I’m currently in Bai Xep, Vietnam, a tiny finishing village just south of Quy Nhon that barely registers a blip in the guidebooks. As I’m writing, I hear waves lapping on the beach and have a view of clear, turquoise-blue ocean in front of me. This morning I walked a few meters away from my hostel and had an entire stretch of soft yellow sand all to myself. I know it’s a cliché, but I’ll say it anyway: this feels like paradise (scroll down for photos; you'll see what I mean).
I was in a pretty bleak mood when I arrived here yesterday from Hoi An. Although Hoi An is adorably charming, the pushy saleswomen, hoards of tourists, and superficiality of the town were starting to grate on my nerves after four days there. At the same time, though, I was sad to leave my new friends that I’d met in Hanoi and had traveled with over the past 16 days. I'd been so lucky to meet up with a few amazing women, and I knew I would miss them.
The bus ride from Hoi An to Quy Nhon was long, bumpy, and crowded. Our driver swerved around cars, trucks, and motorbikes, going far more quickly than I was comfortable with, honking his horn every few seconds. As usual, I didn’t know how long it would take or whether we would get a restroom break. In the end, it took about four and a half hours, and we did stop after about 3 hours. After arriving in Quy Nhon and a quick negotiation over the fee, I hopped on with a motorbike driver for a breakneck-speed but short ride to Bai Xep.
The moment I got off the bike, rubber-legged and happy to have arrived in one piece, I looked up to see an incredible view in front of me: the ocean, local children playing on the beach, and a few fishing boats. I breathed in deeply and relaxed.
I plan to leave tomorrow—I would stay longer but I want to get to Da Lat soon. There’s not much to do other than chilling out on the beach, and the wifi doesn’t really work, so it’s a good excuse to relax and do nothing for about 48 hours. Just perfect.
If you go…
- I booked a bus ride through my guest house in Hoi An for around 230,000 dong (about $10.50). I might have overpaid slightly, but I didn’t have the energy to shop around. If I were to do it again, I probably would have take the train from Hoi An to Dieu Tri and then a taxi from Dieu Tri to Bai Xep, as the trains seem to be more comfortable and enjoyable than the bus ride, which is cramped and stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers.
- There aren’t many places to stay on the beach in Bai Xep so I’d recommend booking ahead! Big Tree Backpackers is great—friendly staff, chill atmosphere, good food (although breakfast isn’t included sadly), and lots of chairs and couches to hang out on. The rooms and bathrooms are very basic and have no AC so can get pretty hot; also, the wifi and power are a bit unreliable. But for laid-back travelers, this is a good choice. Haven next door (same owners as Big Tree) seemed quite nice and popular for a more upscale stay—they were completely booked for a few weeks. Life's a Beach was another backpacker place that seemed good too.
- For food, there aren’t many options within walking distance, so be aware that you’ll be constrained to the restaurants at Big Tree or Life’s A Beach. That’s ok for a few days and the food at Big Tree is quite good, if a little pricier than I'd gotten used to. I walked down the street into the village and had some delicious local banh xeo, but didn’t see any other options. If I were to stay longer, I’d probably rent a motorbike and go into Quy Nhon for more choices.
- Be warned: there are no ATMs in Bai Xep—bring cash with you!