Ham Tien Ward is Phan Thiet’s tourist strip, with hundreds of resorts, shops, restaurants, beach bars and spas built along the ten-kilometre-long stretch of Rang Beach that make this the perfect holiday destination.
Those who want to be “where the action is” should stay here as this is where they will find fun things to do all day. The kitesurfing craze began here, turning this into one of the top kitesurfing destinations in the world. The downside of Ham Tien is that the centre of Rang Beach has eroded, so many Ham Tien resorts have no beach at high tide, as the water comes up to the sea wall.
Travellers shouldn’t miss out on Phan Thiet’s Fairy Stream (Suoi Tien). The hardened sand walls of the Fairy Stream have surrealistic shapes and multiple shades of red and orange. Visitors can walk through the small stream barefoot to view and take pictures of the oddly formed, hardened sand embankments.
After a short walk, a fairyland appears, made up of sand pillars that have been carved by the wind and water over the centuries as if an artist had fashioned them into weird stalactites or huge reliefs. Further upstream is a small waterfall that is an impressive sight during the rainy season.
Although a couple of inexpensive guest houses first appeared along the beach after 1986, the first real resort did not open in Ham Tien until 1994. Coco Beach Resort was the result of a collaboration between a French national and his German wife. It took four more years before the next resort, Bamboo Village, opened on Rang Beach. Gradually other small resorts began to appear on the west end of the beach.
By the turn of the century, a number of resorts began to appear along the entire coastline from Tien Thanh in the south to Suoi Nuoc Beach northeast of the city centre. The city of Phan Thiet developed a reputation as a beach destination.
Another French national, who had managed the opening of two resorts in Phan Thiet, one in Phu Hai Ward and the other in the city centre, built his own Full Moon Resort east of Coco Beach. He recognised the potential of the area as a kitesurf destination, so adjacent to his resort in Ham Tien, he opened Jibe’s Beach Club, a kitesurf and windsurf school and shop. Within a few short years, the name Mui Ne had become synonymous with kitesurfing and Ham Tien had become one of the premier kitesurfing destinations in the world.
Dozens of restaurants that offered everything from traditional Vietnamese and seafood cuisines to international cuisines from all over the world then started to pop up. The best of these are Ratinger Loewe (German) at Cham Villas, Ganesh (Indian), Santimatti (Italian), Chasseur Blanc and Tropical Minigolf (French), Joe’s (American with live music nightly), El Latino (Mexican), the Bar (Tex Mex), Sindbad (Doner Kebabs), and Dong Vui Food Court with a wide assortment of cuisines, including Portuguese Piri Piri, Spanish Paella, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and fresh barbecued seafood.
Music & Entertainment
The nightlife in Ham Tien consists of a number of bars and restaurants along the beach which occasionally host live music events, plus there are music festivals held two or three times a year.
At the moment, there are five venues that consistently have entertainment every night and are open seven days a week. They are Joe’s, Pogo, Twins, Lineup and Dragon Beach.
Joe’s is an early evening venue with live music nightly starting at 7 p.m. For those who wish to party throughout the night, Pogo, located about three kilometres east of Joe’s, would be the next stop. It is usually busiest around 10 p.m. About a kilometre west of Pogo are both Twins and Lineup, which normally get going at around 11 p.m. The final stop of the night would be at the most popular spot: Dragon Beach, located a couple of hundred metres west of Lineup. This club has both an indoor and an outdoor venue, each with its own DJ. With pole dancers and fire dancers, things really get hopping at Dragon Beach after midnight.
When it comes to shopping, there are dozens of stores in Ham Tien. Most of them offer souvenirs or other tourist-related items, such as beach clothing, kitesurfing supplies, handicrafts, liquor and toiletries, etc. Many of the shops are quite small and are run by the owners and their families.