Phan Thiet is a coastal city and the economic and cultural center of Binh Thuan Vietnam. The city not only possesses stunning natural landscapes, but it is also an enticing cultural tourism destination with diverse communities such as the Chinese and Cham people. When visiting Phan Thiet, you will not only have the opportunity to sightsee and admire the scenery but also indulge in a variety of delicious dishes.
1. Where is Phan Thiet? Is it worth visiting?
Phan Thiet, the capital of Binh Thuan Province in Vietnam’s southeast, lies about 215 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City. With a population of nearly 250,000 spread across 4 wards and a vibrant city center, it was traditionally known for fishing and fish products. However, its transformation into a vibrant tourist attraction is due to its beautiful beaches and resorts.
As you visit the city, you will be amazed by the breathtaking natural beauty and the diverse landscapes. Famous destinations are Mui Ne Beach, Mui Ne Fish Village, Red and White Sand Dunes, and so on, all of which will add extra excitement to your trip.
2. How to get to Phan Thiet Vietnam?
Phan Thiet, located about 215 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, is reachable by private car, train, or sleeper bus for a 4-hour journey. Here are your options for traveling from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet:
- Train: There are two daily departures from Saigon Train Station at 6:10 AM (SPT2) and 7:15 AM (SPT4). The train should arrive at Phan Thiet Train Station around 10:30 AM and 11:10 AM respectively. Ticket prices range from 7 to 12 USD. Guests will be offered free mineral water and cold towels.
- Sleeper Bus: High-quality sleeper buses offer convenience and affordability, with flexible schedules and pick-up and drop-off services. Operators like Phuong Trang (Futa), Hanh Cafe, Tam Hanh, and Kumho Samco offer trips for about 5-7 USD one-way.
- Private Car: If you are looking for comfort and privacy, consider a local travel agency that allows flexible departures and short breaks for photos along the scenic route.
Since there are no direct flights from Hanoi to Phan Thiet, the most convenient approach is to fly to Ho Chi Minh City and then board a train or sleeper bus to reach Phan Thiet City.
3. When is the best time to visit Phan Thiet?
Phan Thiet climate is influenced by tropical monsoons and characterized by two distinct seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The rainy season extends from May to October. Remarkably, even during this period, rain typically occurs for just 1 or 2 hours. It is advisable, though, to avoid visiting Phan Thiet in July and August, the wettest months of the year. Conversely, the dry season, spanning from November to April, boasts sunny, breezy conditions with minimal chances of rain disrupting your plans.
With an average annual temperature of 26-27°C and infrequent thunderstorms, Phan Thiet is an appealing year-round destination. However, the prime time to explore Phan Thiet is from January to May, when Phan Thiet beaches exude their finest charm, offering clear skies, azure waters, and golden sands.
>>> Explore the weather in Phan Thiet and plan your perfect itinerary!
4. Where to go in Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan Province?
4.1. Mui Ne
Mui Ne Phan Thiet has long established itself as a cherished destination for both domestic and international tourists, particularly avid beach enthusiasts. With its pristine blue beaches, vast stretches of white sand dunes, and harmonious fusion of natural landscapes with top-notch recreational facilities and quality services, Mui Ne has earned its place as one of the nation’s top tourist hotspots.
4.2. Doi Duong Park
Situated at the heart of Phan Thiet City, Doi Duong Beach lies within the Ham Tan Coastal District, approximately 2 kilometers northeast of the main Ham Tan District. To reach it, follow Nguyen Tat Thanh Avenue for about 1 kilometer from Phan Thiet City Center.
Doi Duong Park now encompasses the entire Doi Duong Beach, creating an attractive park with parking and restroom facilities. This transformation has led to its official renaming as Doi Duong Park. Along the coastline, a row of casuarina-lined coffee shops provides a relaxing spot to enjoy the sea breeze. If you are still wondering about things to do in Phan Thiet, visiting Doi Duong Park will be a perfect option for those who love wonderful scenery.
4.3. Van Thuy Tu Temple
Van Thuy Tu Temple stands as a captivating sanctuary, proudly displaying the distinct cultural legacy of the region. Historical records indicate that the temple, constructed in 1762 by the fishermen of Thuy Tu village, was dedicated to their sea deity. Inextricably intertwined with Phan Thiet’s developmental narrative, this site carries immense importance for the coastal community.
4.4. Fairy Stream
Fairy Stream Phan Thiet surprises visitors upon arrival, diverging from the expected pristine stream. Flowing discreetly behind Mui Ne’s iconic red and golden sand dunes, it is a one-of-a-kind attraction in Vietnam. The water boasts a distinctive reddish-orange hue year-round.
