Vietnam's Binh Dinh is a narrow province set between Gia Lai province on the highlands and the South China Sea. If you are planning on heading into the Central Highlands, this is an ideal place to head west with Route 19 heading west to Pleiku from Binh Dinh's provincial capital of Qui Nhon.
Qui Nhon (also spelt Quy Nhon) is a medium-sized town that counts fishing as its mainstay and not surprisingly, the seafood here is excellent. Approaching Qui Nhon from the south on Highway 1A, it looks like a beautiful, quaint little beachside town. From the north, the approach is congested with honking cars, belching fumes past and endless line of ugly storefronts. The truth of Qui Nhon is, not surprisingly, in between. The surrounds can be beautiful, but the town is set up more as a commercial centre than a tourist destination.
In the eleventh century it was a thriving Cham port and in the fifteenth century it became Emperor Le Thanh Ton's ruling base. The area inland of Qui Nhon was the site of heavy fighting during the Vietnam War and Qui Nhon's proximity and port facilities made it an important base for the American troops. However, nothing except for a half-buried tank remain to indicate that anything really happened.
Plans to create more of a tourist infrastructure were underway as of our visit. All the places on the prime beachfront strip along An Duong Vuong St have been demolished to make way for upscale development -- including Barabara's Backpackers, though Barbara's Kiwi Connection on Xuan Dieu remains open for business.
If you choose to make a stop here, there are some Cham Towers within easy reach, and a day trip to the watery town of Song Cau to the south makes sense. The local food is decent, though the only western food available is at Barbara's. It's the de facto centre of things for Western tourists, and even if you're not staying there, it makes sense to stop in for a bite, some conversation, and to get some information.
Easily reached by plane, train and bus, it's surprising that more people don't choose to spend more than the absolute minimum in the province -- it straddles the coastal highway, with Quang Ngai to the north and Tuy Hoa, then Nha Trang to the south, and this is one of the easiest points to veer off into the Central Highlands.
If you've got the time and a disposition for seafood, then you could do a lot worse then spending a day or two here.
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Text and/or map last updated on 30th October, 2013.
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