Despite being blessed with perfect weather and beautiful beaches, the city of Phan Rang in Ninh Thuan Province is not as well-known as its neighbors Phan Thiet, Nha Trang, and Dalat. For those seeking a different look into the everyday life of Vietnamese; that’s a good thing. New roads have opened the coastline for the first time making Phan Rang one of Vietnam’s fastest growing tourist destinations, but for now it still retains a quiet charm.
Ninh Chu beach near Phan Rang is gaining in popularity as a quieter alternative to Phan Thiet and Nha Trang. The same wind and sea conditions that make kite surfing so popular in Mui Ne also exist in Ninh Chu Bay; but without the crowds. The weather is great for those wanting guaranteed sun. While many international travelers might not be aware of the area, that doesn’t mean it is inaccessible and primitive. Phan Rang is the capital of Ninh Thuan province and has all the modern amenities such as taxis, ATMs, high-speed internet, and supermarkets. Seven ocean-side resorts line Ninh Chu Bay with hundreds of mini-hotel rooms nearby. Arriving by train, bus, or plane is just as easy as going to Nha Trang and actually a little faster. Nearly all the north/south trains stop at Thap Cham Train Station which is located in the city of Phan Rang and about 10 kilometers from the ocean. The city shares Cam Ranh International Airport with Nha Trang and they are nearly equal distance; although in opposite direction. The city is adjacent to Highway 1A and it is about a seven hour car or bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City.
The province is famous for its grapes, which is reflected in the weather. Like most the grape growing regions in the world, Phan Rang’s climate is considered “Dry Mediterranean”. Of Vietnam’s provinces, it has the most sunny days, least amount of rainfall, and in the summer the high temperatures are actually lower than all the coastal provinces south of Hue.
While the beach is the main attraction, several temples, pagodas, and monasteries attract visitors, including the 700 year old Po Klong Garai which is still used by the Cham people and is relatively well maintained. Phan Rang is also a great base from which to take day trips to Vinh Hy Bay and see the stunning new coastal road just north of the famous bay.
Beach facilities and night life still have a lot of catching up to do before the area comes close to being a vibrant beach city like Nha Trang. However, that has begun with the recent opening of the new Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club & Bar. Already beginning to become popular with the kite surfers, travelers can spend the day on nice beach chairs and day-use cabanas and the evenings in a contemporary bar.