Lăng Cô is a town situated 50km south of Huế and 30km north of Da Nang, on the southern central Vietnamese coast. It is a thin stretch of land with Lập An Lagoon and Truong Son Mountains to the west and 10km of white sandy beach to the east. The ocean is blue and clean for the most part, with litter spoiling some of the view in the popular central tourist area. There are jellyfish that wash up to the shore in the early afternoon. Later in the evening the jellyfish disappear and hundreds of small crabs scuttle along the white squeaky sand and bury themselves deep inside for overnight shelter.
While a very quiet town, there are several beach resorts lining the beachfront. The Vietnamese tourists tend to stay within the resorts and visit the central beach area early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the scorching sun. There are very few western tourists around so the beach and resort pools are very quiet during the day.
We arrived at Lăng Cô Beach Resort early in the afternoon (Andy & Janice by taxi, Eddie and me by bike) and were all ready for a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Huế. The resort looked very quiet and relaxing and upon checking in we were offered to upgrade our rooms to the beachfront villas, with a 50% discount! While a little more than budgeted, after a quick inspection of the villas we very happy with this offer, the two villas had a huge adjoining veranda and a seating area that faced a tropical garden with the pristine beach as the backdrop – the beach access was a few metres to the left and to the right the large resort pool was just 20 metres way – after so many nights in much cheaper Nga Nghi’s we’re ready to be spoilt; this was pure luxury to us!
We unpacked our bags and settled in to our new home for the week. We then spent the rest of the afternoon in the empty pool lapping up the sun, relaxing on lie lows and drinking cool beer – excellent!
That evening we sat on the balcony listening to music and drinking beers as we decided what to do for dinner. A few beers later our decision making kicked in and we walked over to the lagoon side to see what we could find and noticed three floating seafood restaurants, we decided on the far right restaurant and order a delicious feast of battered “powdered” calamari, chilli and lemongrass clams, fried whole prawns, garlic morning glory and french fries, and between us we manage to wash down a further 10 cans of beer – such a delicious meal! After dinner we walked over to a bar that had a Euro 2016 football match playing, we ordered some more beers and watch the end of the match with the locals.
Hải Vân Pass
The Hải Vân Pass is a 21km mountain road to the south of Lăng Cô with stunning lookouts – at the top the pass you can see Lăng Cô to the north and Da Nang to the south. Jeremy Clarkson, ex-host of Top Gear, featured the pass during the show’s Vietnam Special episodes, describing it as “a deserted ribbon of perfection, one of the best coast roads in the world.” However, beauty aside, the pass is renowned for its difficulty and often on cool days the mist on the twisting road severely reduces visibility.
As the weather was beautiful and sunny we decided that we’d take the bikes for a spin up to the Pass. Eddie and I had visited Da Nang in February 2016 and had ridden the pass before so we were confident of the road. Janice jumped on the back of Eddie’s bike, Andy jumped on the back of my bike, and off we set. We turned left out of the resort and it was just the one road all the way up to the top.
As we’re riding along we passed over a bridge and shortly afterwards saw a truck of pigs pulled over getting watered down by a rig of hoses which are jetting across the road – providing us with a nice cool blast of water as we ride through. We then pass over a railway line and our ascent up the mountain began. For the most part the road was smooth but there were occasional deep potholes to be avoided and sections of roadworks with parts of the road cornered off. As usual the larger vehicles on the road are speedy and wreckless (seeing articulated lorries overtaking trucks on blind corners is never a good thing!) and the free-roaming cows and goats were natures traffic lights.
Overall the road was not too busy, the weather was beautiful and the look outs were stunning. It wasn’t too long until we reached the top of the pass where we saw an old abandoned French military fort. We walked up to the fort and inspected the eroding buildings and rubble.
Suoi Mo Waterfall
We were looking for some lunch one day and decided to take the bikes around the lagoon side to see what else we could find. We were riding through some smaller back roads when Eddie noticed a sign for a waterfall… Well, that was unexpected! So we decided to check it out.
We turned down a dirt track road and it was about a 500m ride over loose gravel, mud, a shallow ford, over a bridge and lots of boulders, and suddenly we were at the bottom of a waterfall! The locals had set up a shaded deck area across the riverbank so we sat down and had a cool beer and marvelled at our luck at finding this place. Being a hot day, we all jumped in the water to cool down, so good!
Incidentally, after the waterfall fun we did find a place for lunch on that far side of the lagoon. As ever we didn’t really know what to expect when we ordered, nothing on trip advisor. We sat in the garden seats and ordered a few dishes including chicken – we didn’t expect to see the owner reach into the chicken coup in front of us, and kill and pluck the chicken right there and then! Suddenly there was a fire going and our chicken was being barbecued in the garden! …but, it was pretty tasty, RIP chicken!
Andy’s Biking like a Pro!
One afternoon after riding pillion with me all day, Andy wanted to see what riding a bike alone would be like, so Eddie and Andy went off for some biking fun and rode up and down the beach road – we were pretty astonished to see Andy riding up and down through the gears and riding like a pro within about 20 minutes. Later that day Andy rode back to the resort and I went pillion, I think we have a natural here!
Our time in Lăng Cô was very relaxing as we hopped between the resort pool, beach hut bars and restaurants, chilling on our villa veranda and eating delicious seafood – the beautiful sound of beer cans opening featuring throughout the days.
The resort was beautiful but it was boardering on a little too quiet as there is no real night life in the town (lucky for us we rose to the challenge and made our own fun!) it also became apparent that some of the facilities are not currently available for use, such as the sports amenities (table tennis, badminton, volley ball etc.).
All in all Lăng Cô is by far our favourite Vietnamese beach resort, it’s quiet and the locals are very friendly.