The hidden charm of Phan Thiet
Update: Apr 08, 2009
My recent trip to Phan Thiet City and especially the Sea Links Golf and Country Club made me discover the hidden charm of Vietnam. In recent years, Phan Thiet City, specifically the Mui Ne Beach, has been transformed into a resort destination.

October 24, 1995 is considered the birth of tourism in Phan Thiet, when thousands rushed to Mui Ne to see the total solar eclipse. The event was commemorated on the same day in 2005 as the tenth anniversary of tourism for the province.

At present, Phan Thiet sees more and more foreign faces, those visiting on a day trip from Mui Ne or traveling through on an Open Tour minibus. For the Vietnamese tourist, Phan Thiet is a good compromise, they don’t have to choose between expensive resorts and low-rent guest houses like in Mui Ne. Good, reasonably-priced seafood restaurants are just as fine as in Mui Ne. Domestic package tours tend to show up in Phan Thiet in force as well, no doubt cutting sweet deals with local hotels and taking advantage of the proximity to Mui Ne. In terms of the cost of accommodation, the variety of food and things to do, I have to recommend Phan Thiet as the better destination. But there are things to do and see in Mui Ne proper that make it worth a day trip, and a night or two here isn’t a bad idea if you have the time and budget for it.

Traveling through the city, Phan Thiet has two parts. The older part of town and the eastern bank have more recent development, the beach and most of the accommodations. There are three bridges and the Phan Thiet water tower, which is considered the symbol of the city. The middle bridge leads to a promenade on the west bank and the centre of the old town. The southern-most bridge is just north of the fish market on the west bank. The beachfront is to the southeast of the city, where Le Loi St. runs along the water.

I imagine most visitors will opt to stay on or close to the beach. You won’t save much money on accommodation inland, though it does make it easier to find services and a wider variety of places to eat within easy walking distance. After you’ve exhausted the seafood places and cafes on the beachfront, the rest of Phan Thiet is a kilometer or so away.

I would recommend Phan Thiet to anyone visiting Vietnam. It is a “Hidden Charm”