Best Places to See in Phu Yen

By: Lien Nguyen

Last summer, being bored of the traditional Nha Trang, Mũi Né, Vũng Tàu trip, my friends and I were trying to find an original place to visit in Vietnam. We decided to give Phú Yên north of Nha Trang a chance, and honestly, it was one of the best trips in my life.

If you can’t decide between mountains and beaches, the province has them all. It also has everything you can expect from Vietnam: cheap food, natural landscapes, friendly locals and more.

Video source: hao trance

Being famous from the movie Tôi Thấy Hoa Vàng Trên Cỏ Xanh with the famous scene of children playing in the rice field and running on the green grass on the hill, Phú Yên is full of places to see, from Đá Đĩa Reef to Đại Lãnh Cape. It is also home to Ông Cọp, the longest wooden bridge of the country.

How to Get to Phú Yên

Phú Yên is an eight-district coastal province in South Central Vietnam located about halfway between Nha Trang and Qui Nhơn. It’s about a two-and-a-half hour trip by bus from either city. There is a local bus service from Qui Nhơn which runs pretty much hourly seven days a week. Both north- and southbound trains stop about six times a day.

By air, there’s a small plane going north or south once a day so you can arrive in the morning or mid-afternoon. The airport is a short taxi ride from town.

Where to Stay in Phú Yên

Although Tuy Hoa, Phú Yên doesn’t bustle like Qui Nhơn or Nha Trang, the infrastructure of the hotel is pretty good.

Some hotels and resorts you can check include Bai Tram Hideaway Resort, Vietstar Resort & Spa or Cendeluxe hotel.

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What to See in Phú Yên

The best things to see in Phú Yên include the following:

1. Đá Đĩa Reef

Located in An Ninh Đông commune in Tuy An District (Tuy An being the capital of the province), Đá Đĩa Reef has become one of the must-come places in Phú Yên.

It consists of an estimated 35,000 columns of basalt rocks created from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. When the molten basalt flows met cold water, they solidified and shaped these rare round, pentagonal, hexagonal and polygonal formations.

phu yenSunset on the Đá Đĩa Reef.
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The dark-blue colour of the stones combines with the fresh blue water from the sea to provide an unforgettable experience.

A good part of this attraction is that it only costs the VND5,000 parking fee.


2. Đập Tam Giang

Tam Giang Dam on the Tam Giang river is also in Tuy An District.

The dam is highly important for the rice fields in Tuy An District. You can cross it, but be careful not to fall down in the river.

phu yenA woman goes across Tam Giang Dam
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Try the fish and especially the eels that fishermen fish from the river.


3. Đại Lãnh Cape

This is also known as the first place of the country to see the dawn. To get there, you will have to climb up the 110 spiral stairs. Eat something before going up as there is no restaurant in the area. However, some drinks can be purchased at the top.

phu yenSunset on Lighthouse Đại Lãnh
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From the top of the lighthouse, you will see the long beaches in Phú Yên. Wake up early and go there at 4 a.m. to witness the sunrise, it’s really worth it.

The fee to the Đại Lãnh lighthouse is VND10,000, which is used to protect the lighthouse.


4. Bãi Xép Hill

Well-known from a famous Vietnamese movie called Tôi Thấy Hoa Vàng Trên Cỏ Xanh, Bãi Xép became a great spot for nature lovers. The place is wild and peaceful.

Video source: GalaxyFilmThienNgan

However, the images in the movie didn’t capture the real beauty of Bãi Xép. The green colour of the grass and cactuses along the hill makes the scenery stunning.

phu yenCactuses along the hill
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Right under Bãi Xép, you can see a beach and a seashore where thousands of dark stones create a song together with the ocean waves.

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5. Ông Cọp Bridge

Ông Cọp Bridge is the longest wooden bridge in Vietnam at a whopping 400 metres. It connects An Ninh Tây Ward (Tuy An District) with Sông Cầu District.

This bridge experienced a moment of fame in 2017 when it was featured in the reality show Vietnam Amazing Race.

It takes around 10 minutes to walk across the bridge. Don’t forget your camera!

phu yenA man walks on Ông Cọp Bridge
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What to Eat in Phú Yên

Seafood is the main culinary attraction in the province, with grilled blood clam one of the local specialities. Other favourites include ocean tuna, oysters and mai fish from O Loan Lagoon.

1. Seafood

As the homeland of ocean tuna, you can enjoy tuna in all forms in Phú Yên: sashimi, steamed tuna eyeball, grilled tuna and more.

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Ba Tam Restaurant: 47 Nguyễn Huệ, Tuy Hòa, Phú Yên.

2. Chả Dông and Nem Nướng

This is a kind of spring roll served with a special sauce, with mixed grilled pork, vegetable, rice paper and Dông grilled chopped (chả Dông).

