Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

by Long Vu
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Quiet beach with romantic scenery, isolated islands and marvelous stone cliffs, Phu Yen is truly a precious gem in Southern Vietnam. Let’s find out why Phu Yen is so attractive and alluring!

I. Phu Yen’s location 

Phu Yen is a coastal province, lying in the Central of Vietnam, between Binh Dinh Province (Quy Nhon) and Khanh Hoa Province (Nha Trang). The biggest and most populated city in Phu Yen is Tuy Hoa city, yet the city remained unknown to the mass public because its government did not invest much in fields of tourism. It is not until the launch of the movie Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass (Toi thay hoa vang tren co xanh) which was shot in Phu Yen that these picturesque landscapes started to draw attention from tourists in Vietnam. They, since then, flocked to this untouched and beautiful place to discover Phu Yen.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

Encompassing a wide variety of mountains lagoons, fertile plains, and rivers with over 200 kilometers of shoreline along the curving south-central coast of Vietnam. With less reputation than the famous Nha Trang, Phu Yen is a great alternative for those who fancy a quiet and peaceful beach shore where they can enjoy patches of golden sand to themselves.

If you are a person who always yearns for adventures, then Phu Yen can also provide you with one of the most exciting ones with all its ancient remnants and water sports here. There are also ports, mountains and bays nearby where tourists can explore a tropical forest full of rare and exotic plants and animals. You are about to have one of the vacations of your life in Phu Hoa with all the relaxation and services it has to offer here.

II. A Brief History of The Land and why it’s worth visiting

Phu Yen once belonged to the Champa Kingdom, who ruled central Vietnam from the 2nd to 17th century until Dai Viet (a strong and powerful kingdom, in Northern Vietnam) invaded the land and claimed it their own. They absorbed the Champa kingdom and remained the land “Phu Yen” as it is called today. In Vietnamese, “Phu Yen” means future prosperity and peaceful – the hope that did not last when the Vietnam War happened.

In 1975, Phu Yen was set free from the Saigon government’s ruling after the end of the Vietnam War. Step by step, this land grows into the ideal point of interest like it is now.

III. Weather and Best time to visit Phu Yen

Because Phu Yen is beach-front, it has all the features of a tropical island one can ask or. So basically, you just need to avoid the storm season which takes place from September to November every year, then you are all good to go any time.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

Its sunny season starts from January to mid-August. This time is also the period when most exciting local festivals taking place, which is a perfect time for sight-seeing.

From April to May, the weather in Phu Yen is especially hot, combined with Vietnam’s signature humidity, it is a great ideal that tourists bring sun cream, water, and long-sleeves clothes with them.

May to July is the peak of domestic tourist season, so if you plan to visit Phu Yen at this time, prepare to see crowds in the hottest spot of this tropical island. If you prefer quiet and relaxing holidays, it is a good ideal you avoid this period.

IV. How to get to Phu Yen, Vietnam

Since Phu Yen is a province located in Vietnam’s South Central Coast, it would make an ideal additional destination in your Ho Chi Minh City Tour. There are many ways you can get to Phu Yen from there, namely by train, plane or bus.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

By bus or private van

With just 180,000 to 300,000 VND per ticket at East bus station, you can travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Yen. With people who prefer maximum relaxation and comfort, a private van is a perfect choice! 

By Train

You can also choose train to travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Yen by train SE2 or SE4. If you should take the night train, you will get to Phu Yen in the following morning with full rest to enjoy your holiday there!. 

By Airplane

If you are not in Ho Chi Minh or just want to travel by plane, you can get to Tuy Hoa Airport from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City airport! Tuy Hoa airport is just 10 km away from the city center, so tourists will need to arrange their own transportation to the booked accommodation beforehand or they’ll have to call a cab or private van to pick them up to move on.

V. Where to visit in Phu Yen?

Phu Yen province is the heart of many religious and historic remains, but today, it is best known for its beaches and bays. You can combine these destinations or choose among them based on your preference.

