Quy Nhon City Guide
Regarded by some as the next Hoi An, Quy Nhon is a wealth of beautiful beaches, striking landscapes, ancient ruins, markets, and Bánh xèo – which the locals claim is the best in Vietnam. But there’s one thing Hoi An has that Quy Nhon doesn’t: lots of tourists. So read on for Hidden’s City Guide to the hidden gem – Quy Nhon.
Situated on Vietnam’s central coast roughly halfway between Hoi An and Nha Trang (300 kilometres from the former, 220 kilometres from the latter), Quy Nhon is home to roughly 300,000 inhabitants. The city, in Binh Dinh province, sits along a 42-kilometre stretch of underdeveloped coastline. Much of which is sheltered by the Phuon May Peninsula on its northern edge.
Quy Nhon is a blissful spot dating back to the 11th Century when it was home to the indigenous Champa civilization. The Champas thrived on its golden shores and port into the 15th Century. The city was officially founded in the 18th Century and like many of its neighbours along the southern and central coasts, served as a major base for the US military during the war. Today, while not necessarily ‘off the beaten path’, it’s not well travelled either and is often overlooked as a worthwhile stop for a few days.
- Best Time to Visit Quy Nhon
- Getting to Quy Nhon City
- Guide to Getting From Quy Nhon Airport to the City
- Getting the Train to Quy Nhon City
- Getting the Bus to Quy Nhon City
- Where to Stay in Quy Nhon
- Restaurants in Quy Nhon
- What to Do in Quy Nhon
- What to See in Quy Nhon
- Hidden’s Thoughts
Best Time to Visit Quy Nhon
The monsoon lashes Quy Nhon from September to December with rainfall exceeding 200mm per month; October and November have considerably more. So unless you’re a fan of frequent tropical downpours and the typical sea being murky, avoid it.
However on the other hand, the best months to visit are January through April. Day time highs are in the high twenties and low thirties with nights dipping to the pleasant low-mid twenties. In addition, crowds are also thinner here compared to the summer months of June through August – when most of the northern hemisphere is enjoying its summer holidays. Temperatures then rise to the mid-thirties and there is little rainfall.
Getting to Quy Nhon City
Phu Cat Airport (UIH) is 30 kilometres northwest west of Quy Nhon. However tt’s not, as yet, an international airport and caters to local carriers Vietnam Airlines, VietJet, Jetstar Pacific, and Bamboo Airways. These airlines deposit passengers from Hanoi, Hai Phong, and Ho Chi Minh City on a sixty-to-ninety-minute short hop. Therefore flights to the resort islands of Phu Quoc and Con Dao require connecting in Ho Chi Minh City. Compare prices on the airlines’ websites and on popular travel sites like Expedia, Kayak, and Google for the best deals.
Guide to Getting From Quy Nhon Airport to the City
Shuttle Bus From Quy Nhon (Phu Cat) Airport
There are shuttle buses after every flight to the city centre on Nguyễn Tất Thành Street for 50,000 VND (2.50 USD) per person. The shuttle waits just outside the airport on the right-hand side when you exit the terminal. However, It won’t take you to your lodging. So you need to either take a taxi or walk from there.
Departing passengers can hop on at the same location for the return journey. Taxis wait at the shuttle bus’ final stop on Nguyễn Tất Thành Street to take you to your final destination. However note that there is no local bus serving the airport or, effectively, the city.
Taxi at Quy Nhon Airport
There are numerous local taxi companies: Sun Taxi, Taxi Mai Linh, and Taxi Hoang Anh, to name a few. As at most airports, you don’t have to look hard to find one. A taxi from Phu Cat Airport to the city centre–a thirty-minute drive–costs about 350,000 VND (15 USD).
Hidden Hint: Not in the mood to negotiate the fare upon arrival? Then book in advance on the taxi company websites.
Getting the Train to Quy Nhon City
Not in a rush? Then why not take the train and enjoy the scenery.
The Dieu Tri Train Station is ten kilometres west of central Quy Nhon. So this is where the trains from Hanoi, Da Nang, and Hue pass through. The almost 1,100km overnight journey from Hanoi takes 20-23 hours depending on the type of train. There are four seat types/births ranging in price from 1.12-1.65m VND (49-71 USD). To get into town from the station, walk five minutes to the main road then a local bus brings you in for 5,000 VND ( .20 USD). It’s a 15-minute taxi ride from the main road.
