A few months ago, Vietcetera released a list of the best places to visit in Vietnam according to travel experts. Among many widely-known destinations such as Hanoi, Hoi An, and Ha Long Bay, a rather unfamiliar destination was mentioned: Phu Yen.
Phu Yen is a beautiful province in the central of Vietnam. Blessed with a coastline of nearly 200km, the destination is often described as a “tropical paradise". However, there is more to that, Phu Yen also features grandiose mountains, evergreen hills, and diverse cultures.
With recent investments in tourism, during this year's national holidays, the number of visitors to Phu Yen has increased by 150% over pre-pandemic levels, becoming one of the hottest travel destinations post-COVID.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to visiting Phu Yen — from the best accommodation to where to get a taste of the province’s specialties.
How to get there
The good news is that Phu Yen has its own airport called Tuy Hoa, just 10km from the city center. Currently, a round-trip ticket from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh to Phu Yen is available at VND 2-4 million ($85-170). From the airport, you can book a taxi to go to the city for about 15-20 minutes. The fee for one ride can range from VND 120 to 150,000 (~$6.5).
Where to stay
If you visited Phu Yen four to five years ago, you wouldn’t see any big hotels or resorts. But now, there is a great variety of options for visitors to choose from, such as Saigon Phu Yen Hotel, Zannier Hotels Bai San Ho, Sala Grand Tuy Hoa Hotel, Stelia Beach Resort, and Apec Mandala Wyndham. For cheaper options, you can check out Coconut Hotel, Rome Hostel, or Ivory Phu Yen Hotel which offer a one-night stay for less than VND 800,000 (~35$).
What to eat
It goes without saying that when on a beach holiday, you cannot miss out on seafood. Compared to other beach destinations in Vietnam, Phu Yen is among the places that offer seafood at surprisingly reasonable prices. A must-visit destination for experiencing seafood is O Loan Lagoon, where you can both enjoy your meal and take in the cool, refreshing atmosphere while eating right beside the lagoon.
Some other notable dishes for breakfast at Phu Yen are banh hoi long heo (soft thin vermicelli with pig's tripes), bun cha ca (vermicelli with grilled fish pie), and banh canh he (chives soup). For lunch and dinner, consider trying out tuna eyes and fried chicken rice. At Phu Yen, tuna eyes is the specialty dish. They are stewed in a small earthen pot with some herbs, bringing out the sweet taste of the tuna eyes.
What to do
What's the point of going to Phu Yen without going to the beach right? If you stay in the city center, there is Tuy Hoa Beach right by the 30/4 square. If you want to explore farther, the small Bai Mon Beach not only offers exquisite views surrounded by mountains but also provides a tranquil atmosphere of untouched natural beauty. In the early morning, many tourists come here to visit the Mui Dien lighthouse, Vietnam's easternmost where the sun rises first.
Another sought-after beach is Bai Xep. The location has become popular thanks to the “Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass” movie, featuring evergreen hills with hundreds of yellow Mexican sunflowers. Phu Yen is also famous for its Da Dia reef, a seashore area of uniformly interlocking basalt rock columns. These rocks were created from volcanic activities in Van Hoa highlands around 200 million years ago.
If you want to go on a more cultural journey, Mang Lang church holds important values to the Phu Yen people. It is one of the oldest churches in the province, built 130 years ago in Gothic architectural style. The church currently holds the first book written in the national language, Phep giang tam ngay (Latin name: Cathechismvs in octo dies diuisus) by priest Alexandre de Rhodes printed in 1651 in Rome, Italy.