1. Bai Xep

This short beach, especially the two sets of sea cliffs on either end is so beautiful that it attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world to come here and take some pictures for your Instagram feed. With just 500 meters in length, the beach looks exactly like a small kingdom that is isolated.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Instagram @tphien1912

If you climb up the cliff, there is a good chance you can clearly see your friend beneath – and who can deny the temptation of fresh air with the unique smell of the green grass and salty vibe from the ocean? Its tranquility and breathtaking features will absolutely blow your mind.

Bai Xep is over 14 kilometers far from Tuy Hoa. Located in district Tuy An, Bai Xep is not something you can walk to if you stay in Phu Yen’s capital town – but the distance is worth it when you witness the beauty of this place.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Instagram @chubby1603

2. Mon Beach – Mui Dien (Dien Cape)

The very own charm of Mon beach is the tranquility and comfort coming from its own wild and untouched nature. You can expect all the freshness and relaxation when coming here while watching its crystal clear seawater and golden sand stretching out the shore. From here, there is one activity you can not miss: watching the sun rises since Mon beach is located at the easternmost point of the country. In other words, this place is also called “Vietnam’s earliest dawn land”.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

Being the very first place in the country to watch the sunrise, Mon beach, especially Dai Lanh Cape is very attractive for both domestic and international tourists. Therefore, even though Dai Lanh Cape is 35 kilometers from the capital city of Phu Yen, many go a long way here just to catch the sunrise; or, you can easily choose an accommodation here.

3. Vung Ro Bay

The location of Vung Ro Bay is very ideal in Vietnam’s geology since it overlooks many beautiful beaches and ocean, yet has forested mountains to back it up, such as Hon Ba, Deo Ca, and Da Bia peak. Spreading over an area of 16.4 square kilometers, Vung Ro Bay is a tourist hot spot since it is nestled in the commune of Dong Hoa District, Hoa Xuan Nam, and at the edge of Ca Pass so the drive, from wherever you are, is absolutely scenic.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

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Visiting Vung Ro Bay, you can watch everything, from the unbroken scenery of the bay’s crystal clear water with tranquil fishing villages, green mountains, to energetic and clear white sandy beaches. The main bay is where hundreds of fish farms, wooden fishing boats, and floating homes gather.

Coming here, do not forget to enjoy a cool beer while floating on the blue lagoon. There are several seafood restaurants that offer fresh-catch dishes and centers providing recreation options such as snorkeling, jet-skiing, and visiting historical relics for interested visitors.

4. Van Hoa Plateau

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Instagram @lilinhly

Van Hoa Plateau is nestled at 400 meters height, Son Hoa District. If you are fond of tropical forest nature, the beauty of mountainous features like the trees, wild animals and even the gentle light of the sun and the smell of the wind can open the door to heaven on earth for you.

There are also national historic relics for history lovers to discover like the Uncle Ho House of worship or the military center of Phu Yen province base. And one more thing: Do not leave Van Hoa Plateau without trying some pineapples or jackfruits – these are the regional specialties.

5. Da Dia Reef (Ganh Da Dia)

The name Da Dia Reef, in Vietnamese literally means “the sea cliffs of stone plates” – and from this very exciting name, you, for sure, can’t miss this unbelievable destination.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

The whole thing is simply a natural masterpiece with millions of basalt rocks inconceivable shapes stacked together to become an amazingly high and large complex of columns. The rocky landscape spreads over a kilometer of the area and just along the sea’s edge. Some even call this site a giant black beehive. The reason for its unique structure is because of the eruption of a volcanic from millions of years ago. When the burning lave fell into the cold seawater, the molten lava was cooled down and harden, creating its shape to today’s organized rocky phenomenon.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

Unlike many other places in Phu Yen, Da Dia Reef is always crowded since, besides these places, there are only three more places on earth that bear a similar magnificent phenomenon. So there are no surprises that people from all over the world HAVE TO come to this famous reef to take pictures and admire magical views. Many couples come here for their wedding shoot, while others just need a picture of the out-of-this-world-view for their Instagram feed. But remember to bring sun cream, hats, and water with you since this area is really sunny and hot.

