Romantic beaches, deserted islands, poetic passes, or magnificent stone cliffs… Discover these wild landscapes in Phu Yen and this quiet province will become your favorite place in Vietnam.
The name Phu Yen might sound unfamiliar to many foreign tourists who want to explore Vietnam. Many travelers only pay attention to the popular sites that the government and tourism companies promote heavily such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang, and Da Nang. However, to the Vietnamese people, Phu Yen’s reputation is well known, not only because it is in Vietnam and people know it, but because it possesses the beauty of wildness.
Where The Heck is Phu Yen?
Imagine the land of Vietnam as a pregnant woman, Phu Yen is located at her navel, where she transfers her energy and nutrients to her baby. Phu Yen has a metropolis called Tuy Hoa, a coastal city. Tuy Hoa is the most populated area and has the highest level of urbanization in the province. From Tuy Hoa, you can easily go to other places within Phu Yen’s border.
Phu Yen is located in the south of the central coast of Vietnam, which means most of its border adjoins the sea. Have you heard of Nha Trang city? Phu Yen is the next province to the north of the administrative province Khanh Hoa, in which Nha Trang is located. Phu Yen is the easternmost province of Vietnam, with a coastal length of 189 kilometers. To the west, around 70% of its territory is covered with magnificent mountains. Except for Tuy Hoa, the other “cities” of Phu Yen have not seen urbanization yet; therefore, it still wears a dress of pristine beauty.
A Brief History of The Land
Before the invasion of Dai Viet Empire in the 17th century (the kingdom in northern Vietnam from the 11th to 19th century), Phu Yen belonged to the Kingdom of Champa (the kingdom reigning over central Vietnam from the 2nd to 17th century). Eventually, the Champa Kingdom was absorbed by the Vietnamese from the north and the invader at the time named this land “Phu Yen” with the hope of future prosperity and peace (Phu literally means prosperous, Yen means peaceful).
On April 1st, 1975, Phu Yen was liberated from the rule of the Saigon government after the Vietnam War. Since then, this province step-by-little step has developed steadily into a flourishing point of interest, and “April 1st” is now the name of the square in the metropolis Tuy Hoa.
Weather and Time to Visit
When to Visit Phu Yen?
Phu Yen is affected by the tropical monsoon climate, which is hot and humid all year round. Because of that, Phu Yen has two distinct seasons: dry and wet. From September to December is the wet season and dry season is from January to August. Hence, visiting Phu Yen from January to August is a great idea.
Dry season can also be called the sunny season because it’s sunny almost every day. Under the Vietnam sun, the pristine beauty of our land appears vividly and radiantly, there is no better time to see it. In addition, if you visit Phu Yen at Tet (Vietnamese New Year, usually in the middle of January to the middle of February), you will have a chance to watch bow racing (at O Loan lake) or to listen to Bai Choi (singing poetry) – an intangible heritage of humanity preserved in festival. A negative for visiting in the dry season is that it may be extremely hot from June to August, it could cost you lots of water and sunscreen.
It would be a bit dangerous to set foot in Phu Yen during the wet season, for that’s also the time of storms. Phu Yen, as well as other provinces along the central coast of Vietnam, suffers from the storms coming from the East Sea (also known as the South China Sea) every year. However, if you lead an adventurous life and want to experience the season of storms, rain, and floods in Vietnam, as well as to help local people fight against nature, why not visit during the wet season.
A Day in Phu Yen
Welcome a New Day with The Dawn at The Beaches
Early in the morning, when everything still sleeps, standing and looking at the sea, waiting for the first light of the day to spill over the horizon can be relaxing and invigorating. There’s nothing more peaceful than watching the sunrise on an untouched beach.
Bai Xep – The Countryside along The Beach
With a length of just 500 meters, Bai Xep has lured many people with its fresh and simple beauty. The beach is marked by two sets of sea cliffs on either end. It is perfectly packaged in an isolated small area, like a tiny kingdom. Climb up the cliff, look to your friends below you, and feel the tranquility of the surrounding grass and sea.
From Tuy Hoa, follow Le Duan street to the north for about 14 kilometers until you reach district Tuy An, where Bai Xep is located. Or, you can also follow National Highway 1A to reach commune An Chấn, district Tuy An, then turn into Sao Viet tourist village to get to Bai Xep.
