Photo: A bit of seafood grazing in Hon Chong.

Introduction

Whatever the tourist brochures tell you, Hon Chong is not the Ha Long Bay of the south. A few rock pinnacles and limestone karsts do not a Ha Long make. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a worthwhile destination in its own right. A welcoming seaside village set on a rugged coastline, Hon Chong makes for a decent R&R stop on any Mekong tour or motorbike journey.


This is especially the case if you’re heading to Cambodia using the Xa Xia/Prek Chak border crossing to Kep. Hon Chong is located on the coast west of Cay Duong bay, in between provincial capital Rach Gia and Ha Tien at the Cambodian border. It’s also possible as a day trip from Ha Tien. If you find yourself there with some extra days, it’s less than two hours away by motorbike.

Hon Chong: Sleepy.

Hon Chong: Sleepy. Photo: Cindy Fan

Though Hon Chong sees a flood of Vietnamese holidaymakers around Tet, it can feel practically deserted for the rest of the year, making it a locale to get away from the beaten track and the tourist crowds. The town’s sole road fronts along a tree fringed beach, but the swimming in Hon Chong isn’t great. The sand is brown and the water too shallow but you do get some pretty views, especially from the hillside restaurant at grandiose Hon Trem Hotel.

There are also some worthy photo stops along the drive to Ha Tien, where the flat rice paddies are punctuated by karst sprouting from the earth and towns line narrow water channels that empty into the sea. It may be enough to make up for the dreadful road. Though the Hon Phu-Tu “father-son” island pales in comparison to Halong Bay, they are legendary with locals and still to be admired.

Boat remains one of the best ways to get around.

Boat remains one of the best ways to get around. Photo: Cindy Fan

At the tourist area near Chua Hai Son Pagoda, fresh seafood is on offer – whole fish with herbs, oysters, mussels, clams barbecued on the spot. The sand is still great for getting some sun, taking a break in a hammock or enjoying a seafood lunch. And should you find yourself needing to stay for the night, the two accommodations options we’ve reviewed – one budget and one resort – are good and both offer a lovely view.


Orientation
Hon Chong consists of only one beachfront road, along which all the town’s hotels and restaurants are located. There is no hospital, bank or post office here, though Ha Tien is only a couple hours away — over a dreadful road.

The small market town of Ba Hon is the closest major town and is the gateway to Hon Chong. From the main highway QL80 (which links Ha Tien and Rach Gia), at the fork in Ba Hon follow road TL11 south for 15 kilometres.




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