6. Nhan mountain 

If you climb to the top of Nhan mountain, you will surely have the overview of Tuy Hoa City with its lush rice paddles and evergreen forest. You will also have an amazing experience of watching the panoramic view of the sunset from this 64 meters high summit. Tourists will have the chance to discover an ancient Champa relics from the 11 century  built on the top of the mountain.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Flickr – Dũng Mạnh

This Champa structure is called Nhan Tower – a symbol of Phu Yen’s original founders, the Cham people. You are free to visit its worshipping place, enjoy the evergreen scenery of the forest and Tuy Hoa City as well as taking some photos to show your friends at home.

7. Mang Lang Church 

Built in 1892 by Joseph de La Cassagne, Mang Lang church is one of the oldest ones in Vietnam and Indochina combined. With its long and mysterious history, this is one of the hottest tourist spots in Phu Yen. The church, also known as Eglise de Mang Lang is just a 10-minute ride away from the famous Da Dia reef.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Flickr – Ba Khang

From the first look, you will understand why this church is so famous for its gothic structure with grey paint covered the whole artistic style of the church. Not only inspired many poets and artists for its aesthetic vibe, but the church is also home to Bishop Alexandre de Rhode and, more important, home to Vietnam’s first national book. You can witness the book preserved in a glass cabinet along with many other important pieces of historical evidence for over 120 years. With its unique beauty and glamour of history and artistry, Mang Lang church is a big MUST for those visiting Phu Yen.

8. Xuan Dai Bay

Covering 13,000 hectares, this wide, beautiful and rare bay is an ideal destination for those loving tranquility since it is still little-known to the public. 50 kilometers away from the capital city – Tuy Hoa, this bay has so many small and beautiful beaches with untouched scenery. Tourists can visit many hot spots from here, such as Mu U peninsula, small islet, like Ong Xa islet, as well as Da Mai mountain. You can also visit the famous Ganh Dia reef from here.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Instagram @nny.by

And the special thing about this beautiful bay is that, after enjoying the scenic beauty of natural, tourists can also watch the daily life of the local fishermen living nearby. They just need to get to Om beach, an ideal beach for camping – lovers. You can totally camp there to enjoy a morning sunset, or have an unforgettable experience when watching how Vietnamese fishermen work while listening to all the stories and legends in the region.

9. Ong Cop Bridge

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

The bridge is also called Tuy An Bridge. It is the longest wooden bridge in Vietnam, connecting Tuy An District with Song Cau District. With its length for about 400 meters, the bridge starts to get noticed by international media in 2007 by appearing in a reality show in Vietnam Amazing Race. Opposed to its old and simple structure, the bridge is well-preserved so do not be afraid and just step on it! You will need only 10 minutes to walk across it, but if you bring a camera with you, you may need a little more time to totally catch all aesthetic scenes!

10. Chop Chai mountain

Another mountain helping you get a bird view of the lovely Tuy Hoa city is Chop Chai mountain. But one thing special about this peak is that you will see a military unit guarding on it, so you must talk to the soldiers there to get in to take pictures, but there is a high chance the station photography will be refused.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Instagram @vinhvien93

But do not worry, this mountain has more than that. With its 391 meters in height, you will see everything, from the tranquil paddle field to crystal clear ocean and even several historic and religious temples in the region like Minh Son, Hoa Son, Khanh Son, and Bao Lam pagoda on the foot of the mountain.

11. Da Trang Pagoda and Mountain 

Da Trang mountain is a place where visitors can explore both the beauty of nature and the myth of historical temples. One of the most famous religious sights is Da Trang Pagoda, a holy place that attracting many domestic visitors and pilgrims every year. The pagoda is a lovely and small place to cool down after a hard mountain hiking.

For history and culture hypers, the pagoda has much to say. It was 100 years old and honored by the emperor in 1889, but then burnt to the ground in 1929. Thanks to a huge number of Buddhists all over Vietnam, Da Trang Pagoda was restored and recognized as a crucial cultural heritage site.

12. Hon Yen

If you are tired of adventures in the forest, it is time to merge yourself in the cool fresh water from a beautiful beach in Vietnam: Hon yen beach. Hon Yen is a very small island so it is easy for travelers to have panorama sights of it. Many tourists call this “heaven for diving and coral seeing” for a reason. The wind, the water, and humidity on this small island make it a perfect site for sight-seeing and coral diving. You can also rent a canoe to have a short ride around this lovely pearl.

