Overview of Ly Son Island
Ly Son is the one and only island in Quang Ngai province. But did you know that about 25 to 30 million years ago, it was a volcano? The volcano once had five calderas, but as time passed, the calderas turned into five mountains. The mountains provide the main reservoir of water that supplies the entire population on the island. With the geology, topography, and landscape here, it is no exaggeration to say that Ly Son island is the “Jeju island” of Vietnam. It’s not only famous for different kinds of garlic but it also attracts many young travelers looking to explore the surreal blue sea.
Ly Son island consists of Lon island, Be island, and Mu Cu islet. Lon island is also called Re ait and is the center of Ly Son island. Be island – a paradise with a fantastic beach is also known as An Binh island. Mu Cu islet, the smallest and uninhabited islet, is located on the eastern side of Lon island.
When to Visit Ly Son Island
June to September is the perfect time to visit Ly Son island since the weather is nice and sunny. Although it’s mostly sunny during summer, there are sudden storms and rain, so make sure that you always check the weather before you come here. Ly Son garlic is planted in September and harvested around early December, so if you want to discover and try this special spice, you have to come at the right time. In addition, Ly Son has a special holiday to commemorate the Hoang Sa soldiers and it takes place on the 18th, 19th, and 20th of March, Lunar calendar.
How to Get to Ly Son Island
To get to Ly Son island, you need to arrive at Sa Ky port first. There are four main ways to reach the port:
1. By plane:
The nearest airport to get to Sa Ky port is Chu Lai airport. Each week, there are three flights from Hanoi to Chu Lai airport. The price of a roundtrip ticket starts from about 3,000,000 VND to 3,500,000 VND (135 USD to 155 USD). Then, you can take a taxi, rent a car, or buy a coach ticket to Sa Ky port. The distance between the port and the airport is approximately 50 kilometers, and the price ranges from 400,000 VND to 800,000 VND (18 USD to 35 USD).
2. By coach:
From Hanoi and Saigon, there are many highly qualified coaches to Quang Ngai. You can contact some car dealers to book tickets two to five days in advance. Some trust-worthy coach brands to Ly Son Island are Phuong Trang, Nhat Tra, Quang Hien, Camel, Hoang Long, and Chin Nghia. The ticket price ranges from 300,000 VND to 400,000 VND (13 USD to 18 USD). If you want to book tickets online, you should visit Vexere.
3. By train:
Every day there are five trains driving northward and southward:
Train departure from Hanoi:
SE1: Hanoi 7 PM – Quang Ngai 1:23 PM
SE3: Hanoi 11 PM – Quang Ngai 3:23 PM
SE5: Hanoi 9 AM – Quang Ngai 4 PM
SE7: Hanoi 6:15 AM – Quang Ngai 0:36 AM
TN1: Hanoi 1:15 PM – Quang Ngai 10:28 AM
Train departure from Saigon:
SE2: Saigon 7 PM – Quang Ngai 9:03 AM
SE4: Saigon 11 PM – Quang Ngai 11:41 AM
SE6: Saigon 9 AM – Quang Ngai 11:32 PM
SE8: Saigon 6:25 AM – Quang Ngai 8:22 PM
TN2: Saigon 1:15 PM – Quang Ngai 4:57 AM
After getting to Quang Ngai, you can take a taxi, rent a car, or buy a coach ticket to transfer to Sa Ky port. The port is about 20 kilometers from the train station, so it won’t take you too long to reach. If you want to save money, you can take bus 03 which is scheduled to run from Quang Ngai city to Sa Ky Port. Although this way is frugal, it takes you longer to get to the port.
Moving from Sa Ky port to Ly Son island:
Every day there are three high-speed boats from Sa Ky Port to Ly Son island and vice versa. They depart from the port at 7:30 AM, 8 AM, and 3 PM. From Ly Son island, the boats depart at 7 AM, 8 AM, and 1:30 PM. In addition to high-speed boats, there is a daily freight boat (cargo ship) transporting passengers and merchandise to Ly Son island. The cargo ship starts at 8 AM and it will take an hour longer to reach the island than the speed boat, but in case you miss the high-speed boats, you can take this cargo ship.
The ticket office opens at 6:30 AM daily, and each person can purchase two tickets in cash only. Let me remind you that the office is always packed with travelers even if it’s in the early morning, so if you want to buy tickets, make sure to come here BEFORE 6:30 AM! When purchasing tickets, you have to declare your full name, year of birth, address, and ID number (or passport). If you go with a big team, you should collect your teammates’ information (including full details as mentioned above) and fax or email it to the ticket management team before 3:30 PM a day before you come in person to buy the tickets. When you come to the office, remember to bring the list that you faxed to make the process faster and ensure your spot on the boat.
The port office also has pre-sale tickets for the next day from 9 AM to 11 AM and 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM daily. If you already purchased a ticket but cannot arrive in time, please inform the port at least two hours before the departure time. This will help you get an 80 percent refund.
Sa Ky Port Management Number: 055 3626 431
Fax: 055 3626 138
Pro tip: Instead of buying tickets early in Sa Ky port, you can get tickets at 379 Nguyen Nghiem street, Quang Ngai city. They sell tickets from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM daily.
