How to visit Cham Island independently of a tour company!

I prefer to organise most things myself, so when I heard about Cham Island I decided to see if it was something I could organise independently. There is very limited information about doing it independently online, and the stuff I found, I discovered was out of date.

How to get there!

We (I found a girl waiting for the same boat so we decided to stick together!) waited for the local boat at the dock at Cua Dai Harbour which was supposed to board at 8am (it didnt, but I’d suggest being there on time anyway). Now the locals get this ride significantly cheaper, it cost them just 30,000DONG, whereas they try and charge the tourists 100,000DONG. The girl I was travelling with said her friends had bartered for 50,000DONG so we gave it a go. It took a very long time (could have been shorter had there not already been tourists who paid the full price) however we managed to get it to 75,000DONG – that or get off the boat, so we compromised.

The amazing food at the homestay!
The amazing food at the homestay!

Where to stay!

Okay. So Cham Island, slowly but surely drove my friend and I crazy. There is very limited English on the island, and so we found it hard to organise anything. We did research on where we might want to stay when we got there, but as we checked it out it was much different.

I can’t really help you with where we stayed, as we too have no idea where it was. After our options failed, we just got taken to a homestay (100,000DONG motorbike taxi – soooooo expensive!). This homestay however ended up being wonderful. The same price as much better accommodation off the island, but for the experience it was totally worth it.

The hosts knew very limited english but kept trying to learn from us, which was nice to see. We organised snorkelling through the homestay which was good because after a while we just gave up on trying to organise things ourselves because the language barrier proved it near impossible. The host took us out on his boat to a secluded area to snorkel and it was extremely beautiful. This area, unlike other snorkelling areas on Cham Island, was completely tourist free. After this we asked the host to drop us off at a secluded beach, which was literally empty of people and buildings. After lying on the beach and catching some rays, we were able to walk back to our homestay.

The dinner at the homestay has to have been one of the most amazing meals I have had. For 70,000DONG we each got a plate of fried rice and a plate of salad, then to share between two we had deep fried squid, tofu/vegetables and cucumbers. It was extremely filling and suuuuuper yummy! We also had a wonderful night with the other tourists at the homestay. The actual accommodation was pretty average, there is no a/c or wifi on the island (or so we noticed with everywhere we went), so there was just one fan to service our room and it was super hot and uncomfortable.

To get back to the main area, we found out that there is a boat at around 11am (ask the people at the homestays) for 30,000DONG. A much cheaper alternative to the motorbike taxis, we wish we knew earlier!

How long to stay!

Now, for us, Cham Island was a little draining. The language barrier makes it extremely hard to organise anything on the island. So besides the snorkelling, we couldn’t manage to organise anything else, even struggling to hire a motorbike to adventure the island ourselves. We had originally planned to stay two nights, but on the second day after lying on the beach all day, we decided we were going absolutely stir crazy. There are little to no restaurants, and the ones there are away from the homestays and mainly cater for large pre booked tours, so we had to rely on the homestay to feed us. There was just no form of entertainment so we decided (later in the afternoon, so we missed the local boat) that we really just needed to leave the island. We organised to go back on a speed boat with one of the tour groups that were leaving the island, costing us a whopping 150,000DONG. However this was a small price to pay for our sanity. We would suggest only planning one night at Cham Island, but this is just personal experience, you may find you’ll absolutely love it! I loved the first day and night at Cham Island 🙂

Travelers! Tell me your Cham Island highlights! 🙂

I hope you’ll stick around and follow me on my adventure,

The Virgin Backpacker xx

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2 Comment

  1. Kevin Thomas says: Reply

    I think I’ll cross Cham Island off my list. Keep up the good work and enjoy the adventure.

    1. Matilda Scott says: Reply

      Don’t get me wrong, I really did enjoy the homestay and snorkelling through the homestay! But yes it was a challenge, however I am still glad I did it independently. The day trips are super touristy and they take all the tours to the same area. Thankyou for continuing to read and comment, it is much appreciated! 😋

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