Bai Mon – The Light in The Night
Away from Tuy Hoa, 35 kilometers to the southeast, Bai Mon appears majestically on the horizon. This beach is right at the foot of the Mui Dien lighthouse. The infinity of the sea and the vastness of the sky meet on the horizon, where every morning the sun separates them for the coming of the new day.
From Tuy Hoa, follow the National Highway 1A to the southeast for about 23 kilometers. Then, after driving Ca Pass, head to the street Phuoc Tan – Bai Nga, across the coconut forest. You will see Bai Mon after 12 kilometers.
Location: village Phuoc Tam, commune Hoa Tam, Tuy Hoa
Bai Tuy Hoa – The Peace beside The City
Bai Tuy Hoa is right next to Tuy Hoa city to the east. On the eastern edge of an active city, this beach is still calm and tranquil. It shares peace with people looking to recover from a hard day at work or the busy city streets.
After you watch the dawn at Bai Tuy Hoa, go swimming to feel refreshed for the new day. Don’t try to go swimming at other beaches if you don’t see any information. Some beaches are just for visiting, as they are dangerous for swimming.
I like doing two things at once: sea-bathing and witnessing the dawn. Feeling the buoyancy of the salt water and the rocking of the waves brings me peace. Every wave brings you closer to the origin of nature. When we travel, these moments seem necessary, to simply be without having to think. Spread your arms to embrace the wind, let the waves dissolve your worries about life, work, everything. As the sun shines its morning rays, let the light guild you, and remember why you bought plane tickets to a faraway place.
Learn Something – Morning is Good for Visiting Museums
Phu Yen Museum
Location: 151 Tran Phu Street, Ward 5, Tuy Hoa city
Scale: with an area of three hectares, this museum contains approximately 12,000 artifacts collected within Vietnam and 2,000 artifacts collected from Phu Yen province.
This museum illustrates the land’s history, revolution, wars, and culture.
If you don’t like history too much, this museum may not be worth your time. You can spend your morning exploring other intriguing points of interest.
Go Offshore – The Islands as Robinson Crusoe
Cu Lao Mai Nha (The Roof Island) – A Deserted Island
Upon arriving at Cu Lao Mai Nha, you will immediately enjoy the space of privacy. Experience nature in the wildest way by exploring this deserted island. Not one person lives here so how will you spend your time?
Once you set foot on this island, you will become Robinson Crusoe – go get lost for a few hours. I recommend bringing fish and other seafood along, then you can build a fire, cooking your own meal with the salt of the sea.
Other Deserted Islands to Visit
Beside the famous Cu Lao Mai Nha, Phu Yen’s shore has many other deserted islands, each of which has a distinctly special appearance.
Location: Close to the foot of Ca Pass. It’s right at the boundary between Phu Yen province and Khanh Hoa province (the southern boundary).
It is renowned as “the almost-forgotten island” with the mess of cliffs embracing wind and sunshine. When you visit this island, don’t forget to walk around the lighthouse and follow the navy men to discover the fresh air and scenery.
This island is also famously known for housing the “footprint of giants.”
Location: An Hoa commune, district Tuy An, Phu Yen, 15 kilometers away from Tuy Hoa the metropolis, following the street along the beach across the peaceful villages.
We recommend that you that you visit Hon Yen during the beginning of the lunar month, when the tide goes out. This will reveal a road connecting the land and the island and you will have the chance to walk in the sea, enjoying the colorfulness of the coral and reefs.
A Gentle Afternoon
Nhan Tower – No Matter Which Religion You Follow, Just Pray
Location: Ward 1, Tuy Hoa city, Phu Yen, in the northern bank of Da Rang river, close to National Highway 1A.
This tower was built in the 12th century for the worship of the Gods of the Cham people (now Cham is one of the tribes living in Vietnam territory). This tower faces the east, the direction of sunrise, of Gods, of divinity. No matter which religion you follow, go inside the tower, under the feet of the Cham Gods, and pray.
Ganh Da Dia (Literally Means The Sea Cliff of Stone Plates)
This seashore of uniformly interlocking basalt rock columns looks as if it were sculpted by humans. There are about 35,000 columns of rock gathered in this area that is approximately 100 meters wide and 200 meters long. The unique arrangement of rocks looks like stacked plates, which is why it bares its name The Sea Cliff of Stone Plates.
Location: An Ninh Dong commune, district Tuy An, Phu Yen. From Tuy Hoa the metropolis, follow the National Highway 1A to the north, after roughly 30 kilometers you will reach Chi Thanh town. Turn left and continue going roughly 12 more kilometers, and you will reach Ganh Da Dia.
