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Phan Thiet

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Phan Thiet is is the capital of Bình Thuận province in the coast of Vietnam. It is a charming resort city, offering visitors a wide range of activities, both on land and on the water. The city encompasses a 57.4-kilometer-long coastline with many beaches, both large and small. Phan Thiet City boasts an abundance of international and Vietnamese restaurants, beautiful beach resorts, inexpensive hotels and guest houses, water sports activities and an active nightlife. The local cuisine is diverse and unique in many respects. Because of its proximity to Saigon, Phan Thiet is one of the best places to visit, both for Ho Chi Minh City residents and visitors.

The community of Phan Thiet, or ‘Hamu Lithit’ as it was called by the Cham people who lived in the area before it became part of Vietnam, has existed for hundreds of years. However, before the 1990s, Phan Thiet was just a medium-size backwater town that was known primarily for the manufacture of fish sauce and the cultivation of dragon fruit. The first resorts began to appear along beaches in the Phan Thiet area in the early 1990s.

Then in 1995, the name Phan Thiet popped up in hundreds of news articles and television programmes around the world. A rare solar eclipse had been predicted by scientists and they said that one of the best places in the world to see the total eclipse was on Rang Beach, just a few kilometres northeast of Phan Thiet city centre. At the time, Rang Beach had only one nice resort on it; the newly opened Coco Beach Resort. There were also some cheap guest houses, but it was primarily just a small residential community and home to a few hundred fishermen and their families centred around Ham Tien market, approximately 15 kilometres northeast of Phan Thiet city centre. On 24 October 1995, many foreigners and would-be astronomers descended on the area to watch the solar eclipse. Guidebooks directed the tourists and astronomers to the beach in front of Mui Ne Bay, incorrectly referring to Ham Tien as ‘Mui Ne’ and Rang Beach as ‘Mui Ne Beach’. From that day onward, tourists have mistakenly referred to everything east of the city centre as Mui Ne, while Mui Ne and Ham Tien are actually two different wards of Phan Thiet and by no means synonymous! Hoping to benefit by tourists’ familiarity with the now popular nomenclature of ‘Mui Ne’, hotels, shops and restaurants that started popping up along Rang Beach and in Phu Hai Ward added ‘Mui Ne’ to their names, put ‘Mui Ne’ on their websites and advertising and went as far as to insert ‘Mui Ne’ into their addresses. This misuse of the description of their locations has continued to this day, causing confusion among tourists and visitors.

Phan Thiet was officially designated as a city in 1999. The city centre had a population of around 200,000 people at the time, but when the city was incorporated, it annexed a number of nearby communities, including Mui Ne, Hon Rom, Ham Tien, Thien Nghiep and Tien Thanh. The 18 wards and communes that were created increased the Phan Thiet population significantly, so that it is now close to 400,000. Each area of Phan Thiet has its own draw and unique characteristics and there are plenty of things for tourists to see and do in the area.

Get in[edit]

