Surf Trip Across Vietnam | Phan Thiet 1

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I arrived in Phan Thiet after a two-hour scooter ride in 30°C. It was a 50 km drive, but I was exhausted from the sun. Coming from a car-based society, motorbike travel is difficult for me and driving in this heat is quite hard.

Vietnam is sometimes better to travel around by motorbike, but if you can afford a car, you quickly realise that car journeys are better.

Colourful boats on the river at Phan Thiet Street

Vietnamese boats on the river in Phan Thiet. This is the first time in two weeks that I have been in the city, a seaside town of over 300,000 inhabitants and a tourist destination to the east of the city, so I have high hopes for the food.

Phan Thiet Street beach

Phan Thiet’s first beach check had onshore waves of waist to chest high. I don’t think there is any surfing here because the river is close and the sea water is dirty.

Phan Thiet Street beach

There is an estuary on the right. At the mouth of the estuary, where people live, the seawater is so dirty that they lose interest in going into the sea.

Vietnamese man and dog enjoying a tan on Phan Thiet Street beach.

A person enjoying a tan on the right and a dog enjoying a tan on the left. Dogs sunbathing on the beach by themselves. I have the impression that many Vietnamese dogs are at liberty, which is enviable from the perspective of dogs that are chained up. On the other hand, even if they are injured or become ill, they are sometimes left without veterinary care or treatment. Freedom is responsibility, and you have to pay for it. Dogs and humans are the same. If you want to be free, you have to take responsibility, and if you can take responsibility, you can be free.

Main surf spot and artificial tetrapods in Phan Thiet

This time we stayed in front of the beach here in Phan Thiet. We came here with little information about Phan Thiet waves beforehand, but fortunately I think we chose a good location.

Fish, mashed potatoes and tomatoes on a plate

Our first meal in Phan Thiet. We were tired of having country food anyway, so we wanted something other than Vietnamese food. Decided on this restaurant on the tourist street in front of the sea, which was open even at half past midnight. The prices are high, the taste is fair. I guess that’s what you get when a restaurant is open from morning till night.

Phan Thiet beach

Nearby surf spot. Low tide, not good, knee to waist high waves. No surfers.

Phan Thiet apartments, Ocean Vista

Resort project facility called Ocean Vista. Stayed here for a week.

Phan Thiet beachfront apartments

Ocean Vista, booked through Airbnb, costs about VND 500,000 (2,500 JPY) per night. Incidentally, there are many problems with accommodation in Vietnam. Here I had an unpleasant exchange with the Vietnamese owner. I shouldn’t compare it with Japan.

Beach at Phan Thiet, artificial tetrapod on left

Check out the sea in front of us. Artificial embankments and tetrapods are thought to improve the waves.

Phan Thiet Beach at low tide

The waves on the right side of the beach in front of you are not good due to low tide. The tide is an important point for surfing. In Vietnam, there are few surf spots with good waves at low tide. Basically, mid to high tide is good. The risk of hitting the bottom is low, the shape of the waves is better and the offshore current is easily formed, making it safer.

Vietnamese ships designed to look like faces

Vietnamese boats lined up on the beach. Painted with eye patterns.

Vietnam's rocky beaches

There was a size increase in Phan Thiet sea. Sets of chest to shoulder high waves came up in the stronger onshore.

Phan Thiet Beach at low tide, with coastal erosion

Many kitesurfing surf shops on the eastern beach. There’s a lot of beach erosion.

Beach at Phan Thiet Resort with waist-size waves breaking

Low tide, waist to stomach high waves with no surfers around. In front of resort hotel.

Main surf spot in Phan Thiet

Ocean in front of Ocean Vista, VND 30,000 for motorbike parking. About 10 times the normal price, is this a rip-off or are prices in Phan Thiet 10 times higher? For those who know the local market, this is the moment when the journey cools down. No one, including foreign and Vietnamese tourists, is happy to have such an experience.

Phan Thiet beach, with jet skis.