13. The pretty nature of Phu Yen

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

In Phu Yen, during summer and spring, people are all about the picture-perfect wheat fields and wildflower gardens. There are a lot of flowers you can expect to see like sunflowers, tulips, lavender and so on. And do not forget the stunning, picturesque wheat fields with layers of lovely white, feather-like plants covering a large area of the mountain and some drops of palm trees behind.

Every year, many young Vietnamese girls dress up (this year’s trend is boho!) to take photoshoot here, do not be surprised if you see so many young and pretty girls wandering around this area!

14. And one last thing: Watching sunrises!

Wherever you go, whichever place you visit, it is a pity if you come to the very point of Vietnam without watching the magical sunrises in Phu Yen. And it is not just about the natural, but they’re also early-risers who are fishermen, farmers, and students who need to wake up early for a long day ahead.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

You will experience first-hand how an early day starts in this lovely city of Vietnam with traditional boats quietly make it way to the ocean for a morning catch, the sound of the cocks, and the fantastic moment when light starting to coloring the whole landscape like a wake-up call. And for those interested, you may see some cows – yes, cows, strolling along the beach if you are lucky enough.

VI. What to do in Phu Yen?

1. Exploring Tuy Hoa city

Tuy Hoa is the capital city of Phu yen, so for sure, you will have the chance to see and experience a lot here. Apart from all the beautiful natural and historical sites, Tuy Hoa is also the center of economic life, so you will love taking a walk around this city to see how different life is from Vietnam’s cities and your own country.

You will also love going to the suburbs of Tuy Hoa, with many traditional villages here. The most prominent is Ngoc Lang commune – the home to endless fields of green herbs and vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, and coriander. You can also see many temples and pagodas with a unique design, which plays a crucial part in Vietnam’s daily life. 

2. Visiting the 1st April Square in Phu Yen

In the afternoon, you can go to the “1/4” square (named after the peace date in Phu Yen province) and drink sugarcane juice (sugarcane, natural sweet juice) with the sea breeze. And this is also the focus area of many children, young people, city people at night time to come here to exercise, walk, talk to each other … Sitting here you can feel the beat Everyone’s life is quite slow compared to other cities.

3. Visit Salt Making Village

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

Tuyet Diem, in Vietnamese means “salts that as white as the snow” – and you shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the small village that producing these pure white salt grains. The village has a 300-year experience of making salt and today, they are still living on salt farms and collecting salt mineral by hand. This is a wonderful chance for kids and youngsters to see how salt is processed from scratch and even make some themselves! Tourists can also buy some of these interesting souvenirs to bring home.

In Phu Yen, there are two more traditional salt making villages, namely Trung Trinh and Le Uyen.

4. Camping on Lao Mai Nha islet 

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Instagram @huuanhnguyen

If you are up to some adventurous experience, do not miss out on the chance to camp on Lao Mai Nha islet, a small islet that just 4km away from O Loan lagoon. With just 1.2 kilometers of area, it is surprising that nature here remains completely untouched. The beauty of the beach and peace of nature make Lao Mai Nha islet an ideal place for camping and fish hunting on the beach.

5. Sailing, kayaking, and swimming

With all the beautiful beaches in Phu Yen, you should never miss out on the chance to enjoy the cool and clear water here or engaging yourself in several water-related activities like sailing, kayaking, and even zip-lining!

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Luxury Travel

Where to do it? Most travelers love swimming in the mainstream beaches like Mon beach or Long Thuy beach. However, you should try sailing and kayaking on small islets, like Lao Mai Nha or Xuan Dai Bay, and O Loan Lagoon. Importantly, if you are an early riser, there is a high chance that you will be treated to a spectacular sunrise swim at dawn – it is the experience of a lifetime! 

6. Biking or driving its coastal highway 

For adventure seekers, Phu Yen can be the best place to enjoy outdoor activities that you would love like biking or driving on its coastal highway. With the fabulous terrain, you are free to discover Phu Yen’s picturesque highway alongside the beach, enjoy the panoramic views from the top of the mountain, or have some party on the private boat while enjoying the fresh scene of the bays.

