Chai Village, a little fishing village hidden behind a mountain in the Tri Nguyen islands off Nha Trang, offers tourists an attractive seascape and tasty cuisine.
There are around 50 families in the village, most of which live in floating houses built on rafts. Others raise fish in cages under rafts on the sea but they live on the island.
They earn their living not only by selling seafood to traders but also by serving it to tourists.
Telling us about the history of the village, locals said Tri Nguyen was deserted not too long ago.
But fishermen from some central provinces like Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Binh Dinh arrived with their boats to avoid strong storms.
A tourist catches cuttlefish at the Chai floating fishing village near Nha Trang
These people then chose this site to reside, forming Chai Village.
From Cau Da Port, we hired a canoe to travel to Chai Village. The air was cool. The wind was light. Gliding on the sea water and gazing up at the nearby mountain made for a pleasant five-minute trip.
The village and its numerous fish farms and rafts appeared in front of us rather suddenly.
Han, our canoe driver, said tourists could stop at any raft they liked to catch fish. The owner would supply rods and bait and then make a meal from the tourists’ catches.
Sitting in one of the village’s floating houses to enjoy the seascape when the sun goes down and savoring steamed and grilled seafood is a memorable experience.
There are also some seafood restaurants in the village but many travelers prefer to challenge themselves by fishing for their meals. The restaurant staff does the cooking.
We stopped at Chai Village Restaurant. Its owner, Tam, eagerly welcomed us, and invited us to visit his farm.
The 150-meter raft was divided into many holding tanks, each of which was home to a different kind of creature.
We were amazed at a world of fish, cuttlefish, snails, and sea urchins. Some of them weighed about several kilograms.
It was not easy to catch them but it was exciting to watch them bite at our bait: small crabs.
After the fishing but before the meal, we explored island walking paths. Locals travel only by foot, as the paths are too small for motorbikes or bicycles.
Then we came back to the restaurant. The meal was more delicious with wine made from noni fruit. The bottles of noni wine have been soaked under the sea before being used to enhance the taste, Tam said.
After a meal, tourists can paddle around on the sea in a coracle. They may find it difficult to control the small round boat if they have never steered it before. It’s nearly impossible for a novice to keep it from spinning around.
In the shade of a sunset, Chai Village looks both seductive and shy with gentle waves lapping up against the bobbing boats and the laughter of fishermen ringing in the distance.