WHERE TO EAT & DRINK:
While the area is still developing in terms of nightlife and restaurants, the options available are surprisingly good. Or course there are plenty of local Vietnamese restaurants and the resorts have full menus of seafood and other dishes, but the new western run restaurants and bars have excellent food and cocktails.
Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club & Bar
Specialties include hamburgers, sausages, and seafood grilled on their open outdoor barbecue. They also have Mexican and Asian dishes which take advantage of the locally sourced produce. Recently they added family style traditional Vietnamese dining. If you are looking for a cocktail, their specialty drinks using local fruits are excellent.
Le Napoli Pizza
Located in the center of the bay across the resorts on Yen Ninh Street, Le Napoli has been serving great pizzas since 2014. Prices for a pizza are under $10 USD.
Cuban Bar and Grill
Unlike some of the other places, the Cuban is serving drinks until late. This restaurant/bar is almost next door to Le Napoli.
Street Food (Yen Ninh)
Phan Rang is famous for bánh căn, and banh xeo; egg pancakes with seafood and vegetables dipped in a variety of fish sauces. These dishes are best when they are cooked outside over an open fire. A street lined with sidewalk Banh Xeo/Can restaurants is at the center of the bay.
Near the Binh Son Sea Park on the south side of the bay there are several Vietnamese style seafood restaurants. Cheap plastic tables and questionable hygiene must be considered.
During the winter months, the wind predominantly comes from the north or northeast. The best spots are Thai An and My Hoa which both have strong clean wind. Locations on the south side of Ninh Chu Bay also get strong wind, but a little gustier. Dam Vua Lagoon is another good option. You cannot kite on the north side of Ninh Chu Bay during the winter.
Stand Up Paddle Board Around Ninh Chu Bay
Rent a SUP for a few hours and explore Ninh Chu Bay and look back at the beach and see the spectacular rock formations and hills that overlook the ocean.
Drive to Vinh Hy Bay and Beyond
Renting a motorbike is not recommended for tourists to Vietnam, but this may be the exception. The drive up the northern coast is stunning, particularly past the normal kite spots. Make sure you don't stop at Vinh Hy Bay because the next 20 km is the best part. Traffic on this coastal road is quite light and the road is in very good condition.
WHERE TO KITE:
Not only does Ninh Thuan have great wind and warm temperatures nearly the entire year, it is also blessed with a variety of kitesurfing spots with varying conditions. If you are unclear where to kite, drop into Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club & Bar for advice.
Thai An (Winter)
Located in the Nui Chua National Forest, Thai An is about a 25km drive from the center of the bay. Most people launch from a small beach at the edge of the road (park on the sidewalk). Another alternative is to drive to the cemetery which has a larger beach and is off the road a bit.
The location is great in the winter. It has flat water near the beach (some low tide issues but not as much as My Hoa) and large waves offshore.
No facilities for food, drink, and bathrooms, but using this spot is free. Sometimes the local police or forest rangers will come by to check if you paid the national park entrance fee (most don't pay).
My Hoa (Winter)
Ninh Thuan's most popular winter spot, My Hoa is 15km north of the hotels. There is a large flat water lagoon and excellent waves at the edge of the coral reef about 400 meters offshore. At low tide the lagoon is dry so you must wait or walk.
Phi's Kite Shop is the center of activity. They charge 50,000 to use the spot and provide beach support, bathrooms, etc. They also serve some food and drinks.
Dam Vua (Winter +)
Opening in December 2016, Dam Vua Lagoon promises to be a great flatwater kiting spot. The man-made salt water lagoon is close to 400,000 sqm. The water is clean sea water and the bottom is mud and not rocks, making it a safe spot. Winter winds from the northeast are nearly as strong as My Hoa and Thai An. It remains to be seen what the summer winds will be like at this spot.
The lagoon is private property and the kitesurfing is managed by Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club & Bar for its customers. However, becoming a customer just means purchasing a few dollars in Food & Drink tickets to be used before or after kiting. It is only about 700 meters away from the beach club.
Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club & Bar (Spring/Summer)
Host of the 2016 KTA X-Champs Vietnam and the very first CR:X Convertible Kiteboarding event, Ninh Chu Bay offers what many of the other spots do not; comfortable surroundings and great food and drinks. Currently there is no charge to kite other than ordering from the kitchen and bar. Unfortunately the wind in the winter is offshore and gusty, but beginning in late February when the wind begins shifting to the south, the beach club becomes the place to kite in Ninh Thuan. During the winter they have sunset happy hours for when you are done kiting at other places.
Ninh Chu Bay (Center)
If your goal is to walk out of your resort and start kitesurfing, then Ninh Chu Bay is the area where you want to kite. The bay is a crescent, so it is important to pick the correct spot in the bay to stay at the correct time of year. During the spring and early summer, you should stay at the center of the bay (Saigon Ninh Chu, Con Ga Vang resorts). The southeast wind is best for this location.
If you plan your trip for winter and you don't want to travel from your resort, then stay at the south end of the bay; like Long Thuan Resort.
The wind in the bay is a bit choppier than the spots mentioned above, and there are onshore breaking waves, fishing nets, and locals hanging about. But the convenience and safety is good for the less adventurous.
WHAT TO DO IF THERE IS NO WIND:
While it is rare, occasionally there is not enough wind to kite in Ninh Thuan. If you find yourself in that situation, here are a few ideas.
