Quy Nhon, the capital of Binh Dinh Province, has a population of nearly 300,000 and is a true beachside city. While its northern sister Nha Trang has exploded with resort and hotel development and visitor numbers have soared, Quy Nhon has followed a much more low-key course. However, this does not mean its natural beauty is any less spectacular and the city’s setting, fronted by a broad sweep of sand and backed by green hills, means it’s beginning to pull in the crowds.
Alongside the knockout beaches, Quy Nhon is also famed for its Cham ruins dating back centuries and, more unusually, a leper colony where patients still live and work today.
Things to do: Quy Nhon
The town’s main pagoda, Long Khanh is easy to find thanks to the massive 17m tall Buddha standing proud here. The pagoda’s history dates back to the 16th century, although the giant Buddha was added only in 1972. It’s intricately decorated, with brightly coloured dragon mosaics and in the grounds, a huge drum and an equally impressive giant bell. The monks here are particularly friendly, so don’t be shy about having a wander around.
Sands of time
Quy Nhon sits on a broad, majestic stretch of sand that rivals that of its northern sister, Nha Trang. The beachfront promenade has been spruced up, its wide pavements popular with locals and Vietnamese tourists who step out for an evening stroll or a dawn tai chi session. Venture a little further either north or south and you’ll be able to find a deserted beach all your own.
Quy Nhon and the area that surrounds it were central to the Cham Empire that once flourished here. Easily reachable on a 2km cycle ride, the Thap Doi Cham towers are excellent examples of Cham architecture. They’re best visited at dusk, when the sky’s changing colours create an atmospheric backdrop for some stunning photo opportunities.
One for die-hard history fans, the Hoang De Citadel, 27km from Quy Nhon, was a stronghold of Cham culture from the 11th to 15th centuries. It was expanded significantly by the Emperor Nguyen Nhac after 1778, and occupied by the Nguyen dynasty. Today, the citadel walls are still in evidence and there are a few Cham ruins in the area.
The Quy Nhon leper colony, founded in 1929, is one of the country’s more unusual tourist attractions. Less than 2km from town, on the gorgeous Quy Hoa beach, it retains its charming French colonial architecture. Residents (former patients who’ve decided to stay on) live and work here and there are numerous restaurants and food stalls. Follow the narrow path nearby up to Han Mac Tu pagoda for spectacular ocean views.