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Nem Nướng 92 - Chả Dông: 92 Nguyễn Công Trứ, Tuy Hòa, Phú Yên (available in the evening only)

3. Banh Canh Hẹ (Cake soup with Chinese Chives)

The literal translation is “chive noodles” and the soup certainly looks that way: a sea of green specks swimming in a light, clear broth.

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Bánh Canh Hẹ Năng Nở: Điện Biên Phủ Street, Tuy Hòa, Phú Yên.

4. Bánh Bèo (Water Fern Cake)

This is a variety of small steamed rice cake or rice pancake in Vietnamese cuisine. It is white in colour and typically features a dimple in the centre, filled with savoury ingredients.

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Bánh Bèo Chén: 92 Lê Trung Kiên, Tuy Hòa, Phú Yên.

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Should Vietnam Rethink Tourism? Interview with Patrick Gaveau

By: Keely Burkey

The typical travel route for tourism in Vietnam is from the north to the south, and sometimes the other way around. How is this style of tourism killing Vietnam’s potential as a tourist destination?

I wouldn’t say it’s killing it, but certainly it’s restricting the potential for growth. For many travellers, in particular from Australia and other English-speaking markets, Vietnam is still very much seen as a “bucket list” destination, a once-in-a-lifetime trip not to be repeated. For some it is their first trip to Southeast Asia, though more often than not they’ve already travelled multiple times to what we call “fly and flop” beach destinations like Thailand and Bali.

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Though Vietnam has some very attractive beaches, it is seen more as a cultural travel experience and it struggles to compete with its more established, experienced neighbours. When the potential of new sites or areas is recognised, these are too often monopolised and destroyed by local interests.

What does the current tourist industry look like in Vietnam?

If you look at these source markets, you will see they are filled with competing general sales agents all offering what on the surface seem to be similar types of travel itineraries, and they are all fighting for a piece of the same pie. There are plenty of unique and specialist offerings out there, but these are primarily suited to niche interests and usually don’t receive the same sort of marketing attention. There are real costs associated with all forms of distribution, so products need to pay their way, so to speak, in terms of return on investment.

So, you think it’s primarily a marketing issue?

The issue around effectively marketing and promoting non-generic itineraries is there, but it’s further challenged by the limited knowledge of traditional travel agents. Many of them haven’t travelled to this part of the world, so they stick with what they know and trust, through a tried and tested product.

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Familiarisation or educational trips invariably focus on the main highlights of the country through a north to south trip (or vice versa), so they just don’t have the confidence or knowledge to go beyond this.

Few tourists return to Vietnam for a second trip. Why do you think this is?

There are a host of reasons: the lack of an effective national tourism body to market the destination; the relatively high cost of travel; the cumbersome and expensive visa process; the over-development and pollution of natural attractions; the constant tourist rip-offs; substandard services and a flawed hotel rating system.

What other travel patterns or tours should be created to change this and to encourage more return trips to Vietnam, as it is in Thailand, for example?

There are probably only two main reason travellers would return: to visit an area not previously seen, or for a traditional beach-style long stay. Of the latter, we are seeing the emergence of Danang/Hoi An as a destination for repeat travellers (more so than Phu Quoc, though this is also increasing), though the percentages are still relatively small. This should continue to grow as infrastructure slowly improves.

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As the number of hotels and resorts increases, so will the competitiveness of rates, along with an increase in international carriers adding direct routes to Vietnam.

How can travel agents help tourism in Vietnam grow sustainably?

They can market and develop a range of innovative packages specifically aimed at these returning travellers. These could include (but aren’t limited to): special city stays with unique inclusions, like going to the less-visited central highlands region. This could be easily combined with a Danang or Hoi An beach stay or a stay in the country’s far northwest, like Sapa, Mai Chau which are both easily accessible from Hanoi. Or you could have Mekong Delta overnight cruises as opposed to the commoditised day tours. This could also include the longer Mekong cruises, which have become so popular in recent years. All of this can be combined with the proper promotion of Vietnam’s best beach locations and advice on the best time to visit the various regions. These more often should be included in planned familiarisation or educational trips, ensuring that travel agents broaden their knowledge for use in the sales process.

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Ghenh Da Dia Phu Yen (The Sea Cliff of Stone Plates)

By: City Pass Guide

Video source: Du Lịch Quy Nhơn Bình Định

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Up with Hot-Air-Balloon in Phan Thiet

By: Quang Mai

Unless you have a great plan for this weekend, City Pass advices you to enjoy the first Vietnam International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (VIHABF) 2012 in Phan Thiet City from August 29 to September 3.

Around 50 international balloonists from the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, U.K., U.S., China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and of course Vietnam will take part in the festival, performing in hot-air balloons in varied shapes and sizes. Many site-activities such as trade and tourism fair, musical show, performances of kite flying and parachutes, art shows and glowing night show will thrill you and your family and friends during weekend. At night, you will enjoy watching the splendid balloons decorated with lanterns as well as nice musical background.