If you’re coming from Hoi Chi Minh City, 630 kilometres away, your options are to take the Reunification Express day or night train to Dieu Tri. This is an 11-12 journey for 882,000-1.21m (38-52 USD). Or alternatively, come all the way into the Quy Nhon Railway Station in the centre of town. The cheap seats on this 14-hour trip begin at 333,000 VND (14.35 USD). But for more comfort, it costs you 745,000 (32.05 USD). Going from Quy Nhon to Ho Chi Minh City have a good book or lots of music handy as there are often delays of two to three hours waiting for the Reunification train to pass.
Trains from Nha Trang also come all the way into town. That journey lasts a little over five hours with prices beginning at 97,000 VND (4.20 USD).
For complete schedules and prices, check Vietnam Railways.
Getting the Bus to Quy Nhon City
Quy Nhon’s bus station is just two kilometres south of the city centre. Therefore buses from many spots across the country pull in here, including, of course, from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
From Ho Chi Minh City, it’s an 11-12 hour journey with prices starting at 240,000 VND (10.35 USD). From Hanoi, you’re looking at an uncomfortable 22-25 hours on the road with seats priced at 490,000-540,000 VND ( 21.30 – 23.50 USD). But, you will have more money to spend when you get to Quy Nhon as a bus ticket is about half the price of taking the train!
Hidden Hint: Check-in advance for coaches with wider berths as they make your journey a lot less painful even if it costs a little more.
Be sure to ask about the type of vehicle in which you will be travelling. They range from minivans to motor coaches which can make a big difference in your comfort level.
For full schedules and prices to and from locations across Vietnam, visit 12Go Asia.
Where to Stay in Quy Nhon
There is plenty to please most tastes and budgets both in town and along the neighbouring beaches.
Anantara Quy Nhon Villas
Price: 1-2 bedroom villas (12.6m-26.5m (540 – 1,140 USD)).
For those who don’t know the meaning of the word ‘budget’, the beachfront Anantara Quy Nhon Villas is one of the newest, and most luxurious, offerings in Quy Nhon. Nine kilometres south of the city, the property has twenty-six villas, in one- and two-bedroom configurations. In addtion, each has a private infinity pool, an oversized bath, customised wine cellar, and an ocean view.
There are a variety of dining options, including a personal chef to create a meal of your choice on the beach or anywhere you chose. There’s a jungle spa, a health club, golf, complimentary bicycles, in-villa martial arts, water sports, and Vietnamese cooking classes.
Homestay Hoàng Gia
Price: Rooms 330,000-576,140 VND (14 – 25 USD)
A half kilometre from the city centre and just a five-minute walk to the beach, Homestay Hoang Gia is ideally located for those who want to stay in town. Or, use it as a base to explore the area. Restaurants, cafes, and markets are all nearby. There are well-appointed king, family, and quadruple rooms. In addition you’ll enjoy the smiles and helpfulness homestays are so well known for. Each unit has a private bathroom, air conditioning, and flat-screen television. Above all, greenery is abundant inside and out giving the property a calming, natural presence. Below the homestay is a fashionable and popular cafe/coffee shop.
Nhon Hai Beach Hostel
Price: Twin and triple private rooms (350,000-560,000 (13 – 24 USD), dorms 115,000 VND (5 USD).
Tucked away on the Phuon May Peninsula, the Nhon Hai gives budget travellers an unspoiled beachfront resting place with picturesque sunrises and sunsets. The property has a piece of paradise feel to it, yet is only about a dozen kilometres from the city centre. Swimming, snorkelling, canoeing, fishing, and cycling are just some of the activities available. In addition there is an on-site coffee shop, bar, and restaurant which features fresh-caught local seafood. The hostel’s private rooms come with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms. But perhaps best of all, you go to sleep to the sound of the water lapping the sand.
Restaurants in Quy Nhon
From street food and cafes to more formal dining, Quy Nhon has something for everyone.
The locals are proud of their Bánh xèo: a small, thin rice pancake folded in half like an omelette and filled with shrimp, meat and soya bean sprouts. It’s then wrapped in vegetables and sprinkled with spices before being dipped in a famous local sauce of roasted peanuts, fermented soybeans, and palm sugar. Bánh xèo is sold in many of Quy Nhon’s specialty restaurants, semi-permanent stalls, and temporary stands in front of homes. The most popular area to find it is on Diên Hồng Street in the city centre.
Other notable city dining experiences are:
Quán Dê Hai Thái
This spacious city centre restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating specialises in goat meat. Therefore all parts of the animal are available, including stomach and intestines. Goat skewers cost 27,000 VND (1.15 USD) with meals ranging from 90,000 – 200,000 VND (3.90-8.60 USD). If you have a sensitive pallet be warned that the smell of so much meat cooking can be a little overwhelming.
