Ly Son Island – The Attractiveness Of The Sea

Ly Son Island – The Attractiveness Of The Sea

Ly Son Island, also named Cu Lao Re belonged Quang Ngai province, far away 25 km from the mainland. Ly Son Island consists of two islands called Cu Lao Re Island and An Binh Island, about two nautical miles apart with a total area of 9.97 square kilometers.

Cu Lao Re Island – Ly Son is formed from 5 big mountains, which are 5 craters of a dead volcano. Therefore, the geological structure of these mountains is very special with the magma traces show on the cliffs.

How To Arrive Ly Son Island

About 25-30 million years ago, Ly Son Island was formed by seismic activities and the volcanic eruption. At present, these 5 mountains are the evidence of volcanic eruption. The volcanal eruptions had created the spectacular natural landscapes on the island. It’s also spread a layer of fertile basaltic soil on the south of the island where suitable for variety of crops. Moreover, it’s also creating the reefs that provide good living conditions for the marine creatures.

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

About 3000 years ago, the prehistoric inhabitants who belonged to Sa Huynh culture resided on Ly Son island. They live along the two streams (the Oc stream and the Chinh stream). Their main economic activity is fishing, traditional foods are oysters, snails, clams, and fishes. Next, the Sa Huynh culture is the Champa culture – developed from the first century AD. Their cultural traces are left on the vestiges in the upper-layer of culture from the relics of Xom Oc and Suoi Chinh.

Vietnamese residents settled on the island in the late 16th – the early 17th century. They are fishermen came from An Hai, Sa Ky of Binh Son district, Son Tinh. It’s 15 leaders of 15 large families, they emigrated to the island and settled on the east and west of Ly Son Island. In the early days, the Vietnamese have met with many difficulties in weather, climate, and pirates. Until today, there’re some relics shown the struggle of locals against the pirates to protect the island: Nang Roi shrine, Hang pagoda, anecdotes about the battles against pirates of Nguyen Van Tuat,…

The history of Ly Son Island is also associated with other community populations who have lived on the island since thousands of years ago. Three groups of residents Sa Huynh – Champa – Vietnam has been linked with the formation and development of Ly Son island. They have protected the sovereignty of the island and left many of the most valuable cultural heritages so far.

When Should You Travel Ly Son Island?

  • In summer: from June to September, the weather here is quite nice and there’s sunny, suitable for swimming.
  • Garlic season: In Ly Son, locals started to plant garlic in September and harvested it around early December. It’s also the time of storm season.
The traditional ceremony commemorating sailors of Hoang Sa (Paracel) take place on March 18-19-20 (lunar calendar)

Transportation In Ly Son Island

1. Airplane

Chu Lai airport is the closest place to Sa Ky port (where there’re speedboats arriving Ly Son) is of Quang Nam province. Each week, there are three flights landed to Chu Lai from Hanoi with a roundtrip price of about 3.000.000 Vnd, from Saigon with a roundtrip ticket price of around 3.500.000 Vnd. If you take the airplane, should catch a taxi to arrive Sa Ky port because the distance from Chu Lai airport to get there about 50km.

2. Bus

In Hanoi and Saigon, there are many high-quality buses running to Quang Ngai. You can contact the ticket office to book tickets in advance from 2-5 days, on holidays you need to pre-book to avoid tickets sold outs.

