Phu Yen is another off the beaten track destination in Central Vietnam with pristine beaches, busy fisherman villages, glistening mini desserts, mouth-watering seafood and astounding natural landscapes. If you’re planning to travel to Phu Yen for a peaceful holiday, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
While attractions in Phu Yen are a bit similar to those in Quy Nhon, Phu Yen is a lesser-known destination which has only become (a bit) more popular thanks to the Vietnamese film “I see yellow flowers on the green grass”. Nonetheless, many people still call this land a sleeping beauty, waiting for the Charming Prince to come and wake her up.
Here is a Phu Yen travel guide crafted from local insights and our own experiences of travelling to Phu Yen in late August, 2016. If you’re looking for an off the beaten track destination in Vietnam, or already thinking of a trip to Phu Yen but not knowing much about the place, hopefully this blog post will help!
Where is Phu Yen in Vietnam?
Situated in the middle of Binh Dinh Province (Quy Nhon) and Khanh Hoa Province (Nha Trang), Phu Yen is a coastal province in the Central of Vietnam. Its capital is Tuy Hoa City.
Phu Yen remained unpopular to tourists for a long time as the province did not invest much in promoting its tourism. After the launch of the movie “I see yellow flowers on the green grass”, which was shot in Phu Yen, the province’s picturesque landscapes started to capture attention from Vietnamese tourists. Since then, tourists have flocked there to discover other lesser-known attractions in Phu Yen.
Attractions in Phu Yen
Travel to Phu Yen: Here are some of the most popular attractions in Phu Yen which you should consider visiting.
A small beach with the length of only 500 meters, Xep Beach is a quiet place suitable for those seeking peace and tranquility during their trip. There are black stones lining along the beach, adding some sharpness to the softness of the ocean.
You can climb onto a hill nearby for a sweeping view of Xep Beach from above. This hill became popular to tourists as the place where the children from “I see yellow flowers on the green grass” flew kites. In real life, this place is a small meadow where the locals’ cows are herded. I did not see any yellow flower there though, unfortunately.
How to get to Xep Beach? From Tuy Hoa city, drive around 12km north on the Highway 1 until you see the sign of Sao Viet Resort on the right. Turn right there.
Tip: It was extremely hot when we visited Xep Beach at 10am. Nobody was on the beach and we felt like burning when standing on the hill overlooking the whole area. We later learned that locals only visited Xep Beach in the afternoon to avoid the burning heat from the sun.
O Loan Lagoon
Since O Loan Lagoon is quite large, it’s not easy to identify the most picture-perfect corner to stop at. We rode along O Loan Lagoon under the heat of midday and stopped at a local seafood restaurant with a view of part of the lagoon. That view was not so impressive to be honest. Yet we had the chance to taste Blood Oyster: a must-try local cuisine.
Tip: Our advice is to avoid visiting this lagoon around noon time. The heat’s really unbearable and you won’t see anything nice anyway. The best time of the day to visit O Loan Lagoon is either during dusk or dawn.
Here are photos taken by others who were more fortunate in capturing beautiful moments of O Loan Lagoon.
Ganh Da Dia (or Ghenh Da Dia)
This landscape is the emblem of Phu Yen’s tourism. Nowhere in Vietnam can you find such a beautiful piece of art by nature: hundreds flat black stones are stacked on top of each other right next to the sea. It’s hard to believe this amazing structure was arranged totally by nature.
Located in Tuy Hoa City, Nhan Tower was built by the Cham people on top of the Nhan Mountain in the 12th century. Here you can have a beautiful view of Tuy Hoa city with the Da Rang River flowing by.
Tip: You can ride motorbike / drive car directly to the top of Nhan Mountain. The mountain’s height is only around 60 meters.
Mui Dien Cape – the easternmost point of Vietnam’s territory
Theoretically speaking, Mui Dien Cape is the first location in Vietnam to receive sunlight for a new day. After climbing steps for around 30 minutes (slow pace), you will reach the foot of the Mui Dien Lighthouse. Climbing up to the lighthouse gives a stunning view of the sea below.
From the Lighthouse you can also climb out to Mui Dien. It’s a bit hard to climb out here so mind you step!
Tip: Interested in visiting the northernmost point of Vietnam’s territory as well? Check it out here.
Bai Mon Beach
Bai Mon Beach can be accessed from the entrance to Mui Dien area as well. You need to pay an entrance fee and also a parking fee (very cheap!). There are shower rooms near the entrance for you to change before walking 200 meters to the beach.
Now here’s the interesting part. As you walk to the beach from the entrance gate, you will first be able to see the Mui Dien Lighthouse on top of the hill on your right hand. As you walk further, a gorgeous landscape of yellow sand dunes on the left, a clear channel in the middle and a green hill on the right will leave you stunned. You can even see fish swimming in this clear channel. And finally, the beach! Bai Mon Beach is nestled between 2 hills with the length of only 400 meters. Its clear water, smooth sand and amazing view will not disappoint you.
Tip: The beach is most deserted at around 2-3pm, when the sun still shines quite brightly. Come here at this time and make the beach your own!
From Mui Dien and Bai Mon, continue driving forward and you will soon arrive at a lively fisherman village. The smell of fresh fish is unmistakable. This place is called Vung Ro – a small busy bay with lots of fishing activities going on. You can stop by at a local boat house to buy fresh seafood and taste them right there (the locals can help you cook).
