Pirate Island (Hai Tac) – Why It Is A Destination for Travellers Not Tourists

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Hai Tac or the Pirate Island can be described as follows: An archipelago of 16 islands inhabited by pirates till the 1990s. Hidden away gold is claimed to be buried around the island and several seekers come every year to try their luck. As a traveller it’s an island where no one speaks English, no electricity after 11pm, mobile network believes in Murphy’s Law, Wi-Fi is considered to be a farang with a backpack and unless you can digest quintessential Vietnamese Sea Food, hammocks to rest in and mosquitoes to fight. If you are still interested, welcome aboard traveller.

You are about to gain knowledge of an island unknown to most. Locals don’t care about it. Tourists don’t know about it. Travellers don’t bother going so far out. Not when Ho Chin Minh City is a night bus away.

Pirate island Hai Tac near Ha Tien South Vietnam

I am drunk and high. Drunk on some locally manufactured whiskey stored in a Johnny Walker Red Label bottle offered to me by locals. High on the magnificence that is Hai Tac (Pirate Island).

The Journey To Pirate Island (Hai Tac)

The island is some 432gut-wrenching-kms away from the Vietnam mainland. You take a wooden ferry from Ha Tien’s harbour. The Ferry built in times prior to emergence of the concept of tourism. The ferry is green coloured, much like the undigested over food you will sprouting half way through your journey. As the water churns, so will your stomach. You will see someone else puke their intestines out and think

Ha. Puny beings. I had experiences far more crazy than a boat ride. I skydived from the moon without a chute and landed softly on my elbows which thank me for the experience. I ain’t puking tonight mofos.

I didn’t have any undigested food in me. Yet my journey to Nihilism was only a few minutes long. But you must endure this. For the sake of the flying Spaghetti Monster, you must visit this island not visited by most.

Don’t expect fancy washrooms at your disposal. Don’t expect makeshift wash-basins. Don’t expect paper bags to deposit your miserable self into. Plain old poly bags will come to aid. Once done, throw them right out into the sea, for some octopus to get entangled into; just another day at work for them.

Once you’ve emptied your guts in the sea, look forward to a nap. The sea lulls you into sleep; it knows your stomach can’t take more Let a few groans escape your lips as you cuddle your tummy and curse yourself for listening to a blogger online and taking this arduous journey.

The harbour should be close by now. Do a few countdowns from 100. Feel free to start again. As the ferry docks itself, muster courage to stand up, readying yourself for a crazy head spin.

As I got down, the beauty of the island escaped me. I was far too overwhelmed with the stress of where I would stay, what I would eat, how I would converse – Did I mention no one speaks English here? I must have also forgotten to mention that nobody, atleast not a foreigner, spends the night here. Not even electricity. It goes back to mainland at 11pm, only to make its way back a bit after sunrise.

Why must anyone wish to visit an island with such a grim outlook? Because it’s worth this, and more. The images don’t do justice.

What To Do At Hai Tac

A better part of my evening was spent with some local men who stopped my scooty. A better part of that meet went in understanding what they meant when they gestured at me three fingers on one hand and two on the other hand. Five men gestured five different combinations and pointed at me to make a similar gesture. We gave up and they offered me Guava and a locally brewed alcoholic drink. Their families were inside chatting and all men were catering to a foreigner (read me).

After a good amount of liquor and ample servings of guava I excused myself. Got on my scooty and took the only road the island offers. A circular road around a circular island providing a view of a never ending water filled horizon. Initially I was concerned about losing my way but except a lighthouse there’s not much on the island. The lighthouse also falls on the sole road so losing way was out of the question.

In the evening some univeristy students from Saigon who had come to the island for a night out invited me for dinner which they had cooked themselves. We had shrimps, noodles, rice and gulped it down with beer.

Pirate island Hai Tac near Ha Tien South Vietnam

One entire round takes 7kms of riding and I did it 15 times. At some places you’d get to see tightly fit hammocks by the sea side, empty ports with fantastic views of the setting sun and ships far off in the distance.

There’s a lake at the centre of the island which is accessible if you trek a bit. The way is slush filled and the lake is crystal clear. Surrounded by tall trees and no other human, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic.

The island is so untouched that locals look at travellers with awe and invite them in. It is for this local Vietnamese experience that I fell for Hai Tac. There aren’t temples or pagodas, resorts or infinite pools. There is however a secluded beach, untouched forests, friendly locals and a road with a view to die for.

Hammocks are omnipresent just like sea food. A lazy afternoon can easily turn into a lazy day thanks to the blue sea and cool winds.

