Quy Nhon to Nha Trang: beach-hopping

Cycling from Quy Nhon to Ho Chi Minh City: part one

Friday 19th February

Miles: 66

 Map: Quy Nhon to Tuy Hoa 

For the first hour of cycling we climbed up to a hilly coastal road with stunning views.  Coastal road south of Quy Nhon 

The terrain was a mixture of flat and hilly, passing by lakes, rivers, rice paddies, palm and pine trees. After three days of rest and plenty of calories we were feeling fresh, and the inclines didn’t give us much trouble.  Coastal road south of Quy Nhon  

Coastal road south of Quy Nhon 

We saw a lot of these jars being sold by the side of the road, containing quite a few pickled creatures, including lizards, starfish and sea horses. Is it oil? Alcohol? Something else? I don’t know.  Pickled! 

We are now south of Bangkok, where we first started out from, and today we were feeling the heat. We arrived at our hotel feeling very grubby (a very good, cheap place called the Lam Tra). 

In search of some lunch, we turned right from our hotel and walked for almost 2 miles trying to find a restaurant. Any restaurant. (For dinner we turned left from our hotel and realised that we were actually next door to one.) We eventually found a place, but had to play mystery menu as aside from knowing that everything contained fish (“ca”) we didn’t recognise a thing, and requests for pho or com (noodles or rice) received blank looks. I pointed at one meal, and we ended up with a salad. Just what we needed after a 6 hour cycle! (It was obviously still delicious.)

Afterwards we took a walk along the beach.  Tuy Hoa beach  

Tuy Hoa beach 

Like Quy Nhon, Tuy Hòa has a gorgeous sandy beach that is practically deserted.  Tuy Hoa beach 

So far, I’ve found the waves on the beaches of South Vietnam to have a specific personality that I’ve never noticed on other beaches: they gather up high as they approach the shore, and then just as they break they kind of go “flumpf” (like the 10p marshmallow, remember those?). Their height instantly collapses and the energy is transferred into fast-spreading, hissing foam. 

On this beach, each approaching wave had a crest of foam as it travelled from sea to shore. It was so hypnotic, I could have watched for hours.  Tuy Hoa beach 

We filled the calorie deficit with snacks and a very big dinner. The restaurant seemed nice, but then we saw a vole scuttle across the floor. Then a rat. And then there was some definite squeaking coming from the flowerpots near our table. 

When the bill came I nearly did a squeak of my own. 506,000 dong! That’s just over £15! (To put this into context, we would normally expect to pay £3-4.) Just as frustrating was that I had learned the phrase “oi zoi oi!!” (an equivalent of “oh my god”) especially for this kind of occasion, but forget to use it. Oi zoi oi!!

Saturday 20th February

Miles: 67

 Map: Tuy Hoa to Doc Let beach 

Our coastal road started off quite dull in the morning, with us cycling between a wall and a sea wall.  Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa 

After not too long our path took us up along hills with enormous boulders that looked like giant pebbles. Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa  

Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa 

And breathtaking views of the South China Sea.  Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa  

Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa  Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa  
Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa 

We cycled along coastal cliffs and bays full of fishing boats (we had a little tail wind – WOW). Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa  

Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa 

We eventually joined up with a cramped section of highway 1, which carried on along the cliffs. It was very pretty, though as the road grew busier there was little opportunity for photos.  Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa  

Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa 
 Coastal road south of Tuy Hoa 

The road flattened out, which we were grateful for, as we still had a lot of miles to go! Cycling to Doc Let 

Our target for today was a hotel near a beach called Doc Let, which according to Lonely Planet is a beautiful, quiet alternative to the much more touristy Nha Trang. 

We turned off from the main road and suddenly it felt like the middle of nowhere. Cycling to Doc Let 

We arrived by Doc Let beach and found ourselves a hotel for 300 dong per night. For somewhere that’s meant to be a bit more remote, there were quite a lot of westerners (maybe they all read the Lonely Planet web page too).

Two firsts at the restaurant this evening. Number one: Eric had the dubious privilege of choosing which live fish would be meeting its doom for our dinner. Number two: as we left the restaurant we were handed a complimentary watermelon. Vietnam, you continue to surprise us. 

Sunday 21st February

Rest day

Doc Let beach is known for its calm, clear water and white sand. These are things which do not look that good on an overcast day.  Doc Let beach  

Doc Let beach 

We were also advised to stay to the north, as this has less rubbish. There was still quite a bit of rubbish on the north side. 

It was OK, but we both felt a bit underwhelmed. 

Despite the clouds and some drizzle we had a nice enough time there.

These are boats. Doc Let beach  

Starfish  Fishing boat at Doc Let beach 

The highlight of the day was playing with some local kids. We exchanged sand-related culture. They built a sand castle and dug a big hole with us. We made sand foot-caves (bury your foot with wet sand, then remove your foot – voila, foot cave!) and sand balls (balls made of sand) with them. 

As soon as I got a camera out they arranged themselves around me in perfect formation with great enthusiasm. That’s millennials for you.  Doc Let beach 

Very sweet kids. Though the “peace” sign doesn’t always translate well! 

In the late afternoon some blue sky emerged and the beach was transformed. The clear water turned iridescent blue, the sand went from grey to white. I began to see its charms, but not too long after this the sun set, and it was time to get back and seal the fate of another fish.  Doc Let beach 

Monday 22nd February

Miles: 44

 Map: Doc Let to Nha Trang 
Just a short distance today to drop into Nha Trang, Vietnam’s most popular beach resort. 

We cycled alongside big hills, before eventually joining a pretty coastal road where we cycled by lots of exclusive-looking beach resorts.  Cycling from Doc Let to Nha Trang  

Coastal road on the way to Nha Trang  Coastal road on the way to Nha Trang 

Nha Trang is much more built up compared to the other coastal cities and towns we’ve visited. Nha Trang 

I was wondering if Nha Trang would be my idea of a holiday nightmare – crowds, noise, rubbish, ripoff restaurants, tacky clubs and bars etc. But it is actually almost the opposite. The beach is clean, beautiful and well-kept, and while there are plenty of other tourists, it’s still easy to find a quiet spot.

Time to find our inner beach bum.  Nha Trang beach 


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