Phan Thiet activities
More than just laying on the beach
What we say:
Phan Triet is billed as the place to be in Vietnam if you're a golfer. The Novotel Ocean Dunes has a gorgeous, 18-hole, 72 par course -- voted number one in Vietnam by Golf Digest magazine. Sealinks, on the way to Mui Ne, is another option.
But for most visitors, the main attraction is the beach -- while smaller than Mui Ne, it's just as good, and the cafes along the water offer a fine way to enjoy the ambience of surf and sun. As for the rest of the city, standard tours of Phan Triet contain a lot of filler that can be avoided by doing it a la carte. See the Mui Ne section for more things to do in the area.
Can Chan Fish Market
This is a staple stop on the city tour. It's a big, smelly fish market on the Ca Ty River. Enter at your own risk. The fish market is also a good place to pick up a sampan tour of the river for 50,000 VND per boat per hour -- boats take up to four people. If you do this on your own, be prepared to speak some Vietnamese, or stop by Binh Tuan tourist and they'll hook you up.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
This won't be of interest to most travellers, but don't rule it out entirely. If you're curious about life in modern Vietnam, getting a better understanding of Ho Chi Minh, and how he is perceived by the people and the government, isn't a bad place to start. The teachings of Uncle Ho are still closely studied, and even those Vietnamese that fought on the losing side of the war treat his memory with respect (even when they're sure the government isn't listening). The site is near the Duc Thanh school where Ho Chi Minh was a teacher in 1910. The museum features objects from his life and photos documenting his revolutionary career.
Admission: 5,000 VND
Hours: 7:00 to 15:30, Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays.
Van Thuy Tu (Whale Museum)
The denizens of Phan Thiet have made their living for centuries off the sea. It was believed that in bad weather, whales would guide fishermen to safety, so a local practice arose over the years of paying homage to 'Mr. Whale,' and a temple was built in 'his' honor in 1762. Somewhere in the back of the temple is a glass box stuffed with various whale bones, but the real attraction is the 22-metre-long whale skeleton on display in a separate building alongside the temple. It's well-mounted, impressively large, and worth a look.
Admission: Adults 3,000 VND, Children 1,000 VND
There's a set of Cham towers just outside Phan Thiet on a hill, called Ong Hoang (Mr. Heaven), that offers a good view of the harbour and the city. They were built in the 8th century, which is impressively old, by the Cham people to worship the god Shiva. Further up the hill is a look-out tower that that was used during the French colonial period. You'll find the towers on Thu Khoa Huan Road heading east towards Mui Ne -- the towers are soon visible on the hill, seven kilometres from the town centre.
Admission: 5,000 VND.
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