Photo: Late light on Hon Son.

Riding around Hon Son

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Stand at the top of the pass that cuts through the middle of Hon Son and take in the wildly beautiful vista: a shield of solid rock carpeted with thick greenery, the hill sweeping down into the ocean. While it’s almost impossible to get lost on Hon Son (a single road rings the entire island), it’s not hard to feel like you’re in a lost world – look up and you half expect to see pterodactyls circling overhead. A few turns around the island is a must. Here are the highlights.

Hon Son_roads_550

Smooth sailing.

Starting from the pier, head east along the low-lying coastal road which gives you lovely views of the water. After five kilometres there should be a roughly constructed sign for “bai Ban” which translates as “table beach”.

See sign for seaside on the sea shore.

See sign for seaside on the sea shore.

An overgrown trail leads down (be careful) to the languid stretch of sand shaded by windswept palms. There’s nothing except a few homes, wooden canoes, coconut husks and branches scattered around.



Continuing on the road you’ll soon come upon bai Bo (Bo beach), well marked with the sign for Beach Guesthouse who have set up a few tables, chairs and umbrellas. On this side of the island during the south wind months of January to September, the ocean is calm and the beach large. During the north wind months of September to January, the water at bai Bo is high, rough and most of the time unswimmable. Regardless of the time of year, it’s a great spot to relax and get a coffee or fresh coconut.

Squeezing through a landslide.

Squeezing through a landslide, part of the adventure.

From Bo beach, follow the road west and up for the eight-kilometre pass that cuts across the centre of the island. You will soon come to what appears to be an impasse. When we were there in December 2015, the road suddenly ended – a landslide had covered up most of the road and it didn’t seem like it would be cleaned up any time soon. But there was just enough space for a dirt/mud trail to take your motorbike through. Continue on and your jaw will drop at the view.

Don’t get lost in there.

Don’t get lost in there.

The pass reaches an elevation of 324 metres and eventually winds its way to the main pier.

The thin scar on the hillside? That’s the road.

The thin scar on the hillside? That’s the road.

Head west from the pier. After 2.3 kilometres you’ll reach the village, small market and marina of fishing boats. Riding through the narrow gritty alleyways is atmospheric but it’s not a place you’d find yourself lingering in. It’s worth taking a look at the colourful boats and the sea creatures being sold.

Anyone need some dried shrimp?

Anyone need some dried shrimp?

Continuing onto the north shore, be prepared for more dazzlingly dramatic scenery. The shore is dominated by impressive boulders, towering palms and a peak that looms. At Tam Ca Guesthouse you can walk down the rocks to the water for a swim, and the adventurous and surefooted can walk along the boulders east. There are some spots with a patch of sand no more than a few metres wide to hang out in and some very pretty pictures to be had.

Swim among giants.

Swim amongst giants.

If swimming watch out for spiny sea urchins and reed. If bouldering is too difficult, alternatively you can continue on the road from Tam Ca and look very hard for where people have trampled paths through the brush, not easy to spot though.


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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Hon Son.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Hon Son.
 Read up on how to get to Hon Son, or book your transport online with Baolau.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Hon Son? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Vietnam.

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