Quy Nhon is a sleepy coastal city with raw beauty that is still undisturbed by mass tourism. Located in Binh Dinh Province in central Vietnam, Southeast Asia, Quy Nhon is often overlooked as tourists flock to larger beach cities such as Da Nang and Nha Trang.
However, for the savvy traveler, Quy Nhon is a unique tourist destination that is growing in popularity worldwide. No wonder that Vietnamese people refer to it as the 'Maldives of Vietnam'. The reality does not disappoint.
Is Quy Nhon worth visiting?
The short answer - absolutely yes. Quy Nhon is a paradise beach destination that is perfect for couples, families, and solo travelers. It also functions as a great stopover location as holidaymakers traverse through Vietnam due to its position between other major cities: Da Nang and Nha Trang.
Quy Nhon City is not just a worthy tourist destination for its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, it also boasts several exciting attractions that are putting Quy Nhon squarely on the world-tourism map. Here is just a taste of the incredible experiences on offer:
- Visit stunning beaches with white sands and crystal-clear waters such as the world-famous Ky Co beach.
- Explore the amazing geology of stunning cliffs and bumpy rocks that dominate Quy Nhon's coastline.
- Gorge on fresh seafood, served on the beach, at Quy Nhon's many seafood restaurants.
- Immerse in ancient Cham architecture at the Cham towers and temples.
- Visit Quy Nhon City boulevard for exciting bars and watersport activities.
Ready to start your adventure? Here are the 12 best things to do in Quy Nhon:
1. Explore ancient Cham towers and temples
The Cham ethnic people arrived in Southeast Asia around 4000 years ago and built a civilization that spread across the south of Vietnam, then known as Champa. In the last few hundred years, as Vietnam formed, the Cham people integrated or left the region, leaving behind incredible artifacts of their rich culture.
Their religion, a mix of folklore, Islam, and Hinduism, was further influenced by Chinese and Vietnamese conquerors.
Cham people still form part of the Vietnamese population and still, to this day, use many of their ancient cultural sites for religious worship and centers for the community. Altogether, there are three historical sites worthy of a tour when in Quy Nhon.
Thap Doi Cham Towers
A short 3km drive out of the city brings adventure lovers into the heart of Champa territory. Also known as the 'Twin Towers', they are two religious buildings that were built in the 13th century.
Using red brick, the ancient architects designed the temples with ornamental features, such as the sandstone sculptures of mythological animals used to depict stories of their civilization.
Banh It Cham Temple
The next location on a tour of ancient Champa is the Banh It Cham Temple complex. This is around 15 km from Quy Nhon and rests in the idyllic countryside of central Vietnam. Staying true to Champa style, the temple complex contains four ancient red brick religious sites that, though protected by the Vietnamese authorities, have weathered in the last 1000 years since their construction.
Each monument, steeped in history, has slightly different architectural features due to the ebb and flow of influence between Cham, Khmer, and Vietnamese cultures.
This is the historical capital of the Champa kingdom which is located just 30 km from Quy Nhon. Though most of the citadel has been lost to the hands of time, excavations are revealing more about this 1000-year-old heritage site including stone walls etched with inscriptions, lion-like sandstone sculptures, and water wells.
Visitors can stroll around the hillside, be drawn into the deep heritage, and easily envision Champa life as it was a thousand years ago.
2. Long Khanh Pagoda
One of the biggest Buddhist temples in the region, the Long Khanh Pagoda is a celebrated place of worship that was first built in the 18th century. With extensive preservation efforts, it is still in full commission and plays a major role in the worship and continuation of Buddhist traditions.
The pagoda features architecture that follows typical Chinese style, with sloped roofs and highly ornamental features. Like with most Buddhist temples, visitors are welcome to come and experience firsthand the practices and customs of the Buddhist faith.
3. Binh Dinh Museum
Located in the center of Quy Nhon, near Quy Nhon beach, is the Binh Dinh Museum. The exhibition showcases a collection of over 10,000 artifacts from post-stone age relics to examples of art now protected by UNESCO.
