In the far north of Vietnam’s South Central Coast Region, Quang Ngai Province is renowned for its extensive coastline and dynamic landscapes. Boasting both seaside and mountainous terrains, the province is relatively unknown to international tourists. Overlooked for more popular destinations like Da Nang, Quang Ngai is filled with stunning places that deserve to be explored.
How to Get to Quang Ngai
Bordered by the Quang Nam Province to the north, Quang Ngai Province is one of seven in the South Central Coast Region of Vietnam. Covering an area of about 5,138 sq km (1,984 sq mi), major geographical points in the Quang Ngai Province include the Thien An Mountain, Trà Khúc River, and Ly Son Islands.
Not entirely remote, many tourists will travel south from Da Nang or Hoi An to tour Quang Ngai. Both popular destinations, Da Nang and Hoi An are just north of the Quang Ngai Province, taking about 2-2.5 hours to reach by car. Vietnam’s biggest southern city, HCMC, is about 843 km (512 mi) to the south of the province, though fewer travelers come from this direction.
From Da Nang or Hoi An, the easiest way to get to the Quang Ngai Province is by car or bus. Traveling from further destinations like Ho Chi Minh City is more difficult because of the distance. Unless you’re ready for a long road trip or train ride, most travelers will fly from HCMC to the Quang Ngai Province using a domestic airline.
The oldest known culture in the Quang Ngai Province is called Sa Huynh. From 1000 BC to 200 AD, the Sa Huynh people thrived in Central and Southern Vietnam. In Quang Ngai, archeological evidence of the Sa Huynh people and culture was uncovered in the Dúc Phô District. Historians and archeologists theorize that the Sa Huynh were the predecessors of the Champa Kingdom.
After the Sa Huynh, Quang Ngai was ruled by the Cham people, however, unlike Sa Huynh culture, little evidence remains of the Cham Empire, with only a select few sites still existing. After the Cham, Vietnam regained control of the province, and during the 19th century, the Nguyen Dynasty built a wall that extended from Quang Ngai to Binh Dinh.
First discovered in text in 2005, the first portion of the wall was physically uncovered in 2009. Stretching for about 127 km (79 mi), the Long Wall of Quang Ngai was used as a demarcation line against the Hrê people, as well as for defense and trading purposes. Preservation of the wall has been important for Vietnam, as it has become a significant national relic and historic site.
In more recent history, Quang Ngai Province has been known to be resistant to foreign forces, particularly during French Colonization and the Vietnam War, when the province was a well-known stronghold for the Viêt Công. Suffering gravely, Quang Ngai is infamous for being the site of both the Bình Hòa and My Lai Massacre.
- In Quang Ngai District, there are 13 districts, 1 provincial capital, 9 towns, 9 wards, and 166 communes.
- As of 2019, the estimated population of the Quang Ninh Province is 1,433,924 people.
- Quang Ngai is the South Central Coast’s least urbanized province.
On the coast, Quang Ngai City is the capital of the Quang Ngai Province. Established as a Class-2 city, Quang Ngai has a limited tourist sector. Popular amongst the locals, the city has yet to break the barrier with international crowds. One reason for the slow development of tourism is the lack of English-speaking workers.While Quang Ngai may not be overflowing with tourists, it’s still a worthwhile destination. There are quite a few attractions around Quang Ngai City including the My Lai Massacre Memorial Museum, Ba To Garden, Tam Thuong Quay, Quang Ngai Square, Thiên Bút Hill, and the General Museum of Quang Ngai Province.
While most hotels are experienced in catering to Vietnamese-speaking tourists, international guests will still feel welcome in Quang Ngai City. Travelers will have the option of booking small boutique hotels or large-scale resorts. The best places to stay include Hana Riverside Villa, Hamya Hotsprings and Resort, Cocoland River Beach Resort & Spa, and Tuyet Suong Villa Hotel.
Similar to the hotels, most of the restaurants in Quang Ngai specialize in local dishes. International cuisine isn’t very popular in the city, which provides world travelers with the opportunity to explore traditional Vietnamese meals. Quang Ngai City’s best restaurants are Quán An Uông Nghia Thang, Bon Bong Restaurant, Pizza Kids, Kawaii Sushi, and Cháo Dinh Duong Vy Vy 8.
Famous Districts in Quang Ngai
Though most of the province’s population lives in Quang Ngai City and the surrounding area, there are destinations outside of the provincial capital that tourists should consider exploring. Putting the spotlight on more remote areas of the province, Son Tinh, Tu Nghia, and Ly Son are three districts in Quang Ngai that have become tourist attractions.
Son Tinh District
Northeast from Quang Ngai City, Son Tinh is a historic district that’s infamous for being the site of the My Lai Massacre, which occurred in 1968 at the Tinh Khe Commune. To honor the victims, Son My Memorial Park was created in the Tu Cung hamlet.
