Just a two hour drive north of Nha Trang is a small city
named Tuy Hoa. It has very few visitors from tourists but has a unique
personality that makes it worth a visit if you are interested in places a
little less frequented and spoiled by tourism.
The most convenient way to get there is an express bus that runs from
Nha Trang. The 2 hour drive will take you through a couple of beautiful
mountain passes and land you at the bus station close to the seemingly out of
place 5 star CenDeluxe Hotel. Other
obvious features are 2 small mountains. One mountain named Nui Nhan which
boasts one of the largest 14th century Cham structures in Vietnam, on the
other stands a radio tower that can be seen for miles from all directions. I
have been to Tuy Hoa many times and see it as one of my favorite places to get
away for a short break. The city is small and well laid out. The streets are
wide leading to less honking and congestion
I recently visited the city on two separate occasions with
Vietnamese friends. As fate would have it, both of the visits were to attend a
wake. Luckily for my friends, I was used as an excuse not to attend, and we
enjoyed the city instead. There are some nice clean budget hotels on Huong
Vuong st. that I stayed at and in the mornings we would head to a street not
far from the main market for some of the best Pho I have had in Vietnam. Wow!!
How surprising is that. Pho is a staple meal in this country and can be found
everywhere. My friend Nghia (or was it Linh) one day declared that Goat was on
the menu and when Vietnamese have food on the brain……there is no option. We
started with a goat hotpot (very good) followed by plain steamed goat to
experience the natural flavour. The third goat dish was grilled with La Lot……… OMG!!! It was good….. so good that it remains on
the top of my list of things to do in Tuy Hoa….. anyway…… On that same trip, (I
think) Nghia led the way to a few beaches just north of the city. After driving
down quiet country roads we arrived at beautiful white sand beaches. The only
other people there were a few romantic couples cuddled up looking out to sea.
It was like a shot from Paradise. I do not
think such a sight can be seen in Hawaii
nowadays. Tuy Hoa now can boast a western restaurant. Bob’s American Café
opened a few months back and I can guarantee they have the best burgers and
Pizza in town.
Another 100kms north lays the city of Quy Nhon. It is very similar to Nha Trang in
its look but a smaller scale. The city is almost one long beach with a myriad of coffee shops
close by. Quy Nhon used to have a large American air base with a large paved
runway area. The Vietnamese utilized the old runway to make some large and
easily traveled roadways. The lack of traffic congestion is cause for a quieter
atmosphere worth only the occasional horn blowing. The same cannot be said
about the ocean road in front of the University and the 4 star Seagull hotel.
Every ear piercing air horn must be used to warn the students and sleeping
travelers that a large truck is coming through. Surprisingly, Quy Nhon with a
population of only half of Nha Trang, has not only a nice shopping complex, but
a giant Metro store (similar to Costco in North America).
The main form of entertainment is……….. ah, you guessed it…. Karaoke!! Karaoke
is a complex thing in Vietnam
and can be everything from a family renting a room to sing together, to a
person looking for a date…… or even more, but that is a story left untold.
There is no such thing as a bar that has cold drinks in this city (Except 1
location that I know of). If you want a cold beer you might end up finding
yourself in one of the Karaoke bars, or heaven forbid…. A booming disco with
dozens of PR people fishing for tips. There is only one place that I know of that
hosts mostly foreigners and that is Barbara’s Kiwi Cafe located on the further
north end of the beach. There you can get some food cooked western style and
find a beer without a large ice cube in it.
I enjoy my trips to both of the above places. They are
places that to me are what Vietnam
is all about. The people are genuine and friendly and the atmosphere of the
places comforting. If you are a traveler that enjoys or wants to experience
Vietnam away from all the tourists, hawkers, and inflated prices, heck out Tuy
Hoa or Quy Nhon. You will be happy you did.