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Qui Nhon

QUI NHON

tel 056 pop 260,000

Qui Nhon (Quy Nhon) is the capital of Binh Dinh province and one of Vietnam’s more active second string seaports. It’s a pleasant enough place to break the long journey from Nha Trang to Danang, and a great spot to sample some fresh local seafood.

The beaches in the immediate vicinity of the city are nothing special, but south of Qui Nhon there are some nice beaches to explore, notably on the newly built coastal road to Song Cau.

On the outskirts of Qui Nhon there are numerous Cham towers to visit, including soem along National Hwy 1, about 10km north of the Qui Nhon turn off.

During the American War, there was considerable South Vietnamese, US, VC and South Korean military activity in the Qui Nhon area. Refugees dislocated by fighting and counter insurgency programme built whole slums of tin and thatch shacks around the city. During this period, the mayor of Qui Nhon, hoping to cash in on the presence ot US troops, turned his official residence in to a large massage parlour.

There is an obsure historical connection between Qui Nhon and New Zealand dating back to the early 1960s, when funds from New Zealand were provided to build the provincial hospital and later to aid refugees. The New Zealand connection continues with colunteers working on development projects in the province.

Orientation

Qiu Nhon is on the coast, 10km eats of National Hwy 1. The highway junction where you turn off to Qui Nhon is called Phu Tai.

Qui Nhon proper is located on an eastwest orientated peninsula, shaped like an anteater’s nose. The tip of the nose (the port area) is closed to the public. The municipal beach is on the peninsula’s southern coast.

From the municipal beach, Cu Lao Xanh Island is visible offshore, as is a rusting US Army tank lying half sunmerged closer to the shore. Due east of the beach you can see, the distance, an oversize statue of Tran Hung Dao, erected on a promontory overlooking the fishing village of Hai Minh.

The streets around Lon Market constitute Qui Nhon’s town centre.

Information

Money There’s a branch of Vietcombank (tel 822266; 148 Đ Le Loi) on the corner of Đ Tran Hung Dao.

Email & Internet Access Check your email at Binh DInh Internet (245 Đ Le Hong Phong) for just 100d per minute.

Travel Agencies For tours to the Cham ruins of Thap Doi, Cha Ban and Duong Long, contact Binh Dinh tourist (tel 892953, fax 8295963, email: biditravel@dng.vnn.vn; 25 Đ Nguyen Hue).

Barbara’s backpacketrs (tel 892921; nzbarb@yahoo.com; 18 Đ Nguyen Hue) is a budget travellers hostel that also organises unique regional tours and boat trips.

Binh Dinh Museum

This small museum (cnr Đ Nguyen Hue & Đ Le Loi; ad mission free; open most mornings Mon-Fri) features exhibits on regional history, and includes some Cham statues and ancient bronze drums.

Long Khanh Pagoda

Long Khanh Pagoda, Qui Nhon’s main pagoda, is down an alley opposite 62 Đ Tran Cao Van and next to 143 Đ Tran Cao Van. At 17, high Buddha (built in 1972) is visible from the street, and presides over a lily pond that’s strongly defended (against surprise attack?) by barbed wire. To the left of the main building is a low tower sheltering a giant drum; to the right, its twin contains an enormous bell, which was cast in 1970.

The main sanctuary was completed in 1946 but it was damaged during the Franco – Viet Minh War; repairs were completed in 1975. In front of the large copper Thich Ca Buddha (with its multicoloured neon halo) is a drawing of multi-armed and multi-eyed Chuan De (the Goddess of Mercy); the numerous arms and eyes symbolise her ability to touch and see all. There is a colourfully painted Buddha at the edgeof the raised platform. In the corridor that passes behind the main altar is a bronze bell that dates from 1805 and has Chinese inscriptions on it.

Under the eaves of the left hand building in the courtyard, behind the sanctuary, hangs a blow up of the famous photograph of the monk, Thich Quang Duc, taken in Saigon in June 1963. In the photo, he is immolating himself to protest the policies of the Diem regime. The second level of the two storey building hehind the courtyard contains memorial plaques for deceased monks (on the middle altar) and ;ay people.

