Hon Rom island, more than 20 kilometers from the city center, is one of the most visited tourist sites in Phan Thiet. The island is praised not only for its breathtaking view, but also for its abundant activities, convenient location and incredible cuisine.
I. Overview of Hon Rom Island
Hon Rom (Rom Island) is a small island located in Mui Ne Ward, Phan Thiet City. It is around 28 kilometers from the city center with a fairly accessible route. The island features 17 kilometers of coastline, surrounded by lofty mountains, expanse of white sand and coconut forests. Thanks to its unspoilt scenery, convenient location and various offers of services, Hon Rom has become a popular destination for both domestic and foreign tourists.
The position of Hon Rom makes it pretty easy to get to the area by motorbike or car. The process of renting a motorbike in Phan Thiet is pretty straightforward. Just ask the receptionist from your accommodation and they will get the vehicle arranged in no time. Otherwise, you may opt for a taxi to avoid the trouble of driving on your own.
The weather of Hon Rom is hot all year round, with temperature fluctuating around 27 and 32 degree celsius. The dry season goes on from April to September, while the rain season starts from October and ends in March. During the rainy season, there may be sudden torrents, especially from September to November, which makes it an unsuitable time for travel. The best time for visiting Hon Rom is around April and June, when the weather is ideal for outdoor activities and the seawater is at its best, clear, shallow and cool enough to swim in.
II. Highlights of Hon Rom Island
The word ‘Rom’ In Hon Rom means ‘Haystack’, which stems from the view of the island when seen from afar. Upon the surrounding mountains of Hon Rom grows a special grass, which turns into a shade of yellow during summer. The fishermen, observing the mountains from their drifting fishing boats, liken them with a giant pile of sundried straws. The name triggers the curiosity of not only foreigners, but also natives who have been so familiar with the scene of straw-covered fields in the countryside of Vietnam.
The southern part of Vietnam has been internationally praised for owning some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and Hon Rom is no exception. As you take your first step of velvet-smooth white sand, all of your senses are awakened by a distinct tropical ambience. You hear the rustling of coconut leaves, the roaring sound of ocean waves. Your eyes catch the sight of vast, sparkling blue sea and the faraway mountain range. Your nose is filled up with a unique aquatic scent: the synthesis of saline, seagrass and seashell. Coming closer to the water, you will notice boulders in various sizes and shapes which have been carved by ocean waves. In further distance, the sand dunes emerge, covered with desert shrubs and thorny cactus.
III. Activities to Try on Hon Rom Island
1. Diving in the Crystal Clear Ocean
In the scorching heat of tropical summer, there is nothing more unwinding than diving in the pristine, cool water of Hon Rom island. Ask any locals in Phan Thiet about the best beaches in the city and they would certainly suggest Hon Rom 1 and Hon Rom 2. These beaches are sloping, with waves gently hitting the shore. If the west side of the island catches your attention with the endless stretch of white sand, the east side stands out for its astonishing rock formations that arise from the water. Dipping in the pure water, lying on the soft sand or climbing on the rocks for some amazing photos, the options for recreation are plentiful.
If you are an early bird (or attempt to be one for just one day), you should come to Hon Rom in the early morning (as early as 5 a.m) to watch the spectacular scene of sunrise. There are barely any people on the beach, allowing you to wholly relish the melody of the sea. The sun, looking like a giant ball of fire, rises up from the horizon. Everything comes alive, turning from the sole black shade of the night to the varied bright tones of the day.
2. Trying a Diverse Range of Watersports
► Jet Skiing:
Jet Skiing has been present in almost any coastal tourist attraction around the world, but this sport never seems to lose its attraction. It is the adrenaline rising from the high speed that gets people hooked. Even if you are an amateur to the sport and do not have much time for training, you still get the opportunity to experience it in Hon Rom, with the assistance of professional riders. Just put on your life vest, hop on the jet ski and feel the ocean breeze blowing beneath your skin. You may get splashed with saline, or soaked through as you fall into the water, but most of them cause no harm and support is provided immediately when needed.
Witnessing the beauty of Hon Rom from a higher point may sound like an astounding idea, but it has been embraced by hundreds of travellers, especially adventure enthusiasts. If you don’t have any prior experience, tandem paragliding is the thing to go for. You will be harnessed together with your flight guide, who will operate all the equipment and keep everything under control. All you need to do is to follow his instructions and admire the breathtaking landscape.
3. Having a Campfire by the Sea
The vast sand strips by the coastline of Hon Rom is an ideal place for a campfire at night. You will have to make a bonfire on your own, as there is no ready-for-use fire pit. Digging a hole in the sand, gathering the wood (or buying it from a store for more convenience), shaping your fire lay, preparing the food (or asking the seaside restaurants to do it for you). All of these may take a little time, efforts and money; but the unforgettable memories remaining in your mind are surely worth it.
4. Going Offshore with the Locals
Finally, for those who wish to discover Hon Rom from a new perspective, going offshore with local fishermen will satisfy your desire. As the boat takes you away from the shore, the sight of crowdedness gradually fades away, replaced by a singular blue colour. When the sun descends, the whole area is covered by darkness and you can barely discern your surroundings with the dimming light attached to the boat. The weather is also much more pleasant. You are not dazzled by the blazing sunlight, and the ocean winds substitute the hot weather of daytime.
