(This is a belated blog post about my holidays with friends to Thien Cam Beach 2 months ago. Actually the beach trip came right after my short weekend motorbike drive to Tam Dao Mountains)
It’s been a long time since I last had a trip to the sea, to be exact, it has been 3 years since Phu Quoc island. I guess it was because my addiction for mountain road trips kept pulling me towards the high lands and never gave a break for me to think about our 3,000 km of coastline. But, finally, after failing to find company for a mountain trek during the long May holidays in Vietnam (6 consecutive days off in the calendar – Yes, we do have some ridiculously long public holidays in Vietnam), I had the chance to see the sea again.
Thien Cam Beach, located 20 km away from Ha Tinh city, is a beautiful local beach (during 3 days here the beach was packed with people but I saw zero foreign tourist). And even for domestic travelers from other parts of the country, it’s difficult and confusing to get there if you travel independently.
Getting there from Hanoi:
First, we took the night train from Hanoi to Vinh city of Nghe An province. From there to Thien Cam it is still 70 km more. Lesson learnt is never to go on soft seating class (Imagine sitting inside a tiny little fridge for 6 hours!). Thus, try to rush to the train station early, like a week or two in advance, so that you can secure a sleeper class ticket. Remember to bring ID card or passport with.
The train left at 11 pm and we arrived in Vinh station early in the morning after a seriously freezing night. A hot bowl of pho helped our blood circulate before we realized that there was no clear instruction found on Google, even in Vietnamese, on how to get to Thien Cam. We asked around and were instructed to go to a bus stop about 100 meters straight from the entrance of the train station, we got on the wrong bus after that though. Later on we learnt that we should have taken the yellow bus number 6 that went from Vinh to Ha Tinh and should have got off at TT. Thach Ha (“TT” = town), which was closest to Thien Cam (of course still a taxi ride needed to get there after).
The other bus took us to Ha Tinh center anyway, and from there we took a taxi to Thien Cam.
There are other methods to go to Thien Cam rather than the way we took. One possible option is to send your motorbike with you on the train, so that you can drive to Thien Cam from the train station. Otherwise, you can take a bus to Ha Tinh city from Luong Yen bus station, and then take a taxi to Thien Cam from there (about 20 km).
Where to stay:
There are very few hotels in the area, all providing around 500 rooms in total only. Therefore, if you go on public holidays, book in advance or else there will be nothing available to rent!
We stayed at Nha Khach Bo Cong An (Guest house of Ministry of Public Security), tel 0393862277. The quality was decent, food was fine, and the cost was 800,000 VND for a small room. Normally in high season room rate is often doubled so we were lucky to get a good rate.
What to do:
Not much, mostly relaxing. We wanted to go to Ke Go lake, about 30 km away from Thien Cam but there was no motorbikes for rent so we had to give up the plan.
We spent 3 days visiting a few pagodas nearby, going bathing in the sea, eating seafood and walking around a little bit. We also hired an electric carriage and the driver took us around the tiny area. Yes, Thien Cam is very small, even the beach itself is probably only 1 km long, and that’s all of it. Anyway, the fact that the beach was tidy, beautiful and not as crowded as other beaches at the same time made up for it.
It was a good time, beach means good! And I’m soon to set off to a beautiful island in the North of Vietnam so stayed tuned for more photos! We have 3,000 km of coastline so there should be no reason for us to have to go to other countries for the seaside. Vietnamese beaches will kill it all, just more investment in the services and infrastructure needed (!).
PS: The whole trip cost each of us 2,900,000 VND (145 USD) including train, bus, taxi, electric car trip, 3 hotel nights and 2 times seafood per day in 3 days. Not bad for a vacation, isn’t it?!