3. Train

Every day, there are 5 trains named Thong Nhat from Hanoi to Saigon. Depending on the time, you can choose the appropriate times (the odd number includes trains which going from Hanoi, the even numbers for trains from Saigon).
  • SE1 & SE2 [depart from Hanoi at 19h00, to Quang Ngai at 13h23 on next day] – [from Saigon 19h00 to Quang Ngai at 9h03 on next day]
  • SE3 & SE4 [depart from Hanoi at 23h00, to Quang Ngai at 15h23 on next day] – [from Saigon 23h00 to Quang Ngai at 11h41 on next day]
  • SE5 & SE6 [depart from Hanoi at 9h00, to Quang Ngai at 4h00 on next day] – [from Saigon 9h00 to Quang Ngai at 23h32] [depart from Hanoi at 9h00, to Quang Ngai at 4h00 on next day] – [from Saigon 9h00 to Quang Ngai at 23h32]
  • SE7 & SE8 [depart from Hanoi at 6h15, to Quang Ngai at 0h36 on next day] – [from Saigon 6h25 to Quang Ngai at 20h22]
  • TN1 & TN2 [depart from Hanoi at 13h15, to Quang Ngai at 10h28 on next day] – [from Saigon 13h15 to Quang Ngai at 04h57 next day].

Speedboats from Sa Ky Port To Ly Son Island

After arrived Quang Ngai, in case you travel in groups, you should take the taxi from Quang Ngai city center to Sa Ky port (about 20km), or you can take the bus numbered 03 runs from Quang Ngai Bus Station – Sa Ky Port to save costs.

In addition, you can buy speedboat tickets at 379 Nguyen Nghiem located in Quang Ngai center city. It’s open from 13h30 to 15h30 every day. Every day there are 3 high speedboat trips running to Ly Son and vice versa. Which from Sa Ky – Ly Son trips starting at 7h30, 8h, and 15h and from Ly Son – Sa Ky trips starting at 7h, 8h and 13h30.

The speedboat leaves the port at 7:30 to 8:00. The ticket office is open at 6h30 daily, each person can be purchased 2 tickets, when purchasing tickets will have to declare full name, year of birth, address, passport. If you have purchased a ticket but can not arrive in time, you need to inform at least 2 hours in advance to the port support, in which case you will be refunded 80% of the fare or transfer to next trip with additional fare 20%.
Sa Ky Port Management Support: 055 3626 431 – Fax: 055 3626138
In addition to speedboats, there is one freighting boat (wooden boat) carrying goods and passengers arrive Ly Son island every day, the wooden boat runs slower (8h-11h) than the speedboat (8h -9h). At 8h, the boat will run from Cu Lao Re Island to An Binh Island and back to Cu Lao Re island at 14h30 every day, you can also contact the fishing boat of fishermen to arrive An Binh Island.

How to arrive Ly Son island from Da Nang

Now, there are quite a lot of backpackers travel to Da Nang city then take the trip to Ly Son island. I would like to recommend few of travel tips to Ly Son, help you move easily and arrive in time depart of speedboats (around 7-8 am and 15 pm).

From Da Nang to Quang Ngai about 120km, there are 2 trains from Da Nang to Quang Ngai that have enough time to arrive Sa Ky port is SE1 to Quang Ngai at 13h23 and SE5 to Quang Ngai at 4:23 am, from Here you take the taxi to Sa Ky port.

Besides the train, you can choose the buses. At the central bus station of Da Nang city, you can any bus which running on route from the North to the South. You should choose the bus which has the bed to get comfortable during the trip.

Moving on Ly Son Island

There are a lot of options for you to move on Ly Son island. On the Cu Lao Re Island, you can either move by motorbikes or hire a delivery tricycle in case you go in the group not too crowded. If there’re too many members, you should take a car to get more convenient. On the An Binh island, you can choose to walk or hire electric motorbikes from rental services on the island.

Move from Cu Lao Re Island to An Binh Island

There are two types of mediums you can use to move from Cu Lao Re Island to An Binh Island. By wooden ships (which improved from fishing boats ) and canoes. With wooden boats, the time will take about 40 minutes, in case of there’re large waves, it will be got quite tired if your health is not good, however, you will have chances to relax and look at the stunning sky and sea. Round trip ticket for wooden ships is 50.000 Vnd, for the canoe is 80.000 Vnd.

