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Diep Son Island (Điệp Sơn dao, Hòn Điệp, Bip Island or Điệp Island in short) is an island located in Van Phong Bay in Khanh Hoa Province. There are actually 3 islands that make up “Diep Son”, namely Diep Son Island, O Island, and Qua Island. These islands are famous for their “underwater sea road” referred to as Diep Son Thuy Dao, which is a sandbar. All three islands are connected (in series) with each other by sandbars with the first connection, Diep Son Island and O Island, being 800 meters in length and the other being O Island and Qua Island being 500 meters in length.
Thanks to social media sites and travel agencies in nearby Nha Trang, the raw beauty of Diep Son has been widely published and the island is gearing up for tourism. There are a few small beach side eateries in town, a couple guardhouses, and even a designated camping area. A new speedboat service which costs 100,000VND one way, takes visitors from Van Gia Town, located on the mainland, to Diep Son numerous times per day. There is a new pier and a few restaurants catering to the influx of tourists are currently being constructed. The best time to visit the Diep Son Island is from December to June, during Vietnam's dry season.
Depending on what time of day you visit, these sandbars are either partially submerged (in the morning during high tide) or completely dry and visible (during low tide in the afternoon).
The environment at dao Diep Son is very hot and dry. You will find cacti, bushes, grasses and other desert plants throughout the 3 islands. The surrounding sea is very shallow and inundated with shell-fish, small fish, and crustaceans.
There are about 105 households currently residing on Điệp Sơn and the island, mainly consisting of young fishermen and their families. Guesstimating the islands demographic would suggest that the average age of the islanders is under 24 years of age and men outnumber women. Diep Son is also not connected to the national electrical grid and relies on gas generators for electricity, which is only available in the evening time from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. There is one school, one pagoda, and a few cemeteries in the main village. It is said that the islanders are afraid of ghosts and welcome tourists to Diep Son because they believe that “loud and noisy” tourists scare the ghosts away.
Besides trekking the underwater sand bar to the two other islands, you can climb one of the small hills for a view of the archipelago. Beware that there is not official trail and there are a lot of thorny plants that will cut you. You can also snorkel to see small fish, forage for wild oysters and sea snails, camp, or just spend the day gazing out at Van Phong Bay. For day trippers, expect to spend about 3 hours here and please bring plenty of sunscreen as the island is extremely hot and it is easy to get burned.
There are a a few local Vietnamese street food style restaurants set up along the beach on Diep Son. You can order squid, soup, congee, banh mi, etc. Beer, soft drinks, and water can also be purchased.
The only way to get to Diep Son Island is by a boat from Van Gian Wharf located in Van Gia Town, which is about 70km from Nha Trang or from Nha Trang Bay. You can either a) join a 1, 2, or 3 day tour which can be arranged in Nha Trang, b) take a bus from Nha Trang to Van Gia Town and then a Xe Om to the wharf, c) or just ride a motorbike to Van Gia wharf. If you are a foreigner and planning on coming to Diep Son, please bring your passport or government issue ID as you will need to register with the local police, located next to the wharf.
From Van Gia Wharf you can take a new speedboat (tel: 01695742679), which usually departs whenever there are at least 10 people. The trip only takes 20 minutes and there are many departures throughout the day in the dry season however most people arrive around 8am. There are also 2 speedboats which can accommodate up to 20 people each. In the past tourists were able to take a local boat, the “Phuong Dong Boat“, however the boat cannot handle the new found popularity of the island and all passengers are forced to take the speedboat, which costs 200,000VND per round trip.
You can either camp on Diep Son or stay at a simple guest house with basic facilities. Although staying on Diep Son is not necessary as the islands are very small and there isn't much to do, unless you want to see the sunrise and sunset around Van Phong Bay. If you are a foreigner, you will not be allowed to stay overnight. You can also stay at the Phuong Hoang guesthouse located directly across from the Van Gia Wharf.
Phuong Duong Guesthouse on Diep Son – Tel:0905993164
So you are probably asking yourself “is it worth the trip to Diep Son Island”? This really depends on your what your goals are. If you want to see a raw beautiful island on the verge of becoming Vietnam's next tourist hot spot, then get here soon. The ocean island path is nice but expect to see scattered garbage, which is typical of Asia.
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