According to Binh Thuan Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism, there will be nearly 300 accommodations establishments with more than 10,000 rooms and homestay supply available during the fiesta.

Local Insight: On September 1 evening, the city will host a street festival as well as a fireworks display on Vietnam National Day


Adding A Stroke of Art To City Pass Guide

By: City Pass Guide

Vietnam in new style of capture

Richie Fawcett

British sketch artist Richie Fawcett has been living and working in Vietnam for almost three years, but it’s only in this past year that he, and everyone around him, has begun taking his inherent drawing skills seriously. Richie initially ventured to Vietnam to open a variety of bars and restaurants – something he’s spent a fantastic 15 years doing around the world.

Richie soon realised, however, how lucky he was to be in a country where he was surrounded by a visual feast, a photographer’s dream.

As a professional photographer in London in the late 90s Richie had been searching for an alternative way to capture the essence of the street scenes that had always intrigued him. Using a camera seemed far too easy - there was no reason for him to stay in the same spot and analyse a scene for hours on end.

At that point, Richie drudged up his long lost, and virtually unknown, talent and begun sketching his favourite street scenes and cityscapes.

Richie’s time in Vietnam, especially living in central Saigon, is what reignited his interest in sketching. Being able to capture the vibrancy of the people and culture gave him renewed energy to physically realise the way in which people live and work in the rapidly changing urban landscape of Saigon. 

Another aspect that has motivated him to start sketching again, is his appreciation for history and the fact at Saigon, especially, is developing so quickly; many of the old historic buildings of central Saigon have been torn down to make way for new developments.

Although the sites of these developments are often left untouched for years, it’s prompted him to capture the life of the city’s old streets before they’re lost forever. A specific instance of this can be seen in Richie’s four original drawings of Ben Thanh Market  - North, South, East and West.

These were drawn because there is a building development opposite that will one day obstruct the view of the Museum of Fine Arts  – a favourite and, thus, a place in which he has spent countless hours exploring. In fact, he’s spent so much time in and around this building that the staff know him commonly as Waisee . There’s always an exchange of smiles, “Xin chao,” and, “Have a look at what I’m drawing today.

Richie Fawcett

Richie often gets the same reactions when people catch him drawing a scene: they’re either really excited, “Dep dep dep!” or they im/mediately stop talking, have a seat and stare for ages. It’s a brilliant, and yet disarming, way in which he connects with the community. His connection goes as far as the street sellers who actually stop hassling him after seeing him frequent the same spot hour after hour – they’ve even been known to stop working and sit next to him while he draws.

Richie’s sketches now take an average of 4 - 5 continuous hours. This may seem like a long time, but in the beginning they would take weeks, even months, of dedicated time going back and forth to the same spot each day. The result of this work is a collection of panoramic cityscapes in pencil, pen, ink and Chinese ink wash. 

His style of work begins with a skyline, and ends with the characterisation of the people in the landscape. He has a second small pocket sketchbook crammed full of countless individual characters going about their daily tasks.

Since beginning his sketching, Richie has already held a successful solo exhibition at Au Parc titled, ‘Carte Postale de Saigon’ . He has been interviewed for Tuoi Tre TV and has been on the national news, celebrated as a foreigner who appreciates and expresses Vietnamese culture in his own artistic manner. As a result of this exposure, he now has a following of private collectors.

It was on the night of his very first exhibition that he bumped into Patrick Gaveau of City Pass Guide, who happened to be getting a takeaway, but took away an instant interest in Richie’s artwork instead. They im/mediately set a date to meet. The rest, as they say, is history.

Richie went on his first trip to Hanoi during Tet where he managed to produce over 15 panoramic cityscapes in six days. Hanoi has left a fantastic impression on him, and he’ll soon be back to capture the plethora of scenes still available.

Richie Fawcett

He’s currently planning a travelling exhibition, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, exclusively featuring his signature panoramic cityscapes from both Saigon and Hanoi. It will feature both old and new meter-long sketches demonstrating the contrast between two astounding cities in an amazing country.

The exhibition will be shown in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with dates to be confirmed; watch this space for updates.

In addition to numerous individual commissions from businesses and residencies, Richie is currently working on sketching the vibrancy of Vietnamese life for the 11th edition of the City Pass Guide and for their upcoming website and mobile applications.

He looks forward to continued collaborations with City Pass Guide, where he is able to showcase his work while providing invaluable pieces for the premium travel guide company. And to think, it’s all thanks to a takeaway and a chance meeting.

Authors & Editors: Richie Fawcett & Kendra Bernard

Richie Fawcett

Michelle Phan discovering her Vietnamese roots

By: City Pass Guide

Video source: Michelle Phan

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