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Phan ThietCentral and the coast line of Vietnam ( includes Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Phan Rang, My Lai, central highland...) is featured by lots of lovely beaches. With 3,260km-long coastline, Vietnam has numerous pristine plages, of which those in the Centre are highly recommended for their amazingly crystal water, rich of sunlight, less of rivermouths, and flat shore dotted by fishing villages; few of them have been developed as comfortable resorts like Non Nuoc Beach, Nha Trang or Phan Thiet. Yet, should you turn West, you will meet an absolute different topography near the Lao border ? the fertile plateaus cultivated for industry trees plantation and cattle farming. It's Tay Nguyen ? "the Plateau in the West". There are also lots of minority groups inhabit this area with those customs and conducts that are very unlike their brothers in Northern Vietnam. Their festive days and exciting daily life, the highland scenery and the sea and mountain resorts ? all make a voyage to the Centre of Vietnam so diversified and memorable.

Further south - Phan Thiet Phan Rang and Thap Cham Pklong Garai Cham Tower
My Lai Hill tribe villages  


Further south - Phan Thiet

Phan ThietPhan Thiet is an old Cham outpost with a population of 75,000 people. Its renown for its large fishing fleet and is famous for "nuoc mam", or fish sauce, the traditional and most popular dipping sauce in Vietnam. The particular smell of fish and fish sauce permeates the downtown area as Phan Thiet river cuts right through the centre of the town. It is also packed with boats. The fishing village at Mui Ne is very picturesque with its hundreds of multicolored boats.

There is also a beach a few km to the east of the town. But the bigger draw is Mui Ne Beach, 22km again to the east of the town. The road to Mui Ne is stunning with sand dunes on the one side and a relatively unspoiled beach on the other. Beautiful, majestic coconut trees are in abundance on both sides of the road.

Phan Rang and Thap Cham

Phan RangPhan Rang is actually composed of twin towns; Phan Rang and Thap Cham. It is a small town on the coast with its main attraction being Cham historical remnants and towers in the surrounding area. The Cham Empire thrived in and around Phan Rang from around the 8th century its fall in the 17th century. The Phan Rang region is very dry, as it manages to avoid the summer and winter monsoons. It averages only 60cm of rain per year. The immediate area around Phan Rang is very beautiful and is interspersed with grape gardens and is the home of the best dragon fruit in Vietnam.

Pklong Garai Cham Tower

Pklong Garai Cham TowerThe main attraction in Phan Rang is a small group of Cham towers which sit by the roadside 7 km on the road to Dalat. These towers were built in the early 14th century as Hindu temples during the Cham Empire. They have been beautifully preserved. The towers were named after the King who invented a system of irrigation used in local villages. As the tourist buses from Nha Trang to Dalat pass through Phan Rang, the Cham towers are seen as a convenient place to take a break along the way. The result of which is that the towers are periodically swarmed by travelers heading north and south. In the center of the largest temple is an ancient linga (phallic symbol) with a human face painted on it. The other towers still retain their beautiful shapes and the carved details are clearly visible.

My Lai

My laiOne of the vestiges of the war is the village of My Lai. It is situated 15 km North of Quang Ngai. The destruction of the entire village by Lieutenant Calley's men is probably the best documented military atrocity on record. The massacre occurred on 16 April 1968. On that day, 504 women, old men, children and babies were mindlessly slaughtered by Company C with almost no resistance. There is a museum with photos depicting the series of events on this horrific day. The atrocities took place at different sites within a two or three square kilometers area. Walking among the fields, you occasionally come across a memorial plaque indicating the number of people that died on that particular spot. Lieutenant Calley was later court-martialed in the US and sentenced to life in prison. However he only served three years in jail. After the US Supreme Court refused to hear his case, Calley was paroled. 

Hill tribe villages

Hill tribe villagesIf you time it is very worthwhile to take an excursion to visit the hill tribes. To get to the villages, follow the road heading to Dalat and the Cham Towers. Before reaching the Cham Towers there is a gas station situated on the right hand side. Turn right onto the dirt road just before the gas station. This private road leads to different villages where you will be able to see the different hill tribes. Noteworthy, while there, is a visit to view their irrigation system. You will find it quite interesting.

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