With its origins stretching back to the eleventh century, when it was founded by the Cham people of ancient Vietnam, the city of Quy Nhon is often overlooked. In recent memory, it is probably best known for its role as a naval and military base for US troops during the Vietnam War; other than that, Quy Nhon remains largely ignored, a one-paragraph entry in the guidebooks of Vietnam.
Quy Nhon is authentic Vietnam. Unlike Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang, all of which have become well-known tourist destinations for westerners, Quy Nhon remains off the beaten track. Quy Nhon is changing quickly, though; once little more than a fishing village, the small city is gradually shifting to align with western tourist interests.
The best part of Quy Nhon is the beach. With over 40 km of sand and waves, the beach and its smattering of coastal resort hotels is the main draw to Quy Nhon – and luckily, because the small city is as of yet fairly undiscovered, the beaches here aren't as crowded as they are in other Vietnamese holiday destinations.
Quy Nhon is the kind of town that the young, the adventurous, and backpackers are likely to find appealing, while the unspoilt coast outside shelters a handful of beach resorts that cater for the more upmarket traveller who craves tranquility and nature.
What you will find in Quy Nhon for now, however, is a friendly New Zealander known by her first name only: Barbara. Barbara runs Barbara's Kiwi Cafe, a pleasant mix of a bar, coffee shop, and hostel where the tired western visitor to Quy Nhon can find fish and chips and steaming mugs of proper black tea. Barbara can offer a bed for just about £1.50 per night, but again, don't expect high luxury.
Sites to See in Quy Nhon
Imagine warm waters lined by pine trees on gold-coloured sands, with ancient mountains fading into the skyline. This image is exactly what Quy Hoa Beach looks like, as idyllic a location as still exists in this world. It is this gorgeous, peaceful beach and the slow, old-fashioned pace of life that draws most holidaymakers to Quy Nhon.
Besides the beach, you might be interested in dropping by Quang Trung Museum, a history museum devoted to the Tay Son brothers, who led a revolt in the late eighteenth century. Something like the Vietnamese versions of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, the Tay Son brothers were almost like early renditions of the communists who would later come to dominate Vietnam. They confiscated the lands of the feudal lords, punishing them for their oppression and redistributing their land and possessions. The museum, despite being far removed from the normal tourist areas, has exhibits in English.
In all, Quy Nhon isn't some place you'd visit if you want to witness Vietnam's high culture and race around seeing all the sights. If, on the other hand, you'd like to play beach volleyball with the locals, explore authentic open-air markets, hang out with Kerouacian characters from around the world in the Kiwi Cafe, and experience life in a true Vietnamese fishing village, then Quy Nhon is the place for you.