Nam Du Island, Vietnam - A Tourism Paradise in Summer

Nam Du Island, Vietnam - A Tourism Paradise in Summer

Nam Du Islands Travel Guide: What to Visit & How to Get There

Rachel Tran Rachel Tran | Published Oct 11, 2019

Famous for purely blue sea, unique and delicious seafood, Nam Du Island, nearby Phu Quoc island in Kien Giang province, attracts more and more tourists to come and admire its beauty. The island gives you the chance to do things freely, enjoy and explore it in your own way without any modern facilities. It is surely the most special experience that you have ever had.

Location: An Son and Nam Du towns, Kien Hai District, Kien Giang province

Weather in Nam Du

The weather in Nam Du is quite similar to Phu Quoc. From November to April, the skies are clear, the sea is calm, and the colors are luminous. From July to September, the prevailing winds from the west come and bring rains from the Indian Ocean. The sea is rougher and winds are high, so the boats to the islands are often canceled due to bad weather.

Looking over sea at Nam Du
Looking oversea at Nam Du (@jonnyrouse7)

Best Time to Visit Nam Du Islands 

Like other parts in Vietnam, Nam Du also has 2 main seasons: the dry season which lasts from December to March and the rainy seasons last from April to November. It is obvious that the dry season is an ideal time to visit Nam Du as the seas are calm, the temperature is comfortable and the weather is consistent. Therefore, it is a favorable season for taking part in a whole lot of other activities and exploration. During this time, there are more ferry’s running. You can also visit the island during the rainy season, but there is a great chance that you may need to cancel your trip due to a big storm.

How to Get to Nam Du

Nam Du Island is a part of Kien Hai District which consists of 73 islands. It is about 83 km to the west of Rach Gia City, the capital of Kien Giang province, and just 40 km from Phu Quoc District. Its highest point is more than 300 meters above sea level.
To get to Nam Du Island, you have 3 options of transportation:

1. By boat/ferry 

At Rach Gia Port, there are 2 options for you to choose: take a fast ferry which takes 2.5 hours or take a slow ferry which takes 3.5 hours to get to Nam Du. It is better to book an e-ticket online in advance. If the tickets are sold out, you can ask a nearby motorbike taxi driver for buying ferry/ boat ticket. It will be a bit more expensive.

2. By plane 

You can take a flight from Tan Son Nhat Airport (Saigon) or Phu Quoc Airport (Phu Quoc) to Rach Gia Airport, and then take a bus or taxi to Rach Gia Port so you can catch a ferry to Nam Du.

3. By sleeper bus 

As the travel distance is quite long, taking a night bus is the most popular way to travel to Rach Gia. It takes you around 6 hours of sleeping on the bus to arrive in Rach Gia province in the early morning. There is also a shuttle bus that takes you to Rach Gia Port upon your request. The price for a round trip ticket is VND 300.000 including a bottle of water and wet tissue. There are 2 trustworthy brands you should choose: Phuong Trang Bus Line and Kumho Samco.

How to Get around Nam Du Island

1. By boat

In order to explore the surrounding islands, you can hire a private boat or join with other tourist groups. You can easily find a boat at the main pier on Hon Lon Island.

2. By motorbike 

Getting around Hon Lon Island is not difficult at all because the main road is paved. So you can ask for rent a motorbike from your hotel (about VND 130.000/ half a day; and VND 230.000/ a full day). The rental price already includes fuel.

3. By “xe om” 

If you are the first-time visitor, you can think of hiring a motorbike taxi driver (or “xe om”). The local driver is familiar with all the popular sites on Hon Lon Island so he can introduce it to you. The prices vary and you can bargain for a better price.

What to See on Nam Du Island?

1. Hon Lon

Hon Lon islet at Nam Du island
Hon Lon islet at Nam Du island (@nnguye6n)

Hon Lon means “Big Island” and it is also known as “Nam Du Island” and sometimes refers to Cu Tron Island. It is the biggest island with 9 square kilometers and considered the most beautiful beach in the Nam Du archipelago. There are many green more than 80-year-old coconut trees on the island. Coming here, you have a chance to dive to catch fishes and squids, enjoy the colorful corals, and taste the coconut juice. The beach is not too crowded so you are free to swim and have fun.