One particular highlight of the museum is the displays of preserved costumes, conical hats, and pottery that the region was once famous for. In addition, the museum is fortified with traditional weapons that were imported by the Chinese such as spears and crossbows.
4. Thi Nai Bridge
The epic bridge of Thi Nai is the longest sea bridge in Vietnam measuring over 2 km long. It is the infrastructure responsible for the economic growth and tourism on the Phuong Mai Peninsula. Just a short drive on this bridge puts you in the middle of the ocean with stunning views of turquoise waters and distant mountains.
The bridge leads to the peninsula where sand dunes line the highway providing a deep visual contrast to the nearby lagoon. Picture perfect!
5. Nhon Ly commune and fishing village
On the Phuong Mai Peninsula, past the sand dunes, and around 20 km from Quy Nhon is the Nhon Ly fishing village and commune. Here, visitors can walk around the town and enjoy the simple but vibrant displays of local life.
For those wanting more action, many Nhon Ly tour operators offer excursions by fishing boat to nearby beaches and other attractions including the famous Ky Co beach.
6. Eo Gio
Located on the eastern side of the Nhon Ly commune, Eo Gio is the local name for a mountain outcrop that serves as an incredible viewpoint to the surrounding landscape. Visitors are met with a boardwalk that wraps around the mountainside and a short, though steep, trekking route to various vantage points. Many wild cacti, native to Quy Nhon, can be seen poking out of the rocks.
Eo Gio is a wonderful place to stop and watch the sunset after a day at Ky Co Beach as they are only two kilometers apart.
As a tropical coastal city, Quy Nhon boasts several white sandy beaches that are Maldives-level beautiful and easily some of the best in Vietnam. Quy Nhon also has some of the best diving and snorkeling spots and these activities can be booked through your hotel or tour company.
7. Ky Co Beach
Ky Co Beach, also known as the jewel of Quy Nhon, is often the sole reason why many tourists had first heard of Quy Nhon and therefore the most popular attraction. Due to stunning scenery, white sands, and turquoise waters, Ky Co Beach is arguably the most famous beach in Vietnam.
Though Ky Co Beach can get busy in the high season, the environment is kept strictly clean and visitors need to pay an entrance fee of a few dollars to support conservation efforts.
A clean environment, and the fact that rocky mountains encompass the beach, make it seem like you are on a private island with fresh seafood, cocktails, and comfortable seating available at nearby restaurants.
To reach this beach, holidaymakers must drive over the Thi Nai bridge to the Phuong Mai Peninsula and on to the town of Nhon Ly. From here, many local tour operators offer access to Ky Co beach by way of speedboat or water taxi (fishing boat).
Alternatively, you can drive all the way to the beach access point, pay the ticket, and then be taken the remaining distance by electric vehicle. The cost equals out about the same and the views from either the road or the boat route are spectacular.
8. Quy Nhon Beach
This is the closest beach to the city center and stretches along the bay for 4 km. A promenade accompanies the beach and hosts several bars and seafood restaurants including the famous Surf Bar Cafe with comfortable sofas located directly on the beach.
With lots of options for accommodation and dining, this is the beach most used by tourists for day-to-day relaxation. However, it won't feel too busy due to the huge width and breadth of the beach.
During the busy tourist times, adventure lovers are welcomed with an array of exciting beach activities including parasailing and paragliding.
9. Queen's Beach
Located just beyond the southern edge of Quy Nhon Beach, Queen's beach is geologically famous for the egg-shaped stone pebbles that make up the shore. Though small and without sand, it offers visitors panoramic views of Quy Nhon City and Phuong Mai Peninsula.
Queen's Beach is loaded with history. For example, it earned the name when the last King and Queen of Vietnam took their holiday here. In addition, in the surrounding gardens, the tomb of a famous romantic Vietnamese poet, Han Mac Tu, is located at the top of a hill.
10. Hon Kho Island
Hon Kho Island is perched just off the southern coast of the Phuong Mai Peninsula. To get here, visitors must travel around 25 minutes from Quy Nhon to the quaint fishing village of Hai Nam. Then a small boat journey takes you across the final 300 meters from the mainland.
