In a nutshell
Phan Thiet, the capital of the Binh Thuan region, is a quiet coastal city located around 10km from Mui Ne. Often dismissed in favour of the livelier resort of Mui Ne, Phan Thiet offers a more rustic charm which can be perfect for those looking to get away from the well-trodden tourist trail.
With a population of around 250,000, Phan Thiet does offer plenty in the way of eateries and beaches, however these don’t always cater for tourists and the quality may vary.
Why go to Phan Thiet
If you’re prepared to get off the beaten track, Phan Thiet allows you to get to know the friendly locals by exploring the region in the same way they do. We suggest you head down to Le Loi Street Beach to relax on the beach, watching everyone from babies to grandparents go about their day. For a quieter stretch of beach, wander to the western end of Le Loi where you can unwind in peace as the sky turns to dusk.
A number of day trips are possible from Phan Thiet, from the cable car ride up the Ta Cu Mountain where you can witness the 59m Buddha statue, to the quaint Ke Ga Lighthouse near Mui Ne as well as dragon fruit farms and sand dunes too.
When to go to Phan Thiet
Along with many of the other southern regions of Vietnam, Phan Thiet’s driest season falls between December and May when you can expect endless days of sunshine with temperatures ranging between 25-35 degrees Celsius.
November and June are shoulder periods between the dry and rainy seasons, so you may experience some rainfall. However, as with many South East Asian countries, the rains are unlikely to perpetuate the whole day and therefore shouldn’t deter you from travelling at this time.
Accommodation in Phan Thiet
Unlike many of the hotspots along Vietnam’s stunning coastline, Phan Thiet is not used to accommodating throngs of tourists and therefore does not cater for travellers in quite the same way.
For example, many of the guesthouses do not offer motorbike rental which is often seen as a necessity for independent travellers. Although the city is starting to see more and more budget-friendly accommodation options springing up, generally hostels and cheap guesthouses are few and far between.
If you are happy to splash out a bit more look out for hotels like the Ocean Dunes Resort or head out of town for spa hotels such as the Princess D’Annam Resort and Spa.
Food in Phan Thiet
Phan Thiet is probably best known for its seafood when it comes to cuisine. As it is so close to the coast you can expect fantastically fresh seafood for just a cut of the price as you would pay in some of the larger cities. Even compared to neighbouring Mui Ne, Phan Thiet offers great local eats from just VND35,000.
Tip Our recommendation is to head to Phan Van Dong Street for a great selection of eateries. Dining where there are lots of locals is always a good sign!
Phan Thiet Central Market is also a wonder for foodie lovers with both fresh produce and cooked meals available.
Sweet Delights is a well-known establishment that offers a range of both local and western food and, as the name suggests, plenty of sweet treats (VND40,000-VND90,000).
Getting around in Phan Thiet
Phan Thiet is split in half by the Ca Ty River that runs directly through the city. On the west lies the old town and the east is home to much of the newer developments. There are plenty of bridges across the river and it is fairly simple to wander around the city. However, as with any Vietnamese city you can easily find a taxi or motorcycle to take you from A to B too.
Getting in and out
As Mui Ne is the closest popular destination, it is likely you will need to pass through the city on your way in or out of Phan Thiet, especially travelling north to Hanoi. Nguyen Thong Street leads out towards Mui Ne and you can either grab a taxi, tuk-tuk or motorcycle to take you there. Alternatively there are some public buses that run between the cities throughout the day. The Red Buses that shuttle between Mui Ne and Phan Thiet cost around VND20,000 and depart from the bus station to the south west of the city.
There is a train station in Phan Thiet, however, there is only one train a day to and from Ho Chi Minh City. The train runs from HCMC to Phan Thiet at approximately 6.40am–11.22am and returns from Phan Thiet at 1.20pm (arriving into HCMC 6.27pm). Tickets vary in price depending on seat category but range from VND190,000 to VND230,000 (at the time of writing).
As a slightly cheaper option from Ho Chi Minh City, take an air-con bus which takes approximately six hours (VND140,000). There are plenty of operators like Hanh Cafe and The Sinh Tourist to name the most popular and reliable ones.
You can also take a sleeper bus from Phan Thiet up to Hanoi. This will take up a lot of time (30hrs), but is a suitable option for budget travellers. Traina take the same 30 hours to bring you to Hanoi and cost between VND800,000 and VND1,500,000. Alternatively, get a bus to Nha Trang then take the short two hour flight up to Hanoi (VND1,500,000) or south to Ho Chi Minh City(VND500,000).
Is Phan Thiet safe?
Although there may be some petty crimes in Phan Thiet it is unlikely you will run into any trouble in the city if you keep your wits about you. As the city is not a main hotspot for tourists you are less likely to be conned; rather the locals will just want to get to know you instead!