Cam Kim Island is just across a bridge from An Hoi Islet, but it’s a world away from the busy streets of the Old Town. One of the many beautiful things about Hoi An is its position, situated between countryside and coast, which allows visitors to see several different sides of Vietnam within a relatively small area. So during your stay, make sure you take one afternoon off from the Old Town or beaches and explore the rice fields and villages on Cam Kim Island.
Part of the allure of Hoi An is its vibrancy. There is a charm to the mixing of its old world history and architecture with its still-lively markets, filled with locals and visitors alike. But step away from the city center by degrees, and by degrees you find a quieter – though no less vibrant – pulse.
About Cam Kim Island
Only a short bike ride separates Cam Kim Island from An Hoi Islet, but after traversing the narrow bridge that spans the Thu Bon River it feels like you have ridden hours into the countryside. The streets of the town give way to a slow trickle of bikes and motorbikes that eventually peters out into the expansive rice paddies and corn fields that separate the island’s scattered hamlets. If you have the time, then you could easily spend a day losing yourself in this bucolic setting. But for those with a tighter itinerary, there are two highlights that you ought not miss.
Glorious Rice Fields
If you have ever been daydreaming about rice fields in Vietnam, Cam Kim Island is one of the many places in the country where you can find lots of them. Bike around the island and always have your camera ready because there will be plenty of opportunities to take amazing photos.
Rice Paper Making
Just at the end of the bridge, make a left onto Thon Thanh Nhi and follow till you see a small shrine and a sign ‘Cau Cam Kim’ (Cam Kim Bridge). Then turn right down a lane to a wider road where on the corner you might see something not marked on your maps – sheets of rice paper drying in the sun, leaning against a bright mint wall.
Here, with a spot of luck, a kindly man will come out and usher you inside. Even if no one seems to be around, gently say hello and you might get the opportunity to observe and then try your hand at grinding rice flour with a heavy old mill stone, fire a skillet and cook rice cakes.
Where is Cam Kim Island?
Cam Kim Island is located on the south side of the Thu Bon river, about 3.5km from the Old Town in Hoi An or a 15 minute bike ride. Along with the local markets in Hoi An and the famous tailor shops, it is a place you should not miss.
How to get to Cam Kim Island
Cam Kim by Bike
Cam Kim makes for the perfect self-guided cycle tour. You can easily reach the island by crossing the bridge located at the south western end of An Hoi, on Nguyen Phuc Tan street. If you want to do it by yourself, just hop on a bike and explore every inch of the island, while making quick stops to grab a Vietnamese coffee or a cup of sugarcane juice.
If you are up for the full experience, many companies in Hoi An offer a private bike tour. The prices start at 300.000 VND (13 USD) and they include lunch as well as various activities like learning how to weave a sleeping mat or how to make rice paper.
Cam Kim by Ferry
Cam Kim Island can also be reached by ferry from the pier east of the market alongside Bach Dang. It is possible to take a motorbike or bicycle with you, which is highly recommended if you want to see more than the wood-carving shops lined up a few hundred meters along the island’s pier road. The ticket costs 35,000 VND (1.50 USD) and the ride takes about around 30 minutes.
Cam Kim’s New Bridge
Cam Kim’s newest addition is a major new bridge, linking the island with Thanh Ha Village, just to the west of Hoi An’s Old Town. The size of the bridge will accomodate heavy goods’ vehicles as well as motorcars and could well contribute to a change in the atmosphere on Cam Kim – in some parts of the island at least. As of November 2020, with the tourist industry almost non-existent due to the Covid pandemic, it’s impossible to see what impact the new bridge will make to the island. But when things return to normal, it will be easy to access Cam Kim by motorcar, jeep or private bus.
Cam Kim Island Cycle Route – Main Attractions
Triem Tay Village
Taking an immediate right over the second bridge and ensuring you keep the water on your right, you’ll soon reach Triem Tay Village. First settled in the 17th century, the village is a pretty maze of homes, hedgerows, community gardens and pagodas – some sparkling and new, others aged and slowly returning to nature. The village also boasts a handy tourist map and is dotted with signposts pointing off down charming laneways to spots with enchanting names like Old Secret Tree and Tamarind Hamlet.
The Kim Bong village is also nearby. This village is perhaps the most touristy part of Cam Kim Island with carvings of Buddhas and dragons. It’s handy spot for souvenirs and gifts.
The village is also known as the Carpentry Village, due to the local population of master woodworkers, who for generations past and present have been responsible for much of the ornate and intricate detailing you see in the Old Town’s wooden architecture.
Boat Building Yards
A short bike ride southeast from the Cam Kim Bridge is the ferry dock and a small market with local handicrafts and other knick-knacks. At night the area around this market tends to fill with people ferrying over from town and has a more lively feel to it. During the day it is relatively quiet but nearby a number of fascinating small boat yards beckon. See coracle boats and even larger fishing vessels being hauled out of the water by an ancient winches and newly repaired boats being returned to the water. Builders working on a new boats is also a common sight, the smell of fresh timber and sawdust heavy in the air. The workers here are pleasant and greet visitors with ‘hellos’ and waves, so don’t be too shy.