My friends and I had a few days off work, so we decided to get out of the city to relax. We found a quiet island in Central Vietnam, called Lý Sơn.
Lý Sơn is an island belonging to the Quãng Ngãi coastal province, bordering on Quãng Nam and Bình Định provinces in the North and South respectively. This island is commonly known as “The Kingdom of Garlic” because it is the only place in Vietnam where wild garlic and onions are grown in the sand. The garlic has a special flavour unique to this region, and is widely exported to the mainland.
Lý Sơn is also known for being the homeland of the Hoàng Sa Flotilla, a revered group of soldiers who protected the territorial waters around Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty. On the island you will be able to see a myriad of relics and historical sites dedicated to these brave sailors.
Let me show you the best places to go on the island.
Where to stay in Lý Sơn and how to get around?
Central Lý Sơn or Mường Thanh Lý Sơn hotels, are both conveniently located near the port.
If you want to explore the island you have the option of taking a Tiên Sa taxi or renting a motorbike at your hotel to drive around the island.
What to see in Lý Sơn?
Don’t forget your camera because there will be plenty of photo ops.
Here we go!!!
The island is divided into two parts: Lý Sơn, the main island, and An Bình, Lý Sơn’s little brother. Lý Sơn island is only about 10 kilometers from end to end; the top destinations are not far from one another, so it is easy to move around.
Hang Câu Cave
To get to Câu cave, you can start from the center of the island and head North-East towards Thới Lới mountain, around 15 minutes. Right at the base of Thới Lới mountain, Câu Cave will appear in front of your eyes like a beautiful painting, blurring the boundaries between ocean and mountain.
Over the centuries the lapping of waves and the coastal winds effaced the rock and burrowed Câu Cave into the body of the mountain.
It is a perfect location for wedding photography, picnics, and swimming. The sea water is crystal-clear, making it easy to see the blanket of seaweed and colorful coral within.
Đỉnh Thới Lới (the Top Thới Lới) - An Extinct Volcano
Head to the top of the street from Câu Cave, and you’ll find yourself on the peak of Thới Lới. Here you can pause for a moment and enjoy the view of the lush green plants on the island.
The concave top of Thới Lới mountain is unique because it was a crater millions of years ago. Now, it has become a large lake. Covering the lake is a carpet of grasses and algae, which make it look like a savanna on the top of the mountain.
From the summit, when you look towards the east of the island, you’ll see fields of garlic and onion. Look towards the sea, and you’ll discover two small islands, Mù Cu and Đông ward, which are the most beautiful places to watch the sunrise.
Chùa Hang (Cave Pagoda) - A Pagoda in a Cave
Bricks were not needed to built the pagoda because the cave was eroded naturally, over the course of millions of years, by the ocean waves. A Guanyin statue was erected outside the entrance, and locals come here to pray for peace for their families and good luck for the fishermen, as they head out for their catch. Thanks to the pagoda’s unique structure, it attracts many tourists. If you come to Lý Sơn, don’t forget to come say a prayer for your family and friends.
Tip: Don’t wear shorts or tank-tops. In Vietnamese culture, wearing conservative clothes when coming to a pagoda is a sign of respect for the Buddha.
Cổng Tò Vò (Tò vò gateway)
Tò Vò Gateway is the second most important tourist destination after Câu Cave. You CAN’T MISS this place when you come here.
Tò Vò Gateway is a stone archway with a height of 2.5 meters. The unusual shape was organically created from the lava of the volcano millions of years ago.
Come here in the evening to watch the sunset. The contrast of the sea with the gateway and the dark lava rocks lurking in the waves make this a great location for photos in silhouette.
What to see in An Bình island?
An Bình Island is the perfect quiet location for tourists with its palm-lined beaches, white sand and clear blue water.
It is around US$5/ person for a round trip boat ticket to the island.
An Bình island isn’t as crowded as the other islands. However, it has a breathtaking landscape. Take a dip in the fresh sea water and enjoy the sounds of the ocean and nature.
An Bình, meaning peace, lives up to its name; this island definitely gives a sense of complacency and comfort. All feelings of sadness, stress and frustration ease away.
So what are you waiting for? Go!
What to eat in Lý Sơn?
This island is famous for its healthy garlic and seaweed but you can also enjoy the seafood. There are many kinds of fish, snails, sea urchins (a rich source of nutrition for men) and the delicious Red Frog Crab.
There are numerous restaurants selling seafood near the fishing port, but here are a couple of restaurants that we tried and loved:
Biển Nhớ restaurant: Thôn Tây, An Vĩnh ward, Lý Sơn
Thạnh Lợi restaurant: Thôn Tây, An Vĩnh ward, Lý Sơn
By Lien Nguyen (citypassguide.com)
Banner Image source: static.english.vov.vn