Once a quiet fishing village, Word has spread about Phan Thiêt and its surrounding beaches, rapidly transforming it into a prime destination for oceanside vacations. In the past two decades, Phan Thiêt’s coastline has been transformed by resorts, hotels, shops, and restaurants.
Additionally, Phan Thiêt is a cultural hub. Many of the local landmarks are dedicated to the people’s religion and fishing traditions. With a balanced blend of local and tourist activities, travelers are guaranteed to love Phan Thiêt’s dynamic character and beachfront location.
Capital City of the Bình Thuân Province
A seaport in Southeast Vietnam, Phan Thiêt is nestled into a crescent-shaped baya on the South China Sea. Called Thành Phô Phan Thiêt in Vietnamese, the city is the capital of the Bình Thuân Province. The city center is where the majority of Phan Thiêt’s residents live with the city limits including much of the coast to the north or south.
In total, there are 18 wards and communes in Phan Thiêt, which include popular destinations like Hàm Tiên and Mūi Né. As a destination in South Vietnam, the majority of Phan Thiêt’s visitors travel from Ho Chi Minh City, which is 133 miles (214.7 kilometers) to the southwest.
Depending on whether travelers take a toll or toll-free road, the driving time between Phan Thiêt and Ho Chi Minh City is 4-5 ½ hours. Travelers who are driving may choose to take private transportation or a public bus. Slightly faster and still affordable, trains do have a service route that runs between the two cities.
Centuries before modern-day Phan Thiêt was established, the area and a significant portion of Central and South Vietnam was part of the Kingdom of Champa. Ruling from 192-1832, the kingdom relied heavily on the sea. Not only was the South China Sea an economic source but also helped the Champa Kingdom solidify its naval power.
In Phan Thiêt, the Cham culture and sea continue to be held in high regard. The Po Klong Garai Cham Tower is one historical site tied to the Champa people. Furthermore, Cham culture is integrated into the city’s name. Historians agree that “Phan Thiêt” is not originally Vietnamese. Rather, it is believed that the name was transliterated from the Cham language.
Originally, the Cham called Phan Thiêt, Hamu Lithit. Best translated as “hamlet near the sea” in English, the Vietnamese decided to add the Phan and alter the last part of “Lithit” to Thiêt.
As a tourist destination, Phan Thiêt emerged on the map in 1995, when foreigners and locals flocked to the area to view a total eclipse. The eclipse brought Phan Thiêt and the surrounding area more recognition. This kickstarted tourism and in the subsequent years, Phan Thiêt became more and more developed.
- An estimated 335,212 people live in Phan Thiêt
- Hô Chí Minh, Vietnam’s former president, and Communist leader lived in Phan Thiêt in 1910
- Nuoc mam, a Vietnamese condiment made from fermented fish is manufactured in Phan Thiêt
Between Phan Thiêt and its numerous wards, there is a lot to see, do, and explore in the city’s phenomenal bay. Travelers will find that Phan Thiêt has everything needed to have an unforgettable vacation where nature, leisure, and culture collide.
Rather large in size, Phan Thiêt is a place that can be visited and re-visited – there is that much to see. So, pick your adventure and get ready to cruise Phan Thiêt’s wondrous coastline.
Explore Mūi Né
First on the list and arguably the most famous part of Phan Thiêt is Mūi Né. Most travelers will have heard of Mūi Né and they commonly make the mistake of believing it to be its own city. However, Mūi Né is a coastal town and ward of Phan Thiêt. Only 16 minutes away from Phan Thiêt, Mūi Né is renowned for its beaches, resorts, and seafood.
The prime coastal location is ideal for water sport enthusiasts who enjoy activities like kitesurfing, wind sailing, surfing, and scuba diving.
Mūi Né is also recognizable because of its natural landmarks, sand dunes, and the Fairy Stream, which have become the town’s top points of interest. There are actually two types of sand dunes in Mūi Né – white and red. Both locations have panoramic views and offer ATV riding or sand surfing tours. The White Sand Dunes tend to be more popular, so expect a crowd.
Another sightseeing hotspot in Mūi Nè is the Fairy Stream. Located between Mūi Né and a neighboring ward called Hàm Tiên, the stream is boarded by a red rock canyon and lush tropical forest. Access to the stream is granted after paying an entrance fee. A short and easy hike, the stream ends with a small waterfall. Attractions around the Fairy Stream include cafes and wildlife viewing spots.
Temples and Ruins
Closer to the center of Phan Thiêt, the Van Thuy Tu Temple, Kalan Po Klong Garai, and Poh Suh Inu Cham Towers have become cultural attractions. Telling both the story of Phan Thiêt and the Cham people, the Van Thuy Tu Temple acts as the city’s museum.
