More than halfway from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, I’d lost count of the days this trip with my friends had lasted. We didn’t talk about dates anymore, just places. A day earlier, my friend’s bike had a serious breakdown and it forced us to stop in an up-and-coming town named Tuy Hòa instead of making the one day trip from Qui Nhơn to Nha Trang. In retrospect, taking an extra day to do the 100km drive was a blessing in disguise – there is much to see here if you’re stop and look.
Take your time in this area and explore on your own terms, if you can. The maps and other articles don’t do justice to the possibilities in the barely touched coast. Below you’ll find some highlights my friends and I experienced.
Stunning coastal roads
For just about the entire drive, you are treated to an amazing road. It’s impossible to miss the gorgeous blue water, cliff-side views and mountains on this winding route. Best of all, the road isn’t busy and there are plenty of opportunities to stop. The sky seems bluer, the trees greener, and the soil is a warm yellow-brown colour. It creates a seriously stunning landscape. You can easily find the perfect photo opportunities and have a little fun on these roads.
Easternmost point of Vietnam (Update: Possibly not)
This place has a point on google maps named “Mốc Cực Đông“. Bike parking (10,000 Dong) is down a small road and just passed the guard gate. Cross the bridge towards the peak of the hill. At the end of this refreshing 1km hike you’ll see a lighthouse come into view. From here, we thought we were at the Easternmost point of mainland Vietnam, but after a bit of research it seems the might not be true. Regardless of where we were, it was worth the stop because of the beautiful views it offered of the coast and the break we took from riding. It’s possible to climb to the top of the lighthouse, but we warned! It’s so windy up there it will blow any loose items into the ocean. We made friends with some Vietnamese travelers who invited us to lunch later in the day. They were incredibly friendly (and essential translators) – it helped make the whole day a memorable experience.
Tip: Buy some drinks and snacks at the base and bring it up to the top to enjoy after the hike. There are tons of places to enjoy a break at the top.
If you did the above hike, you’ll see a golden-sand beach. You can drive there from the parking area of the hike, and enjoy golden sand and long crashing waves. If you’re lucky, you might have it all to yourself for a dip in the ocean, or some relaxation.
Floating fishing villages for lunch
The floating villages in the bays of this area are blessed with calm waters, abundant fish and great weather. These floating villages can be seen from the road, and people will try to flag down motorbikes as you approach to convince you to dine with them. I believe we stopped in Vung Ro Bay, possibly this restautant. Once you’ve stopped, the bartering can begin. This part can be tricky with the language barrier, but be kind and patient and you could get a good deal. We stopped with the friends we had made earlier in the day and they negotiated the price down to 150,000 Dong per person, excluding drinks. That price included hopping on a boat to a floating restaurant, and at least 5 different types of seafood and soup. It was an incredible experience and definitely ‘local’. We found out in good weather, you can also arrange to see the coral reefs from here, but in winter the water was too murky.
Booming Nha Trang
Nha Trang feels like a huge city for just over 400,000 people. It’s swarming with tourists from around the world – but mostly Russians! You can find all the amenities of a big city here if you’ve been missing anything. We took the opportunity to order American style pizza for dinner and get Baskin Robins for desert. Unfortunately we were off to Dalat the next day, so we couldn’t soak up the city too deeply. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for comfortable resorts and services while on vacation, maybe not the ‘backpacker’ life.
Have you thought about other places to stop in this area? It seems like a little discussed part of the Hanoi-HCMC route. Yet after being there – I can’t understand why!