Asking the fishermen for a fishing rod and they will give you one, accompanied with some baits and instructions on fishing techniques. You might catch a squid or small fish if luck is on your side that day. Just remember to avoid going on full moon night, as the aggressive movements of the waves pose several threats to those on board.
III. What to Eat in Hon Rom?
Like many seashore areas in Vietnam, the cuisine of Hon Rom is most famous for its fresh and affordable seafood. The tasty dishes are offered by a wide range of seaside food stalls and restaurants, as well as vendors walking along the beach. Here are our suggestions for must-try items if you are planning to eat in Hon Rom.
1. Steamed Crabs
When you walk to the seafood restaurants in Hon Rom, you are free to pick out any of the swimming creatures in their glass tanks. The common choice of diners is blue crab, marked with its green shell and bright blue claws. The Dynasty crab, with a larger size and more meat, is a more luxurious option.
For crab, the main method of cooking is steaming without any herbs or spices, allowing the eaters to fully enjoy the original, delicate flavor. The alluring aroma coming from the crab will make anyone’s mouth water.
2. Grilled Scallops
Scallop seems to appear in many marine areas around the world and different cuisines seem to have their distinctive way of cooking it. The plump, shiny white chunk of bivalve is simply irresistible, even for the pickiest eater.
In Hon Rom, scallops are cooked when they are still in the shell. The chef removes the half shell, thoroughly rinses the scallops to get rid of dirt, and places it on the other half. Then, he proceeds to pour on some vegetable oil, and sprinkle fragrant shallots, onions and peanuts. After a few minutes over the heated charcoal, an amazing smell emanates, telling you this is a fantastic dish before you even try it.
3. Herb Infused Babylon Snails
Compared with the two former dishes, the babylon snails arouse more curiosity. Yet, to Vietnamese people, this is one of the most favorite seafood treats. This kind of snail is striking with its creamy, brown-spotted shell, noticeably smaller than French escargot. The snail seems to be bland and unappetizing on its own, but with a few additions of herbs and spices, it becomes a savory delicacy. After being meticulously prepared, the snails are thrown into a sizzling pan of oil that has been infused with chillies, Asian mint and lemongrass. For a less greasy option, some restaurants toss the snails in an aromatic sauce containing the same ingredients. Use your tiny metal fork to dig into the shell, have your first bite of the flavorful snail and wash it down with some beer. Just one bite and you will instantly understand the long-standing popularity of the exotic dish on Vietnam food map.
IV. Nearby Attractions around Hon Rom
If you are planning for your visit in a limited amount of time, we recommend you include other attractions close to Hon Rom as well. With just around 5 to 6 hours, you will discover all the representative destinations of Mui Ne.
1. Mui Ne Fishing Village
About 1 kilometer from Mui Ne Market, this is where you witness the daily life of fishermen in Mui Ne. At dawn, the boats return from their fishing trip, drag their morning catch to the shore and then rest on the seashore waiting for their next departure. The work of fishermen doesn’t stop there, after unloading their catch of fish, they have to sort it out and deliver it to the merchants. Laborious as their job is, the fishermen always keep a bright smile on their face and greet visitors with absolute friendliness.
2. Bau Trang (White Sand Dunes)
65 kilometers from Phan Thiet City, Bau Trang is also known for the title of ‘The most beautiful lakeside road of Vietnam’. The desert terrain of Bau Trang features vast sand dunes and two giant lakes with turquoise water. Tourists may challenge themselves by driving on quad bikes, a four-wheeled vehicle specialized for desert terrain. Alternatively, they can seek a tranquil time by sitting on a boat and admiring the stunning vista of lotuses blooming on the lake.
3. Doi Cat Bay (Red Sand Dunes)
Closer to Hon Rom, Doi Cat Bay appears in the brochure of almost any travel agencies in Binh Thuan. The sand dunes are easily noticeable with its striking red sand, making them a popular choice of photographers. However, the shape of the sand dunes may change remarkably at different times of the year, depending on the wind blowing over them, so it’s hard to pinpoint the perfect spot for your photos. Therefore, take your time and experiment until you find the ideal corner. Sand sliding is another exciting activity at Doi Cat Bay, since it is not as steep as Bau Trang. Just talk to the game operator, they will rent you a surfing board and show you the best places to sled on.
4. Suoi Tien Mui Ne (Mui Ne Fairy Stream)
Just a short distance from Hon Rom, the Fairy Stream is an extraordinary landscape that you need to explore. The best way to travel along the Fairy Stream is by walking on the barefoot. You will get the chance to wade through the ankle-deep water trail across the one-and-only canyon of Mui Ne, a combination of rock formations and silky smooth sand hills. The Fairy Stream is waiting for you at the end of the route, as a reward for the persistent hiker.
With everything that the island has to offer, your travel to Mui Ne will not be completed without a visit to Hon Rom. With all the infos and tips above, we hope you will have a delightful time in Hon Rom.
Keyword: Hon Rom Island, Phan Thiet: a Marvelous Island in a Coastal City