Phan Thiet is one of Vietnam’s busiest coastal towns. Because it offers a number of unique attractions that are far from the bustle of urban development, it is the perfect retreat from nearby cities Hanoi and Saigon, which are much busier. As the capital of the Binh Thuan province, Phan Thiet is home to nearly 250,000 inhabitants who live across four wards and the vibrant city center. While most of the local economy centers on fisheries and fish product manufacturing, its beautiful beaches and resorts are slowly transforming Phan Thiet into one of Vietnam’s most desirable tourist attractions.
A Brief History of Phan Thiet
The area that is now known as Phan Thiet first existed under the rule of the ancient kingdom of Champa. In 1697, the area, which was then called Binh Thuan, became its own district before officially being recognized as a “dao.” Two centuries later, the area would become a province in 1825 under the reign of Emperor Minh Mang.
As parts of the areas continued to develop into smaller districts, the Minh administration thought it was important to establish land boundaries around the 300 communes and villages that populated nearly fifteen districts. The administration completed this process near the end of the 19th century, but Phan Thiet was still officially unrecognized as an administrative unit within the Binh Thuan.
It would take the reign of Emperor Thanh Thai to recognize Phan Thiet’s borders by moving the Binh Thuan provincial capital to the village of Phu Tai, a suburb of Phan Thiet. By October 1898, a formal decree issued Phan Thiet a city of Binh Thuan and its capital.
When to Visit
Like many provinces in Vietnam, Binh Thuan gets its most inclement weather in the summer, when rainfall is at its heaviest. Phan Thiet receives as much as 1289 millimeters of rain per year, which is almost 51 inches, with nearly one-sixth of its rainfall occurring during the month of July.
Phan Thiet’s tropical climate is a bit more visitor-friendly and drier between September and May. Expect the least amount of rain in February or visit during May before the onslaught of hurricane and monsoon season. Interestingly, Phan Thiet’s most popular beach, Mui Ne, features a dry climate that remains nearly rain-free almost year-round. If you decide to visit during Phan Thiet’s rainy months, Mui Ne could be the perfect getaway from the turbulent weather.
Attractions Near Phan Thiet
Phan Thiet’s most popular attractions integrate its fishery economy with its gorgeous tropical climate. Visitors can experience the conveniences of modern-day life as well as the relics and beauty of its history. Because Phan Thiet remains untouched by urban development, its natural attractions, like the Red and White Sand Dunes, remain relatively intact for visitors of all backgrounds to enjoy.
Other attractions near Phan Thiet include:
Mui Ne Fishing Village
Swing by this fishing harbor in the early morning to check out the fresh scallops, stingrays, and crabs caught by Phan Thiet’s local fishermen. The Mui Ne Fishing Village stretches across the coastline of the beach, and visitors can browse for fresh seafood under the shade of palm trees. When you’re ready for a quick bite, stop by any one of Mui Ne’s Fishing Village’s seafood restaurants for lunch or buy a treat from the connected gift shops.
Ham Tien (The “Fairy Stream”)
Named for its sparkling layers of colored sand, the “Fairy Stream” is famous for slowly carving a canyon through Phan Thiet’s dunes over hundreds of years. Photographers find its breathtaking landscape of red, white, and pink especially photo-worthy. The stream’s waters are so clear, you can see down to its deepest depths from the nearby shade of its coconut palm trees. If you are hungry after your hike, you can visit any of the many adjacent restaurants and bars located upstream.
Tai Cu Mountain
Over 250,000 square meters, or almost 2.7 million square feet, of lush rainforest and limestone caves make up the beautiful Tai Cu Mountain, where visitors can marvel at its many Buddhist statues. Hop aboard the 10-minute cable-car ride if you’d love a glimpse of nearby towns like Thuan Nam and Ham Thuan An Sea. If you go for the two-hour hike instead, be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring along plenty of water!
Tai Cu’s main attraction is one of the biggest reclining Buddhas in Vietnam, standing 49 meters long.
Popular Tours in Phan Thiet
Because Mui Ne Beach is the main attraction of Phan Thiet, most tours offered here will bring you to this ever-popular location. “Dirt bike” tours are by far the most popular way to experience the coast of the Mui Ne Beach. Attendees are provided with solid safety gear and modern dirt bikes that are ideal for every rider’s size and ability. On the beginner and expert trails, tourists will enjoy a three-hour off-road experience, offering them a comprehensive adventure through Mui Ne. When visiting, try the Panda Enduro or Easyrider Munie to experience Mui Ne’s thrilling scenery safely. Dirt bike tours may vary by the size of your party or preferred tour, so book directly with your selected company, which can also advise you about rates.
Other tours, like the Vietnam Balloons tours, offer a more romantic and relaxing option for couples and families to enjoy. Travel serenely above Phan Thiet’s skies and experience its sand dunes, rainforests, and beaches from an elevated and peaceful view. Hot air balloon tours in Munie, which are all manned by a pilot, start at $130-plus for four hours.
Dining in Phan Thiet
Phan Thiet’s expansive fishery industry means that seafood is the most popular type of cuisine found in the city’s extensive network of restaurants and bars. Visit Pham Van Dong Street just outside the Tran Hung Dao bridge to see a wide selection of local Phan Thiet seafood, including snails, squid, shrimp, prawns, lobsters, and much more.
If you’d rather try the delicacies of local chefs, try exploring along the coast of Mui Ne for some of Phan Thiet’s most noteworthy and well-known establishments, including:
Sindbad: Sindbad is famous for its deviation from standard Vietnamese fare, opting for a more Mediterranean or European approach to seafood. Enjoy stunning coastal views while sampling traditional Greek and Italian dishes like kebabs and bruschetta, as well as a selection of familiar wine and American and German beers.
The Dong Vui Food Court: Those looking for a more authentic dining experience will find this at the Dong Vui Food Court. Walk along the many stalls and choose from a variety of traditional Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, and Chinese flavors. The food is cooked fresh at the stalls, which gives diners an up-close and personal experience.
Breeze Restaurant & Bar: Breeze offers a more lounge/club-like experience for visitors at its location along the coastline. Thanks to a DJ and two open pools, Breeze has a lively and fun atmosphere and offers a wide selection of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options until late at night. Diners especially love the affordable drink selections and the flavorful menu staples like the mango curry, Italian-style pizza, and – of course – the seafood!
Phan Thiet’s gorgeous land and fascinating history will provide hours of adventure and fun in a single trip. Be sure to schedule a number of desired touring stops to experience as much as you can during your stay. When you’re ready to explore outside of Phan Thiet, a new adventure is just a car ride away:
Distance to Ho Chi Minh City: 98 miles, or about an hour
Distance to Nha Trang: 151 miles, or about three hours away
Distance to Can Tho: 215 miles, or about three hours and 40 minutes
Distance to Cam Ranh: 121 miles, or two hours and 25 minutes