Aerial View Of A Group Of Boats At Sea In Vietnam, Phu Quoc


The white beaches and azure waters of Thailand, Indonesia, or Malaysia may come to mind when you think of tropical islands in Asia. However, Vietnam offers a breathtaking coastline where you may find a dizzying assortment of islands just offshore. On one of these islands in Vietnam, you may discover everything you’re looking for, including forest walks, breathtaking vistas, diving with tropical fish, and hanging out with monkeys at the beach.


Most of Vietnam’s islands are fairly close to the mainland, meaning you never have to travel too far to reach paradise, and there are a range of tours that take in multiple islands in one day. Although it would take forever to see all of the gorgeous islands floating off Vietnam in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, these are a few of the best.


Street On Cat Ba Island
Cat BA Island is one of the popular Vietnam islands in Halong Bay.

Cat Ba Island, in the breathtaking Halong Bay in Vietnam, offers a paradise of adventure and relaxation.

Many boat trips, junk tours and party boats stop here, particularly if you’re doing a three-day two-night tour, which generally depart from Hanoi and spend time sailing around the bay before sleeping on one of the remote islands.

There is lots to keep you occupied such as watersports like kayaking and snorkeling amidst stunning limestone karsts.

For nature enthusiasts, there are pristine hiking trails through lush jungles and treks to panoramic viewpoints.

Don’t forget also to visit Cat Ba Town, for deliciously fresh seafood and a taste of local Vietnamese culture.


Garlic Tombs Of Ly Son
Visit the Garlic Tombs on Ly Son island in Vietnam.

Ly Son is one of Vietnam’s most underrated islands, slightly below the city of Danang.

The island is surrounded by coral reefs and littered with craters, which hint at its volcanic activity.

Ly Son is actually made up of two islands, and on both, you can climb small ‘mountains’, scuba dive with colourful and rare fish, or just unwind on the perfectly white sand beaches.

Although the islands are small, most of them are covered in farmland, leading to their local name ‘The Kingdom of Garlic’- but don’t worry, you’re less likely to smell it and more likely to taste it in the amazing local food.


Aerial View Of A Group Of Boats At Sea In Vietnam, Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc is one of the most popular islands in Vietnam.

Phu Quoc is a popular island off Vietnam’s southern coast; in fact, it’s much closer to Cambodia than Vietnam! Most people head straight here from Ho Chi Minh City, either on a multi-day tour or as a destination in itself.

The island offers almost endless activities, from hiking to thundering waterfalls to exploring local fishing villages, kicking back on the sand or watching the sunset at a beach bar.

It has amazing marine life and is famous for its produce, which includes pepper and sim wine.

Thanks to Phu Quoc’s popularity, it’s fairly built up, so there is a mix of excellent hotels, restaurants, bars and local markets to explore while you’re there.



The Multi Slide Banana Mat Slides At Vinpearl Water Park
Hon Tre Island is one of the Vietnam islands to visit with kids. Pictured here is the multi-coloured slide at Vinpearl Water Park.

Hon Tre is probably Vietnam’s most popular island and is instantly recognisable, spotted easily from the shores of Nha Trang on Vietnam’s southeastern coast.

Not only can you see this beautiful island from land, but it’s particularly famous for being home to VinWonders amusement park.

Reached via an incredibly long cable car from the mainland, the island’s beaches and sparkling waters are yours to enjoy.

But while you’re here, VinWonders also has everything from rollercoasters to waterparks, an aquarium, golf course and more.

If you’re travelling with kids, this makes a particularly fun outing, combining Vietnam’s natural beauty with super fun activities.


The spectacular Cham Islands are an archipelago of eight islands surrounded by glistening aquamarine waters, unique marine life, sugar-soft beaches and a fascinating local community.

The activities you can enjoy here are endless but almost all revolve around the water, such as diving, snorkelling, swimming and kayaking.

The island is a designated UNESCO biosphere reserve, so the underwater world is incomparable, and on land, the island natives have pretty fishing villages, beachside homestays and fantastic local cafes where you can enjoy local Vietnamese food.

The Cham Islands are just 15 km from Hoi An, making them an ideal day or overnight trip if you’re staying in the area, with many companies and hotels offering tours here for a reasonable price.