How to get to Phu Yen – Travel to Phu Yen
Flights to Phu Yen
There are daily flights to Phu Yen from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Airways and Vietjet Air. Flights to Phu Yen from these 2 cities take roughly an hour each.
Tuy Hoa airport is situated quite close to the sea. That’s why when our plane started to land, for a moment I did think that we’d be landing on water. Our airplane was the only one landing at the scarily deserted Tuy Hoa Airport at that time. I could even see cows peacefully chewing grass only several meters from the landing area. Welcome to the countryside, mate!
Since the airport is not so close to the city center where most hotels are, you need to take a taxi. The taxi ride from Tuy Hoa Airport to Sai Gon Phu Yen Hotel where we stayed cost 80 000 VND. Not so expensive!
Trains and buses to Phu Yen
Alternatively, you can also travel to Phu Yen by train (around 12 hours) or bus (13 hours) from Hanoi and HCM. The night train with berths to Phu Yen is also available. It’s simply like travelling from Hanoi to Sapa. There are buses and trains connecting Phu Yen with other provinces, too.
It takes around 11 – 13 hours to go by bus from HCM to Phu Yen. My favorite website for booking bus / coach tickets from HCM / Hanoi to Phu Yen is vexere.com. Here you can choose from a list of buses based on the departing time and duration. Then just pay online with your credit card.
It should not be difficult at all to travel to Phu Yen 🙂
How to get around Phu Yen
In Tuy Hoa, we rented a motorbike and basically rode from our hotel to all the attractions in Phu Yen. The price of renting motorbike in Tuy Hoa is 80 000 – 100 000 VND per bike per day. For scooters, it costs up to 160 000 VND per day. You will have to give your passport or driving license to the bike’s owner as a guarantee.
For renting motorbike in Tuy Hoa, contact the following numbers: 09 3535 6893 or 0971 045 988. I have no idea if they speak English or not, so maybe you’ll want to ask the hotel’s receptionist to help you make a booking? They’ll bring their bike to your hotel within 15 minutes after the call.
Unlike in Quy Nhon, attractions in Phu Yen are more sparsely distributed. Most famous attractions are located from half-an-hour to one-hour drive to the north and south from the city center. Such rides for the whole day with the motorbike can be exhausting.
Another option is to rent a car in Phu Yen and drive by yourself. This option will prevent you from getting fatigued under the searing heat in this central province. Car renting is suitable for groups of 3 travellers and more. Contact 0933514155 / 0919196192 for renting a car in Phu Yen. A 5-seat car costs around 700 000 VND per day. Again I’m not sure if they speak English so you might ask your hotel reception to help.
Where to stay in Phu Yen – Accommodation in Phu Yen
The nicest hotels in Phu Yen are Cendeluxe (5 stars), Vietstar (5 stars) and Kaya (4 stars). If you’re looking for high-end accommodation in Phu Yen such as these two, do NOT stay at Sai Gon Phu Yen Hotel. Despite its ranking at 4 stars, this hotel is old, untidy and lacking of staff. The service was okay though.
In addition, there are other smaller hotels in Phu Yen as well, such as Hung Vuong and Long Beach (3 stars), Thanh Long (2 stars). Before booking a hotel, the most important thing is to check its location: whether it’s close to the beach, convenient to travel to most attractions in Phu Yen, close to restaurants and so on.
Check out a full list of accommodations in Phu Yen here!
Cuisines in Phu Yen – What to eat in Phu Yen
Here are some addresses for delicious local cuisines in Tuy Hoa City when you travel to Phu Yen:
Seafood: 74B Hung Vuong St.
Vietnamese Pancake with Seafood topping: 20 Le Thanh Ton St.
Grilled pork rolls: 159 Le Thanh Ton St. (Recommended!)
Goat Hotpot: 238 Le Lot St.
Smoothie and sweet porridge: In front of the address 199 Tran Hung Dao St.
Coconut smoothie: Totally a must-try! You can order this tasty smoothie in almost all coffee shops in Tuy Hoa.
And did I mention that prices for eating out in Phu Yen are mostly up to 50% cheaper than in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City?
Phu Yen Itinerary 4 days
As previously mentioned, some attractions in Phu Yen are located in the north and others in the south of Tuy Hoa’s Center, where your hotel is most likely situated. Therefore, it is advisable to spend one whole day visiting all attractions in the north and the other day for those in the south (or vice versa).
Here is our Phu Yen Itinerary for 4 days:
Travel to Phu Yen
Day 1: Arrive in Phu Yen by airplane from Hanoi and HCMC (both in the afternoon). Walk around Tuy Hoa city center. Enjoy seafood and other local cuisines.
Day 2: Head north to Xep Beach, O Loan Lagoon and Ghenh Da Dia / Ganh Da Dia
Day 3: Head south to Mui Dien Cape, Bai Mon Beach and Vung Ro
Day 4: Visit Nhan Tower in Tuy Hoa city. Fly back to Hanoi / HCM (both in the afternoon)
So to top it off…
I hope this Phu Yen travel guide will prove helpful for all of you when planning to travel to Phu Yen. If you have any other question about travel to Phu Yen, attractions in Phu Yen, accommodation in Phu Yen and so on, don’t hesitate to contact me or comment below!
Have you been to Phu Yen already? Feel free to share your experiences here as well!