About 30 km south of Phan Thiet along the coast is an area known for it's lighthouse on a small island just across the water.
It's an absolutely gorgeous stretch of beach, and as you get closer to the lighthouse there are strikingly colourful and intricate rock formations all along the shore.
If you're coming from the north you'll have to actually pass the lighthouse to reach it -- at about kilometre 30 the road bends sharply to the north. This is, believe it or not, downtown Tan Thanh, the centre of things in these parts. It's not much more than a cluster of noodle shops, a couple cafes on the water, and a post office -- and fishing boats -- lots and lots of fishing boats.
If you take a left where the road bends towards the water, you'll see the boats, and the lighthouse to the east. You can ride a bike or motorcycle most of the way along the sand at low tide, but it's only about a kilometre of walking, and a very pretty hike at that. The main activity on tap is exploring the rocky beach, but if you've got any curiosity at all about the wonders of nature, this should keep you busy for an hour or so.
You can visit the island that hosts that lighthouse by arranging a trip on one of the fishing boats -- price negotiable, anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 VND depending on the number of people you want to bring over and your bargaining skills. Once on the other side, the boat should drop you at a small station run by the army -- they'll give you a key and you can enter the lighthouse and climb up to the top to enjoy the view. On the way out, it wouldn't hurt to tip the army guys a couple of bucks.
You'll notice quite a few resorts along the approach to the lighthouse. This development was undertaken under the 'if we build it they will come' theory of Vietnamese tourism infrastructure development. They built it, but so far, the tourists haven't come. The rooms are generally pricey -- starting in the 300,000 VND range -- and once you're holed up at your resort there's nothing to do but eat at the resort's restaurant and look at the beach.
The local market seems to have their eye on honeymooners, and given the isolation of the accommodation, that makes sense. Perhaps one day someone will have the bright idea to open up a cheap backpacker place here. If they do, the area would definitely rival Mui Ne -- the natural beauty here is on a higher par. In the meantime, it's a great day-trip.
Once you're done in Ke Ga, you can continue on the main road west to the turnoff for Ta Cu to the north, about 25 km total.
How to get there
To reach Ke Ga, make your way to Phan Thiet, if you're not already there, and find Tran Hung Dao St. After you cross the bridge going from west to east, the turn-off to Ke Ga is 3.6 km further on. It's an easy turn to miss -- not marked in any way -- but if you hit the roundabout you've gone too far. You'll know you're on the right road going south when you hit a steep up-hill grade. This veers eastward and runs along the water for most of the trip.
Last updated on 17th May, 2007.