Text & Photos: Ngo Huy Hoa
Cape Hon Doi, the first place in Vietnam to greet the sun each morning, remains unknown to many people, as getting there is challenging. Visitors who make the trip will find pristine beaches, thick forests and rocky cliffs.
Located in Van Ninh District of Khanh Hoa province, Cape Hon Doi is the easternmost point of mainland Vietnam. Lying almost 100km from Nha Trang, Mon Marsh is the gateway to the Hon Doi Peninsula, which is home to many empty beaches, vast sand dunes and old-growth forests. The area’s biodiversity keeps visitors in awe. The wind often blows sand over the trail, increasing visitors’ sense of entering a lost world. Deep inside the desert one can still hear the murmur of waves and taste the salty air.
Visitors typically camp on the beach, then trek 8km to the peninsula’s easternmost tip, Cape Hon Doi. Walking along this path in the dark arouses feelings of wonder as visitors pass banks of pink reeds waving in the eerie light. Hikers pass through sand dunes dotted with wild flowers and forests thick with fallen leaves. The hike is fairly demanding, especially if completed beneath the summer sun.
Hikers can see many coastal flowers and plants, such as purple Tu Bi flowers, white rosy periwinkles that are used to cure coughs, Xec Mau plants with stretchy leaves that are woven into hammocks, strange-looking octopus bushes, and sea poison trees.
Leaving the thick forest behind and crossing the dunes, the easternmost tip of mainland Vietnam comes into view. Rocks of all sizes cover the beach, piled on top of each other to create a magnificent scene. On these slippery rocks, hikers must take care. The piles of rocks look ready to collapse at any moment, like a scene in the action film “127 Hours”. Upon reaching the last cliff one can see Hon Doi Peninsula and the warm rays of the rising sun.
A steel cone stands on top of the cliff to mark the easternmost point of mainland Vietnam. Here, visitors may overlook the East Sea with its offshore islands, which generations of Vietnamese people have cherished and protected.