Other surf spots were also checked. Choice of waist-chest high waves with onshore influence or offshore knee to waist high waves with crossed winds.

Phan Thiet Beach with Vietnamese boats

Not the best in small waves. If there are waves and wind in winter, this area is a busy place, especially for kitesurfers.

Small Vietnamese restaurant in Phan Thiet

Vietnamese noodle dishes on the main street in front of Phan Thiet Beach. Dirty, expensive and tasteless. Vietnamese restaurants in the area were also expensive. I don’t think I will go to any Vietnamese restaurants located on the coastal street of Nguyen Dinh Chieu ever again.

Surf shop in Phan Thiet, with kiteboards and surfboards.

Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street which is situated to the east of Phan Thiet is the main tourist street. Most of the time we spent our meal time here eating and drinking Western food or Indian curry. There were also several surf shops in the area. The surf shop in this image, where kitesurfing is the main activity, is in a good position just right on the beach. However, due to beach erosion, the waves were crashing against the embankment of the building, even though it was a small wave.

Waves approaching the beach eroding Phan Thiet Beach

Coastal erosion is severe, especially in the east of Phan Thiet. The situation is quite extreme.

Waves crashing on the man-made reef put in at Phan Thiet beach

Eastern coast of Phan Thiet. Many places have already been artificially constructed.

Shorebreak hitting the beach eroding Phan Thiet beach

Here, too, the waves are close to the building.

Chickens with their chicks

Chickens and chicks. Ducks.

Bundle of power lines installed at about the height of the house and Sayama himself

Stay away from broken cables. There have been accidents resulting in death by electric shock. Particularly dangerous when wet, e.g. in the rain. Puddles of water near utility poles or where there is contact with hanging wires are also dangerous.

Vietnamese dog napping on the porch

Vietnamese dogs sleeping comfortably. Note that there are some vicious dogs in the mix. There is a low but possible risk of rabies in Vietnam.

Sunny Phan Thiet Beach with sea breeze

Pleasant view. The Mui Ne peninsula can be seen ahead. Some surfers call it Phan Thiet = Mui Ne, but the reality is that it is Mui Ne within Phan Thiet. In other words, Mui Ne is part of Phan Thiet.

Surf shops selling life vests and rash guards

Surf shop in Phan Thiet with surf hats, rash guards and other surf gear. I think this was a Rip Curl shop. Rip Curl appears to be the most established surf brand in Vietnam. However, I don’t think they are selling well, so I guess it’s an investment they can make because they are a major company.

Vinmart Plus, a convenience store in Vietnam

Vinmart Plus, Vietnam’s most powerful convenience store, changed its name to WinMart as of 2022. There are many privately owned convenience stores in Vietnam, called tap hoa, but the momentum of Vinmart suggests that they will soon be entirely wiped out, in the order of where the population is located. This is a significant development of the times. I believe that success will be approached by those who realise that it is futile to go against or try to stop such a major trend.

Looking down the hill at Phan Thiet Beach in the evening after the rain

Rainy Phan Thiet. I prefer cool rain to scorching sunny weather.

Indian cuisine, chicken curry

Chinese and Indian food can be found in every city. I often go to Indian restaurants for Indian curry, which is usually delicious and authentically prepared. They are also cheap and filling. The taste here was good too. In most Vietnamese restaurants, large or small, service is either absent or poor. It is often the case that meals are not served as ordered. Small restaurants or upscale hotels with Japanese staffs are often decent. For this reason, I often go to the same good places over and over again, because I want to avoid unpleasant experiences as much as possible in Vietnam.

Phan Thiet Beach road at night with lights from massage parlours and pharmacies

Nguyen Dinh Chieu, the main tourist street in Phan Thiet at night, which is also a dangerous street with trucks, buses and commercial vehicles passing by at high speed. The variety of shops on this street is the same as in other tourist destinations such as Da Nang. There were plenty of convenience stores, pharmacies, massage parlours, restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, etc.

(Surf trip record: Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan Province, Vietnam – August 2019)

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