Trần Quang Diệu Shell Restaurant
As the name suggests, this is the place for shellfish. This affordably priced restaurant can be found in the city centre on the northeast corner of Mai Xuân Thưởng and Trần Quang Diệu street. It has daily specials of freshly-caught clams, snails, grilled oysters, mussels, and scallops cooked with a variety of spices. In addition is a small indoor terrace and a tarp-covered outdoor area. It’s particularly popular with the lunch crowd and those looking for a quick, cheap, and tasty snack. Each plate of shells costs 10,000 VND (0.45 USD).
Less than a kilometre from the city centre, have your pick of traditional Vietnamese coffee, Italian brews, or specialty coffee. There are also fresh juices, smoothies, yoghurt drinks, crepes, and vegan options in this atmospheric spot.
The highly regarded Den Coffee is also heavily involved in supporting and empowering young people with disabilities helping them to develop their music, craft, and English language skills. There’s often live music in-store.
What to Do in Quy Nhon
Quy Nhon Beaches
The beach is the main draw in Quy Nhon and its surrounds. But there is also an abundance of markets–both day and night–selling everything from seafood and produce to clothes, shoes, arts and crafts, and souvenirs. The ancient Cham towers are also nearby.
Lining the city’s beachfront is a terrific five kilometre-long promenade – ideal for walking and cycling while inhaling the sea air and ocean ambiance. There is a notable absence of commercial watersports, boat rides, or tours, adding to the appeal, The best swimming beaches are by the Seagull Hotel and the Royal Resort at the southern end of town along An Dương Vương Boulevard.
Venture out of town and be rewarded with beautiful and sparsely populated (if at all) beaches. Bai Xep Beach, 12 kilometres south of Quy Nhon, is an appealingly long, sandy beach that is excellent for swimming. A few kilometres further down the road you’ll find Xuan Hai Beach, one of the cleanest and most beautiful stretches of sand in all of Vietnam.
Looking for more sand? Try the dunes about 20 kilometres from the city centre on the Phuong Mai Peninsula. The dunes, next to Nhon Ly Beach, offer a dramatic change to the landscape. They are secluded, and a good place for boarders as well as great fodder for photographers. However if sandboarding isn’t for you, climbing might be. The views of the coast and nearby hills once atop the dunes are marvellous.
The Cham Towers
Relics from the Champa civilization in Quy Nhon dating back to the 11th Century, are seen in town, and, as a day trip, out of it. Prmarily there are four sites worth visiting beginning with the impressive double tower of Thap Doi in town. Rent a motorcycle or bicycle to see the others–Banh It, Vijaya Citadel, Canh Tien–comfortably in a day. Taxis are also an option as is arranging transportation through your accommodation. Either way, you get a great run through the countryside while exploring an important part of Vietnam’s past.
What to See in Quy Nhon
Quy Nhon and its surrounds have other sights worthy of your attention too.
The Quy Hoa Ex-Leper Colony
Not a typical entry on most people’s ‘to do’ list is the city’s former leper colony. While to some, this may wreak of exploitation, like visiting an orphanage, it doesn’t feel that way. The Quy Hoa ex-leper colony on Queen’s Beach six kilometres south of the city centre is a simple collection of structures mixing French colonial and Vietnamese modernist styles. Run by Franciscan sisters until 1975, Quy Hoa seems more like a peaceful beach village with a unique old-world feel than a leper colony.
Fishman’s Port, Hai Cang Fish Market
On the north end of town, get a close up look at the day’s catch being unloaded and put on ice. There are plenty of fishing boats plus a nearby lot where many of the large wooden fishing vessels in operation are built. In addition, the local workers are happy to show you around. But be advised that fishing ports aren’t known for their pleasant aromas or cleanliness.
Bai Xep Village
A traditional Vietnamese fishing village located about 12 kilometres south of the city, though it feels worlds away. Wander the town’s market, watch the fishermen fixing their nets and boats, and see how the Vietnamese here live. There’s also a beautiful beach for swimming and sunbathing plus many spots happy to welcome you for a coffee or cold drink.
Above all, Quy Nhon is one of those spots that seems primed for a tourist boom. With considerably fewer than a half-million residents, it still maintains that small-town feel yet provides visitors with everything they need to enjoy themselves: good food and lodging, sights, and activities.
It’s easy to laze a day away on the beach or get a glimpse into Vietnam’s past while moving at your own pace. So for now, Quy Nhon is ideally situated far enough from its larger more-visited neighbours to be spared the downfalls that typically come as part of that package. But for how much longer, who knows? Go now.