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

Warning: Since high-speed canoes have been put into operation, although it has reduced the moving time between the two islands, there are still some potential risks of canoes running too fast is easy to meet with an accident.
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Where to stay in Ly Son island

Recently, the electricity line has installed, Ly Son has invested a lot in accommodation services. Muong Thanh Ly Son Hotel and Central Ly Son Hotel are the largest hotel on the island, besides there are a lot of motels, so you do not have to worry too much about this problem. Another option for you is reaching the An Binh island, take the sightseeing there and able to take camping right on the beach!

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

Food And Specialties In Ly Son

Ly Son night market

Located in an area behind the main entrance of Ly Son district. Ly Son night market is a place where many motels, hotels concentrated so in the night, people often visit here to enjoy seafood.
Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea
Visit night market, you can easily choose and enjoy the fresh seafood is processed in the style of locals.

Bánh ít lá gai (glutinous rice cake with ramie leaves)

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

This cone-shaped cake is one of the most popular snacks of Vietnamese, and the housewives of Ly Son know how to make a cake which known as one of the best dessert cake of Vietnam cuisine. Bánh ít is a perfect combination of the aroma of the sticky rice and the sweet, fatty taste of sugar and coconut fillings. Adding to these flavors is the familiar scent of peanut oil and banana leaves. Unlike other food, this snack is getting the best taste on the second or third day after steamed, and it’s may even last for more than a week. Bánh ít is a traditional gift to worship the ancestors and the gods in holidays of Vietnamese, especially on the Lunar New Year. On the island, this cake is often associated with the people’s working life and fishing trips at sea, in the atmosphere of cozy and loving of the holidays.

Ly Son garlic

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

There are no other spices in the world that can be made into such delicate dishes like the Ly Son garlic. The island is most famous for its Lonely Garlic or called as single-clove garlic, which carries a gentle aroma and a slight taste of spiciness. The most popular option for the taste of this spice is the Ly Son garlic salad. In this local dish, the garlic is chopped and steamed until softened. Then it is mixed with sugar, pepper, salt, and lime. Finally, the fried peanut is sprinkled onto the mixture. Though this a very easy food to make, however, the unique taste and scent of the dish will definitely stay in your memories. Those who want a more extraordinary experience might as well try the garlic wine of the island. Made entirely from the precious Lonely garlic of the island, this drink not only brings you a wonderful experience, but also helps tremendously with many health problems, like blood cholesterol, acts as a natural Aspirin, and even helps against cancer.

Sea snails

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

Visit any of Vietnam’s coastal destinations, one of the specialty food that you will always see available is sea snail. Clams, oysters, cockles, mussels, and scallops are all popular things you will find in any Vietnamese’s party. In Ly Son, you will not only have a chance to try a unique seafood dish that will definitely make you be forever remembered, the sea urchins. This strange animal looks exactly like what its name, but do not let its thorny appearance fool you, its meat so soft which can be made into the most delicious porridge you have ever tried. The enhanced sweetness, saltiness and lusciousness of the dish will surely make you miss a lot. Another type of snail that Ly Son take pride in is the conch. For the best experience of this dish, the conch is often grilled or fried with chili and lemongrass, both of which brings out the freshness without the fishy taste.

The king crabs

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

The king crab is one of the must-eat dishes for anyone who travels in Ly Son. This crab not only impresses you with its bright red armor and sharp nippers but also with the sweet and nutritious meat. In the old days, the king crab was used to have served for the King meals. Nowadays, with the rise of Ly Son island’s tourism, it has become more popular with everyone. Note that, the king crab is not available all year round. You should find out before arriving here because there are some specialty foods that are available only in particular seasons.

Giant clam

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

The giant clam is a very large species of sea snail. The largest giant clams can be as big as an adult human’s hand, and weigh up to half a kilo. The fishermen usually catch it alive and keep them in a cask, handy for cooking. For a quick snack, people often steamed it in hot water until its meat got transparent as fresh squid. Another option includes the clam porridge and the clam salad, both of which are very much liked by tourists.

