When we planned our drive up the south Vietnamese coast,we pictured mornings on sunny coastal roads and afternoons spent enjoying ice creams and cold beers on sandy beaches.
So as we were standing on the side of the road, 30km from the nearest town with a flat tyre and our waterproofs doing little to keep out the pounding rain, we wondered where it had all gone wrong….
From Dalat we made our way East, eventually meeting the coast and heading North on to a part of the coast known as the ‘Dragon’s Graveyard’. Sandwiched between bright blue sea and rocky red hills, the deserted road curved gently as it followed the coastline. The scenery on either side was stunning. The hills turned to huge sand dunes, and then to flat grassy plains before we arrived at Phan Rang, a neat little town with a quiet beach where we stayed the night.
The following day we continued our drive up the coast and found ourselves driving past pretty bays and quaint fishing villages, stopping now and then to take in the incredible views across the ocean. In the afternoon we made our way onto a headland called the Cam Lap promotory and found a gorgeous spot to have some late lunch and a swim in a secluded bay. It was perfect, but left us racing storm clouds as the light faded. Thankfully we made it to Nha Trang dry.
Nha Trang is a very built up beach town and although it provided a convenient place to stay and pretty decent vegetarian food, we were keen to see what else we could find in the area. So we set off early for a return trip to another headland a bit further north. Unfortunately, it was grey and drizzly all day, but we read our books on a quiet beach, ate a rubbish snack-picnic on the sea wall and even swam in a beautiful fishing cove. Though we were damp, spirits were pretty high until the flat on the way home…it was a definite low point.
…Of course the tyre got fixed, and we got back to our hotel and rewarded ourselves with hot showers and a long sleep. The next day the weather was just as gross – we decided to have a rest from the bikes, hang in Nha Trang and invest in some more effective waterproofs.
After our day of rest we were keen to finally realise the picturesque beer-on-the-beach we’d come for and discover it we did! On Hon Gom Sandbar, just a couple of hours North of Nha Trang we found a quiet, sunny cove with a virtually deserted but fully functioning beach resort. We had no hesitation in paying for our loungers, and sipped on young coconut and Saigon Beer all day, occasionally breaking for naps, reading, eating and swimming. Bliss!
The next morning we left Hon Gom and continued North. After a windy breakfast on the beautifully secluded Mon beach, we raced towards Quy Nhon. The sun had really come out for us now, so we stopped at Rang beach to cool off and play in the powerful waves. Quy Nhon is like a smaller, much nicer version of Nha Trang. A long promenade looks down onto a perfect sandy beach, with plenty of well kept gardens and other public spaces as well. It was a perfect place to sit with a drink as the sun slipped down behind the mountains.
By now we were on the home straight to Hoi An. A brief overnight stop in Quang Ngai broke up a fairly unspecatular drive through open countryside, bustly fishing villages and beaches covered in coracles. Finally we made it to Hoi An, sun shining and ice cream a-plenty!