The central province of Quang Binh is home to some of Vietnam’s most enchanting coastal areas with a string of beautiful beaches that could also help reverse the province’s economic fortunes
With the pace of development comes a price. Popular beach destinations become too crowded, too built up, too much of a hassle. For those who like to flop around on a quiet beach and forget about the world, the most popular ‘holiday’ beaches become contradictions. Who can feel relaxed on a public holiday if you’re surrounded by thousands of screaming kids and perpetually hassled by vendors? Inevitably, you move on. You seek new horizons far from the madding crowds.
For now, my tip is Quang Binh province in the ‘north’ of Central Vietnam. South of Ha Tinh and bordering Laos, this is one of the country’s poorest provinces. The average annual per capita income is one of the lowest in Vietnam. But the province’s tourism industry might be the main key to boosting the local economy. The UNESCO heritage site of Phong Nha Ke Bang cave has flown the flag so far.
Now the province is looking to the white sandy beaches with a great deal of justifiable expectation. The bewitching sight of Nhat Le would certainly convince any developer that this is a stretch of coast worth banking on. But for now, I am also delighted to bask in the peace and tranquility that remains on offer before the bulldozers and master builders roll in. It’s a breathtaking spot and in my humblest opinion one of the country’s most beautiful beaches. Inspired by the prospect of discovering more unknown beaches, I recently decided to explore more of the coast by motorbike. And there is plenty to discover.
In Quang Trach district, I came across Quang Phu beach, which is popular with locals but yet to be tapped by the tourism moguls. It’s only five or 10 minutes drive from Nhat Le beach and utterly pristine. The water is refreshingly clear. As you swim around, you can see scallops beneath your feet. It’s a wonderful spot to spend a morning or afternoon lolling around in the sunshine, happily contemplating life.
Further along the coast, you will find Hai Ninh beach and fishing village. The views around are wonderful with imposing mountains to the west and a deep blue sea to the east. After arriving in the late afternoon, I decided to stay until sunset – yes, I’m an old romantic at heart.
The next morning I headed for Dong Hoi market to enjoy the bustling atmosphere. The fishermen, traders and customers convene over the catch of the day. The market might be the only hectic spot you will come across on the coastline.
There are already some resorts taking advantage of Quang Binh’s stunning shores and sweeping sea views. The Sun Spa Resort is leading the pack. Set on a picturesque peninsular the resort boasts 234 international standard rooms. The overall design is wonderfully harmonious and tranquil with fern-trunk thatching, private tropical gardens overlooking the ocean, private swimming pools and spacious, elegantly designed rooms.
Sun Spa Resort is the perfect gateway to discover the World Natural Heritage Site of Phong Nha – Ke Bang Reserve – though the resort is a natural wonder in its own right, set amidst a spacious 29 hectares of landscaped garden alongside the pristine white sands of Bao Ninh beach.
Further up the coast, there may be more to come. Development plans have been made for Da Nhay beach, another wonderful spot, 40km north of Dong Hoi. In Vietnamese ‘da nhay’ means ‘the rocks that jump’. As you might guess by that name, this is a rugged, rocky spot but there are also sandy coves for bathing on.
You can find more modest accommodation than the Sun Spa Resort with rooms available in family-run hotels for VND150,000 to VND200,00. Either way searching the coast for quiet spots to have a dip in the sea is a wonderful way to spend a couple of days (rather than being dragged around by a tour guide). Everywhere in Quang Binh people are hospitable, helpful and happy to share the incredible natural scenery with people from out of town. I guess they want the word to spread.
Source: Time out