Chances are you haven’t yet heard of it; but if the thrill of a relatively undiscovered location excites you and the more mainstream beach bustles of Bali and Phuket exhaust you, Cam Ranh may be the cure.
A gateway to the nearing beach town of Nha Trang, and a further hop and skip away from the increasingly popular Da Nang and Phu Quoc, Cam Ranh is the home of the quaint, cool, and – yes – quiet. Formerly one of the US military’s most prominent bases during the Vietnam War, it only recently opened up for tourism, with a freshly-minted international airport and a very select slew of wondrous visitors to follow.
Cam Ranh feels incredibly under-the-radar, but that is exactly its appeal. Located in the Southern Khanh Hoa Province off the South Central Coast of Vietnam, the town boasts an Indochine charm that can easily capture the heart of the independent and curious explorer. Checking in for the weekend, read ahead for its key highlights below, and get packing on poolside literature, resort wear, and plenty of new adventures.
What’s the vibe?
It is rare for a Bangkokian to feel like he or she is the only person in a single kilometre radius, but that’s exactly where and how Cam Ranh Bay may tickle said Bangkokian’s fancy. The quiet beach town is set on a long-winding peninsula, featuring untouched stretches of white sand. Take ‘untouched’ quite literally here. Dead corals wash up on the shores in the mornings (before dedicated visitors clear them up in true eco-conscious spirit), as the coast remains wonderfully free of mass tourism and polluting large hotels. In fact, all of Cam Ranh Bay has something seemingly deserted about it, with a few fishermen’s boats lying tranquil in the distance to ward off intruders to the peace. It is incredibly quaint and entirely unpretentious in an almost surreal manner. Consider it the ideal place to go incognito, if you wanted to.
Where to stay
A quick 15-minute ride from the airport, The Anam is set on a private stretch of beach directly in Cam Ranh Bay. For an approximation for how it scores on a romantic-to-idyllic ratio, here’s a fun fact: The Anam was the setting for multiple versions of the popular dating show The Bachelor.
Quirky anecdotes aside, it is easy to see why the state-of-the-art resort was chosen as an ideal spot to fall in love. Wide, open spaces convey a breezy vacation feeling throughout, with rooms and villas linked by pebbled walkways. Whether you explore the property on foot or order a golf buggy to take you between the four restaurants, spa pavilions, and the beach, there’s a wonderful sense of ease and relaxation here.
The design ethos is one that blends colonial era charm with Vietnamese accents, surrounding three pools, multiple sports activity centres, and a 3D movie cinema. Serenely tropical and highly ‘grammable, stay in one of the beach-facing rooms and suites, or bring the whole fam for a stay in one of the large, two-floor, multi-bedroom villas. Featuring sweeping balconies and private pools, The Anam is very much the kind of resort that seeks to indulge its visitors, and invites them to never really have to leave the comforts of the premises.
What to eat
The Anam itself offers several dining outlets to enjoy both local and international delicacies. Definitely partake in a Vietnamese cooking class at Lang Viet Restauant & Bar to see what goes into making the most common traditional staples, from Vietnamese spring rolls to a pungent mango salad.
Naturally, seafood is very big here, and is incorporated in local adaptations of Vietnamese favourites. Cam Ranh specifically boasts a dish similar to Thailand’s very own kanom krok, but in more savoury form. Known as can cake Cam Ranh, the little hotcakes are filled with a sour broth and filled with shrimp, squid, or quail eggs.
For more food options, we headed to the nearing town of Nha Trang to sample everything from bun cha ca grilled fish rice noodles to banh xeo much Nha Trang egg squid pancake. Nha Trang bread is also region-renowned, and whilst banh mi isn’t a particularly famous dish here, it would be near culinary sin not to stop at a street-side banh mi stall to sample a fresh baguette or three.
Head to one of the many cafes and coffeeshops (again, a Vietnamese foodie sin not to) to rack up on heartbeats and adrenaline with Vietnamese coffee, at cute spots like AN Cafe, where the coffee is produced in-house. End your day with an evening of live music and soft ocean waves at one of the many beachfront restaurants, such as the Cookbook Cafe or the popular Sailing Club Nha Trang.
What to do
Cam Ranh spells wellness with a capital ‘W’. Be it sunrise yoga on the beach at The Anam, or a Vietnamese herbal massage at the renowned Fusion Cam Ranh spa, weekend trips to the bay area are incomplete without a little self- and soul-pampering. The town’s unspoiled and quiet beach setting makes it a prime location for water sports, whilst its tranquil atmosphere is a breeding ground for all kinds of stress-soothing. Feeling adventurous? Take a boat out to explore tiny Binh Hung island opposite Cam Ranh Bay, or explore Tu Van Pagoda on 3/4 Road. The temple is built almost entirely from snail shells and coral; a testament to the beauty of the beach town.
Nevertheless, do not assume that Cam Ranh does not know how to party. Overlooking the coast 47 floors above the city, definitely head to Skylight Nha Trang for a night out. The Skydeck, restaurant, lounge, pool, and club are the go-to venue for a crazy evening out on the town. You’ll soon come to realise that fruit platters and water pipes are a common occurrence at club tables, and you’ll also find that a dancing Pikachu mascot is exactly what was lacking on your nights out back home. Also, a hangover the next day? In Cam Ranh? Alongside a cup of Vietnamese black coffee? Not too painful.
Do not miss
If there is one spot besides the beach that everyone raved to us about here, it is this one. It is no secret that café culture is big in Vietnam, and no visit would be complete without checking out the extremely photogenic Rainforest Café. Spread across multiple floors and themed after a tropical oasis, the charming coffeeshop is a cosy and playful spot for a sweet afternoon treat. Be warned: there will be queues outside to enter, but the wait will be well worth it.
Bangkok Airways now flies from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Cam Ranh four times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun) as the only carrier offering direct flights between Bangkok and Cam Ranh. The flight takes approximately two hours, with lounge access available and warm meals served onboard.