Phu Yen: A Rock Star Coast, a Miracle Buddha and More

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Phu Yen has unique assets that set it apart as a tourist destination, including stunning arrangements of basalt rocks and a pagoda built with corals and coconut shells.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Although it is less well known than Nha Trang some 120 kilometers to the south, many people woke up to its charms after the release of Victor Vu’s award-winning film.

The adaptation of Nguyen Nhat Anh’s novel “Yellow Flowers on Green Grass” won an award at the Toronto Film Festival and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015.

Between January and mid-August is the most ideal time to visit Phu Yen, when temperatures range from 23 to 30 degrees Celsius.

From April to May it is very hot and between September and December it is subject to the stormy season along the central coast.

WHAT TO EXPLORE

With only 500 kilometers long, Bai Xep is one of the few beaches in central Vietnam that has retained most of its pristine nature.

Bai Xep beach with turquoise waters. Picture of Quynh Trang

At the foot of Bai Xep in Tuy An district is a unique geological formation with black and yellow basalt rocks of every conceivable shape – believed to be the result of volcanic eruptions that took place millions of years ago. ‘years.

To reach Bai Xep, visitors must travel 17 kilometers north on the Doc Lap coastal road from Tuy Hoa town.

The place is surrounded by casuarina equisetifoliaa tree that commonly grows in coastal habitats with white sand and cacti.

Hon Yen Islet, about 15 kilometers north of Tuy Hoa, is home to thousands of canaries, hence its name. Camping overnight on the islet is a highly recommended experience.

Hon Yen Islet is seen from above. Photo by Tran Bao Hoa

Given its isolation, visitors should remember to bring the necessary gear.

Nature offers a magical spectacle here with arpets of colorful coral reefs that are only exposed at low tide.

According to local fishermen, low tide only appears in the afternoon of the first days of the month or between the third and seventh lunar month of each year. Low tide lasts for two to three days, revealing colorful coral reefs along Ganh Yen Beach.

However, the coral reef ecosystem of the islet has been damaged at an alarming rate, as many ignorant and careless tourists walk on the reefs to take selfies and photos.

Authorities have imposed stricter measures to protect coral reefs from destruction.

Coral reefs emerge on Ganh Yen beach at low tide. Photo by Tran Chi Trung

June is the busiest season of the year on Yen Islet, as fishermen flock to the sea to harvest anchovies, considered a specialty of the central coastal region used to make the quintessential Vietnamese condiment – salsa sauce. fish.

Local resident Tran Bao Hoa said fishermen start casting their fishing nets around 2 p.m. every day and return to shore around 9 p.m.

Located in Dong Hoa district, about 35 km from Tuy Hoa, the my beach was generally overlooked by travel agencies as it lacked most tourist services.

But Victor Vu’s award-winning film changed the status quo. It has now become a preferred camping spot that tourists use to catch the sunrise. The sun is an early riser here, from 4am

Mon beach is seen from above. Photo by Ngo Tran Hai An

From Mon Beach, a one kilometer long foot train leads up a hill with about 100 wooden steps that can be climbed to reach Dai Lanh Lighthouse, built by the French in the 19th century.

Dai Lanh Lighthouse overlooks Phu Yen Beach. Photo by Ngo Tran Hai An

Nhat Tu Sona tidal island in Xuan Dai Bay, about 50 kilometers from Tuy Hoa, is another place that is usually overlooked, but worth exploring if visitors can remember the tidal cycle.

Once a day, a 300-meter sandy path connecting the mainland to the island appears at low tide at 1-4 p.m. from the 1st to 15th day of each lunar month and from 5-9 a.m. the rest of the month.

Nhat Tu Son Island is covered with white clouds. Photo of Le Chi Trung

The name of the island comes from its resemblance to the character “First” in Mandarin. According to locals, this helps protect the neighboring fishing villages, My Hai and My Thanh, from strong winds.

One of the oldest churches in Vietnam, Mang Lang, stands in Phu Yen. It was built by French missionary Father Joseph Lacassagne in 1892, nearly three centuries after Portuguese Catholic missionaries first visited Vietnam.