Also just off the shores of Nha Trang, Monkey Island or Hon Lau, is fairly self-explanatory and a fun trip for all ages.

The locals here are thousands of monkeys that run free all over the island, and when you visit you can watch them play and eat.

Many of them aren’t afraid of visitors and may even climb on you!

The reason that you’re allowed to play with them so freely is that the island is used for conservation, ensuring the monkey numbers are stable and the animals are happy.

With so many visitors, tourism means that great restaurants have also sprung up on Monkey Island that serve some of the best seafood you’ll taste – just watch out for the monkeys!


Nam Du Island aerial view of huts and coconut trees
Nam Du Island is one of the interesting Vietnam islands to the south of Phu Quoc.

Sitting just south of Phu Quoc, the Nam Du Islands somehow manage to be even more beautiful than their neighbour and since many people stop at Phu Quoc, you’ll find far fewer tourists here.

Most of the island is covered in lush greenery, while the coastline has golden sand beaches and bright blue waters.

The island is still relatively undiscovered, so the locals still make most of their money from fishing rather than tourism, however there are plenty of guesthouses and seafood cafes to choose from.

Make time to explore more than just Nam Du itself, as there are 73 islands in the archipelago to choose from!


Tuan Chau just about makes the cut as an island, although it’s technically connected to Halong City.

This pretty stretch of land is where many Ha Long Bay boat tours depart from and therefore a huge tourist industry has sprung up here.

There are two manmade beaches, which are no less beautiful than natural ones, plus an amusement park and an array of accommodation options, ranging from hostels to five-star resorts.

There are also international restaurants and shops, along with water sports galore, including jet skiing, kayaking and snorkelling.

Entertainment often goes on all day every day, with circus performers and dolphin shows being just two of the options.


Another Halong Bay gem, Ti Top, sometimes called Titov, is a tiny limestone karst that rises out of the water and is home to a single, crescent moon-shaped beach.

Completely surrounded by the sparkling emerald waters of the bay, it’s a popular spot for boat trips to drop swimmers and snorkellers.

If you’re keen to get active, take in the epic view from the summit after climbing 405 steps.

It may seem almost deserted, but it’s not completely undiscovered, meaning there is a beach bar and sports rental shop on the island where you can grab a cold drink, a kayak or rent a deck chair for the day.


An island of just 5,000 people around 70km from Ho Chi Minh City, Thanh An makes for a beautiful and peaceful escape from the city.

The island is mainly ringed by lush mangrove forests, which you can explore, or alternatively, take a stroll along the seafront, visit the local fishing villages, catch a stunning sunset or visit the photogenic salt fields.

Unsurprisingly, its coastal location means the seafood here is great, and there are a variety of local restaurants and homestays where you can try fish that was caught just a few hours before.


Boat On Beach In Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
A basket boat on the Con Dao Islands in Vietnam.

The Con Dao Islands are a tiny archipelago off Vietnam’s southern coast, that are missed by many when travelling through the country.

Most of Con Dao itself is taken up by the stunning Con Dao National Park, while the remainder is home to bright white beaches and crystal clear waters with some of Vietnam’s best diving and snorkelling.

Many hidden beaches for swimming and sunbathing are just a short hike away, and you can also arrange hiking trips through the park.

There are a number of hotels and resorts here, including the renowned Six Senses Resort and Spa, so it could be the perfect spot for a splash-out getaway.


Around an hour from the beach town of Mui Ne, Phu Quy remains completely untouched by tourism although its beauty is likely to change this soon.

Covered in clusters of jet-black rock formations and surrounded by blue waters teeming with underwater life, it is also home to over a dozen temples, dramatic cliffs and a huge natural saltwater pool.

It’s postcard-perfect, with low-hanging palm trees scraping the golden sand beaches, and there are loads of seafood vendors and a couple of excellent homestays.

Phu Quy is currently most popular with Vietnamese tourists, and infrastructure is limited, with electricity only at certain times of day, however this adds to its charm and makes it a perfect under-the-radar escape.


For those who love nature, Hon Khoia is the place for you.

