It’s quite possible that Quy Nhon is the most underrated place to travel in Vietnam, but that may not be a fact for long. The central coastal city in Binh Dinh province is becoming the target of a huge wave of development, as prospectors seek out a new beach city to turn into Vietnam’s next big tourist destination.
Image source: Shutter Stock
If you find yourself nestled on a quiet beach in this quaint town you might ask yourself, “Why haven’t more people heard about this place?” Well, it may be at least in part due to the fact that Westerners have a hard time pronouncing it (kwee nyawn). In fact, you may have heard of the beach town but had trouble finding it on a map because for those not well-versed in Vietnamese pronunciation, it’s spelled way differently from the way it’s actually said. It’s also in a particular area of Vietnam that has stayed off of the radar of most tourists. Travellers so far have been more likely to visit neighbouring cities such as Da Nang and Nha Trang, places that are known to be developed, have attractive beaches, and are also home to international airports.
Quy Nhon Gets a Buzz
That said, as a tourist destination, Quy Nhon has got quite a lot going for it, and developers are setting up for what they think might be a veritable tourism goldrush. Its remote location, beautiful beaches, clear ocean waters and ancient ruins put it on British newspaper The Guardian’s top 10 list of sun destinations for winter 2018. The combination of quiet, tranquil beaches and scenic scrolling countryside also earned it a spot on the Dozen Dream Destinations for 2019 list for popular travel website Remote Lands, who called the central Vietnamese town “a bit of a dark horse” as a destination, but also that “it is on the rise”.
Image source: quynhonland.com.vn
Quy Nhon is quite a distance from Vietnam’s major cities, 650km from Saigon, 300km from Da Nang City and over 1,000km from Hanoi. This makes it a perfect getaway for locals and adventurous travellers seeking a quiet escape in an unfrequented area that’s off the beaten path.
One of the reasons Quy Nhon is attracting attention as an up-and-coming destination is the relatively recent opening of international airports nearby, and the overcrowding of other nearby beach towns oversaturated with heavy tourism. City Pass Guide spoke with TJ from Epikurean Hotels and Lifestyle, a prominent resort developer in Asia: “Do expect to see more international flights in the near future, most likely in the next 36 to 48 months. On that coast, from Song Cau to Quang Nam, you’re going to see a lot of development in the near future. There are a couple of factors. You have the typical north-central and south powerplay. Quy Nhon is considered central. [Places like Nha Trang and Da Nang] are highly saturated and it’s getting extreme sensitive. Where can you go? You can’t go up north any further, because you don’t have more than six months of season, where in Quy Nhon you have 10 months of season. Look at this [shows us a photo of a clean, sunny beach with calm, clear waters]. This is the bad season. If you were to lose a ring in the water, you could probably come back and get it the next day because the water is so clear!” Unlike many beaches in more developed cities in Vietnam, the waters in Quy Nhon remain quite pristine.
Image source: flightnetwork.com
Development in neighboring central Vietnam cities like nearby Nha Trang seems to be hitting a ceiling of sorts. TJ shared with us, “Land prices are soaring in places like the northern part of Nha Trang. There’s a fair amount of speculation given. It becomes highly complicated and expensive to get an investment licence due to the speculation and the land-grabs. Also, the biggest and most important point is that the airports are saturated. Cam Ranh is the new international airport and it’s just a mess. It’s not a mess because of poor management, there are just way too many people!” As a result, resort developers are moving further north and south of Cam Ranh in order to create popular new tourist destinations.
According to the Saigon Times, Tuy Hoa Airport in the south-central province of Phu Yen was expected to begin welcoming international flights in November 2018. Dinh Viet Thang, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, said that the authority has been completing procedures to begin hosting international flights, with the first arriving from Russia.
Image source: quynhonland.com.vn
TJ explained, “If I was an airline operator, especially a charter operator, I would rather land in Tuy Hoa and move my customers north and south, rather than to land in Cam Ranh. To travel from Cam Ranh to Nha Trang is 60km, but from Tuy Hoa, it’s only 100km. The difference being that there’s zero traffic, it’s way cheaper and there’s way more negotiation power with the hotels in those areas. Then do the math”. If you calculate all of these factors, it becomes clear that the recent developments in Quy Nhon are not unwarranted.
More than Just a Beach Town
Quy Nhon offers more than just calm, picturesque beaches. History buffs will want to visit the Thap Doi Twin Towers outside of the city limits. These pyramidical towers are remnants from the Cham civilisation in Vietnam’s central region. Unlike much of the Cham architecture, the Thap Doi Towers are quite accessible, meaning you won’t have to climb hills in the blazing midday heat to reach them.
For anyone seeking a quiet getaway at a lovely Southeast Asian beachtown that isn’t overrun by tourism and development, the time is now to visit Quy Nhon. It’s on the brink of some major development, and you might want to get in while the getting is good.