This fishing town in southern Vietnam serves up freshly caught seafood, the country’s most famous fish sauce, fascinating temples and mile upon mile of perfect beaches.
When you arrive in Phan Thiet, you will be greeted with the sight of hundreds of colorful fishing boats bobbing in the harbour. Although it’s primarily a fishing village, and the centre of Vietnam’s fish sauce industry, Phan Thiet’s endless white beaches are now putting the town on the map as a popular beach destination.
Explore the markets of central Phan Thiet. Peruse jewellery and handicrafts and sample regional foods such as coconut candies, dried seafood and green dragon fruit. Visit the town’s numerous elegant pagodas, the star of which is the Chinese-style Ong Pagoda. Learn about the practice of whale worship at the Van Thuy Tu Temple, built in 1762 to honour a legendary whale, which was said to have saved local fishermen who were caught in bad weather. This remarkable temple contains more than 100 whale skeletons, the largest of which is over 22 metres (72.2 feet) long.
Phan Thiet’s main attraction is the beach; mile upon mile of pristine white sand lined with casuarina trees and coconut palms. Lay out a towel and relax in the sun, or take part in one of the many water sports on offer.
The neighbouring village of Mui Ne is a recent addition to the resort circuit and, despite its new developments, the pace remains slow and the beach remains gorgeous. Climb over unbelievable formations of white and red sand dunes. Try your hand at kite boarding or windsurfing. Since Mui Ne faces west, it is a perfect location for sunset walks.
Finish off a long day’s relaxation by enjoying a seafood dinner on the beach. The local cuisine is fresh, diverse and original, and draws many visitors to the area. Make sure to try the steamed rice cakes (banh bo) and the Vietnamese crepes (banh xeo).
Phan Thiet is about 5 hours by bus or car from both Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City. There is no local airport. Pack for a tropical climate with plenty of sunshine year-round.