In a completely different tone, Son Tinh is famous for being close to My Khe Beach. Officially a part of Da Nang, the proximity of My Khe to Son Tinh means that many tourists will travel north to visit this gorgeous stretch of sand.
Tu Nghia District
Another district famous for its beach is Tu Nghia. Renowned for its coconuts, Coconut Beach provides tourists with the opportunity to explore the province’s beautiful coast and unique agriculture. On the sand, coconut trees are lined up ready to provide fruit and shade to tourists. Additionally, locals use them in products as well as selling them to eat and drink.
Ly Son District
Consisting of two volcanic islands, the Ly Son District sits just off the coast from Quang Ngai City. Both islands are populated and well-developed for tourists, boasting beautiful resorts and attractions such as To Vo Gate, Mount Thoi Loi, Hang Cave, and the sprawling garlic fields.
Without large crowds, Quang Ngai Province’s tourist sites provide visitors with a quiet and unique opportunity to explore the area. From natural wonders to wildlife reserves and historic sites, there is a lot to explore in Quang Ngai. Top attractions in the province are the Chau Sa Citadel, Thien An Mountain, Kon Chu Rang Nature Reserve, Sa Huynh Salt Field, and White Waterfall.
Chau Sa Citadel
In the Tinh Chau Commune north of Quang Ngai City, Chau Sa Citadel is one of the only places where Cham structures have been preserved by the local government. Built from the mud and rocks, the citadel stands in ruins and not much is left, however, as a historic site, the citadel is worth a trip. As of recent, a new monument has been erected close to the old ruins.
Thien An Mountain
Just outside of Quang Ngai City, Thien An Mountain is a unique destination. A natural landmark, the mountain also has a pagoda at the summit. Day tours are popular ways to explore the mountain and local guides can easily be found throughout Quang Ngai City. For travelers who don’t want to trek to the summit, a road and paved pathways will take visitors to the top.
Kon Chu Rang Nature Reserve
One of the biggest ecotourist spots in the Quang Ngai is Kon Chu Rang Nature Reserve. Covering 4 provinces, the nature reserve protects Vietnam’s vulnerable tropical forests. At the park, visitors are permitted to hike, picnic, climb, and fish. Tours of the park by local guides are the best way to visit because of the area’s remote location.
Sa Huynh Salt Field
A unique and photogenic destination, the Sa Huynh Salt Field in the Pho Thanh Commune is one of the province’s most renowned tourist attractions. Popular amongst photographers, the fields are not only beautiful but also educational. Visitors can learn more about the Sa Huynh people and how salt has helped the village thrive.
Locals also give demonstrations of how salt is made for tourists who are interested in the profession.
In Minh Long District, White Waterfall is a popular tourist area. Featuring 40-50 m (131-164 ft) tall cascades, you won’t want to miss seeing this amazing attraction. The falls flow into a wide stream, where visitors can safely swim and cool off from the hot temperatures. Hiking is required to reach the falls and visitors can either make the trek solo or hire a local guide.
As a coastal province, many of the festivals in the Quang Ngai Province are centered around the East Sea. Popular with locals, traditional festivals are also a way for the province to appeal to tourists on an international level. The biggest celebrations in the Quang Ngai Province include the Nghinh Ong, Sa Huynh Fishing, and Boat Racing Festival.
Celebrated all along the coast of Vietnam, the Nghinh Ong Festival is one of the biggest times for locals to celebrate their fishing culture and relationship with the ocean. In Quang Ngai, ceremonies include wrestling, singing, fishing, and lantern lighting. Normally, the Nghinh Ong Festival is held twice a year in the months of January, February, July, and August.
Specific to the province, the Sa Huynh Fishing Festival is held on the 3rd day of the Vietnamese lunar year. During it, fishermen decorate their boats with flowers. Drifting out to sea, they make offerings to ask for calm seas and prosperity in the New Year. At the end of the festival, boats take off to participate in a spiritual ceremony before setting off to make the first catch of the year.
The Boat Racing Festival in Quang Ngai Province overlaps with the Sa Huynh Fishing Festival. However, instead of being held on the mainland, most of the races take place just offshore from the Ly Son Islands. One of the most popular festivals for tourists because of the high energy, the boats and competitors are fun to watch.
The location of Quang Ngai Province on Vietnam’s South Central Coast gives the area a unique climate. While there is a rainy season, the wettest months of the year occur from September to December. The most popular times to visit are from April to August, when the temperatures are cooler. Additionally, December to January bring in crowds due to the holidays.
A non-touristy destination, Quang Ngai Province is one of many hidden gems in Vietnam. With sweeping views that extend from the mountains to the sea, Quang Ngai is one place that surprises many travelers with its beauty, culture, and characteristics. Off the beaten path now, the province is quickly gaining more momentum as an international destination.
Activities near Quang Ngai Province