Housing whale bones and various historical artifacts, the temple is an excellent activity for travelers who are interested in learning about the local history and culture. On the outskirts of the city, Kalan Po Klong Garai and the Poh Sah Inu Cham Towers are ancient relics from the Cham Kingdom. Ornate and beautiful, these temples are fine examples of Cham architecture.
Visitors can tour the temple grounds to get up close to these magnificent structures.
Meander Through the Fish Markets
Phan Thiêt has long relied on the sea with fishing being the city’s biggest industry. There are local markets spread all along the coast, though the most visited stalls are in Phan Thiêt’s town center and on the coast in Mūi Né. Fish markets are the place to go to find the best deals on seafood.
Sold at an affordable price, fishermen set up shop every morning to sell their daily catch. Often on the menu are various types of fish, shrimp, snail, and squid.
Travel Down the Coast
About 18 and ½ miles (30 kilometers) south of Phan Thiêt stands the Ke Ga Lighthouse. Watching over the Thuan Qui commune, Ke Ga is Southeast Asia’s oldest lighthouse. The structure was built in 1899 and it stands at 213 feet (65 meters) tall. Visitors will have to take a boat to the lighthouse, as it is located on a small island just offshore.
If the tide is at its lowest point, visitors can wade to the island. As of late 2020, visitors are no longer able to climb up the lighthouse. However, guests are permitted to explore the rocks and shoreline of the island. Onshore, the Ke Ga Beach is a beautiful stretch of sand to explore as it is dotted with rock formations.
With a coastline that stretches for 10 miles (15 kilometers), visitors in Phan Thiêt are guaranteed to have access to amazing views and outstanding beaches. There are a lot of sandy spots in the bay, but the most popular amongst visitors tend to be located between Phan Thiêt and Mūi Né. Though, a few beaches that are south of the city, are popular too.
In Phan Thiêt, the city’s main beach is a flurry of activity. Situated net to the river and fishing harbor, Phan Thiêt Beach is lined with local restaurants and shops. Visitors can take a stroll along the sand or relax at a restaurant while enjoying the view. The waves at Phan Thiêt Beach are gentle and stable, which makes them excellent for beginner kite surfers.
In addition, tourists can learn more about local fishing practices when they visit the beach.
Frequently mistaken to be in Mūi Né, Bai Rang Beach is considered to be the most visited beach in the area. Famous from the 1995 eclipse, this beach is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Phan Thiêt. Not quite in Mūi Né, Bai Rang is a part of the Hàm Tiên Ward. Well-developed for tourism, there are luxurious resorts dotting the coastline of Rang Beach.
The community around the beach is quieter, which allows visitors to experience the beach’s natural beauty without having to fight against a crowd. Rock formations in the water are a safe haven for marine wildlife, so visitors are encouraged to book a snorkeling tour. Further to the north in Mūi Né, Hon Rom Beach is renowned for its bright white sand, clear waves, and tropical vegetation.
Sheltered at the base of a mountain, Hon Rom feels untamed and more authentic. Technically a cluster of beaches, visitors can explore various sandy spots including Thuy Trang Beach. With a mix of premier resorts and backpacker hotels, Hon Rom is friendly to all travelers – regardless of their budget.
To the south of Phan Thiêt, Thuan Qui and Ke Ga are two resort beaches that are known for being uncrowded and rustic. Thuan Qui Beach is just before Ke Ga and it has an exceptionally long coastline. Stretching for over 4 miles (6.5 kilometers), Thuan Qui is backdropped by a pine forest in which, resorts are nestled.
Ke Ga Beach is recognized because of its lighthouse. An attraction in the area, the lighthouse is a common day trip activity outside of Phan Thiêt. However, some travelers may appreciate staying overnight in Ke Ga because it allows them to avoid the thicker crowds up north.
Discover more of the top things to do near Mui Ne.
Known as a resort destination, Phan Thiêt has plenty of extravagant accommodation options. While not all travelers have the budget or desire to stay at a resort, in Phan Thiêt that isn’t an issue because there are also hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. Staying in town or on the beach are both options, so travelers can feel confident that they will have everything needed to have a dream vacation.
Starlight Villa Beach Resort and Spa – Located on Ke Ga Beach, the Starlight Villa Beach Resort and Spa is a glamourous hotel in an uncrowded area. Further outside of the main town, the Starlight Resort is calm and quiet. The resort’s features are suitable for all ages. Reviewers rave that the hotel staff is phenomenal, so vacations are guaranteed to be filled with rest and relaxation.
Bièt Thu Mūi Né Villas and Resort – A somewhat misleading name, the Bièt Thu Mūi Né Villas and Resort is in Phan Thiêt on the edge of town, just half a mile from Ong ida Rock Beach. Not a full resort, Bièt Thu is actually a private villa that is rented out to travelers. With 3 bedrooms, the villa can hold 8 people and it is child friendly.