Hon Kho Island is only a few hundred square meters in size and a boardwalk has been erected to allow further exploration. The Hon Kho Island features a small sandy bay and small sea rocks and boulders that are fun to scramble over as you venture around.
11. Bai Xep Beach
Bai Xep Beach is located in Khu Vuc commune which is 14 km south of Quy Nhon city. This little cove hosts a variety of aspects of local life, from fishing in the East Sea to dining directly on the soft sand of the beach - perfect for seafood lovers!
A few backpacking hostels, homestays, and resorts operate in this area and it's a great place to try some fresh but cheap seafood straight from the net. The beach is iconic of a Vietnamese fishing village and hosts a dazzling display of colorful fishing boats,
12. Bai Dai Beach and beyond
All along the southern coastline of Quy Nhon, many small coves and bays are accessible from the main road (Duong 1D). The first beach directly south of Bai Xep Beach is Bai Dai Beach. Unlike Bai Xep, Bai Dai is geared more for tourists with fewer fishing boats clogging up the horizon and more sandy real estate for relaxing.
Then as you travel further south, you will see three more beaches that are open to the public. These are Bai Bang Be, Bai Bien Bai Bang, and Bai Bau. Access is free however you may have to pay a few dollars for parking.
When should I visit Quy Nhon?
As with most destinations in Asia, there are two seasons that travelers should be aware of. These are the dry season and wet season.
The dry season
The dry season in Quy Nhon - Binh Dinh Province, is typically from February to August with the temperature sometimes going above 30 degrees in the hottest months from June to August. These months are also the peak tourist season with Quy Nhon hosting a variety of traditional festivals from martial arts to boat racing.
Though it may be hot during the dry season, the cool breeze from the ocean will keep you feeling fresh year-round.
The wet season
The wet season in Binh Dinh Province is roughly from September to January. Quy Nhon, luckily, escapes most of the harsh weather such as heavy rain and typhoons, and stays relatively dry. October and November experience the most rainfall and storms greatly affect ocean conditions which become rough and waves are turbulent: not the best time for swimming.
How do I get to Quy Nhon?
Quy Nhon City is situated in the south-central province of Binh Dinh which is about 600 km from Ho Chi Minh City in the south and 1000 km from Hanoi in the north. Other smaller cities that are closer are Da Nang which is 330 km to the north and Nha Trang which is south by 200 km.
Due to its remote location, flying is the fastest and most comfortable way to get to Quy Nhon from major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Flying from smaller cities like Da Nang is not possible without a transfer in larger cities.
Getting a bus is the most cost-effective way to travel from nearby cities such as Da Nang or Nha Trang. From Nha Trang for example, the journey takes around 3 hours. Vietnam has a range of bus services available including private minibusses to coaches with private sleeping berths. The cost is inexpensive - usually below $20.
Trains are available from most cities along the coast and depart from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi several times a day. This route between Vietnam's biggest cities has earned a spot in Asia's top 10 best journeys by train.
Trains in Vietnam are both comfortable and slow meaning that they are a fantastic way to travel if you have enough time. Though affordable, ticket prices vary depending on if you book a 5-star sleeping berth, economy sleeping berth, or a hard seat.
This mode of transport is for adventure lovers and intrepid travelers. Motorbikes are the most common mode of transport in Vietnam, and several agencies offer motorbike rental and bespoke tours. Though somewhat dangerous, driving your own motorbike is the most exciting way to get hands-on experience of Vietnam's world-class landscapes.
This concludes our guide to the best experiences in Quy Nhon. As you can see, Quy Nhon is perfectly situated as a simple stopover or the final destination. Holidaymakers can enjoy Quy Nhon for a day or many weeks with all the exciting beaches, temples, and sightseeing on offer.
If you love adventure and like to get off the beaten track, then Quy Nhon won't disappoint. But just before you visit, find out more about the attractions of Quy Nhon!