7. Hiking Nhan mountain

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Unsplash – Usman Omar

Talking of mountain hiking, there is no way Nhan mountain is missed out. This famous mountain is the most famous hiking destination for both domestic and international travelers every year. With Nhan Tower on the top and stunning scenery of wild nature, all efforts and hardships to climb such a high mountain will be worth it!

8. Nightlife in Phu Yen

If you think Phu Yen has some highly-charged places like many big cities do all around the world, you are totally wrong. Phu Yen is not exactly a place of nightlife hypers, but you will find some special places to savor a nice cold beer or pubs with acoustic live music with open space for all to enjoy.

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Unsplash – Kelly Sikkema

You can also walk down the streets to find some local restaurants and enjoy what local people eat – these places can be a hidden gem that you never know until you order the food. For disco lovers, Tuy Hoa’s lushest hotels have so many to offer. Prepare to drink some tropical fruity cocktails and enjoying the glittering view of city life on the highest floor of the hotel or bar. If you like the sky lounges, Tuy Hoa has a few for you, too.

9. Phu Yen Shopping 

Buying souvenirs while traveling is a big must for most travelers, and like any other places with booming tourism, Phu Yen has a wide range of goods for tourists to choose (or buy them all). Most head for Tran Hung Dao Street, where numerous local shops and the huge Tuy Hoa market are located. This is where you can find everything, from handmade crafts, food to clothing and more. If you prefer shopping center, Phu Vuong Street is the place to go, with pleasant, luxurious and high-end goods.

You can also buy goods from traditional villages outside Tuy Hoa city. One of the most famous souvenirs is the dried bird-nest soup, which used to be a nutrient and luxurious dish exclusively for the royal in the past. The birds make their nests from their own saliva and the nests are harvested twice a year. And its price? It can go as high as $2,000 per kilogram because all Asians believe that the food helps eaters to be more healthy and boosting virility.

VII. The food you should not miss when visiting Phu Yen

It comes as no surprise to people as Phu yen is the heart of the most amazing seafood because it is right on the coast. But tourists may be surprised by what is on the menu. Here, you will see dishes that beyond your imagination like Tuna’s eye soup, fermented fish or beans. There are also normal dishes that can satisfy the pickiest eaters like fish cake noodle soup (Banh Canh He), chicken rice (Com Ga), and fresh Vietnamese spring rolls

1. Salted anchovy

If you need to talk about just one Vietnam’s seasoning in its hundreds of herbs, powders, and fermented stuff, that thing must be the fish sauce, made of salted fish. And in Phu Yen, you will have the chance to witness how fishermen catch their anchovy in the early months of the year. Here in Phu Yen, people make fish sauce with anchovy (Mắm Cá Cơm) to have the thickest and most delicious fish sauce all over Vietnam. You will have the chance to see people make the sauce from 300 to 400 kilograms of fish, put them in a wooden box for more than half a year until the fish starts to melt into the thick and full-of-protein sauce. 

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Pixabay – asjjuni0

You should try some slices of pineapples with this Salted Anchovy since the sauce reduce the sour and acid in pineapple while the fragrant of the fruit reduces the strong smell of the sauce. If Westerners have Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as the dynamic duo, here in Phu Hoa, pineapple and salted anchovy is the perfect couple for a rainy day.

2. Seafood

As mentioned above, tourists can enjoy all kinds of fresh seafood when coming to Phu Yen, namely grilled tuna, steamed tuna eyeball (which is believed to be very good for kids’ eyes) and even a delicious boat of fresh-cut sashimi! With several fishing villages and harbors, the large, freshly-catch tuna and other fish are brought into a huge warehouse to be chopped up and packed to overland in just a short amount of time.

3. And other famous Vietnamese dishes

Phu Yen: A guide to explore the beautiful land of Southern Vietnam

Source: Instagram @foodholicvn

You can enjoy other famous Vietnamese food, such as Banh Canh Hẹ (Cake soup with Chinese Chives), Chả Dông and Nem Nướng (Spring roll with grilled chopped Dong mixture), Bánh Bèo (Water Fern Cake). The main focus of Phu Yen cuisine is fresh vegetables with strong and sweet sauce, served with grilled or steamed protein. Generally, these kinds of combinations are very healthy, yet still, remain delicious!

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