Explore, Dream, Discover in the Southern Central Coast of Vietnam
“High-end travelers always seek new destinations, new hotels and new experiences. Many have moved towards a quieter understated luxury and plan their trips with a focus on authenticity and experiential travel, particularly enriching once-in-a-lifetime experiences. For travel experts, Tuy Hoa – Phu Yen and Nha Trang – Khanh Hoa are ideal locations to create a package that is personal as well as authentic and memorable.” writes Pham Quang Khai for Discover Nha Trang.
Vietnam’s new tourism frontier
Vietnamese people became aware of Tuy Hoa after the success of the movie “Dear Brother”, based on the famous novel by Nguyen Nhat Anh, “Tôi thấy hoa vàng trên cỏ xanh”.
The movie is very evocative with beautiful, peaceful scenery, rice fields, mountains, wild beaches, and islands and featured childhood games from the 1970s which my generation used to play and brought back good memories.
I was fortunate to be able to experience the new emerging beach destination of Tuy Hoa myself on a 3-night/4-day experience combined with ever popular Nha Trang – the new and the old.
New Experiences in a New Destination
The geography of Phu Yen province is varied and diverse with the Truong Son mountains overlooking the narrow strip of plain which is tucked between the ocean and the foothills. The province is known as one of the rice baskets of Southern Central Vietnam thanks to the reservoirs built by the French, which are still used today.
We stayed at the Viet Star Resort (vietstarresort.com) and on the first day we visited Tuy Hoa city, the signature Cham Towers in Nhan Mountain, O Loan Lagoon, Tam Giang reservoir, Mang Lang church (the tombs nearby house the very first dictionary of Alexandre de Rhodes who developed the Vietnamese language we speak today) and Da Dia Reef. We were delighted by the rivers running through the countryside, sleepy villages, the deep yellow of the rice fields and the backdrop of mountains.
The coastline has a unique feature in Ghenh Da Dia (Rocky Plate Reef), an example of a type of reef that is only found in Ireland and Jeju Island, Korea with the Phu Yen reef being the largest. The reef stretches along the coast emerging from the immense ocean like a gigantic honeycomb of stones made up of thousands of basalt columns, 50m wide and 200m high.
We visited all of the locations linked with the film, ‘Dear Brother’, including a school and a periodic market (a traditional market where vendors only sell one type of animal on any given day of the month, so on the 16th they only sell chickens).
The second day we ventured to the south of Tuy Hoa where the virtually traffic-free road runs parallel to the empty white-sand beach, reminding me of Tran Phu Boulevard in Nha Trang 20 years ago. We stopped at Long Thuy beach, a long stretch of sand lapped by clear waters popular with the Vietnamese, yet still to be discovered by international tourists.
Our destination, Vung Ro, with views towards the imposing Truong Son mountains, and Cap Mui Dien are the highlights in this area and the lighthouse is one of the oldest in Vietnam. Nature lovers will enjoy camping on Bai Mon beach at the foot of Mui Dien where the only sound is the waves lapping on the shore.
Authentic Experiences in an Old Destination
Mark Twain said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” We dream of discovering and exploring Nha Trang, home to one of the world’s loveliest bays and spoil ourselves with a sunset cocktail and dinner cruise.
On our third day we drove across scenic Ca Pass from Tuy Hoa to Nha Trang, passing deserted beaches, sand dunes and fishing villages before stopping at a family run restaurant facing the lagoon in Mui Do, where we were served the freshest seafood.
In Nha Trang, we were collected from our hotel soon after 5pm in a luxurious vehicle and 15 minutes later we arrived at the pier where we were welcomed with drums before boarding the Emperor Cruises junk (emperorcruises.com) and heading out into the bay from where we could look back at the glittering lights of Nha Trang.
We relaxed on the sun deck and enjoyed a sundowner, listening to live guitar music and savoured a delicious seafood dinner with unlimited drinks from the extensive drinks menu, served by the very attentive and friendly crew.
This was a wonderful experience from the moment we were picked up till the moment we were dropped back at our hotel. The junk was beautifully decorated reflecting the heritage and luxurious lifestyle of Bao Dai, Vietnam’s last emperor, who often chose to spend his leisure time in Nha Trang.
Emperor Cruises is a new cruise ship which, as well as dinner cruises, offers day cruises taking in some of the islands and allowing time for snorkelling, diving and kayaking. Soon there will also be all-inclusive overnight cruises.
The following evening after a wonderful day cruise, it took just 40 minutes to reach Cam Ranh International airport on the coast road where we reluctantly boarded our flight back to Hanoi. I hate the way back!!!!
Adventurers and intrepid travelers, explorers, photographers, families and people who want to discover exotic places where you are among some of the first people to visit and will enjoy the solitude. It is also an ideal location for team building company trips.
The climate in the region is one of the best and most stable in the country, with a minimum of rain and a balmy average temperature of 28c all year round. The weather in Tuy Hoa is similar to Nha Trang due to its close proximity. It is a year-round destination, but the best time to experience it is from June to September when you can expect dry weather and blue skies.
Jetstar Pacific has just opened new routes from Hanoi and Saigon to Tuy Hoa. In addition, travelers can go to Nha Trang and reach Tuy Hoa in 2 hours by car along a very scenic highway. From Nha Trang there are regular flights to Hanoi or Saigon or train and bus services for travelers who have more time.