VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

South Central Coast

Quang Ngai - Around Quang Ngai - Sa Huynh - Quy Nhon - Around Quy Nhon - Song Cau - Tuy Hoa - Beaches North Of Nha Trang - Nha Trang - Around Nha Trang - Phan Rang Thap Cham - Ninh Chu Beach - Ca Na - Vinh Hao - Mui Ne Beach - Phan Thiet - Ta Cu Mountain

AROUND QUY NHON

Beaches
The water quality of the beaches improves considerably once you round the Ganh Rang hill to the south of the town. Several beaches are easily accessible by bicycle.
QUEEN'S BEACH
Popular with locals, this stony little beach at the foot of Ganh Rang was once a favourite holiday spot of Queen Nam Phuong. There's a cafe and great views back over Quy Nhon. To get here, take Đ An Duong Vuong to the far south end of Quy Nhon's beachfront and continue as the road starts to climb. After it crosses a small bridge, turn sharply to the left and head through the gates where you will need to pay the entrance fee (5000d). Follow the path up the hill, keeping to the left where it forks. Queen's Beach is signposted to the left.
QUY HOA BEACH & LEPER HOSPITAL
Leprosy may not conjure up images of fun in the sun. but this really is a lovely spot. As leper hospitals go, this one is highly unusual. Rather than being a depressing place, it's a sort of model village near the seafront, where treated patients live together with their families in small, well-kept houses. Depending on their abilities, the patients work in the rice fields, in fishery, and in repair-oriented businesses or small craft shops (one supported by Handicap International produces prosthetic limbs). The grounds of the hospital (Tell:646 343; admission 3000,8-11.30am&1.30-4pm) are so well maintained that it looks a bit like a resort, complete with a guitar-shaped pavilion and numerous busts of distinguished and historically important doctors (both Vietnamese and foreign). Fronting the village is Quy Hoa Beach, one of the nicer stretches of sand around Quy Nhon and a popular weekend hang-out for the city's expat community. Just up from the beach, there's a dirt path to the hillside Tomb of Man MacTu, a mystical poet who died in 1940. If travelling by foot or bicycle, continue along the mad past Queen's Beach until it descends to the hospital's entrance gales, about 1.5km south of Quy Nhon. It's also accessible from the road to Song Cau by taking a left turn once the water comes back into view after crossing the hills south of town.
BAI BAU BEACH
While the Life Resort charges nonguests an extortionate US$10 to lounge on their beach (whether they've spent a fortune at the restaurant or not), those in the know will head a kilometre to the north for an even better beach at less than a 10th of the price. Bai Bau (admission 5000d, deck chair 5000d) is a beautiful white-sand crescent no more than 150m wide, sheltered by rocky headlands, with mountains for a backdrop. It can get busy on the weekend and during Vietnamese holidays, but midweek you'll likely have the place to yourself. Bai Bau is well signed, just off the road to Song Cau, 19km south of Quy Nhon.
Cham Sites
The former Cham capital of Cha Ban (also known as Vijay and Quy Nhon) was located 26km north of QuyNhon and 5km from Binh Dinh. While an archaeologically important site, there's not a lot to see. However, there-are several interesting Cham structures dotted around the area.
BANH IT CHAM TOWERS
The most interesting and accessible of ihc area's Cham sites, this group or four towers is clearly visible from Hwy 1A, sitting atop a hill 20km to the north of Quy Nhon. The architecture of each tower is distinctly differ end, although all were built around the end of the 11th century and the beginning ot the 12th. The smaller, barrel-roofed tower has the most intricate carvings, although there's still a wonderfully toothy face looking down on it from the wall of the largest tower. A large Buddhist pagoda sits on the side of the hill under the lowest of the towers. There are great views of the surrounding countryside from the top of the hill.
The Banh It Cham Towers (Phuoc Hiep, Tuy Phuoc district; admission free; 7-11am&1.30-430pm) are easily reached by taking Đ Tran Hung Dao out of town for about 30 minutes, when you'll see the towers in the distance to the right ot the road. After the traffic lights joining the main highway, cross the bridge and turn right. TAKE the left turn heading up the hill to reach the entrance.
DUONG LONG CHAM TOWERS:

The Duong Long Cham towers (Binh Hoa, lay Son distnct; admission free; 7-11am & 1.30-4.30pm) are harder to find, sitting in the countryside about 501 km northwest of Quy Nhon. Dating from the late 12th century, the largest of the three brick towers (24m high) is embellished with granite ornamentation representing naga (a mythical serpent being with divine powers) and elephants (Duong Long means Towers of Ivory). Over the doors are bas-reliefs of women, dancers, monsters and various animals. The corners of the structure are formed by enormous dragon heads. At the time of research a major dig was taking place, revealing well-preserved carvings about 1m below the present ground level at the base of the toners. A major restoration job was also in progress. You're best to visit the towers with a driver or a tour, as the site is reached by a succession of pretty country lanes through rice paddies and over rickety bridges.
OTHER TOWERS
Several single towers sprout out of farmland around the area. These are not as well restored as the big sites, and they generally haves gates or admission charges You'll need an experienced guide (enquire at Barbara's KIWI Cafe or Binh Dinh Tourist,and couple of days to spare if you want to track them all down. ThuThien (Binh Nghi, Tay Son district) is not far 3 Hwy 19, 35km northwest from Quy Nha and can easily be combined with a visit \ Duong Long and the Quang Trung Museum Phu Loc (Nhon Thanh village, An Nhon district) translates as the Gold Tower and has beautiful views, while Canh Tien (Nhon Hau, An Nhon district), built in the 16th century, is named after upturns leaf shapes at the top which arc said to n semble fairy wings. Binh Lam (Phuoc Hoa villas Tuy Phuoc district) sits high on a hill, 22km fro Quy Nhon.
Quang Trung Museum
Nguyen Hue, the second-oldest of the three brothers who led the Tay Son Rebellion crowned himself Emperor Quang Trung s 1788. In 1789 Quang Trung led the campaign that overwhelmingly defeated a Chinese it vasion of 200,000 troops near Hanoi. This epic battle is still celebrated as one of the greatets triumphs in Vietnamese history, During his reign, Quang Trung was some thing of a social reformer. He encouraged land reform, revised the system of taxation, in proved the army and emphasised education, opening many schools and encouraging the development of Vietnamese poetry and literature. He died in 1792 at the age of 40. Communist literature portrays him as the leader of a peasant revolution whose progressive policies were crushed by the reactionary Nguyen dy nasty, which came to power in 1802 and was overthrown by Ho Chi Minh in 1945. The Quang Trung Museum (Phu Phong; admission 10,000d; 8-11. 30am &1 -4.30pm Mon-Fri) is built on the site of the brothers' house and encloses the original well and a 200-year-old tamarind tree said to be planted by them. Displays include various statues, costumes, documents and artefacts from the 18th century, most of them labelled in English. Especially notable are the elephant-skin battle drums and gongs from the Bahnar tribe. The museum is also known for its demonstrations of vo binh dinh, a traditional martial art that is performed with a bamboo stick.
GETTING THERE & AWAY
The museum is about 50km from Quy Nhon. Take Hwy 19 west for 40km towards Pleiku. The museum is about 5km north of the highway (the turn-off is sign-posted) in Phu Phong, Tay Son district.
Ham Ho
A beautiful nature reserve 55km from Quy Nhon. Ham Ho (Tell: 880 860; Tay Phu; admission 5,000d; 7-11.30am &1-4.30pm) can easily be combined with a trip to the Quang Trung Museum. Tak-ing up a jungle-lined 3km stretch of clean, fish-filled river, the park is best enjoyed by boat (50,000d). The further up-river you travel, the better the swimming spots are. The road to Ham Ho is signposted to the south of Hwy 19 at Tay Son.
Thap Thap Pagoda
This peaceful pagoda in the heart of the coun- tryside was built in the 17th century partly from material stripped from neighbouring Cham towers. It's a lovely piece of Buddhist architecture with a deep veranda surrounded by attractive gardens. Take time to wander through the serene cemetery behind. To find it. take Hwy 1A for 27km northwest of Quy Nhon. Just past Dong Da village turn left before a small bridge labelled Can Van Thuan 2 onto a tiny country lane leading to Nhon Hau village
THE LOST CITY OF CHAMPA
Cha Ban, which served as the capital of Champa from the year 1000 (after the toss of Indrapura/ Dong Duong) until 1471, was attacked and plundered repeatedly by the Vietnamese, Khmers and Chinese. In 1044 the Vietnamese Prince Phat Ma occupied the city and carried off a great deal of booty along with the Cham king's wives, harem female dancers, musicians and singers. Cha Ban was under the control of a Khmer overseer from 1190 to 1220. In 1377 the Vietnamese were defeated and their king was killed in an attempt to capture Cha Ban. The Vietnamese emperor Le Thanh Ton breached the eastern gate of the city in 1471 and captured the Cham king and 50 members of the royal family. During this, the last great battle fought by the Cham, 60.000 Cham were killed and 30,000 more were taken prisoner by the Vietnamese. During the Tay Son Rebellion, Cha Ban served as the capital of central Vietnam, and was ruled by the eldest of the three Tay Son brothers. It was attacked in 1793 by the forces of Nguyen Anh (later Emperor Gia Long), but the assault failed. In 1799 they laid siege to the city again, under the command of General Vu Tinh, this time capturing it. The Tay Son soon reoccupied the port of Thi Nai (modern-day Quy Nhon) and then laid siege to Cha Ban themselves. The siege continued for over a year, and by June 1801, Vu Tinh's provisions were gone. Food was in short supply; all the horses and elephants had long since been eaten. Refusing to consider the ignominy of surrender, Vu Tinh had an octagonal wooden tower constructed. He filled it with gunpowder and, arrayed in his ceremonial robes, went inside and blew himself up. Upon hearing the news of the death of his dedicated general, Nguyen Anh wept.