Service is outstanding at the villa, as the staff is on-site to cater to guests’ needs. Additional property features include a pool, balcony, private beach access, and free Wi-Fi.
Green Organic Village – About halfway between Phan Thiêt and Ke Ga Beach, the Green Organic Village is a series of oceanfront villas that conform to make a small resort. With hammocks, a pool, stunning ocean views, and a location that is just outside the city, these villas are highly rated amongst travelers. On-site, there is a spa, water sports facilities, bicycles, and a restaurant.
Hotel Khanh An – In town, one of the highest-rated accommodations is the Hotel Khanh An. A smaller-sized hotel, reviews run high with most travelers falling in love with the charm and location. Most rooms have a small terrace, and some have a shared lounge space. For backpackers, this hotel is a great choice because it has a shared kitchen, which allows guests to cook their own meals.
However, various services are included with each room and guests have the option to have meals brought to their room too.
Hotels and lodging:
- Read about the best hotels in Phan Thiet (and Mui Ne).
- Read about the cheap hotels in Phan Thiet (and Mui Ne).
- Read about the top 5-star hotels in Mui Ne.
- Read about the best beach resorts in Mui Ne.
Cuisine in Phan Thiêt is an eclectic mix of local and international flavors. Local delicacies feature mostly seafood, as the town fishermen sell fresh catches every day. However, traditionally Western cuisine is also offered. Visitors will have plenty of options to ensure that their tastebuds never get bored.
Pappa Goulash Hungarian Kitchen – Hungary is really far from Vietnam, but that hasn’t stopped the cuisine from placing roots in Phan Thiêt. Specializing in Hungarian sausages and chicken paprikas, this restaurant has truly mastered Hungarian cuisine. Beyond taste, Pappa Goulash has an upbeat ambiance as live music and ocean views keep guests happy.
Cham Garden Restaurant – Offering a blend of local and international dishes, the Cham Garden Restaurant is a nice local establishment in Phan Thiêt. A part of the Cham Villas, the outdoor garden is a pleasant place to have a quiet meal. Open to all guests, specialty dishes that frequent the menu include shrimp curry and misha pear.
Ok Pizza Phan Thiêt – Everyone loves pizza and travelers in Vietnam who are missing their comfort food from home will want to check out Ok Pizza Phan Thiêt. Fresh ingredients with a thick crust are what make this pizza shop stand out from the rest. With affordable prices, Ok Pizza Phan Thiêt is a great spot to stop for a quick lunch or dinner.
MAXVIK Mexico – Another international cuisine that has become one of the most consistently well-rated restaurants in Phan Thiêt is MAXVIK Mexico. Using flavors inspired by Mexico and Europe, this restaurant is open all day and their breakfast menu has become a local favorite.
Using local ingredients, food is guaranteed fresh and full of flavor as the chefs expertly recreate traditional Mexican dishes.
In form with cities all over the country, Phan Thiêt celebrates many of the national holidays like the Vietnamese Lunar New Year or Mid-Autumn Festival. However, one festival that is unique to Phan Thiêt and the province is called the Nghinh Ong Celebration. Dependent on the lunar calendar, the festival is normally held in August, September, or October.
Nghinh Ong is centered on the worship of whales and the sea and commonly, festivalgoers will pray for prosperity, health, and happiness.
Phan Thiêt has a long coastline, which makes getting around town more of a challenge for visitors who want to visit various wards. While the town center of Phan Thiêt is suitable for walking, bicycles and taxis are the best way for travelers to get to the nearby beaches like Ke Ga or Mūi Né.
Both taxis and bicycle rentals are common in town, but most of the time, visitors only need to ask their hotel or resort for assistance as the staff is more than happy to assist in arranging a ride.
One of the best perks about traveling to Phan Thiêt is the weather. Most of Vietnam has two seasons with the monsoons being quite intense. However, Phan Thiêt is relatively dry throughout the year. The busiest time to visit Phan Thiêt is from October to April. These months fall in line with many festivals, both national and international.
During the rest of the year, tourism at Phan Thiêt is still flowing even though the crowds are smaller. The least popular time to visit Phan Thiêt is the month of June as the rain tends to pick up and make the ocean muddy.
Featuring a comprehensive list of activities, accommodations, restaurants, and beaches, it’s easy to see why Phan Thiêt has become a tourist destination. A blend of local and foreign culture influence Phan Thiêt and give the city its unique character. Visitors have fallen in love with Phan Thiêt and it’s clear that tourism will continue expanding as people travel to experience its beauty for themselves.
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