Where to Stay on Ly Son Island
I highly recommend these places to stay:
1. Vo Gia homestay:
Price range: 205,000 VND (9 USD)
Phone number: 098 794 19 14
Facebook: Homestay Vo Gia
2. Ly Tri motel:
Price range: 230,000 VND – 310,000 VND (10.2 USD – 13.7 USD)
Phone number: 096 129 22 39
Facebook: Ly Tri Motel
3. Muong Thanh Holiday Ly Son:
Price range: 1,700,000 VND – 2,600,000 VND (75 USD – 115 USD)
Phone number: 0255 3867 333
Facebook: Mường Thanh Holiday Ly Son Hotel
Where to Rent a Motorbike on Ly Son Island
After departing to Ly Son island, please don’t waste any of your precious moments to enjoy this island! On top of that, renting a motorbike is compulsory to explore this island to the fullest. Some homestays and hotels offer motorbike-renting services. Just in case your accommodation doesn’t provide motorbikes, here are some trusted companies:
1. Mrs. Phuong:
Phone number: (055)3867.399 or +849169 495 9698
Price range: 100,000 VND – 150,000 VND (4.4 USD to 6.6 USD)
2. Song Binh hotel:
Phone number: +84 98 992 89 94
Price range: 100,000 VND – 150,000 VND (4.4 USD to 6.6 USD)
What & Where to Eat on Ly Son Island
1. King Crab:
As told by the old fishermen in Central Vietnam, when King Nguyen Hoang tried the king crab, he fell in love with it at first bite! King crabs are also good for health, so the king demanded the local people supply the crabs to the palace every year. Squeeze a slice of lemon on the crab and dip it into pepper and salt. This makes the taste surpass your expectation! The sweetness, juiciness, and saltiness combine together to make the best savory flavor, and when you enjoy this crab after immersing in the blue sea with some beer, you know that you cannot find any words to describe the joy you will experience.
The king crabs in Ly Son island are not expensive at all: only about 650,000 VND (30 USD) per kilogram. Experience it locally and go to a market and pick up fresh crabs with your own hands. And if you don’t know how to cook them, don’t worry because the owner or the staff in your hotel will give you their helping hands.
Some well-known restaurants to eat king crabs and also seafood are:
1. Hai San Bien Nho:
Location: Opposite Nhat Thanh homestay. Directions to the homestay: Map
Opening hours: 10:30 AM – 9 PM
Price range: 40,000 VND – 170,000 VND (1.72 USD – 7.31 USD)
2. Hai San Phat Hai:
Location: Nearby Muong Thanh Holiday Ly Son hotel. Directions to the hotel: Map
Opening hours: 6 PM – 10 PM
Price range: 50,000 VND – 200,000 VND (2.15 USD – 8.6 USD)
2. Banh It La Gai (glutinous rice cake wrapped in ramie leaf):
This cake has the strong, unique, and fragrant smell of glutinous rice and ramie leaf. Not to mention the sweet taste of sugar, coconut, and green beans combine to create a complicated and special Vietnamese flavor. In addition, this cake is also indispensable in fruit trays which are used to make offerings to the locals’ grandparents, ancestors, and predecessors in their death anniversaries. Moreover, this cake is a must-have item in festivals of the island.
3. Ly Son garlic:
Hold on! Many of you may be afraid of garlic, but the locals here really know how to make this spice appetizing by inventing creative dishes like garlic salad, seafood stir fry with garlic, and much more. Unlike normal garlic, Ly Son garlic smells more gentle and tastes less pungent. Furthermore, it’s two times smaller than ordinary garlic, and it looks cute and less intimidating. This garlic is also regarded as a precious medicine that helps kill bad cholesterol and detox your body.
Ly Son has a lot of fun activities, but these names below are must-see attractions:
1. To Vo Gate
This is one of the favorite places for photography enthusiasts when coming to Ly Son. Especially alluring is welcoming dawn and dusk, you’ll definitely leave with full satisfaction. This gate was created from the remnants of volcanic activity that occurred millions of years ago, when the lava encountered the sea and hardened, then created a unique arch. The gate is about two and a half meters high, has spectacular shape, and shows no signs of human impact.
2. Mount Thoi Loi
Mount Thoi Loi is the highest mountain on Ly Son island with 149 meters in height. At the top of the mountain, there is a beautiful lake and a 20-meter high flagpole to confirm the sovereignty of Vietnam. It takes you about one to two hours to hike to the top of the mountain but it’s worth your time. From the peak, you can see all the live activities around Ly Son from families having fun on the beach, people taking care of their garlic fields, to watching the moving clouds, birds, and wind. There are three words to describe this mountain: wild but hearty. It makes you feel free but safe in the arms of mother nature.
3. Cau Cave
Cau Cave is less than 15 minutes from the center of Ly Son island. The two sides of the road leading to it are filled with garlic fields. The atmosphere in Cau Cave is fresh. When the wind blows and the waves touch the rock, together they create a poetic and majestic picture. Perhaps this is the place where the Ly Son people go fishing because “Cau” in English means fishing.
4. Be Island
The island that you arrived at from the Port is Lon island. Be island, also known as An Binh island is small, but wonderful and not too far away from Lon. It has a beautiful beach with fine white sand, surrounded by high cliffs and white waves from day until midnight. You can take a stroll around the island to visit beautiful animals, garlic fields, then bathe on the beach and get back to the pier to rest and eat.
From Lon island, there is a ship to Be island every day at 8 AM and it returns at 2:30 PM. The price is 40,000 VND (1.8 USD). If you’re going with a group of friends, you can rent a private boat from the local people fishing nearby. It will be great if you bring sleeping bags or tents for camping overnight too! At present, the beach area on Be island offers great services like snorkeling, diving goggles, and life jackets at reasonable prices, so don’t worry and just have fun.
5. Mu Cu Islet:
Mu Cu islet is located on the eastern side of Lon island. It is also the smallest and uninhabited island with pristine beauty and fresh air. From the lighthouse on Mu Cu island, you can admire the majesty of the shimmering sunrise, regarded as the greatest spot to enjoy the sunrise of the island.