The gateway to Vietnam's north-central coast
Chu Lai, the capital of the Núi Thành District, is the perfect gateway to the greater Quang Ngai province in Vietnam’s south-central coast. During the Vietnam War, this port town was a military base for the U.S. Marine Corp, acting as a supplemental airfield to their main base in Da Nang. Because of its history, Chu Lai is usually a stop for veterans returning to Vietnam however, the region also offers plenty for the traveller hoping to get off the beaten track and explore the country’s lesser-seen side. Travellers in the area will be rewarded with three UNESCO World Heritage Sites within two hours of Chu Lai including the My Son Sanctuary and the pristine beaches of Tam Kỳ where you’ll find colourful, wooden boats bobbing on the South China Sea.
Things to do
My Son Sanctuary opens in new window, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dates back to the 4th century when the Dua Clan unified the Cham clans and established the kingdom of Champapura. The temples – dedicated to various Hindu deities – are made from fired brick, stone pillars and sandstone bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology.
Hit the water
Located on the South China Sea, the beaches of Tam Kỳ opens in new window, in particular Ha Thanh Beach, are near to pristine. Expect most to be empty by day as many locals go swimming at dusk in order to avoid excessive tanning.
Some two hours from Chu Lai, a trip to Quang Nam province would be incomplete without a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Hoi An opens in new window. While defined by Japanese merchant houses, Chinese Temples and ancient tea warehouses, lounge bars, boutique hotels and tailor shops are just as much a part of the contemporary local scene.
Take a day trip to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Cu Lao Cham opens in new window also known as the Cham Islands. Explore the breathtaking cluster of granite islands including the main island – Hon Lao – as well as the varied species of coral that lie beneath the aquamarine sea. Snorkelling and diving trips departing Hoi An are available through Cham Island Diving Center opens in new window.
Salt marshes and seafood
Sa Huynh opens in new window is a popular lunch stop for truckers heading along Vietnam’s Highway One. The seafood here is fresh and will set you back around VND 50,000 (USD $2.60) for a main. This little town, about two hours from Chu Lai, is also known for its vast salt marshes and evaporation ponds.
To Tam Kỳ 25km
Travel time 44 minutes
To Quang Ngai 42km
Taxi Approx USD $35–45 (approx VND 550,000)
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When to go
Chu Lai experiences average annual temperatures of 25°C. From February to April it's largely hot and dry while September to December is classified as the rainy season. The average humidity is around 84%.
The Quang Ngai Heritage Festival has been held every June for the past four years in recognition of UNSECO’s My Son historial site and nearby Hoi An – both within the province.Back to top
The ever-reliable Mai Linh taxi company operates in the Quang Ngai province making a metered taxi easy to find. Motorbike taxis can also be found on most street corners – negotiating up front is advised. Tam Kỳ is served by the Tam Kỳ Railway which is connected to several major cities across the country.Back to top