Sandwiched between two mountain passes and filled with flooded rice fields and wide lagoons, Phu Yen province is usually a blur as most travellers breeze through by train or via Highway 1A. What most passers-by don’t realise is that the province boasts 189 kilometres of undeveloped coast. Phu Yen isn’t on the radar, and perhaps that is enough to attract some curious travellers.
The provincial capital Tuy Hoa (pronounced “twee hwa”) is usually just a one-night rest stop for those on motorbike or bicycle, and the city’s lack of tourist infrastructure and sights does little to entice anyone to stick around. Compare that to Nha Trang, 100 kilometres to the south hustling for mass tourism, and Qui Nhon, 100 kilometres to the north pulling out all the stops to be the next big thing, this sprawling city feels a bit stuck in the mud.
Tuy Hoa sits on the coast, with the mouth of the Da Rang River forming the southern border of the city centre while Highway 1A flanks the western spine. A conical mountain Chop Chai rises in the middle of unwaveringly flat flood plains. The city has a river as well as an enormous beach, and normally these features are the life of any Vietnamese city, but both are very mellow here. It’s by no means an ugly city, it’s just somewhat forgettable. On the other hand, the people are unaffected by mass tourism and engaging with the locals can result in bashful kindness and fun experiences. Finding yourself the only foreign visitor in a little visited destination can be memorable in itself.
Tuy Hoa’s enormous beach is largely undeveloped, divided from the rest of the city by a fortress of casuarina and a road that is practically deserted at all hours. From the sand it doesn’t feel like you’re in a city and there’s miles and miles of it to spread out on. Aside from hitting the beach and joining the locals for a cooling end of day swim or stroll along the promenade, there’s not much to see within the city except for Thap Nhan Cham tower.
Most of the beautiful sights are scattered throughout Phu Yen and it is best explored by motorbike, the coastal journey itself part of the pleasure. To the north, scramble upon unusual basalt rock columns at Ganh Da Dia, Vietnam’s Giant’s Causeway. South of Tuy Hoa, climb the lighthouse at Dai Lanh Cape, the easternmost point of mainland Vietnam. The view is magnificent, and there’s a great beach to boot. Whether travelling south to Doc Let, Whale Island and Nha Trang, or north to Qui Nhon, it’s worth getting off the highway and taking these back roads along the coast for a more memorable drive dotted with empty, windswept beaches. And remember, from Tuy Hoa it’s possible to jump off into the Central Highlands, like to Ayunpa and Buon Ma Thuot.
Passing through Phu Yen? Don’t be so hasty in writing it off.
Tuy Hoa is sandwiched between Highway 1A and the coast, with the Da Rang river delta bordering the town to the south. Unlike most Vietnamese city where the development centres on the beach or the river, the city’s commercial centre is away from both, lying between Hung Vuong, Tran Hung Dao and Nguyen Hue Street.
If you're getting around under your own steam, internet and Google Maps on your device is highly recommended. Trying to navigate by instinct is likely to put you on a long, lonely road to nowhere.
There’s very little or no English is spoken in this city. Weather follows south-central coast Vietnam, meaning big waves from around October to March.
Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Tuy Hoa or check hotel reviews on Agoda . Hungry? Read up on where to eat on Tuy Hoa. Want to know what to do once you're there? Check out our listings of things to do in and around Tuy Hoa. If you're still figuring out how to get there, you need to read up on how to get to Tuy Hoa, or book your transport online with Baolau.
By Cindy Fan.
Last updated on 17th April, 2017.
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