Ta Ma fish (ghost fish)

Ta ma is a fish living in the sea, the skin in dark brown scales, the body is flat. In Vietnamese languages, Ta ma means ghost, according to locals, this species of fish is so called because they live mainly in the reefs, very smart, hard to capture.

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

Ta ma fish is made into a variety of dishes depending on the season. In the winter, people often processed it into the grilled dish. In hot summer, it’s cooked with shallots, sour soup, hot pot, porridge. Eating ta ma fish, you will feel the sweetness of fish meats. Especially, the fillets are the tastiest part, sour soup with Ta ma fish can be eaten with noodle instead of rice.

Best Places To See In Ly Son Island

Am Linh Pagoda

Am Linh Pagoda is a worship and commemoration place of the soldiers who died at sea. From the 16th century, under the Nguyen lord and then the Nguyen dynasty, the Vietnamese feudal state has established the Hoang Sa, Truong Sa fleets. The majority of men on Ly Son island all joined in these fleets. Their mission is taking patrol the sea, sailing to the Paracel (Hoang Sa) and Spratly (Truong Sa) archipelagos to collect sea resources, measure the sea route, establish the landmarks and sovereignty over the islands.

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

There are quite a lot of documents, maps, notes of Western’s missionaries, merchants, naval officers, and explorers when arrived here. They confirmed that they often met the regular presence of Vietnamese civilian and military forces who patrolled the adjacent waters or landed on the Paracels (Hoang Sa).

With these soldiers, they have patrolled on the Paracel Islands for six months in a row with the fishing boats on the coral reefs. They often face the big waves, gale-force winds. So, death, whatever the reasons, also means taken the vast sea as a burial.

When a seaman dies, the members on the boat will bundle the corpse along with the identification card in the mat, and then tied tightly with ropes. After some simple rituals, the corpse will be dropped into the sea.

In the grave visiting festival every year, families on the island often held the Hoang Sa soldiers ceremony in the Am Linh Pagoda. This is a special ceremony to commemorating the Hoang Sa, Truong Sa fleets and the soldiers who died while on duty in the sea, on the islands, against the pirates.

Hoang Sa Tombs

On the Ly Son Island as well as in many coastal areas of Vietnam, there are many graves that without the dead body inside, locals called the mộ gió.

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

This tradition is from fishermen in the coastal areas of Vietnam, to commemorate relatives who died in the sea and not find the body. In order to have a grave for the deceased, the family must seek a shaman. The shaman would go to the crater on the island and take clays then forming the dead person’s body as described by their relatives.

After shaping the clay body, the mage used egg yolk spreading the whole clay bodies so that when it dried, looked like the human skin. Following this, the relatives dressed in clothes and shrouds for the clay body and put into the coffin. They drop a boat with votive papers, food and floating into the sea aim to devoted the gods and the deceased’s soul.

To Vo Gate

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

To Vo gate far away a few kilometers from the center of Ly Son island, one of the most must-visit impressive places when you come to Ly Son. It is considered one of the must-visit attractions for photographers by the splendid scenery it brings as well as the wonderful lighting at the here. The best time to watch the To Vo gate is at dawn, you should have a once-in-a-lifetime experience watching the sunrise here.

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

Duc Temple and the Guanyin statue

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

Duc Temple located on top of Mount Gieng Tien, to get there, you will have to climb over 100 steps along the mountainside. Although got a tired journey, it’s worth it. Standing on the top of the mountain is a 27m Guanyin statue, you also should visit the crater which turns into the beautiful valley since the volcano dead.

Hoang Sa fleets Memorial

On in the heart of Ly Son Island, there is the Memorials monument of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, as a symbol of Vietnam’s sovereignty over Paracel and Spratly archipelagos.