Long Khanh pagoda was founded round 1700 by a Chinese merchant, Duc Son (1679-1741). The monks who reside here preside over the religious affairs of Qui Nhon’s relatively active Buddhist community. Single-sex religiuos classes for children are held on Sunday.

Tam An Pagoda

Chua Tam An, Qui Nhon’s second most active pagoda, is a charming little place that atracts mostly female worhipers.

Thap Doi Cham Towers

The two Cham towers of Thap Doi have curved pyramidal roofs than the terracing typical of Cham architecture. The larger tower, whose four granite doorways are oriented towards the cardinal directions, retains some ot its ornate brickwork and remnants of the graced its summit. The dismembered torsos of garuda (griffin-like sky being that feed on naga, or divine serpents) can be seen at the corners of the roofs of both structures.

The upper reaches of the small tower are home to several flourishing trees, whose creeping tendrilous roots have forced their way between bricks, enmeshing parts of the structure in the sort of netlike tangle for which the monuments of Angko are famous.

To get there, head out of town on Đ Tran Hung Dao and turn right after street number 886 on to Đ Thap Doi; the towers are about 100m from Đ Tran Hung Dao.

Zoo

Binh DInh – Xiem Riep – Ratanakiri Zoo (2b Đ Nguyen Hue), whose inhabitants include monkeys, crocodiles, porcupines, bears, is named after the two Cambodian provinces the animals came from. The uncharitable might classify the animals here as war booty (or prisoners of war).

Lon Market

Lon Market (Cho Lon), Qui Nhon’s centre market, is in a large modern building enclosed by a courtyard, and fruit and vegetables are sold.

Beaches

Qui Nhon municipal beach, which extends along the southern side of the antearer’s nose, consists of a few hnudred metres of sand shaded by a coconut grove. The nicest section of beach is across from the Qui Nhon hotel. Farther west, the shore is lined with the boats and shacks of fishing families.

The longer, quieter Queen’s Beach begins about 2km southwest of the municipal beach. To get there, follow Đ Nguyen Hue away from the tip of the peninsula westwards. Further south there are several good beaches on the recently completed coastal road to Song Cau.

Qui Hoa Leper Colony Queen’s Beach

This is a tourist attraction and visitors are welcome, for a small entrance fee, to enjoy the beach. As leper colonies go, this one is highly unusual. Rather than being a depressing place, it’s a sort of model village near the seafront, where treated patients live together with their families in small well kept houses. According to their abilities, the patients work in the rice fields, in fishing, and in repair oriented businesses or small craft shops (one supported by Handicap International produces prosthetic limbs).

The grounds of the hospital (tel 646343; admission 3000d; open 8am-11.30am & 1.30pm -4pm daily) are so well maintained that it looks a bit like a resort, complete with numerous busts of distinguished and historically important doctors (both Vietnamese and foreign) scattered around the property.

Fronting the leper colony is Queen’s Beach, one of the nicer stretches of sand around Qui Nhon and a popular weekend hang-out of the city’s expat community.

The leper colony and beach are at the western end of An Đ Huong, about 1.5km off the main road. En route to the beach, consider making a detour to visit the hillside Tomb of Han Mac Tu.

Qui Hoa is also accessible from the new road to Song Cua - turn left (down to the village) at the top of the first hill, if coming from Qui Nhon. There is a sign for the hospital at the junction.

Places to Stay

Barbara’s Backpackers (tel 892921; nzbarb@yahoo.com; 18 Đ Nguyen Hue; dorm beds US$2, fan rooms US$5-7), a venerable, is run by Qui Nhon’s local foreign travel expert, a congenial Kiwi named Barbara. The hotel is directly across from the beach and boast a certain antiquated charm. All rooms have en suite bath rooms. Various types of tours and transport can be also arranged here, and the in house Kiwi Cafe features cheap home style international food (the only Western food menu in town).

Hai Ha Mini Hotel (891295, fax 892300; 5 Đ Tran Binh Trong; rooms US$15-30), one block from the city beach, is a friendly place with decent air-cin rooms.

The ageing Bank Hotel (tel 823591, fax 821013; 257 Đ Le Hong Phong; fan rooms US$12, air-con rooms US$13-18) is central and accustomed to hosting foreign guests.