This stunning sea cliff was created when the lava of a volcanic eruption flowed to the sea about a million years ago; hot lava met cold sea water and together they changed the shape of the basalt rocks.
Dong Hoa district – Find The Peace of The Countryside
Location: between Tuy Hoa city and Khanh Hoa province (in the south of Tuy Hoa)
You don’t need to arrive at a particular address in district Dong Hoa because once you arrive, you will immediately notice the tranquility of the Vietnamese countryside. Are you fed up with the crowds in the cities? Do you want to find tranquility in this busy life? The best choice is to spend an afternoon, or even a day, in Dong Hoa district, wandering around, visiting the paddy fields, watching the farmers doing their jobs and taking a deep inhale of extremely fresh air.
The Not-so-Silent Night of Tuy Hoa
Tuy Hoa plays its metropolis role well since it’s still active at night. Your day hasn’t finished yet if you’re back in Tuy Hoa for the evening. I will recommend a few activities for you to enjoy your night.
Walking along The Beach, Meeting Local People
When the sun decides to take its long-awaited rest, people don’t go swimming anymore, the beach becomes silent and gentle. It’s a good time to go jogging or walking along the beach. You will meet local people walking like you, but they might be silent to enjoy the serenity of the beach, tucking away memories to share with their partners about their day.
April 1st Square – See How Local People Gather Together
Providing that you don’t like the silence, the bustle of April 1st Square is ready for you in the evening. This is a place where the local people get together to partake in such activities as taking photos, flying kites, eating street food, and roller skating. In joining the local people, you will find the true pleasure in traveling.
Back to Nhan Tower to Watch An Art Performance
Every Saturday evening, people gather to watch the shows, which reflect the cultural identity of the Cham people. The tower is illuminated every night and Saturday is no exception. You may not be able to sing along to the songs, but I expect you will join the lively dances.
Tuy Hoa Night Market
Location: Tran Phu street, Ward 7, Tuy Hoa city
Tuy Hoa night market is an active area where tourists and local people come to buy souvenirs or try some local food at night. It also has an entertainment zone for kids and teenagers. If you think you’re too old, try to find a way back to your childhood or the carefree teenage years by taking part in the joy!
If the noise of a night market doesn’t satisfy you…
How about A Bar?
Against the peace and silence of the city at night, the bars are the single places of light and dynamic music. And yes, Phu Yen has a few fun bars. Some famous bars which you may like:
Tuy Hoa Xua Cafe – RAJA Beer Garden
Location: Hung Vuong Street, Ward 7, Tuy Hoa city
Opening hours: 5 PM – 11:30 PM Monday – Sunday
Price range: 50,000 – 100,000 VND per person
Location: 3 Hai Duong Street, Tuy Hoa city
Opening hours: 7:30 PM – 1:30 AM
Price range: 60,000 – 250,000 VND per person
Promotion: if you go to the bar before 9:30 PM, you can buy one get one free, beer and wine only.
Before Leaving Phu Yen
Phu Yen is a really wonderful land, beautiful but simple, and it knows how to carve its beauty deeply into visitors’ minds. Once you come here, you may be attached to its gentleness and subtlety. However, all good things must come to an end. So, your last experience with Phu Yen should be an unforgettable memory. When you decide to leave Phu Yen to explore a new place in Vietnam, you MUST take some time at these passes:
If you intend to go to the North of Vietnam: traveling by land, you have to go through Cu Mong pass, which is the border between Phu Yen province and Binh Dinh province.
If you intend to go to the South of Vietnam, you have to go through Ca Pass that marks the boundary between Phu Yen province and Khanh Hoa province.
Go to the highest point of the pass, stop at a bend, and you will see a magnificent sight including sky, mountain, and sea. You are at the border of two provinces of Vietnam; the natural scenery is a perfect combination. Each place of Vietnam has its own color, and standing between colors is an extraordinary feeling. You will have a new adventure ahead!
Traveling is not about visiting places many people visit, but about discovering new lands, and Phu Yen is a new land you should explore. Come to Phu Yen, you will receive new feelings, new experiences, and enjoy the untouched beauty of nature. Phu Yen is waiting for you.
Our blog also provides a series about Phu Yen, so follow the blog to get further information. We have: Getting Around Phu Yen, Phu Yen – Discovering Vietnam’s Coast and Hidden Beaches and Accommodation in Phu Yen. I hope we can answer all of your questions and if not, comment below!
If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at the Christina’s blog!