2. Ngu Beach

Bai Ngu from above
Bai Ngu from above (@ruan.ming.jin)

The legend has it that King Gia Long used to pick this beach as the destination to stop. That’s why it is called Bai Ngu (Ngu Beach). It is a special place in Nam Du archipelago. In the dry season, while the other areas suffer from a serene shortage of water, Ngu Beach is still full of freshwater.

3. Chet beach

Although not as beautiful as Chuong beach, Chet beach is suitable for families and friends to play and picnic. Especially, when you come to Chet beach, you have a chance to hear the story about the name Chet beach. Back to the old days, there are 2 ships of Dutch and Chinese coming to Phu Quoc to trade. There are so many people dead and drifted to the shore, and buried. Since then, the beach was named as Chet beach. (Chet means “dead”).

4. Nam Du Lighthouse

Nam Du lighthouse
Nam Du lighthouse (source: Puolotrip)

Located on the top of Hon Lon, Nam Du Lighthouse belongs to An Son Commune. It is the highest lighthouse in Vietnam for locating in the top of the hill which is over 300 meters above the sea level. It is famous for the spectacular view looking from above. Though it is classified as a restrictive military zone, or it means tourists are strictly forbidden, you still can visit the lighthouse by tipping someone.

5. Dau island

Dau Island is a must-see location with 95 percent forest. Also, it boasts shady and picturesque coconut gardens, and simply yellow sand beach. It is recommended to take a boat trip around the beautiful rocky beaches, cruising along Nom Ngoai, Dam, Hang, Moc, and Tre Islands.

6. Nom island

Nom Island, or Hon Nom, is an inhabited island. There is just one family of Mr Duong Van Sau living there. The island was built by Mr Vuong Van Kieu in 1960. It has an area of 10 hectares, but about 7 hectares are completely rocky and only 3 hectares are arable.

7. Mau island

Mau island at Nam Du islands
Mau island

Mau Island is about 2 square kilometers and there is a small fishing village here. More than 600 people on the island make their living by from the seafood and cater to tourists. There are 5 beaches in Hon Mau. The best one is Chuong beach with white sand. The others are Nam Beach, Da Den Beach, Da Trang Beach, and Nom Beach. Among these beaches, Chuong and Nam Beach are more worth visiting because the others are quite rocky. 

8. Chuong Beach

It is arguable that Chuong Beach (Bai Chuong) is the most beautiful beach in all of Nam Du. The shallow turquoise sea is extremely beautiful and the sand is blindingly white.

9. Ngang Island

Hon Ngang
Hon Ngang (@maymay_bamay)

It is the center island of Nam Du where most of the locals live. From Hon Lon, it takes 30 minutes to get here by boat. To explore the island, there are no other ways but walking around. You can visit the pier to see the sea with colorful fishing boats or visit fish farms to take some photos. If you want to stay here, there are some local guest houses available.

10. Son Island

Son island (or Hon Son Island) is about 65 km to Rach Gia, located between Hon Tre Island and Nam Du archipelago. It is a new destination for summer with pristine natural beaches, white sand, and imposing mountains.

11. Hai Bo Dap island

Hai Bo Dap Island is surrounded by coral. Most of the tours stop here so visitors can go camping, swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. One of the unique features is that a natural bridge connects two islands together and forms Hai Bo Dap. You only can see this natural sea bridge at low tide.

12. Ma Thien Lanh Hill

It is regrettable if you don’t visit Ma Thien Hanh Hill when traveling in Nam Du. The hill has fresh air and poetic scenery. On the hill, you can listen to strange stories and folktales about some pagodas, the monks and beautiful fairies. If you have time, you can stop in Phat Lo Thien pagoda to relax and pray.

13. Ba Chua Xu temple

Mieu Ba Chua Xu (source: trip hunter)
Mieu Ba Chua Xu (source: trip hunter)

There are two interesting temples on Hon Lon Island: Ba Chua Xu temple and Ngu Thanh Hieu temple. Ba Chua Xu Temple (Mieu Ba Chua Xu) is near Bai Tret. The temple has a beautiful statue of Ba. It plays an important role in the spiritual life of local people as it is the center of the biggest religion on Nam Du. You can visit the temple and pray for success and happiness.

What to Do on Nam Du Island?

1. Snorkeling

Nam Du archipelago has a diverse marine life and coral reefs. Especially, Hon Dau Island is a perfect destination for snorkeling and diving so you can discover the colorful world under the sea with wonderful coral reefs. You can join a tour, snorkeling from shore, or charter your own boat. And, don’t forget to bring your swimsuit and sun cream.

