100 USD).
One of the added benefits of a tour with Cham Island Diving is the flexibility. You can book a day tour and then stay on the island for as many nights as you like. Before meeting back up with the company and heading back to the mainland with the daytrippers. This option includes the comfort of a tour with the added freedom of choosing your desired accommodation and itinerary.
Camping on the Cham Islands
However, for the more adventurous traveller – spend the night camping on one of the island’s silky white beaches under the moonlit sky. Rent a tent and use some of the facilities at Bai Chong or bring your own equipment to Bai Ong Beach. But always look out for signs on the beaches. Some do not allow overnight camping, beach fires or sometimes even sunbathing due to the proximity to a religious monument.
But prefer the security of a tour? No problem. Rose Travel Services tour company provides everything needed for an evening of beach camping. The guides arrange and set up the tents, while you enjoy campfires and night swimming.
As with other tours, this also includes transport to and from the island, all food and drink and snorkelling trips for 2,260,000 VND (97 USD).
So, is an overnight stay in accommodation on the Cham Islands worth it? In our opinion, absolutely. Above all, only by staying for at the very least one night can you truly experience the magic of Hon Lao, with enough time to fully explore all of the island’s hidden gems away from the crowds.
Additionally, the fact there are no functioning resorts just yet is a testament to the island’s raw authenticity.
Whether you stay in a comfortable guesthouse in Bai Lang, an authentic homestay in Bai Huong or a tent on one of the stunning beaches, being able to experience the local way of life is the best byproduct of spending more than a day on this exciting Vietnamese island.