Lam Le

Located near several tourist hubs, Ninh Thuan province is full of interesting destinations just waiting to be discovered

While better-known destinations like Nha Trang, Mui Ne, and Dalat continue to draw tourists, the province of Ninh Thuan offers spectacular mountains, forests, and beaches waiting to be discovered. One of my favorite destinations is Vinh Hy Bay, in the northeast of the province, an hour from the capital of Phan Rang. Cam Ranh and Nha Trang are also just a short bus ride away.

Follow the coastal road past Vinh Hy Bay

On a recent trip, at dusk, I took a small glass-bottom boat to cruise out to the floating fishing rafts at sea. The glass-bottom boat moved slowly through the bay so we could admire coral reefs and colorful fish beneath us. The boat then sped up and took us to the fishermen’s offshore floating rafts. As dusk fell, we chose live fish and lobsters for the fishermen to prepare for dinner, while we waited on hammocks and enjoyed the fresh ocean breezes. When the sun vanished and a mild chill rose off the sea, we went back on board and headed back to the mainland.

Near Vinh Hy Bay lies another highlight of Ninh Thuan: Rai Cave, which draws photographers thanks to its otherworldly landscapes. Other places popular with backpackers exploring Ninh Thuan include Mad Lady Beach, Glass Beach, Hoi Beach, Barrel Beach, Cliff Cape, and Lo O Fountain. Another must-visit is Dinh Cape in Phuoc Dinh Commune, Thuan Nam District. This distant and sparsely populated cape is still under the tourist radar, but is definitely worth a visit thanks to its pristine scenery, which has escaped overdevelopment.

Stunning rock formations near Rai Cave

Further south, toward the capital of Phan Rang – Thap Cham City, stands the PoKlong Garai Tower. Built in the late 13th and early 14th centuries on Areca Hill, PoKlong Garai is an outstanding relic of the ancient Cham civilization. In the gleaming twilight, the tower shimmers with its red Cham bricks, domed architecture, pointed roofs and sophisticated bas-reliefs.

On the provincial highway toward Phan Rang City, my companions and I pulled over at the Thai An Vineyard in Vinh Hai Commune, Ninh Thuan. Elaborate trellises give the place the feel of Bordeaux or Tuscany, a charming and surprising image in this arid landscape. In fact, grapes from Ninh Thuan are now sold in cities all over the country and made into delicacies and wine.

Po Klong Garai Tower

Another time, following a throng of photographers, I visited the An Hoa sheep fields near Thanh Son Dam. Sheep in Ninh Thuan have pale, dull yellow fleece, instead of the fluffy white wool seen in Scotland and New Zealand. They were nonetheless incredibly cute, following a young shepherd boy in orderly rows. While Ninh Thuan is less-known than nearby tourist destinations, it offers an incredible variety of experiences for adventurous explorers.