  • By Car: Phan Thiet City is located in Binh Thuan Province and is approximately 160 kilometres east of Ho Chi Minh City as the crow flies. However. travellers who use highway 1A, the main road between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, traverse 200 kilometres on a road that is not straight, but rather swings northeast, then southeast and weaves in and out of the towns along the way. New road construction on a freeway between the two cities follows a much straighter route, cutting the travel time by car from five or six hours on the main highway to just over two hours. The freeway construction is scheduled for completion in 2020. Taxis and private cars are available at all times of the day or night from Phan Thiet Center.
  • By train: Phan Thiet has its own train station located at Cao Thắng street right in the city. It only serves one train though which leaves every day at 13:10 and arrives approximately 4 hours later in Ho Chi Minh City. It only has soft and hard seats. To get on the Reunification Express you have to go to the Muong Man train station which is located 15km north-east from Phan Thiet (Muong Man; 10.968536|108.003630). Three Reunification Express trains going south and two going north stop there each day. The only way to get there is either by taxi or xe om(motorbike taxi which can be found in front of the co.op mart).
  • By Bus: Basically all open tour companies that go from Mui Ne to Ho Chi Minh City pass through Phan Thiet and therefore can take you with them if you buy a ticket and arrange everything in advance. So far the only open tour bus company office that is easily visible is the one from Hanh Cafe at 145 Thủ Khoa Huân. The Binh Thuan bus route between Phan Thiet and Ho Chi Minh city is approximately 207 km in length. On average, there are about 64 bus schedules on this route and bus travel time may take from 5h00 to 23h55 by 20 bus operators: Viet Nhat bus, Hanh Cafe bus, TheSinhTourist (Sinh Cafe) bus, Huynh Gia bus, Hoang Long bus, Phuong Nam bus, Tam Hanh bus, Cao Lam bus, Phuong Trang bus, Quang Thach bus, Dong Hung bus, Kumho Samco bus, Ngoc Hung Bus, Hoang Dung Bus, Trung Nga Bus, Tuan Hoa Bus, Vu Hoang Bus, Nam Phuong Bus, Xe Nha Bus, Quang Son Bus. Duration is about 4 hours. Travellers may go to the city by plane through major airports such as Tan Son Nhat, Noi Bai, Da Nang. As for travelling by bus, they may buy tickets at Mien Dong Bus Station or buy online.

Get around[edit]

On foot, hire motorbike taxi or hire taxi.

See[edit][add listing]

Katy River and Colourful Fishing Boats Although fishing and the manufacture of fish sauce was initially the major industry in Phan Thiet, as evidenced by the fleets of colourful fishing boats along the Katy River and in Mui Ne Bay, tourism is rapidly replacing the fishing industry as the area’s largest employer. In the mid-1990s, the first resorts appeared along the beach in Hung Long and Phu Thuy Wards in the city centre, and Phu Hai and Ham Tien east of the city centre. Since then, the city has seen a construction boom, with hundreds of resorts, hotels, guest houses, restaurants and shops opening on beaches along the entire 57.4-kilometre-long coastline.

The Beaches of Tien Thanh and Ke Ga The beaches at Tien Thanh commune and Ke Ga, stretching along the coast south of the city centre, offer tourists a quiet, peaceful getaway. The communities have only a few hundred residents, so there is very little traffic on the road and one can ride along the coastline without having to dodge cars and motorbikes. It’s very pleasant to rent a motorbike or get a bicycle from your resort and ride from the city centre to the lighthouse at Ke Ga, and then climb to the top of the hundred-year-old tower.

City Centre Like any medium-size city anywhere in the world, the Phan Thiet city centre has lots of restaurants, shopping malls, markets, cafes and stores. Ho Chi Minh taught school in Phan Thiet, and Duc Thanh School where he taught is now a visitor attraction and museum. There are only a few resorts and hotels along the beach in the Phan Thiet city centre, but it is very easy to get to, regardless in which ward or commune your accommodations are located. Inexpensive public buses run all day long from all along the beachfront into the centre, passing either directly in front or within a few hundred meters of virtually every resort and guest house on the beaches of Phan Thiet.

Phu Hai Ward Phu Hai Ward is the site of the Thap Poshanu Cham Tower, built in the late eighth century. The ward covers a hilly area with a number of coves and small beaches, many of which have one or more resorts on them. Phu Hai Ward is also the site of Sea Links City; a complex of apartments, condominiums and a hotel, plus a wine castle and golf course. Both the wine castle and the spectacular links golf course are worth a visit. This is one of the wards that is wrongly called ‘Mui Ne’ by the owners of the restaurants, resorts and hotels located here.

Ham Tien Ward Ham Tien Ward is another area in which its restaurants, resorts and hotels incorrectly use the name ‘Mui Ne’. It is the penultimate tourist strip, with hundreds of resorts, shops, restaurants, beach bars and spas built along the 10-kilometre-long stretch of Rang Beach. Those who want to be “where the action is” should stay here as this is where they will find something to do 24 hours a day. Although the other wards and communes have many smaller beaches, Ham Tien has only one beach that stretches for 10 kilometres along the entire length of the ward.

