Yet one of Vietnam’s least exploited beach destinations is on the brink of becoming popular. Travellers in the know are increasingly descending on this authentic slice of Vietnam before change spurred by tourism sets in.
Pronounced ‘kwee nyon’, Quy Nhon commands a stretch of Vietnam’s south central coast about 280 kilometres north of Nha Trang and 320 kilometres south of Da Nang.
A laid-back port town, Quy Nhon is a mecca for seafood aficionados on the lookout for crabs, shrimp, scallops and then some. The catch churns through the port daily, and is dispatched all over the country. A lot of it stays local and is celebrated in such local traditional fishing villages as Xuan Hai, where the catch of the day is served in a floating restaurant.
There are virtually no tourism vendors peddling wares. Quy Nhon’s tranquil atmosphere belies its historical significance. Binh Dinh province – of which Quy Nhon is the capital – was the nucleus of the lost Cham civilization. Venerable relics of the kingdom, that dominated Vietnam’s centre and south between the second and fifteenth centuries, pepper the hillsides and valleys in and around Quy Nhon.
Towering above a scenic park within the town’s limits, the Thap Doi (Twin Towers) are the most easily accessed of the Cham ruins. Steep steps climb to temples topped by curved pyramidal roofs – rather than the Cham temples’ usual terraced turrets – opening up to a dome of blue sky.
Visitors can rummage through the impressive selection of Cham sculptures showcased at Binh Dinh Museum, home to more than 1,000 documents and artifacts laying bare Vietnam’s history including its struggles with the French, Americans and Koreans. Ho Chi Minh’s life is detailed here chapter by chapter.
Queen Beach with its sweeping views of the coast, the Dam Market brimming with fresh produce and smiling locals, and Long Khanh Pagoda, at which a 17-metre tall Buddha and mosaic dragons with manes of broken glass greet you upon arrival, are lures on any itinerary.
Accessible with daily flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, not to mention a growing number of tourists discovering this gem on their way between Da Nang and Nha Trang, Quy Nhon is emerging on the map. Make no mistake:it can only be a matter of time before it crosses the threshold.
Images: AVANI Quy Nhon Resort