Located in Binh Thuan
province, Phan Thiet is 200 km from Saigon and lies
south of Cam Ranh bay on the southernmost stretch of
Central Vietnam. Binh Thuan was once a part of the
Cham kingdom. In 1692, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu captured
the area and named it Binh Thuan Dinh. Binh Thuan is
quite important in Vietnam's history, as it was
because of this area that in 1306 King Tran Nhan Tong
agreed to the marriage of princess Huyen Chan to King
Jaya Sinhavarman III of the Cham Kingdom. During the
revolution against the French, it was in this area
that the two patriots Phan Chu Trinh and Tran Quy Cap
had their start. Furthermore, according to local lore,
the area around Phan Thiet is where Han Mac Tu, the
disfigured poet, spent his time forlornly as he waited
for Mong Cam, the lady of his dreams.
Phan Thiet is the largest
town in Binh Thuan province with an estimated
population of close to 100,000 people. The town sits
on the borders of Ca Ty river, is 20 Km from the ocean
and swells with boats during the fishing season in the
summer months. Fishing is Phan Thiet's largest
industry. According to local statistics, some 100
different varieties of fishes are caught here with an
annual yield of over 70,000 tons. As a result, Phan
Thiet is famous for its Nuoc Mam (fish sauce), a
seasoning used in Vietnamese cuisine.
Most visitors to Phan Thiet
will notice the pungent odor that is associated with
fish sauce production. This is a process where
anchovy-like fishes are caught, cleaned and place in
large vats of brine. The whole concoction is cured
over a period of eight months to a year before the
fish by-products are strained and the liquid is then
diluted into less concentrated solutions to be
bottled. Fish sauce from Phan Thiet is available
throughout Vietnam. Today, the annual production of
nuoc mam in Phan Thiet is 16-17 million liters per
annum. The salt used in the production of fish sauce
is also a local product of Binh Thuan province.
Although fishing is a big industry in Phan Thiet, it
still remains a family business for many people in the
region. While the men are out at sea, women and
children often stay home to support the business by
mending nets and tending to shore related chores.
With only a 10% humidity
during most of the year, Binh Thuan is the dryest
province in Vietnam. Most of its terrain consist of
rocky mountains and sandy hills. Agriculture is almost
non existent since few crops can grow on this arid
land.A few kilometers East of Phan Thiet are some of
the most beautiful stretches of beaches in Vietnam.
Some are lined with tall coconut trees, others lean
against vast red sand dunes.
During the period between
July and October, the fishing season is at its
pinnacle in Phan Thiet as fishermen go out to sea.
These boats form a magnificent display of lights at
night and can be seen from shore. In fact, the scene
is liken to a floating city by the locals.
Bai Rang or Rang
Beach is probably the most beautiful beach in Phan
Thiet. It is located 15 Km northeast of Phan Thiet and
is described by the locals as the beach that is
nestled in the middle of a coconut palm forest. Other
landmarks in the area of Rang beach are Da Ong Dia
(boulders of the Earth God), and Suoi Tien (Celestial
Muine Sand Dunes
However, by far
the most popular among tourists are Mui Ne Sand Dunes
and Mui Ne Beaches located 12 miles East of Phan Thiet.
The sand dunes in this area are shaped by the elements
of the wind and therefore is a spectacular site to the
Muine Fishing Village
Mui Ne gets its name from
the local fishermen using this area as a shelter
during the stormy season. Mu~i meaning nose or
peninsula and Ne meaning to duck or to take shelter.
The combination of sun, sand and deep turquoise water
of the pacific ocean create a breath taking and
spectacular site to the visitors.