Thanh Binh Hotel (tel 822041, fax 827569; thanhbinhhotel@dng.vnn.vn; 6 Đ Ly Thuong Kiet; old wing rooms US$8-18, new wing rooms US$20-40), just around the block from the Bank Hotel, has a somewhat derelict old wing, and a fancier new wing.

Dien Anh Hotel (tel 822041, fax 822869; 298 Đ Phan Boi Chau; singles/doubles with fan US$9/10, with air-con US$13/15), just across from the town square, is owned by the local movie studio and attracts aspiring actors.

Hoang Kim Hotel (Golden Age Hotel; tel 828768, fax 823826; 369 Đ Le Hong Phong; air-con rooms US$10-17) is another older place that is also centrally located.

Hai Au Hotel (Seagul Hotel; tel 846473; fax 846926; ks.haiau@dng.vnn.vn; 489 Đ An Duong Vuong; r ốm Ú US $20-45), southwest of the town centre, is popular with foreigntour group and right on the beach, but the rooms smell a bit musty. A simple breakfast is included in the rates.

Qui Nhon Hotel (tel 822401, fax 821162; hotelquynhon@dng.vnn.vn; 8 Đ Nguyen Hue; rooms US$27-60) is directly opposite the city beach. Judging from the hotel’s brochures, it seems that the management believes the Qui Nhon municipal beach and Quy NHin Hotel are Vietnam’s answer to the French Riviera and Club Med. However, Club Med is not exactly shaking in its boots.

Places to Eat

Seaview Cafeteria (tel 892953; Đ Nguyen Hue) is a pleasant and friendly beachfront palce that’s outdoors and next to the localtourist office. There’s a wide selection of dishes on the menu, and it’s also good for a cold drink or a coffee.

2000 Seafood (tel 814503; 1 Đ Tran Doc) is among the most popular seafood restaurant in Qui Nhon and tends to be packed with locals. Recommended is its seafood hotpot (lau).

Hong Phat (tel 811550; 261 Đ Le Hong Phong), just beside the Bank Hotel, does respectable Thai and Vietnamese dishes.

Thanh Minh (151 Đ Phan Boi CHau) and Tinh Tam (141 Đ Tran Cao Van), right next to Long Khanh pagoda, both serve amazingly good (and cheap!) vegerarian dishes.

In the town centre, look for the local point and eat com binh dan restaurants near the Bank hotel. Nearby, check out the tasty bakery items and excellent ice sream at Kinh Banh Ngoc Nga.

Shopping

Nga’s Centre & Craft Shop B (100 Đ Phan Boi Chau), a workshop for disabled women and orphants, is well worth stopping in for a look. They sell lovely Bahnar weavings, cushion covers and the like.

Getting There & Away

Air Vietnam Airlines flight link HCMC with Qui Nhon six times weekly.

In Qui Nhon, the Vietnam Airlines’s booking office (tel 822853) is near the town end of the old airstrip.

Phu Cat airport is 36km north of Qui Nhon. For airline passengers, transport to and from Phu Cat is provided by Vietnam Airlines minibus (25,000d).

Bus There are express buses to Buon Ma Thuot, Dalat, Danang, Dong Hoi, Hanoi, Hue, Nha Trang, Ninh Binh, Quang Tri, HCMC, Thanh Hoa and Vinh.

Qui Nhon bus station (Ben xe khach Qui Nhon; tel 822246; opposite 543 Đ Tran Hung Dao) is acroos from the corner with Đ Le Hong Phong.

Train The nearest th Reunification Express trains get to Qui Nhon is Dieu Tri, 10km from the city. Qui Nhon train station (Ga Qui Nhon, tel 822036) is at the end of a 10km spur line off the main north-south track. Only very slow local trains stop at QUi Nhon train station and they are not worht bothering with. It’s better to get to/from Dieu Tri by taxi or xe om around 50,000d.

Tickets for trains departing from Dieu Tri can be purchased at the Qui Nhon train station, though if you arrive in Dieu Tri by train, your best bet is to purchase an onward ticket before office near the Bank hotel. For tickets prices, see the Train section in the Getting Around chapter.

Car & Motorbike Road distances from QUi Nhon are: 677km to Peiku; 198km to Kon Tum; 174km to Quang Ngai; and 303km to Danang.

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