Cam Kim Island is a great escape in a small space. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the real backwoods of Vietnam, while being only 15 minutes from downtown Hoi An. Cam Kim Island feels like a million miles from any city, and a hundred years back in time, but you can cross back into the happenings of Hoi An in one quick and easy boat ride. Here’s what to expect from this little river island.
Wood and Shells
Ever wonder where all those gorgeous hand-made wood carvings come from? It only takes a short scenic boat ride over the rive to find out. Wood carving here remains a highly honoured art, passed down through generations of dedicated families. It’s here where local shells are transformed into glittery accents. Despite its small size, Cam Kim is home to multiple wood carving and shell inlay shops where you are welcome to watch masters at work. Like what you see? It’s all for sale – and at a fraction of the price you’ll find anywhere else (including downtown Hoi An). The friendly boat captains who bring you over from Hoi An are happy to show you around – and will point out which shop belongs to their family.
Bikes and Rice
The wood and shells are lovely, but the real beauty of Cam Kim is the island, itself. This is the perfect spot to rent a bicycle for a few hours and wheel around, past small groups of homes, undisturbed water buffalo and shockingly green rice paddies. Choose the path less taken and find yourself suddenly surrounded by jungle. Explore old ramshackle buildings forgotten by all but the ancestors. With no cars around, and very few scooters, ride without fear or distraction, bikes on Cam Kim are only $2 to rent for the day.
Make It Happen
Traditional wooden boats are available from Hoi An to Cam Kim all days of the week. Choose from a number of brightly coloured “vessels” anchored along the river at Bach Dang Street, next to the market. An eight-person boat should cost about VND 200,000 – 300,000 (about $10-$15), meaning that the more friends you bring, the cheaper the ride becomes. The ride itself is about 15 minutes each way and offers lovely views of Old Town Hoi An as you drift along. Captains are friendly and often are from Cam Kim Island, themselves.
While there are plenty of fun boats and captains who are willing to take you, a special someone is Mr. Rin, boat number QNa 0358. Mr. Rin is available most days next to the market and offers a well priced package. You can also contact him ahead of time at +84 0905 806369.