​This volcanic island off central Vietnam is a blast

This volcanic island off central Vietnam is a blast
An aerial view of Ly Son Island at night

While popular resort towns and cities in Vietnam such as Sa Pa, Da Lat, and Hoi An are overrun with tourists during their peak seasons, an island district off the central province of Quang Ngai offers respite from Vietnam’s typical tourist trail.

Ly Son, a ten-square-kilometer volcanic island surrounded by reefs just 24 kilometers off the coast of Quang Ngai Province, has long been an attractive destination for Vietnamese backpackers but remains relatively off the radar of foreign tourists.

In 2018, just 200,000 visitors took the 30-minute speed boat ride from Quang Ngai’s Sa Ky Port to the island, a minimal number of tourists compared to the country’s other hotspots.

Ly Son is famous for its seafood and garlic, which grows in the island’s rich, volcanic soil.

Accommodation on the island is plentiful and cheap with eight hotels, 56 lodgings, and 60 homestays, offering a combined 750 rooms.

The island’s most popular attractions include hiking the island’s volcanic craters, riding motorbikes along the coastal roads, swimming in the island’s clear waters, snorkeling, and taking day trips to nearby Be (Small) Island, which is notable for its historical and cultural sites and museums.

Meanwhile, landmarks on Ly Son’s Lon (Big) Island include Cau Cave, Hang Pagoda, To Vo Arch, and Thoi Loi Mountain.

Cau Cave, in particular, offers a glimpse of geological and landscape features that are found in few other places around the globe, according to Prof. Setsuya Nakada, a coordinator of UNESCO’s working group in volcanic areas under the Global Geopark Networks.

The island district also consists of at least five extinct volcanic craters of varying sizes and signs of volcanic activity can be seen nearly everywhere on the island, from the tortured weave of the cliffs to the black rocks partitioning the fields.

The extinct volcanoes make for a dramatic and striking landscape, offering beautiful, short hikes with fantastic views.

In addition to the craters, there are several other excellent viewpoints on Ly Son, both natural and man-made, as well as national heritage sites and valuable historical evidence of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagoes.

Seafood is a go-to meal at Ly Son Island’s night market.
Seafood is a go-to meal at Ly Son Island’s night market.

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