Comparing the two islands for vacation in Vietnam, which one for Summer ?

Pham Viet Quan  (范越君)Pham Viet Quan (范越君)1 month ago
Comparing the two islands for vacation in Vietnam, which one for Summer ?

Check out this comparison between two relatively under-the-radar destinations, Hon Son Island and Ly Son Island. Despite their similar names, these gems are a good 800km apart, each offering its own unique routes, culinary delights, local vibes, and activities. Let's dive in and see which one suits your summer getaway vibes.

Hon Son

Phu Quoc may be a popular destination, but for those seeking an escape from the tourist crowds, Hon Son offers a compelling alternative. Located at the southern tip of Vietnam, a short distance from Phu Quoc, Hon Son boasts similar attributes: stunning landscapes, delicious food, and exciting activities. But crucially, Hon Son remains untouched by mass tourism. Unlike Phu Quoc, which unfortunately saw a surge in generic concrete resorts that lack local character, Hon Son retains its pristine beauty.

Reaching Hon Son from Saigon requires some effort. Travelers can choose between a day-long car trip navigating the sometimes-challenging southern roads, or opt for a passenger bus. The narrow and congested roads south of Saigon can make driving a car less than ideal.

Rach Gia, the mainland town before catching the ferry to Hon Son, serves as your final stop before paradise. The ferry ride itself is a breeze, lasting only about an hour. Compared to the sometimes-uncertain boats found on other islands, these ferries are known for their stability and comfort, perfect for families with children. Even if the seas get a little choppy, seasickness shouldn't be a major concern.

Now, about Hon Son itself. It's a relatively small island with beaches scattered around the coast. The best time to visit for clear waters and stunning beaches is between February and May. After that, the water gets muddier, and the rainy season arrives, potentially affecting your beach experience.

The surrounding sea is teeming with life! Coral reefs lie just offshore, offering fantastic opportunities for exploration. The seafood is naturally incredibly fresh. Here's the caveat: despite its beauty and remoteness compared to Phu Quoc, Hon Son isn't exactly budget-friendly. Be aware that for the same amount of money, you could get more food, drinks, and activities in Nha Trang, Vinh Hy, or Da Nang.

While Hon Son offers a pristine escape, it's important to manage expectations. Unlike destinations with a long-standing tourism industry, Hon Son's local culture hasn't fully developed alongside its recent growth. This translates to a less diverse food scene, with many ingredients brought in from Rach Gia. As a result, the cuisine may not be as unique or exciting as in other regions.

Similarly, the local economy revolves heavily around tourism. Activities tend to focus on water-based options like canoeing and boat tours, alongside basic tourist amenities like restaurants. Travelers seeking a deeper immersion into a traditional Vietnamese way of life might find Hon Son lacking in that aspect.

Son island
Son island, Lại Sơn, Kien Giang, Vietnam

Ly Son island

Unlike the tourist hotspots, Ly Son island has quietly existed with its own people, traditions, and history. Until recently, it flew under the radar, a hidden gem. But with the mainstream tourism scene feeling stale, travelers are craving authenticity – simple escapes with local character and tranquility.

I stumbled upon Ly Son through a few online posts. Having explored Da Nang and Quy Nhon, its neighboring provinces, I figured a quick 2-day visit to Ly Son (in Quang Ngai Province) wouldn't hurt.

Ly Son surprised me. It's a spacious island despite its small population. There's a noticeable government presence – big buildings house officials and military personnel stationed there for strategic reasons. It's clear Ly Son holds significance for Vietnam.

The locals have two main ways of making a living: fishing (including offshore farms) and farming. And speaking of farming, Ly Son boasts a unique specialty – garlic! So good and nutritious, it's a prized Vietnamese product, especially among the Japanese.

The island's beauty truly shines in its landscape. Mountains and lakes share the stage with beaches and coral reefs (found on a smaller nearby island). Serenity defines Ly Son – the wind whispers through the air, the sea laps calmly, and the food is fresh and delicious.

Sure, there's not much of a tourist scene, and nightlife is nonexistent. Forget the bustling beer pubs of Nha Trang or Da Nang. But that's exactly what makes Ly Son so pristine. It's the essence of Vietnam – peaceful, naturally stunning, and steeped in local culture. At night, the sky bursts with stars, a rare sight for city dwellers like myself.

Lý Sơn District
Lý Sơn District, Quang Ngai, Vietnam

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