We drove to Cam Ranh from Phan Rang, which was the most beautiful drive! The road followed the coast, with the sea to the right of us and incredible mountains to the left. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. We stopped a few times just to take it all in, as this was the most scenic place we’d been yet. We’d decided to go to Cam Ranh as we’d read about a beach, which looked like paradise. White sands, crystal blue waters and mountains as a backdrop. We didn’t really know much else about the town, but it made a good stop off on our way to our next big stop, Nha Trang. We drove into Cam Ranh and realised there wasn’t too much there, so booked a hotel nearby called the Thanh Cam Ranh Hotel. It was £10, which was a bit more expensive than we’d been paying but we didn’t really have a lot of choice. The hotel itself was huge, with our room being much bigger than what we’d been used to! The only issue was it had one plug socket, for the whole room. Bit of a nightmare to charge phones/use the bedside lamp! We left our stuff in the room and headed down the road to a supermarket, where we bought some waterproof plasters for my leg. Unfortunately they only had ‘big’ ones, so I ended up cutting and sticking nine together to make a bigger square and cover the burn! Going in the sea with this was a test run, as the main reason I needed a waterproof plaster was we were heading to the waterpark in Nha Trang.
With my leg all sorted, we decided it was time to hit the beach. We had a look on maps and realised Binh Tien was actually 30km back the way we came from Phan Rang! So we’d kinda driven right past it. Oops. One thing I was learning this holiday, was it definitely pays to be organised. I like to thing I’m usually pretty organised but this trip was meant to make me ‘go with the flow’ more, so I was trying not to plan ahead (which was killing me!). To think of all the time we could’ve saved if I’d made us actual plans… We drove back down the main road, then took a smaller track off and down toward the beach. The road here was insane – it went right along the cliff with incredible views and big gradients. We then realised, this was actually the Vinh Hy-Binh Tien Pass. This was the road we should’ve taken from Phan Rang, as it ran right along the cliff the entire way. As I said, the one that we’d done was beautiful but a lot of it was just main road that went through fields. We’d just typed in Cam Ranh on maps and it had sent us that way, as it was the quickest. Again, planning is always a good idea. It was nice to drive some of it now! We got to a fork in the road where we turned left down a hill that took us towards the beach. I wasn’t sure if maps was taking us the right way, as the road soon disappeared and we were just driving along a sandy path. It was a good thing Bruce was a dirt bike, as it was pretty bumpy! Having said that, this beach was so far off the beaten track it was completely unspoilt. Not one building was in site, with only a small village before the sandy road (this had some guesthouses, but as it was low season everything was closed). We parked Bruce under a tree with a couple of other bikes and headed down to the water. It was exactly as we’d imagined – crystal clear and blue, crashing against the white sand. The beach was pretty much empty, apart from a group of other locals having a BBQ. We’d finally found paradise!
We’d started to feel a little disheartened since we’d got to the coast of Vietnam, as it just hadn’t been what we’d thought it was. All the photos we’d seen had been white sands and turquoise seas, but in reality they’d just been pretty standard with murky grey water. Phan Rang had been our first glimmer of hope, though we’d got there later on we hadn’t seen the water properly in sunlight so were hopeful but not convinced. Now that we’d arrived here in Cam Ranh and visited Binh Tien we realised that from here on the beaches were going to be beautiful, if they were anything like this one! We left our stuff on the shore and headed into the water for a swim. Either side of the bay was lined with beautiful mountains, it looked like something from a postcard. The sea was warm and calm, we could’ve spent forever in it!
Unfortunately, forever didn’t last as long as I’d hoped as I got stung by a jellyfish. It wasn’t huge, but enough to make me jump and rip the bandage off my leg in the movement (why is it always me?). After this I managed to get out the sea pretty sharpish! I was more concerned about getting sand on my burn, as at this point it was very much an open wound. I’d put so much faith in my homemade giant waterproof plaster I hadn’t actually brought anything else to put over it.. We had the tape, but no gauze. I couldn’t ride back along dusty roads on the back of a bike without anything covering it, so in the end we taped the towel around my leg. It looked ridiculous! Think, big fluffy white leg warmers or something like that. Not a good look! We definitely got some strange looks from people as we drove back into the town of Cam Ranh, that’s for sure. We went to another supermarket to see if they did any bigger plasters but they didn’t, so we gave up and headed home. I’d have to think of another invention for the waterpark!
That night we had a look on Trip Advisor to try and find somewhere for dinner. We ended up heading to a place which had a few good reviews, as there really didn’t seem to be much choice. When we got to the restaurant, everyone stared at us. We’d realised that Cam Ranh isn’t a place often visited by tourists, except maybe those driving through like us. The whole menu was in Vietnamese, but luckily we’d learnt that Bo meant beef and Xao meant noodles, so both ordered beef noodles. This little knowledge had served us well in some of the more rural, less popular areas! We decided we’d go for a drink after dinner, so had a wander around the streets for a bar or anything. All we seemed to find was coffee shop after coffee shop! Each were huge and full of locals, some whole families sitting down for a coffee at 10pm. It seemed like a weird concept to us! Our assumption that not many tourists passed through Cam Ranh was confirmed too, as people clapped, cheered and waved as we walked into a couple of the places. We finally found a little restaurant on the side of the road with a Saigon Beer sign outside, so went there for a few drinks before heading back to the hotel.
The next day we decided to visit a pagoda before heading back on the road to Nha Trang, called Chua Tu Van. It wasn’t really just one, but gardens with incredible statues and buildings inside. We had a wander around, where we found a dragon that you could walk up inside it’s mouth!
The most incredible thing however I thought was Chanh Tu Duy at the back of the gardens, which was covered completely in rocks and shells. It was a really tall building, which was covered on the inside and out. Inside, you could look up and see a small hole letting light through at the top of the roof, the shells continuing all the way up. The effort and dedication that goes into creating these buildings is just amazing.
The shells seemed to be a reoccurring theme, as we also saw a couple of other things covered in shells or using shells for detailing. It was beautiful! There were also shrines, small pagodas and a big buddha lying down. It was a real mixture!
After exploring we headed to Nha Trang. Cam Ranh had been amazing, purely for the desert island paradise feel to the beach we’d gone to. It’s a place that I’d tell anyone doing a road trip to add to their itinerary! It was very peaceful, and I’m not sure I could’ve stayed more than one night, but I’m glad we did get to experience the incredible beach and have a look at the interesting temple. Next up on the itinerary was Nha Trang, which we knew was a busy, touristy place, so Cam Ranh was a nice break before that!
Charlotte Rick x