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Quy Nhon: Vietnam Beach Vacation Off Tourism Radar (For Now)

Quy Nhon, Vietnam (CNN) – After a few days at Anantara Quy Nhon, you can start to feel things.

Relaxed but alive. Autonomous and at peace. Energized and edified.

Just over an hour by plane from Hanoi, Quy Nhon has remained largely unknown to international travelers, most choosing to follow a worn path to Vietnamese destinations such as Hue, Hoi An, and Sapa – often with a last stop in Ho Chi Minh City.

The coastal town’s relative tranquility adds to its appeal, and the five-star Anantara, which opened in December 2018, makes it absolutely worthy of a visit.

The reasons for Quy Nhon’s status under the radar are not easy to articulate given its general appeal: it is a culturally rich destination in its own right. It has miles of coastline, fresh cuisine dependent on its beachfront location, and a handful of accommodations at prices to suit all tastes and budgets.

There is a small national museum (the war photos are perhaps the most interesting part), deserted beaches (most locals prefer the beach at night to avoid the oppressive sun and heat of the day), a bustling market, a thriving coffee culture, ruins and pagodas.

It has everything a savvy traveler could want – minus the huge crowds and inflated prices.

Extraordinary luxury

A stay at Anantara Quy Nhon is about as luxurious as it gets.

Villas Quy Nhon Anantara

A stay in one of Anantara Quy Nhon’s pool villas is about as luxurious as it gets.

There are more centrally located hotels, but the view or ambiance will not be the same as staying along the private beach in front of Quy Nhon Bay.

Anantara is secluded but only a 10 minute walk from several other spots along this quieter part of the beach.

First of all, take the time to settle in. Amenities at each villa include a refrigerator stocked with complimentary cheese, cold cuts, and candy bars and a sparkling oversized tub that invites with bath salts and more of that incredible view.

The panoramic ocean or beachfront villas designed with floor-to-ceiling windows and doors for breathtaking views that extend beyond a meticulously decorated and detailed room are so warm and inviting that you may never want to leave again.

That is, until you have an idea of ​​what is on offer outside the property.

Focused on experience

Cham ruins Quy Nhon Vietnam

The Cham ruins are part of the My Son Historic Site.

Getty Images / Demetrio Carrasco

It’s a testament to the diversity and charms of Quy Nhon that there is so much to see and do beyond the confines of your hotel room.

Backpackers staying on the beach in one of the budget accommodation may entice you to rent a motorbike – a Vietnam staple for getting around – and explore on your own, but there’s no shame in leaving your worries behind aside and succumb to the thoughtful tour of Anantara program.

Start with a visit to the Banh It Towers, one of the region’s four Cham ruin sites. This is where Vijaya, the Cham capital, existed until 1471 when the north took over.

The only way to access the collapsing red brick towers is to walk up stairs.

The view from the top vantage point offers excellent views of the city, sprawling countryside, and the ocean. And you won’t have to fight the crowds to see up close – these are rarely visited sites, and you may even have the serene place to yourself. (The Binh Dinh Museum in Quy Nhon offers additional information on Cham sites.)

Once you’ve had enough of the ruins, ask your guide (or Google Maps) to head to the pagodas, located on pristine grounds with intricate landscaping imported from Japan.

Taking photos inside the solemn spaces filled with Buddha is not allowed, but paying homage with an incense offering is encouraged. According to Mai Vu Bao, a host at Villa Anantara who enjoys taking guests on tours and practicing her British English, you don’t want to risk having ghosts and spirits in your photos.

Staying in Anantara is like staying on a private island, but there is so much to do outside of the resort.

Staying in Anantara is like staying on a private island, but there is so much to do outside of the resort.

Villas Quy Nhon Anantara

After visiting the ruins and pagodas, we recommend that you go for a spa treatment in the middle of a jungle facing the ocean.

Avani, Anantara’s sister property with a bohemian vibe, is run by Bach Thi Anh Dao, a Quy Nhon resident who is exceptionally good at locating tension and soothing it until your body has turned into putty under his hands.

For a more energizing experience, check out one of her daily yoga classes, which include several moments of silent meditation, perfect for helping release those creative juices.

Fruits of Quy Nhon

Guests can opt for in-room dining or head downtown for a meal at a local restaurant.

Guests can opt for in-room dining or head downtown for a meal at a local restaurant.

Villas Quy Nhon Anantara

Quy Nhon locals selling eel and morning glory at the daily market, selling whole coconuts for coconut water (for around 7VND) on the road and whipping egg coffee in the city’s cafes are all part of what makes a visit to this hidden part of Vietnam so special.

As in any city or town, there is no shortage of ways to experience the varied and fresh flavors of Quy Nhon. If you’re comfortable riding a motorbike on the winding mountain roads leading into the city center, you’ll want to go in search of pancakes or Vietnamese pancakes (Bánh xèo) stuffed with shrimp, pork, and fresh herbs.

For a deeper dive – and a taste – of the culture, opt for the Anantara Night Market experience. Bonus: If you plan on drinking, it’s a good idea to have a designated driver, especially if you like karaoke.

Bao, a regular tour guide who can only be booked through the Anantara, knows the city well and can point out the best place for the popular pastime. If singing isn’t your thing, take a stroll along the city’s oceanfront promenade and admire the giant Ho Chi Minh statue.

When you’re ready to wake up, head to the beach bar for a nightcap. Imported beers are offered at the main beach bar in Quy Nhon – Surf Bar 2 – if you’re tired of the ubiquitous Saigon or Hanoi beer options, but you’ll have to return to the villa for anything that looks like beer. craft beer.

Oysters are another specialty of Quy Nhon.

TO Wed.Fire.Sel., Anantara’s onsite restaurant, chef M. Marcus Meek serves the plump and juicy bivalves naked or with a variety of condiments including lemon, cocktail sauce, black bean sauce and mignonette. Pair the starter course with champagne or a Heart of Darkness IPA before moving on to another of Chef Meek’s local specialties.

The British-born chef is excited about the menu he created – formerly strongly American and now decidedly more Vietnamese, thanks to early customer feedback – and is particularly excited about another of the property’s programs: private dinner celebrations by the sea.

The 5-star Anantara, a complex of 26 full-service villas, is a recent addition to Quy Nhon.

The 5-star Anantara, a complex of 26 full-service villas, is a recent addition to Quy Nhon.

Villas Quy Nhon Anantara

This gives Meek a chance to grill all kinds of veg and protein (it’s a mix between shrimp and Wagyu for the best dish of the night) in a sublime setting with background music and an anti – mosquito appearing in front of you even know you need it.

The intimate experience in the villa can last for hours until late at night.

Away from the resort, the nearby fishing village, Bai Xep, is where you’ll find Life is a beach – an inn, bar and restaurant just downstairs which are also worth a visit.

The narrow streets and alleys of Bai Xep are home to women baking bread over a hot fire in the street, while fresh crabs, clams and whole fish swim in pools of cold water until they are selected by hungry diners.

The aroma is extremely fishy and stray, mangy dogs sniff out crumbs while store owners offer cigarettes and soda for pennies.

Heaven comes in many different forms – and this one too.

Getting There

Several airlines offer non-stop flights to Quy Nhon from Hanoi. it’s a full day on the road (650 miles) for travelers wishing to drive from Hanoi to Quy Nhon, but another overland option is to stop at Tint for a day or two to interrupt the trip. It’s a 14 hour bus or form drive south for each leg of the trip.

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