Built on a 5,000 square meter plot, the church in An Thach commune, 35 kilometers north of Tuy Hoa, took 15 years to build.

Named after a plant with pinkish-purple flowers, the church has the first book printed in modern Vietnamese script. It was written by Alexandre de Rhodes, the French Jesuit missionary and lexicographer, who is said to have played an important role in the creation of Vietnam’s Latin script.

The facade of the Mang Lang Church. Photo by Quynh Tran

Another highlight of the Phu Yen landscape is the 800m long Binh Thanh Bridge, considered the longest of its kind in Vietnam. The bridge, which crosses the Binh Ba River, is also called the Tiger God Bridge because of its proximity to a shrine where locals worship the feline deity to cure illnesses and drive away evil.

During the flood season from October to November, the bridge is invariably washed away by the sea and has to be rebuilt from scratch. When the waters recede, local residents use the toll fees collected to rebuild or repair the bridge.

Binh Thanh wooden bridge. Photo by Cao Ky Nhan

The Nhan Tower in the city of Tuy Hoa is one of the few Cham towers still intact in Vietnam.

Built on the eastern slope of Mount Nhan, located 64 m above sea level, it is named after the many local swallows (or chim nhan in Vietnamese) that nest here.

He venerates Thien YA Na who is said to have come down from heaven to instruct the Cham ethnic group in plowing and weaving.

Nhan tower from above. Photo by Quynh Tran
The Thanh Luong Pagoda in Tuy An district, about 10 km from the city center, is home to mystical stories passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation.

Nestled in a small fishing village near Bai Xep Beach, the pagoda is believed to have been built by a group of Chinese merchants, but no one knows the exact time it was built.

The main hall of the pagoda was built with coconut shells and corals. Coconut shells represent purity while corals are considered the refuge of marine species.

A precious wooden statue of Bodhisattva standing on a dragon is said to have drifted to Hon Dua Beach, which is not far from the pagoda, in April 2004. The miraculous statue is now worshiped in Thanh Luong Pagoda.

The Da Dia Reef is a unique geological structure composed of black and yellow basalt rocks spread over a coastal area of ​​more than one square kilometer.

From a distance, it looks like a giant black beehive.

Da Dia Reef comprises black and yellow basalt rocks along the coast of Phu Yen. Photo of Le Chi Trung

According to geologists, the reef complex, about 30 kilometers north of Tuy Hoa, was created by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. The lava, when it came into contact with water, cooled, contracted and fractured and formed vertical or horizontal columns before becoming polygonal rocks.

Besides Phu Yen, there are only three other places in the world that boast of this magnificent phenomenon: the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, Los Órganos in Spain and Fingal’s Sea Cave in Scotland.

WHERE TO STAY

In downtown Tuy Hoa, some budget hotels and homestays offer prices from 150,000 to 300,000 VND per person per night.

At luxury resorts like Rosa Alba Resort, Sala Grand Tuy Hoa Hotel and Saigon Phu Yen Hotel, one night can cost up to 5 million VND.

One resort in Phu Yen that has received rave reviews from international travel magazines is Zannier Hotels Bai San Ho in Song Cau town. It has three different types of Vietnamese-style villas with bamboo ceilings and antique rice baskets.

A swimming pool inside the Zannier Bai San Ho hotels in Song Cau town. Photo courtesy of the station

WHAT TO EAT

banh beo chen (Vietnamese rice cake shaped like a water fern) is a typical dish from central Vietnam.

Small bowls of hot water fern cakes are topped with pork floss, fried bread and oiled green onions. One thing that makes the dish different from other places is that it is served with fish sauce made from anchovies, a specialty of the Phu Yen people.

A serving of banh beo chen is served at a stand in Phu Yen. Photo by Nam Chay

A tray contains 10 small bowls and costs just 15,000 VND ($0.66), for a portion for one person.

Food bloggers recommend No. 3 Le Trung Kien Street at the foot of Nhan Mountain for this dish.

Banh can he (fish cake noodle soup with chives) is a provincial signature dish. One of the ingredients that decides the success of this dish is the fish cake. The fish is carefully chopped, then seasoned and folded into pieces. Then it is steamed or fried.

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