The excitement started minutes after leaving the Ho Chi Minh International Airport. With my Vietnamese welcoming party-of-three, I walked to a parking lot expecting a car. But no car was in sight. Instead I saw a sea of scooters as far as my eyes could see. Gaggles of scooters – one of the quirky, endearing characteristics of Vietnam. Next I was told to wait at the curb. Moments later up zips my gracious host Win on a scooter, her mom and aunt doubled up on one behind her. They first strapped my 2 bags onto the two scooters, one of which I then mounted behind Win. No helmets – this is Southeast Asia after all – we headed out into the stifling hot exhaust fumes that flow into the arteries of Hoh Chi Minh.
After a day to chill and get acquainted with District 3, the neighborhood my hotel was nestled in, I was glad to have made online reservations with a local tour company, Sinhcafe, to explore a bit of Vietnam. Sinhcafe rocks with its efficient, economical, and reliable company. It is the go-to tour company for Vietnamese travellers and international backpackers.
The journey to the coastal city of Nha Trang, 350 Km. north of Ho Chi Minh and 1000 Km. south of the capital Hanoi takes about 10 hours. This city is known by many Vietnamese as the best seaside resort in the country. I had other beach plans though; Nha Trang served as a perfect base for my journey to the remote Paradise Resort.
Along the way you can see vast fields of lush green trees and plants, refreshing to view until your eyes get tangled in the patches of land here and there plagued by the chemicals of warfare. At that moment, you realize you are looking at wasteland where no living organism can ever exist again – evidence of the devastation of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. But that’s another story.
The moment the bus reached the Nha Trang bus station, I grabbed my bag out of the compartment under the bus and stepped onto the chaotic street. I was immediately swarmed by drivers offering to motor bike-taxi me to a hotel of their choice. Fortunately I had reserved a room in advance; it simplified the task of dealing with the swarm.
When my driver turned onto the beach-front road Tran Phu, I recalled the website photo of the waterfront view from my pre-booked room and smiled. We had driven into the picture.
Get Me To The Beach
I awoke early to the sun’s warmth as it poured in through the floor – to – ceiling windows of my hotel room. Well rested and happy, I leaped out of bed and into the shower. Out on the street, I found no shortage of eateries for breakfast. I went to a favourite among travelers – Good Morning Vietnam – on Biet Thu Street.
Next I hit the street to find transportation to my final destination of Paradise Resort at Doc Let Beach. The trip would be 45 kilometers north of Nha Trang. While I felt relief knowing I had already booked a beach hut online, anxiety about how to get there set in. Public transit was not an option and I was on a tight budget.
That anxiety was short lived. The limited possibilities made choosing a breeze. A motor bike driver had convincingly promised to take me to my destination comfortably, safely, and less costly than a regular taxi could.
Paradise Resort at Doc Let Beach
This ultimate bargain starts at $US30 (single) or $US50 (double) a day with 3 meals and a clean, well constructed and designed beach hut. Vladimir, the proprietor, hails from Europe and does his best to maintain a laid-back, hassle free atmosphere. His ‘Paradise’ has 170 meters of beach front, and is located in rural Ninh Hoa, in Khanh Province.
If you seek peace and quiet with ample time and space to sit and look out at the wondrous aquamarine sea, read, write, meditate, get a massage, play solitaire, this will be your slice of Heaven for as long as you wish to indulge yourself.
Contact Vladimir via his website in advance and for a modest fee you can arrange for a lift to his paradise. Otherwise, when securing your transportation to Paradise Resort, unless you are driving yourself it is advisable to make sure your driver speaks English. At the time of writing, the locals did not commonly wear helmets when riding motor bikes, so it is also advisable that you insist your driver provides helmets if you go by motor bike. It will cost a few dollars more, but the peace of mind is worth it. The law requires riders to wear helmets; the local police simply do not enforce the law. But beware – police have been known to stop and charge unsuspecting foreigners without helmets on random days, and the penalty has been substantially high.
The route from Nha Trang to Doc Let Beach area (the setting of Paradise Resort) is an inspiring drive on windy, coastal roads with a few very steep grades. You’ll love riding on the back of a motor bike – the open air allows every fibre of your five senses to be stimulated. It’s a dynamic start to a memorable stay at Paradise.