It's probably not a good idea to go to the hotel/resort spas in the area. The only western standard spa is Annam Spa which is located next to Rip Curl.
Go for a Hike
Just across the road from the center of the bay is a hill with a monastery, pagodas, and Buddha statues. An easy 10 minute walk find you at the pagoda near the top of the hill. Pathways behind that pagoda will lead you to the top where the view is stunning. The adventurous can squeeze through the cactus and scramble up the rocks to the army lookout. For the less adventurous should follow the path to the Buddha platform.
WHERE TO STAY:
The area has a variety of places to stay, ranging from cheap guest houses to $8,000/night villas at the Amano'i. Most kiters stay at one of the many guest houses or resorts lining Ninh Chu Bay. The resorts along the beach range in price from $25/night to $80/night. Some of the nicer mini hotels along Yen Ninh Road are cheaper-$15 to $20/night. Guesthouse rates will set you back between $10 and $15/night.
WIND AND SUN:
Unlike most places, Ninh Thuan has 2 windy seasons and the wind blows almost continuously from late November until mid September somewhere in the area.
Most kiters coming to Vietnam know that the winter season has strong north winds from December to March. This is especially true of Ninh Thuan. Spots along the the northern part of the province regularly get winds from 20 to 40 knots during this time.
The wind begins to shift to the east at the end of February. By the end of March, it is blowing Southeast and then it shifts directly south during the hot summers. The southeast and south winds open up new spots in the area that regularly get 15 to 25 knots nearly everyday from 11am to 5pm.
Ninh Thuan has the least amount of rainfall in Vietnam. It has a micro climate that can be categorized as hot Mediterranean- which explains why so many grapes are grown here. Not coincidentally, most years the rainy season corresponds with the period with no wind (October and November).
WHERE TO SHOP:
Phan Rang has a two large grocery stores, Maximart (now Vinmart) and Co-Op Mart. The Maximart is conveniently located about 2 km from the beach on 16 April Street. Several local shops on Yen Ninh sell beer, Hanoi Vodka, and a few other items. Rumor has it that a modern convenience store is going to open soon next to The Cuban restaurant.
Rip Curl recently opened and they offer a variety of cool beach apparel. The shop is located across from the center of the bay in between Le Napoli and The Cuban.
Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club also sells beach clothing, sunglasses, and branded merchandise.
Comments / Questions / Want to Advertise:
PHAN RANG KITESURFING GUIDE
A GUIDE FOR KITEBOARDING IN NINH THUAN PROVINCE, VIETNAM
Ninh Thuan Province is on the way to becoming a popular kitesurfing destination, but many people are unfamiliar with the area. This guide is meant to provide the basic information for those who want to explore the coast.
The area is commonly (and incorrectly) referred to by kitesurfers as Phan Rang. While that is the closest major city, the actual kite spots (Ninh Chu Bay, Nui Chua National Park, My Hoa, Thai An) are in Ninh Hai District which lies northeast. This is a guide for the entire area so the province name of Ninh Thuan will be used.
Phan Rang literally means "wind and sun" in Vietnamese.
Kite Shops & Lessons
If you are looking to buy gear, rent gear, or take lessons, you have three options.
Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club
Has retail sales of kite gear, sunglasses, and clothing. Lessons and rental equipment are available as well. They might be able to fix minor gear problems.
Phi's Kite Shop
Located at My Hoa, Phi's Kite Shop has a school and rents gear. They also have some equipment for sale.
The South Korean team runs great tours which include kiting at all the different locations. Mr. Jang has been coming to Phan Rang for longer than anyone and is the expert for wind and weather.
All inclusive package: Lessons/rentals, transportation, lodging, food, and more!
Click on maps to see larger file
Katy Perry, in the house!
The wind shifts to the East during spring. The best spot to kite will vary upon how many degrees north or south. Even a shift of a few degrees can make a huge difference on which spot is best.
By May, the wind comes from the south. The cool air moving from south to north gets super-heated on the sand dunes south of Phan Rang, creating a strong thermal wind that blows directly into Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club. Because it is thermal, the wind forecasting websites always forecast low for the area.
Taken by the Wind
30 minute TV Show
GETTING THERE: (More Info)
Travelling to Phan Rang is surprisingly easy now, unlike in the past when it was more of a challenge.
New improvements to Highway 1A has decreased travel time from Mui Ne/Phan Thiet, to about 2 hours. Travelling along the new coastal road adds 45 minutes but is well worth it. The trip from Saigon by bus will take 6 to 7 hours depending on the number of rest stops. Most bus lines that stop in Nha Trang will also let passengers off in Phan Rang. Some will even bring you to Ninh Chu Bay.
The train station in Phan Rang is called Thap Cham Station. Nearly all the north/south trains stop. The station is located about 15 km from the beach. Taxis wait outside and will cost about 120,000 for the trip to your hotel.
The Cam Ranh International Airport (commonly referred to as Nha Trang) is less than an hour's drive away. Direct international flights from Hong Kong, China, and Russia can be found with more locations expected soon. Flights from Ho Chi Minh City can be as low as $25 each way.
Most of the taxis waiting at the airport take people to Nha Trang, so it is best if you arrange for a Phan Rang taxi or car to meet you. The price is usually cheaper that way.