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Explore serene Hòn Sơn island

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About 65km from the centre of the southern province of Kiên Giang, the serene and unspoiled Hòn Sơn Island is a hidden gem for the nature-loving tourists.

View from above: Reaching the Ma Thiên Lãnh mountain peak, one will have the panoramic view of the island.

 

Covering an area of 11.5 sq km, Hòn Sơn is now home to more than 9,000 households.

The island developed from a fishing and fish sauce making village into a tourism hot spot.

Once you arrive in Hòn Sơn, your options are plenty. Swimming, diving, exploring corals, fishing, or for the more adventurous, trekking.

But if relaxation is more your thing, then you wont be disappointed. Sun-kissed beaches with snow white sands that caress the calm turquoise waters just begging you to take a dip and cool off.

Worth a visit: May to December is the best time to visit Hòn Sơn.

 

And the journey to the beach is not too bad either. The curving road circumnavigating the island stretches 16km. Photo opportunities are on every twist and turn while coconut trees partially hide the beach you came for.

But there’s so much more to explore, including many mounts such as Ma Thiên Lãnh, with a peak 450m above sea level.

You would start your trek at Bãi Nhà. Skill levels vary and the path to the peak is comforted with a thousand-step staircase but some parts do contain quite a steep slope.

Two kilometres in on your journey and you’ll be treated to local gardens awash with bright and beautiful colours of the fruits that adorn the branches above, banana and mango stand out in the sunlight.

As the jungle becomes denser, there’s a surprise in store. The serene Phổ Tịnh pagoda, a place to relax, enjoy the tranquility and be at one with yourself.

Two kilometres further on and you’ll reach a cave, believed to have been once the home of hermits. A bed, table and bookshelf remain as all the evidence you need.

Must see: Sunset in Hòn Sơn, a must see for tourists coming to Hòn Sơn island. — Photos ivivu.com

 

A little more effort and you’ll reach the mountain peak, where you’ll find panoramic views of where you came from. The endless horizon only interrupted by the fishing boats that appear like dots on the crystal water.

This is the place to rest, take a seat and listen to the harmony of birds chirping and sea winds blowing.

Hòn Sơn is in the Lại Sơn commune of the Kiên Hải District and is among few islands of Kiên Giang province to join the national electricity grid.

The ideal time to visit the island is from May to December as the weather is quite calm at this time of year and there is an abundance of fresh and cheap seafood like squid, shrimp and crab.

One can also explore the 11sq km forest with a diversity of plants and animals or visit historical sites in the island like Lại Sơn God Temple, Hải Sơn Pagoda.

Tourists can rent motorbike to travel costing around VNĐ200,000 (US$9).

Lại Sơn is also home to the specialty fish sauce, widely regarded as the best in the province.

But often now in this modern day market, locals have shifted to renting their rooms out to travels for homestay and very few maintain the fish sauce producing business.

Local homestay service

Homestay is a good option for visitors as quality hotels are few and far between.

Take the Tám Ca homestay for example. Dubbed the ‘resort’ of Lại Sơn - it’s an ideal location – its back leaning towards the mountain and its front view looking towards the beach.

Besides accommodation, the host also offers a coffee shop and restaurant.

Visitors to the homestay can enjoy sunrise in the morning and fishing in the afternoon, with the option to cook what you catch, grilling it with a hint of the locally produced fish sauce.  

Catch of the day: Seafood in Hòn Sơn is cheap and fresh.

 

Đặng Văn Hường, deputy chairman of Lại Sơn Commune’s People’s Committee, said: “Many locals shift to doing tourism now, those who used to fix electricity or had fishing as a main source of income now do tourism – they upgrade their house into homestay for tourists. Without knowledge and experience in hospitality, locals still charm tourists with their openness and sincerity.”

The number of tourists coming to Lại Sơn has reached 50,000, five times more than the number in 2016.

In 2017, the local authority also launched initiatives to support locals in perfecting tourism – cooperating with tourism schools to offer them cooking class, said Hường.

 

Source: VNS

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