Notably, the surrounding scenery adds to its charm. A lush green forest on one side and towering sand dunes on the other form an enchanting backdrop. Over time, wind and rain have shaped sandcastle-like structures, making this destination truly remarkable.
4.5. Duc Thanh School
The Duc Thanh School, situated at 39 Trung Nhi, Duc Nghia Ward, Phan Thiet City, was established in 1907, sharing its founding year with Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc School. The name “Duc Thanh” is meant to inspire national consciousness in the youth. The school has evolved into a renowned, progressive institution. Notably, in 1910, patriotic youth Nguyen Tat Thanh, later known as Uncle Ho, taught here during his journey to seek ways to save the country.
The original school where Uncle Ho taught has undergone restoration due to considerable damage over time. Today, visitors can witness its revival, maintaining the original layout with rows of desks, chairs, and a blackboard, along with Ngu House, Ngo Du Sao, and Uncle Ho’s star fruit tree. The well and surrounding landscape have been harmoniously arranged, evoking the continued presence of Uncle Ho on this site.
Acknowledged as a National Historic Site by the Ministry of Culture and Information in 1986, the Duc Thanh relic holds historical significance.
4.6. Po Sah Inu Towers
Poshanu Cham Tower, also known as Po Sah Inu or Pho Hai Cham Towers, forms a cluster of ancient Champa temple ruins perched on Ba Nai Hill, Phu Hai Ward, approximately 7 kilometers northeast of Phan Thiet City’s core. Although not grand in size, this tower embodies the essence of the ancient Cham people’s architectural techniques and ornamental arts.
Originating 1,200 years ago, the trio of surviving towers (main, medium, and small) stands as a testament to the Cham Kingdom, with the main tower adorned with intricate carvings depicting Linga and Yoni symbols of Shiva, embodying Cham’s growth and reproduction.
While the medium tower’s stone bull has faded with time, these towers retain sacred significance for Cham villages Ma Lam, Ham Tri, and Ham Phu. Yearly, residents and visitors unite at Poshanu Towers for spiritual observances. During the Kate festival, lively Cham customs and festivities infuse the site with vibrancy. Unique Cham ceremonies and dances unfold, while neighboring fishermen seek blessings for safe voyages. The Rija Nuga and Poh Mbang festivals attract locals, who gather to pray for rainfall and prosperity.
4.7. Ong Dia Stone Beach
Ong Dia Rock Beach, also known as “Bai Da Ong Dia,” is situated approximately 10 kilometers from Phan Thiet city center. The beach is a picturesque haven for sightseeing, photography, swimming, and kite surfing. The name “Ong Dia” signifies the “Earth God” beach in Vietnamese belief. Legend has it that local fishermen rested here and revered a rock resembling the Earth God.
Although the mystical rock is gone, a shrine with an “Ong Dia” statue stands nearby. Along Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, between Mui Ne and Phan Thiet City, this scenic beach features impressive rocks and a promenade lined with coconut trees.
4.8. Ong Hoang Pavilion
Ong Hoang Pavilion is a prominent landmark located on one of the five most beautiful hills in Phu Hai Ward, Phan Thiet. It comprises a complex of hills, rivers, and a pagoda tower, forming a scenic landscape that includes Co Mountain, Bai Nai Hill, the Phu Hai river mouth, the coastline, and ancient Phan Thiet fishing villages, all situated 7 kilometers northeast of Phan Thiet.
Additionally, Ong Hoang Pavilion in Mui Ne is known for being a rare spot to witness the pink-tinted sunrise over the sea or to indulge in romantic panoramic views during sunset. This place also entices visitors on moonlit nights, when the shimmering moonlight bestows an enchanting aura upon the surroundings, creating a captivating natural masterpiece.
5. What to eat in Phan Thiet?
Not only is Phan Thiet renowned for its fresh and abundant seafood, but Phan Thiet food also captivates tourists with local specialties that are aromatic, flavorful, and nourishing. Each dish carries a distinct flavor that leaves an unforgettable impression on anyone who tastes it.
A bulleted list of must-try dishes in Phan Thiet:
- Quang noodle: In Phan Thiet, “mì Quảng” usually incorporates duck meat instead of pork, setting it apart from the typical Quang noodle variations found in other places. To complement the tenderness of the duck, this dish is also served with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and roasted peanuts, creating a compelling fusion of flavors and textures.
