Some great beaches to choose from
Published/Last edited or updated: 28th February, 2017
Chances are you’ve heard of the beaches of Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne and Phu Quoc. But beaches at Qui Nhon? It’s home to one long, easy to access public beach, while the coast to the south is dotted with more good ones.
Qui Nhon fills in the much needed beach niche in between Hoi An and Nha Trang. The city doesn’t have the tourist buzz as those two but the government is making concerted efforts to put it on the map, and so far we like what we see.
The beach is rubbish-free, and the long lazy leafy boulevard that runs along it is immaculate as well. Crews work all day picking up litter, manicuring the many parks and gardens, emptying bins that line the pedestrian-friendly promenade. Thus far, vendors and building directly on the beach have been limited to a small section. Is this really Vietnam?
Qui Nhon’s main beach will appeal to the traveller who enjoys a low-key local experience. Relatively few foreigners stay in Qui Nhon and in the day time, the beach is completely empty — you could easily be the only one basking in the sun. Sunrise and sunset are when the locals and Vietnamese tourists come out to cool off, play football or jog. It never feels too busy.
We’re in awe that there aren’t the usual vendors with plastic chairs on the strip. The few eateries that have been permitted are classy joints. Look for Surf Bar three-quarters the way up the beach. Wooden tables and chairs are neatly laid out in the sand, along with thatch umbrellas and loungers that can be used for the price of a drink. There’s clean toilets and a rinse off shower. As the sun bids its farewell, lanterns prettily illuminate the spot.
Time spent beach hopping down the southern coast is recommended, and while we think Qui Nhon is a great little city, we concede that most budget travellers will opt to spend most or all of their time staying down here. Once a under-the-radar beach destination, Bai Xep (pronounced “bai sep”) now has two backpacker hubs offering beachfront dorms and that chilled out atmosphere backpackers adore.
Bai Xep is located 10 km south of the city and whether you choose to stay here or not, it’s a cool place to hang out for the day. There’s plenty of space to spread out and it still retains local flair with the fishing village and boats on the beach. Food and drink are available at three of the beach’s four accommodation, Life’s a Beach, Big Tree Backpackers and Avani Resort.
Stay at one of the backpacker joints and they can organise private or group boat trips to explore the isles and beaches south of Bai Xep or north around the Phoung Mai Peninsula and Ky Co beach. Otherwise, you can reach them by road.
The next beaches south of Bai Xep are Bai Bang then Bai Bau, which has been developed up with concrete restaurants, concrete benches and paid parking (10,000 dong). The development targets the local tourist market and foreign travellers will probably prefer the next beach down, home to Life’s a Beach Backpackers.
The patch of coast here feels more rugged and wild. A rustic backpacker hub has been built along the hillside, offering accommodation, bar, restaurant and hammocks galore. Staff told us there’s a 20,000 dong “entrance fee” to use the beach which is a bit silly. Sure, it’s only a dollar, but then why bother? We’re not sure how strongly this is enforced and we think the bar/restaurant overlooking the water is a good pit stop, but just so you know, that entrance fee may pop up.
Continuing south, Bai Rang is home to a family who has lived there for 74 years and they’ve had a restaurant for the last four. It’s a basic place to fill up on fresh, cheap seafood seaside. We had a gigantic feast of squid stir-fried with onions and chilli, plate after plate of fried prawns and a lot of beer (we had arrived by boat from Bai Xep, we did not drive here). Shared with a group of other travellers, it was only 150,000 dong per person.
Finally, it’s well worth going just a kilometre further south on Highway 1D. Beside the petrol station at the bend in the road is a terrific view point overlooking the coast dotted with colourful fishing boats.
Locals like heading just south of the city to rocky Queen’s Beach for photos and wide, empty Quy Hoa beach near the leprosy hospital for picnics and barbecues. We personally prefer all the other beaches; it’s there if you want a quick getaway from the city.
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.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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