The kitesurfing craze began here, turning this into one of the top kitesurfing destinations in the world. For those who do not know how to kitesurf, there are plenty of schools all along the beach that will teach novices how to do it. Many of them also teach windsurfing and there is a sail training centre in Mui Ne Ward, at the end of the beach, where one can learn the art of sailing in one day.

The nightlife in Ham Tien is particularly lively, with a number of night spots and beach bars open throughout the night. Ham Tien is also the location of the ‘Fairy Stream’, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Phan Thiet. Over the centuries, a small stream has cut a canyon through the sand dunes. Since the dunes are multi colored, the walls of the canyon are very colourful.

Mui Ne Just east of Ham Tien is the real Mui Ne. The ward consists of two communities; Mui Ne and Hon Rom, and two beaches; Ganh Beach and Suoi Nuoc Beach. The town of Mui Ne itself has about 25,000 residents. It is very interesting to get up at sunrise and go down to the water’s edge in Mui Ne to watch the dozens of fishing boats coming in and unloading the many varieties of fish and seafood that the fishermen have caught overnight. Their families gather to help them separate the fish and prepare them either for the market or the fish sauce factories near the city centre. Then, head up to the market in the centre of town to watch the locals haggle over pricing for everything from seafood to pigs and chickens. Mui Ne Ward is also where the red sand dunes are located; on a hill between the communities of Mui Ne and Hon Rom. The larger white sand dunes are located about 20 kilometres north of Mui Ne. Both the red and white sand dunes are popular attractions, with dozens of local children offering to rent plastic sleds with which to slide down the dunes. Vendors at the white dunes offer dune buggies for rent to ride around the dunes, plus there is a compound of ostriches to ride, but not for the faint-hearted.

Taku Mountain Another popular attraction is located 30 minutes west of Phan Thiet and an hour west of Mui Ne. Taku Mountain is the site of the largest reclining Buddha in South East Asia. One can either walk up the mountain or ride the gondola from the valley floor. But even those who opt for the Austrian-made gondola will get a little exercise, as the Buddha is another 300 steps from the terminal. The views from the top of the mountain are spectacular and there is a restaurant overlooking the rice fields and dragon fruit farms below. On a clear day, one can almost see Ho Chi Minh City in the distance.

Fruit Farms Besides fish sauce, Phan Thiet is famous for dragon fruit, which thrives in the area’s hot and relatively dry climate. Many of the farms welcome visitors, so if tourists wish to see a local functioning dragon fruit farm, they should ask either the staff in the hotel or one of the travel agencies on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street in Ham Tien to arrange a visit.

Local Food Tour Visitors to Phan Thiet often ask about the local cuisine and where the best restaurants are located that offer the local dishes. The city restaurants and food stalls have a number of dishes that are either found only in Binh Thuan Province or have characteristics that are unique to the area. The dishes that are unique combine the pungent tastes of Hanoi, Hue and the Mekong Delta cuisines and add a sweetness that is a hallmark of Phan Thiet, often using the fresh seafood that is brought ashore by the local fishermen who comprise the largest fishing fleet in the country.

Do[edit][add listing]

Hot Air Balloon over white sand dunes
White sand dunes: view from hot air balloon
  • Hanging around in Phan Thiet can be more enjoyable than in the 10 km near Mui Ne Resort Strip because you will meet local people interested in you and you can go on and try to have a chat with them. Also, there won't be anyone trying to lure you into their shop or spa. Try local cuisine by just sitting down in any of the many food corners/street food stalls and wait for the dish to be prepared or try to gesticulate with hand gestures and basic English that you would want to have what the people around you are eating.
  • If you wish to explore the beach just south of Phan Thiet you will be almost completely be alone as there is a 20km long beach that stretches from the city to the light house of Ke Ga (10.704785, 107.986046). At the western end of the bay you can climb some dunes, although these are not as big as the ones north of Mui Ne but you will have them entirely to yourself (10.705278, 107.962074).
  • Hot Air Balloon flight, 01208636828, [1]. 5:00-8:00. Phan Thiet / Mui Ne is the only place in Vietnam where you can fly hot air balloons. Majority of the time flights take place over famous white sand dunes. When the winds in dunes are too strong, flights take place from Phan Thiet city centre. Both locations are amazing, and balloon ride is probably the most impressive way to celebrate your vacation, birthday, or other special occasion in Mui Ne. For scheduling a flight visit Vietnam Balloons  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

Phan Thiet hosts two big supermarkets which also offer some imported goods and products.