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

The memorial zone is the room 150m2. This room showing the accessories which placed in the glass cabinet or mounted on the wall. It’s the utensils of soldiers when they take the patrol to Paracel islands. In the middle of the room is the place worshiping the heroes who are the first people affirmed Vietnam sovereignty as Pham Quang Anh, Pham Huu Nhat, Vo Van Khiet …

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

Hang Temple

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

Hang temple located to the North of Mount Thoi Loi. Arriving here, you will get stunned by the beauty of this place. A great place to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere as well as the panoramic view of the Ly Son island. The temple has had a long history with residents. The carvings on the limestone mountain told that the first people had gone to Ly Son island, established two of An Hai and An Vinh village and this temple. Now, it is the praying place for residents of the island before out to sea, prayed the gods blessings their fishing trip.

Mount Thoi Loi

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

As the highest peak of Ly Son island, Thoi Loi Mount was once to an active volcano. Though now it’s inactive, the mountain still attracts many backpackers arrive here to see the panoramic view of the island from its peak. For those photographers who want to take a few pictures of this gorgeous island, this is where they should head to. The mountain is got attractive not just its unique scenery but also because it’s the only place where supply fresh water for the island as well as a placing National flagpole.

Cau cave

This cave is the less known destination on the island, so it still pristine, worth a visit at least once. The abrasion of the waves and wind with the mountain had formed a stunning cave overlooks the sea, one side as the sea and the other side digging deeply into the mountains. The beauty of the Cau cave lies is the scene of wildness, majestic as well as the delicate blend of water and land.

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

In Hang Cau, besides the majestic scenery of the abrasion mountain, there are the smooth dunes covered by a layer of green moss and the white waves beating on the shore every day. The sea is very clean here. Standing on the rapids close to the edge of the sea can see the fishes swimming underwater up to several meters deep. This is also a very amazing place to swim. In addition to taking a dip in the cool water under the sunshine, you can dive into the coral, watching the sea creatures.
Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

An Binh Island

Ly Son Island - The Attractiveness Of The Sea

An Binh island famous for its pristine, white sand and crystal-clear water, one of the most popular destinations for backpackers who want to experience a sense of wilderness. Here, you will also see the endless garlic fields, the impressive volcanoes as well as watching the sunrise. Ships from Ly Son at 8h and returns at 14:30 every day. However, An Binh island is not for those expecting the conveniences as they can find in hotels, there is no fresh water on the island.

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Some general notes when traveling to Ly Son

The best time to visit Ly Son is from April to September. At this time, the sea calmed down so the high speedboats will dock at the main port of the south-west of the island.

Hotels, motels on Ly Son island. In my experience, you should choose the motels that as near the port as possible. Because you need to leave the port at least 2 times, one time to arrive An Binh Island and one time to return to Sa Ky port. When reaching the island, you have to accept the motel rooms will not be nice and spacious as in the mainland, besides, you can stay in homestay (sleeping in the house of indigenous people), it is quite interesting.

Bring basic medicines. This is my own experience, I didn’t carry any medicine. As a result, the sunstroke and the seasick make me get dizzy and abdominalgia during the first half day at Ly Son, and that night, due to eating king crabs caused my situation getting worsen. On the island there is only one doctor, he has a very large bag of medicines but not what I need. Fortunately, I feel better later, if the allergies getting worse without medicines and not to go to the hospital in time, it’s quite dangerous.

Must visit An Binh island. An Binh island is made up half the meaning of the trip to Ly Son. If anyone has come to Ly Son without going to the An Binh island, it is regrettable. An Binh Island has a beautiful and unspoiled green beach, you just rent a life jacket and take a swim a bit far away, can watch coral reefs and clownfish swimming around.

Carry spare batteries for electronic devices. Cu Lao Re island now has a national grid, but the An Binh island does not have electricity so in order avoid the phones, cameras …getting run out of battery, you should bring spare batteries for phones, cameras so able to take pictures.

Have you ever come to Ly Son Island? What’s your impression of that place? I’m glad to see your opinion. Leave your comments on the box below! Enjoy your journey!

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Hi, I am Ventori, own this blog. This blog is my travel stories I experienced throughout Vietnam. This also places to share useful tips and guides for you. Enjoy your visit!

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