- Vietnamese fish cake noodle soup: The highlight of this dish lies in the naturally sweet broth made from pork bones and fish. Along with thick strands of rice noodles, mushrooms, quail eggs, and chewy pieces of fish cake, a signature bowl of Phan Thiet fish cake noodle soup will surely leave you craving for more. For a bold kick of flavor, you can add some spicy green chili slices.
- Bop fish hotpot: The famous Bop fish hotpot of Phan Thiet is renowned for its rich, flavorful broth that strikes a perfect balance between sour, spicy, salty, and sweet. With ingredients like fresh fish, fish roe, and fish stomach, Bop fish hotpot offers a hearty meal with exceptional taste. Don’t forget to add some chili-infused fish sauce to have the most authentic local experience.
- Grilled squid teeth: Squid teeth, exotic as it sounds, are a specialty in Phan Thiet that comes in many tasty variations. The most popular among them are grilled squid teeth, which can be found at nearly every street eatery. You can sample them at eateries along Pham Van Dong Street by the Ca Ty River, Nguyen Tat Thanh Street to Doi Duong Beach, or the night stalls on Vo Thi Sau Street near Dong Hai Church.
- White sardine ceviche: An authentic Phan Thiet-style fish ceviche features fresh and firm white sardines marinated with lime and seasonings and mixed with aromatic herbs and roasted peanuts. It is best enjoyed with a flavorful tamarind sauce or wrapped in rice paper with fresh herbs.
- Fish spring roll: These Phan Thiet fish spring rolls can hardly be found in any other region in Vietnam. Filled with fresh herring and cassava, the crispy rolls are paired with fresh vegetables, eggs, fermented pork rolls, and a fish sauce dip for the most delightful culinary experience.
6. What to bring home from Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan, Vietnam?
Situated within the enchanting Phan Thiet city, Phan Thiet Market stands as an essential stop for both local and international visitors seeking an authentic shopping experience. Within this vibrant marketplace, explorers can navigate through a labyrinth of stalls brimming with farm-fresh goods, traditional handicrafts, and delectable treats.
- Phan Thiet fish sauce: Fresh anchovies are the main ingredient in Phan Thiet fish sauce. The quality and flavor depth of the fish sauce depend on the unique processing methods of each brand, creating their own distinct flavors.
- Phan Thiet dried squid: Most coastal provinces sell dried squid, but each place has its own unique flavor, so don’t miss out on this Phan Thiet food souvenir. The taste of dried squid here is particularly rich and delicious.
- Banh re: “Bánh rế” is a type of crispy cake that originated in Phan Rang (Ninh Thuan) and gradually spread to the South, becoming a specialty of Phan Thiet. Its main ingredients are finely grated strands of fresh cassava or sweet potato. After being fried, banh re is carefully packed, making it easy for people to take home as gifts.
- Banh Ba Lai: With three layers of green, yellow, and coffee brown stacked on top of each other, Ba Lai cake offers a unique and balanced combination of flavors: the richness of fresh milk, the nuttiness of green beans, and the slight bitterness of chocolate. The cake is even more appealing due to the captivating fragrance of vanilla and pandan leaves, making it a delightful treat.
- Phan Thiet steamed fish cake: Thanks to the natural sweetness and freshness of the fish, Phan Thiet’s steamed fish cakes inherit beautiful flavors and textures, and have become a must-try for travelers visiting the city. They can be enjoyed on their own or made into many delicious dishes.
- Com sua (milk rice cake): Milk rice cake is also a signature gift of the Phan Thiet coastal area. You can easily find them in most local markets, or consider visiting local specialty shops along Trung Trac Street if you want to discover the process of making these cakes in person.
Apart from Phan Thiet, there are several other captivating destinations you can explore across Vietnam. Embark on a tropical adventure to Phu Quoc, where pristine beaches and lush landscapes await. Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Nha Trang. Wander through the charming streets of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its rich history and atmospheric allure. Further up the coastline, Da Nang beckons with its modernity and cultural gems. And don’t forget to visit Ha Long, a natural wonder adorned with stunning limestone formations.
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Phan Thiet, a gem in Vietnam, promises a captivating journey. The beauty of Mui Ne Beach and the golden sand dunes are mesmerizing, while local cuisine offers a flavorful exploration of culture. Beyond visuals and tastes, the city invites you to embrace traditions and lifestyles, forming connections that last. In Phan Thiet, every experience is a tapestry woven with nature’s wonders, cultural treasures, and heartfelt welcomes, etching memories that endure.