  • Co.opmart, 1 NGUYỄN TẤT THÀNH, Bình Hưng, tp. Phan Thiết, Bình Thuận, +84 62 3835440, [2]. On the ground floor there is a Lotteria Burger, small bakery, and a three or four little open shops. On the third floor (top floor) there are a few arcade games and a food court (not recommended). Parking costs 1000VND and is in the open. All in all it's smaller than Lotte Mart.  edit.
  • LOTTE Mart, Corner Hùng Vương to Tôn Đức Thắng (right at the roundabout), +84 62 3939 616, [3]. 8:00 - 22:00. On the ground floor there is a Lotteria Burger, Pizza Hut, My Wu bakery, and Milano Coffee. Besides having a complete supermarket, the building also hosts a small bowling alley, an area for a few shops, a food court (not recommended) and a cinema that screens movies in English with Vietnamese subtitles. Parking your bike is for free. (10.938384,108.110510) edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • OC Saigon, 270 Ton Duc Thanh Street. Nice typically vietnamese cuisine and authentic loation. They have a wide choice of fresh seafood and other vietnamese meals!  edit
  • Fresh spring rolls, 425 Trần Hưng Đạo Street (find it right in front of the scooter dealership in proximity of the Tran Hung Dao bridge. Just before the bridge when coming from Mui Ne). Have nice and authentic Vietnamese fresh spring rolls. You will receive a plate of mixed meat, a plate of herbs, salad and rice paper, and a little bowl with sauce to dip your self-rolled spring rolls in. It is street food rather than a restaurant as you will be sitting on typical Vietnamese little plastic stools. 30,000-40,000VND.  edit
  • Local Seafood, Phạm Văn Đồng Street (On the northern side of the river just south of the Tran Hung Dao bridge. Across the river from the fish market). Along the whole street you can have nice Vietnamese seafood including clams, scallops, snails, squids, cuttlefish, shrimp, prawns, crabs, lobsters, sea cucumbers, and various types of fish. You will encounter young guys waving at you on the street trying to get you to eat at their establishment. Some restaurants have menus in English.  edit
  • Love Sushi Lounge Cafe, 169-171 Ton Duc Thang (It is on the top floor of the white high rise building you see when facing your back towards the KFC), +84 122 300 4437, [4]. 11:00-23:00. If you are keen on a cuisine other than the Vietnamese you might want to go here. It is a nicely decorated restaurant which actually serves good and tasty sushi. Prices are acceptable except if you are planning on going for the wine. Don't miss out on the 360° view over the city you can get on the rooftop! It's marked as "smoker area" and accessible by just going up the staircase one more floor.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Hai Nguyen Quan, Ton Duc Thanh Street (next to big Hotel Hong Long). Absolutelye genuine place - to chill with locals and enjoy there late night offers! They have got a big choice from beef to seafood, vegetables, even frogs! Try the beans!  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Canary Resort.  edit
  • Kim Trang Mini Hotel, 44 Hung Voung. Realy nice familiy iowned Guesthous with cheap and clean rooms with AC, Fan, TV and Bathroom. Double room coasts 250.000 VND triple room 350.000.  edit

Thủ Khoa Huân st. after the cross with Tôn Đức Thắng st. is full of Guest Houses with price between 200.000VND and 300.000VND for 2 persons room. Almost every building is either a guesthouse, or a shop, or a barbershop, or etc.


Hoang Lai Hotel [[5]]

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

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