The island itself looks a little like the limestone karsts of Halong Bay, and is home to untouched hills and forests that hide unique flora and fauna.

Hon Khoai is a little different to other islands, as instead of sandy beaches, they’re all covered in perfect ovals pebbles.

Instead of lying on the beach, you can hike through the forests which have hundreds of species of plant life and a variety of wild animals.

Alternatively, you can also hike to the island’s lighthouse at its highest point, from where you can take in incredible views of the surrounding islands and nearby Cape of Ca Mau.


Near Cam Ranh, Binh Hung Island, sometimes called Chut Island, lies off central Vietnam and is particularly small, home to just 1,800 people.

The island is rarely visited by tourists, although there’s still lots to do here, such as visit the pristine beaches, climb to the clifftop lighthouse, or explore the local fishing villages which are most famous for lobster farming.

For hardy travellers, camping is an option, however there is also a selection of local guesthouses and homestays where you can stay and eat, to enjoy some of the freshest lobster in the world.


The Ba Lua Islands are a paradise archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand, off the shores of southern Vietnam.

Sometimes known as the Halong Bay of the south, it’s is made up of 42 pretty islands covered in tropical rainforest, beautiful beaches and friendly locals.

Most of the tourism here is focused on the beaches, where watersports are abundant, or you can swim, snorkel and relax.

Otherwise, many people choose to go off-the-beaten path on hikes around the islands, and you can sometimes arrange to visit one of the uninhabited islands in the archipelago for a bit more adventure.


Vung Chua is a rock outcrop surrounded by sparkling blue waters.

The island is the resting place of General Vo Nguyen Giapn and features a stunning sacred temple.

While there you can visit the General’s tomb, hike up Ho Son mountain for beautiful views, or visit nearby Yen Island, which is covered in dense greenery and home to rare bird species.

The easiest way to get here is by bus from Hanoi to Quang Binh, or alternatively, you can fly straight to Quang Binh if you’re short on time.


About 22 miles from Quy Nonh on Vietnam’s central coast, Cu Lao Xanh is a stereotypical picture-perfect island.

Emerald waters, soft sandy beaches and some great hiking trails make it extremely popular as a weekend destination for Vietnamese tourists.

The island is locally known as the ‘Green Island’ thanks to the colour of its water, so unsurprisingly, there are plenty of watersports to choose from, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling and diving.

Otherwise, a day trip here should involve soaking up the sunshine on the beach and enjoying the local food at a beachside cafe.


Hon Son Cha is one of Vietnam’s 15 marine reserves, which you will likely spot if you ride over the Hai Van Pass.

Being a reserve, it’s home to gently swaying palm trees and crystal clear waters, and is sometimes known as Coconut Island – be sure to try a fresh one while you’re there.

The waters here are calm and perfect for swimming, but there are other things to see, such as Ma Thien Lanh Peak, Ba Gieng local market and Sake floating village.

It’s definitely worth spending more than a day here to enjoy the delicious local food and visit the buzzing night market where you can experience authentic Vietnamese life.


Bai Tu Long Bay is often called Halong Bay’s little sister, and in many ways is just as beautiful with far fewer visitors.

Quan Lan is an island within this archipelago, Quan Lan is almost completely untouched, featuring golden swathes of sand and crashing waves, along with beautiful forests and a small local community of fishermen.

Despite being less developed, there are a couple of small homestays if you plan to stay overnight, and the best way to see the island is by renting a motorbike.

There are also a few local markets and beautiful temples, but if you only visit one place, make sure it’s Minh Chau Beach, which is one of the most spectacular white sand beaches in northern Vietnam.


Another tiny outcrop in Bai Tu Long Bay, Co To Island has all the white sand, clear water and beautiful sunsets you could dream of, which is why it’s such a popular spot for local Vietnamese honeymooners.

Co To is actually an archipelago of 30 islands, and although there are plans for development, it’s currently very under the radar, meaning there’s no better time to visit.

There are a couple of surprisingly modern hotels and guesthouses to extend your stay, and while you’re there, don’t miss hiking to Co To Lighthouse, hiking in ancient forests on the nearby island of Thanh Lan or enjoying an evening drink on Hong Vau Beach at sunset.



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