2. Hiking and Trekking

For those who love sports activities, it is a great experience to go trekking to Nhum Beach. You need to hike along a small trail, go through the towns, and down through a densely forested area. The trail will lead you to a rocky beach. The best time to start hiking is before sunrise. 

Fishing at Nam Du beaches
Fishing at Nam Du beaches (@jonnyrouse7)

3. Fishing and Foraging on Nam Du

In Nam Du Island, fishing and foraging are favorite activities to visitors. You can rent a small boat to go fishing, or fish from the main pier. At night, it gives you an interesting experience to have a night squid and baby octopus fishing excursions. As all the island is blessed with many kinds of seafood such as sea snails, oysters, sea urchins, and clams, you can also forage for your own food.

4. Sunrises and Sunsets

Watching ocean sunrises and sunsets on Nam Du Island are some of the best you can ever see in Vietnam. The island is so small that you can watch from a single location. But, the perfect spot to watch the sunrise is from the pier at Hon Lon Island. Make sure to keep an eye out above to see the few hawks in the area. For the sunset, the place to witness the breathtaking view is the coastal road on Hon Lon Island.

5. Join in Nam Du Discovery tour 

To discover the Nam Du archipelago completely, it is better to join a Nam Du Discovery tour. Normally, there are two tours available: half a day tour and a full-day tour. The half-day tours last from 7 am to 1 pm or 1 pm to 6 pm. The other tour starts at 9 am and finishes at 6 pm and includes lunch. These tours activities consist of visiting popular islands, swimming at some bays, snorkeling to see coral reefs and visiting the best beaches in Hon Lon. If you wish to have more opportunities to swim and snorkel, you’d better take the full-day tour.

Coastline of Nam Du island

6. Riding Motorbike around Coastline of Hon Lon Island

Riding a motorbike around the coastline of Hon Lon Island is one of relaxing activities. The coast is beautiful with a well-paved road, so don’t worry about riding the motorbike. Especially, you should move around the place at sunset to witness the gorgeous and stunning ocean sunset. It will give you an unforgettable memory.

7. Camping on Nam Du

Anyone who wants to have brand new experiences may love camping on Nam Du. You don’t need to bring your tent as Nam Du Island is available for rent. Hon Dau Island is the most popular camping spot where has a long stretch of beach. You have to pay VND 40.000 for pitching your tent and additional VND 30.000 to rent one for a night.

What to Eat on Nam Du island?

1. Giant clam (Ốc tai nướng)

The clams caught on the island are very big and also have good taste. It’s crunchy and a bit spicy. It’s best to try giant clam with butter and enjoy it when it is still hot.

2. Grilled needlefish with banana stems

Needlefish, or so-called Blue bonefish, is a sea fish with a long body and the biggest ones can be 3 kg of weight. The local people often choose the freshest fish, put them into the bananas stems after cleaning, and then grill them. To enjoy this dish, you need to wrap and roll the fish and wild vegetables inside a rice paper. Its taste is so special that you may not find anywhere else.

3. Grilled garfish (Cá xương xanh nướng) 

Garfish is a specialty of the island. One way to enjoy it is similar to the needlefish, grilled with banana leaves. Another way is that garfish is seasoned and dried in the sun. After, they fry it.

Sea urchin
Sea urchin (source: livingnomads)

4. Grilled Sea Urchin (Nhum)

Sea Urchins may look terrifying but it tastes wonderful, just like butter on your tongues. The local people normally grill them on burning charcoal or turn them into a mouth–watering soup. 

5. Steamed Squid with Ginger 

On the breeding season, squids have many more eggs than normal. You can make many delicious dishes with these squids such as fried squid eggs with chili and fried ruffled squid. But steam squid with ginger is still the most striking dish.

Where to Stay on Nam Du Island? 

There are not many options for you to choose from. You cannot find a fancy hotel or resort here. There are bungalows, guesthouses, and motels available. For those who travel with a modest travel budget, you can choose guesthouses and motels. And the beach-front bungalows, though at a higher price, has a nice view to take some photos and enjoy the seafood. Before you book for a room, remember to ask detailed information and the room’s photos because some guesthouses don’t provide wifi access and AC. It is easy to understand because Nam Du is a new tourist destination.

Nam Du is gorgeous but already impacted a little bit by development, it is better to visit the island sooner than later. Hope that you have great memories on the islands.


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