If you think about islands in SEA people will usually think about Thailand or Bali. And yes, the Thai islands with their white beaches, the good tourist set up (some might say too touristy) and the great diving opportunities the islands there are very attractive for a lazy holiday. And after visiting Koh Phayam I have to agree – they are special.
But Vietnam has some quite a few islands on offer as well. From the northern islands of Halong Bay down to Con Dao there are hundreds of islands, most not being in habitat and some restricted for foreign tourists. So travelling along the coast it is worthwhile to check if there is a little island you could visit – and potentially escape mass tourism. However, some islands that are already very popular with foreign tourists.
In the far north the islands of Halong Bay are visited by millions of tourists. The caves and some beaches are on the itinerary of nearly every single cruise heading out to the bay. The most famous island is probably Cat Ba island, where you can stay overnight as well. I already covered the islands on the Halong Bay section.
The most popular island for beach holidays is Phu Quoc. Located in the south-west of Vietnam it has the best tourist set up of all islands, and with the infrastructure it is similar to the popular Thai island.
Further south-east are the Con Dao islands, with Con Son the main island to visit (I will refer to Con Dao throughout this site). The island mainly caters for Vietnamese, and only started to become more popular with foreign tourists over the last years. With the remote beaches, the untouched forests and the great diving available it is for the jewel of islands in Vietnam. It really is worth the trip there.
Also along the coat between HCMC and Hanoi you can find numerous islands. So far, I only visited one of better known islands near Hoi An – Cham island. It only takes an hour by boat and you are welcomed by some nice beaches and jungle. It is still has a military base, but foreigners are allowed to visit the island – and it is a popular stop for some dive trips.