It must be an undiscovered beach. We were very lucky to be the first people to enjoy the turquoise water and vast white sands, said a 12-year-old boy.
He is right. The beach is calm and less crowded than many others, such as Sam Son Beach in the central province of Thanh Hoa or Do Son Beach in the port city of Hai Phong.
The tranquillity will allow us to enjoy our entire five-day summer family vacation without being disturbed by other people, such as the tiresome local photographers who insist on taking pictures at busier beaches.
The name Ho Tram may not be familiar to many travellers but those lucky enough to find it will keep coming back.
Located along the Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung, Ho Tram Beach is one of Viet Nam’s most beautiful sites, an ideal place to relax because of its natural shore lined with casuarina trees and views of the surrounding mountains.
Walking along the beach during the night we noticed many lights on the horizon. At first we thought we were looking at a modern seaside town close to the shore.
“Oh! It’s so wonderful,” exclaimed my friend’s son.
A local man told us that the lights are from the fishermen’s boats, which set out very early in the morning, around 3am, and return late in the afternoon.
“Our villagers focus on three types of fishing: the first group specialises in catching tiny shrimps; the second group nets fish; and the third group catches cuttle fish. They earn around VND2-2.5 million (around US$100) per month,” said a local fisherman named Nam Beo.
He told us that if we want to buy live fish or cuttle fish we should come to the beach in the late afternoon to wait for the bigger boats and coracles to land.
Dinh Thanh Huong from Ha Noi told me that her two children particularly liked helping the local fishermen pull in their catch, saying it was the most interesting “game” they had played so far.
“I could see how happy my children and other city kids were as they moved the live fish from the nets to large baskets ready for sale. Some of them even asked the fishermen for a few tiny fish to raise in a plastic bottle.”
My two little boys liked the coracles because they could reach down and put their hands into the waves. They both begged the boat owner to carry them aboard.
On shore, my mother-in-law bought several kilogrammes of live shrimp and cuttle fish and grilled them on the spot.
“The seafood was so tasty that I will never forget it,” said my husband.
We were also happily surprised by Ho Tram Beach Resort & Spa’s 19th century architecture and luxurious design.
We checked into the resort and were pleased to find clean, well-equipped rooms with a view of the sea.
You can laze the day away in the complimentary deck chairs that line the beach, contrary to Sam Son Beach in the Thanh Hoa (where you must pay between VND10,000 and VND20,000 per hour).
Our favourite amenity was the clean and peaceful swimming pool in the resort, where the children were able to play on hot nights after a long day at the beach.
The Ho Tram Strip in the coastal province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, which has been under construction for three years, is a project of Asian Coast Development Ltd, a Canadian-based luxury resort developer.
“Viet Nam is blessed with some of the most magnificent natural beauty in the world,” said the chairman of Asian Coast Development Ltd, Michael Aymong.
The 169ha-complex has been designed by Steelman Partners, an American architectural firm based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The complex will be integrated into the area’s natural surroundings, designed to conserve resources and preserve the environment.
“We share the same vision and determination as our Vietnamese partners in ensuring this development respects the lush natural beauty of the area while showcasing local culture,” said Aymong.
When completed, the complex will include five hotels with a total of 9,000 rooms, an international conference centre, and entertainment facilities. Recreational options will include spas, performance venues, a retail area and a wide selection of restaurants offering local and international cuisine.
The first phase of the project-a five-star hotel with 1,100 rooms, a championship golf course designed by PGA legend Greg Norman, and Viet Nam’s first Las Vegas-style casino-are expected to open in late 2011.
The second phase, operational a year later, would include a 1,300-room hotel, an additional casino, and 10 restaurants and nightclubs.
The entire complex, located 125km northeast of HCM City, will be completed within a decade.
Ho Tram Beach is about 35km from Vung Tau city centre. From HCM City one can go by car or bus to Vung Tau and then catch a taxi for VND200,000 to the beach. — VNS by Lan Hoang
Tranquility: Ho Tram Beach. Viet Nam is blessed with some of the most beautiful natural locations in the world.
Kids love them: Tourists can take to the sea in traditional basket boats. — VNS Photos