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Cu Lao Cham islands (near Hoi An)

Information source: The Timeout Guide Magazine

Cu Lao Cham is home to 8 islands which are located off Vietnam's central coast.

Nearly 200 years ago, Cu Lao Cham almost became a Hong Kong-style colony. Historian Nguyen Van Xuan said in early 19th century, the British asked the Nguyen Dynasty rulers for the right to build up a trade base on the islands so as to have better access to China's Guangzhou province and other countries in the region. After the Opium War took place from 1839-1842, the British colonized Hong Kong, thus diverting attention from the Vietnamese archipelago. That partly reduced traffic in the waters from Cu Lao Cham to Hoi An, which during the 16th & 17th centuries had been one of Vietnam's busiest trade centers.

The largest island of Cu Lao Cham is Lao island. On this island, a tourist promotion called "Cu Lao Cham and valuables from the seabed" is on. Pottery objects salvaged from wrecked ships on display reveal the beauty of an illutrious past.

There is also an introduction to the fauna and flora of the archipelago. According to the figures of the Cu Lao Cham Nature Preserve Project, which stated in 2003, there are about 200 coral species, 202 fish species, 5 lobster species and 84 mollusc species in Cu Lao Cham.

The "cua da" (the stone crab) is particularly special as Cu Lao Cham is the only region in Vietnam where these creatures with violet and orange coloured shells are found. They live under stones in the forests, eat only medical herbs but reproduce in the sea.

Cu Lao Cham has a temple where the tradition for worshipping the whale in Vietnam's central coastal areas began in the 19 century. At Hai Tang Tu, there is a small but beautiful pagoda for worshipping the Sea Deity. Constructed 300 years ago, it looks like an ancient house in Hoi An with two "house eyes" on the main door.

How to get there:

1. From the Cua Dai port in Hoi An, take a high speed hydrofoil run by the Cu Lao Cham Trade, Tourism and Investment Joint Stock Company. It's only 25 minutes to Lao island.

2. From Da Nang city, take a one-hour trip by high speed hydrofoil of the Dong Song Xanh Company which departs on the Han river in front of Da Nang's Vietnam Television Center. This hydrofoil runs only on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

3. For more details, pls send a private message to "Safetyrp", an Australian TTer in this branch. I saw he posted some info about Cu Lao Cham sometime ago.

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