The lighthouse is situated at a height and offers an impeccable view of the sunrise and sunrise. Barely a couple of people work at the lighthouse so crickets and sea are the only things you’d hear.

Come to Hai Tac not for a place but to be transported back in time.

Where to Stay

Pirate island Hai Tac near Ha Tien South Vietnam

There are not a lot of options. A cheap hammock can be rented for the night if super tight on budget or if you feel like sleeping by the sea is a must have experince. Homestays are the best (and only) option.

I stayed at Ngoc Nhanh. It’s a room inside a home with a bed and a mattress on the floor. You get the entire room. T: (0127) 4206 490; (098) 574 445. I paid $4 for my homestay and $5 for a scooty (fuel included). Accommodation is not a problem there if all you need is a bed to sleep.

How to Reach

From Ho Chi Minh: Reach Ha Tien (famous for the land border crossing to Cambodia).

From Phu Quoc: Take Ferry or Superdong to Ha Tien.

Pirate island Hai Tac near Ha Tien South Vietnam

From Ha Tien the First ferry departs at 8:30 in the morning and makes its way back by returns by 3:30pm. Second ferry departs at 2:30pm, returns at 9:30am the following day. One-way ticket costs 40,000 dong, a motorbike 30,000 dong. The fare is collected on board or a ticket can alternatively be bought at the shop opposite the dock for the Hai Tac Ferry dock (adjacent to Superdong’s dock).

My Entire Vietnam Journey

 

 

98 thoughts on “Pirate Island (Hai Tac) – Why It Is A Destination for Travellers Not Tourists

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  2. travelling is different from tourism. There is a lot of difference between these two words. traveller is the one who use to travel all the places over the year and tourism is the one who likes to travel to a certain place only once in a year.

  3. Hai Tac (Pirate Island) Island is famous for seafood such as: fish, shrimp, crab especially, you can catch fish and other kinds of seafood yourself. Sea food on Pirate Island is very cheap. Thanks for sharing!!!

  4. Pirate Island with pristine beauty will be an ideal destination. The scenery is so lovely and peaceful. Thanks for sharing your experience and beautiful pictures!!!!

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  6. Thank you for sharing this wonderful information. This information helpful for many people and good explanation in detail. I Just love travelling and read travel stories, Thanks for writing man, Keep it up ! i always love read travel stories. It’s wonderful

  7. hi
    nice post
    i didnt knew about this island this was quite informational now i should visit this
    'keep blogging'

  8. From the title of your article I have estimated this will be a very exciting and full of experience.
    And sure enough, when I read it, I feel like I'm on your trip. It was an unforgettable experience.
    Thank you for sharing your exciting journey.

  9. I read your article. This place are really awesome. I think this is a very interesting blog. I consider that the debate between tourist-traveler can be a little disturbing for some people but I think your advices are really good in order to experience another places and to make very nice memories. I honestly feel sorry for those who wont experience the world, only will tour 6 hours in foreign countries. I liked your web.

  10. Wow Great Video , I Love Travelling going New Place

    Thanks For Sharing Here This Post Was Awesome

    I Hope That This Summer i Am Going in new place,island,…..

  11. This is the precise weblog for anybody who needs to seek out out about this topic. You notice so much its almost arduous to argue with you. You positively put a brand new spin on a subject that's been written about for years. Nice stuff, simply nice!

  12. I Just love traveling and read travel stories, Thanks for writing man, Keep it up !
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  14. Wow Pulkit! Loving the article and the humour, really refreshing. Cheers for the knowledge on this Pirate Island, my stomach's not exactly the toughest so maybe i'll pass on this trip 🙂 But nonetheless, a great read. Keep it up!

  15. Very nice place to visit and in Vietnam. I've never heard about. Thanks for this great post and detail info with the scenes from the video. "Pirate Island" great name. Is there any pirate on it? 😀

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  17. Traveling is my favorite at my childhood…. this all place are very nice to watch and i will try to visit it….. thanks for sharing otherwise i will miss it.

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  19. I'm so upset that we didn't go here! We were just at Phu Quoc last year and we lived in Siem Reap for 24 months! This sounds like an idyllic slice of local life, which is getting harder to find in SEA. I came across this while looking for travellers vs tourists for some research i'm doing. I totally agree that they are two different beasts for sure! If you're interested in unique travel experiences in Asia, particularly focused in China, Bhutan, Nepal etc then come visit us 🙂 http://www.kootour.com

  20. woww.. that video is great.Really Vietnam is a great travelling country for the travellers,specially this article about Pirate Island (Hai Tac) make me very intersted to visit there.Hope i will go there to enjoy such a beautiful place.Thanks for sharing your experience.It will help me in future.

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