Binh Thuan is a south-central Vietnamese province about 200 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City. Rivers spurt from the highlands and spit out into the ocean. Agricultural land is fertile and abundant. Forests cover half the province, hiding winding mountain roads and secret ecosystems.
There’s a bit of everything in Binh Thuan: sweeping meadowlands for camping, Cham ruins for exploring, national parks for hiking, and backpacker bars for befriending fellow travelers. But this arid province is best known for its beaches and its benevolent weather. Come during the dry season between November and April for a warm breeze and completely cloudless skies, but the truth is that it hardly rains here even in the wetter season.
The climate is always right for sunbathing and swimming in Binh Thuan. Here are five of the province’s best beaches.
Bai Rang is one of the most developed and accessible beaches in the province. Just 15km outside of central Mui Ne, Bai Rang nestles like a boomerang in the shadow of a mountain, its soft yellow sand set apart from the dense, primordial foliage of the hills. These raucously green mountains hug the beach in a protective embrace, leaving a calm, shallow, sheltered bay where the water is totally transparent due to the absence of sediment disruption.
Despite its face-value vitality, Bai Rang literally translated actually means “dead beach” due to its abundance of dead and bleached coral reefs. Snorkeling is the best way to discover these petrified wonderlands, but the water is clear enough to see them underfoot when merely wading.
Bai Rang remains predominantly a fishing community, and a must-see attraction in the city. The best time to spend in the fishing village is early morning or evening. Strolling down the road under the beautiful sunshine, watching fishermen coming back from a far, boats carrying full of fresh seafood and the sound of sellers and buyers at the village is like a melody to the ears. During your visit in the evening, you would find yourself relaxing by the beach, enjoying the sunset and tasting some great seafood served by local people.
Thuan Quy is Bai Rang’s alter-ego, a wild and remote landscape as-yet untouched by major development. The road leading to the coast passes through endless agricultural land, farms and fields giving way eventually to trees before the sand.
Beyond the beach, bubbles of rock formations pile atop one another in different sizes, shapes, and colors. These are soft-edged boulders carved over centuries of erosion and aquatic etching, jutting up from the earth in tawny hues like hip bones and shoulder blades. Some have formed into fantastical shapes over time – keep an eye out for the “Hand of Buddha,” a local landmark.
Thuan Quy is popular on the weekends, but otherwise more or less deserted. Camping is possible here, and weekdays are ideal. Outside of fishermen’s dawn, the world here is quiet and star-strewn, perfect for a tropical escape.
Hon Rom translates to “straw,” a nickname this beach earns for its distinctive color palette. This is a narrow strip of yellow sand belonging to the foot of Hon Rom mountain. In autumn, the mountain grass goes yellow as hay, and the sandy soil beneath is revealed in all its desert hues.
In the mornings and evenings, this bit of beach couldn’t feel more like bright and dancing tropical sunshine. In the thick heat of mid-afternoon, the cactus plants and thorn bushes bursting from the earth take on a different tone. Shapely rocks cut from the waves are strewn about the flaxen landscape. With crystal clear water, calm background and lush orchards, make the beach the dreamlike place for couples and families to sing and picnic in the golden glow of the sunset.
Source: Instagram - jujudemilneuf
Bai Nho is an inhospitable beach reached by adventurous travelers by way of a steep and grassy path off Phu Quy Island’s coastal road. The beach is one of the beautiful, pristine beaches, a sleeping beauty of Phu Quy Island.
But Bai Nho is unarguably worth its journey. This barren beach has been cleared of trees by wind and weather, leaving nature in its rawest form. Black boulders stand stark against bright white sand. The water is clear in its shallows but turns opaque, dark, and mysterious as it deepens. Black volcanic rocks begin to emerge like an omen where the bottom drops out and the surf becomes rough and choppy.
The big cliffs standing close to the sea, by the time of wave hits and tides, a hollow in the middle of the sea appeared, and turned into the fabulous “salt water swimming pool”. Coming here around June, when the weather is full of sunshine, calming clear blue sea water, visitors can snap tons of beautiful photos to keep as a lovely memory.
Ke Ga beach is as much of a rock garden as it is anything else, a perfectly flat expanse of sand embraced by imposing cliffs. The calm and gentle tide is broken by huge rock formations carved by eons of ocean into strange and myriad shapes, edges rounded like clouds and bubbles – almost soft. These boulders are stacked atop one another in layers of color, brick brown and terracotta orange bursting from the blue of the ocean. Clamber atop a high point to watch the sunset dye the world in redder hues.
During low tide it’s possible to walk the 500 meters to a jagged island where an enormous lighthouse towers, a beacon in the wind. This lighthouse is both the oldest and the tallest in the country, a majesty of architecture standing proud against the horizon, emerging like a royal sculpture from the foliage and flowers of the island.
Brave the 184-step spiral staircase to the top to look out over the seascape from up on high. From this vantage point, the sky and sea melt into each other, the once-towering lighthouse now a microscopic dot amidst a universe of gray and green and blue.