Beach bum bliss
A friendly international mob run Big Tree Backpackers and within a few minutes of arriving, travellers will find themselves slipping into the rhythms of beach life. Just ensure you have some time to spare—this is the kind of place people book for a few nights and end up staying a month. It’s a terrific place to get stuck.
Big Tree Backpackers is located at the northern corner of Bai Xep beach. The front of house is a sandy terrace, lounge and bar with a view over the ocean and the nearby little island. It’s an idyllic spot to dig your feet into the sand—casual, laidback, shaded by palms and a bamboo and thatch awning. The colourful bar gives a decidedly hippie vibe, yet what we appreciate is the fact that everything remains tidy and respectable, with proper equipment, furniture and decor.
The three dorm rooms are simple and a bit cramped, with the metal bunks taking up most of the space. The linens are clean, each coming with a mosquito net, plug and reading light. They all have air-con at night.
One of the highlights is the food and drink—Big Tree has the best restaurant on Bai Xep and rather than take the easy route with the standard menu of cocktails and baguette sandwiches, the food is fresh and varied with both Vietnamese and western fare and specials that change every day. Mains are 80,000-120,000 dong—certainly pricier than your street pho but we’re talking tuna steak with pepper sauce, a burger loaded with bacon, cheese and avocado, ribs and veg curries. And there’s no bucket drinks here and we’ve also never seen any hotel in Vietnam serve a Dark ‘N’ Stormy with homemade ginger beer before. This may be a Vietnam first.
Fun social activities include boat trips, movie nights and when temperatures cool down, bon fires. If you like the social vibe of Big Tree but prefer private rooms and ensuite bathrooms, the same owned Haven is just next door.
Big Tree is a fantastic place for budget backpackers and you get a directly on-the-beach vibe that you won’t have in other hugely popular beach destinations in Vietnam like Hoi An and Nha Trang. Even in Phu Quoc these days, it’s almost impossible to find decent beachfront accommodation at this price. At Bai Xep beach, you can roll out of your bed and tumble into the sand for sunrise.
Address: Bai Xep beach, 10 km south of Qui Nhon
T: (056) 384 0000;
Coordinates (for GPS): 109º13'53.43" E, 13º41'9.18" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: Under US$10
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
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