Lying on the south-central coast, with a coastline stretching 385 km, Khanh Hoa province has a host of beautiful, pristine spots apart from the famous Nha Trang and Bai Dai Beach.
Binh Lap is one such untouched place and just 90 km south of Nha Trang and about 50 km south of Cam Ranh International Airport.
Binh Ba, Binh Hung, Binh Tien, and Binh Lap are four beautiful spots in Khanh Hoa’s Cam Ranh Bay. While the other three ‘Binh’s’ have long been popular as tourist sites, Binh Lap has only recently become known among visitors. This is why it remains a much quieter place and great for people who are looking to relax and shrug off the stresses and strains of daily life.
We rode our motorbikes for more than two hours from Nha Trang on a sunny day in March, heading through the districts of Dien Khanh, Cam Lam, and Cam Ranh, passing several farms with yellow ripened rice and coconut and mango trees heavily laden with fruit before arriving in Binh Lap
Our first impression was of natural beauty and tranquillity, with the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. The beach was shaped like a half-moon, with fine white sand, clear water and small waves, while on the shore were rocks of different shapes and sizes and green trees further inland.
We began our journey of discovery around Binh Lap, starting at Bai Ngang Beach. Everyone jumped around on the beach in excitement because of its fine white sand and water so clear we could see the ocean floor and schools of small fish.
It’s also an area for shrimp breeding. We met 46-year-old Tran Van Tu, who lives in Binh Chau. He was preparing some coral to drop to the bottom of the sea so that lobsters would come and stay there. He invited us onto his boat and told us several stories about his work. On the vast surface of the sea, his tales created an air of excitement.
Next to Bai Ngang Beach is Bai Lao Beach, virtually untouched with long white sand stretching as far as the eye can see. At the end of the beach is Tau Be fishing village, where we met some kind fishermen who were willing to help us find our way around and show us what to see, how to make their speciality dish, called Bánh Căn, and give us free overnight accommodation.
Visitors can also rent a boat for just VND70,000 to get to Bai Ran and Bai Con Beaches and see coral of different colours. The beaches in Binh Lap are generally gently sloped, making it safe for kids and those who can’t swim. The large beaches and their flat, firm sandy surface allow visitors to go cycling or play football, even quite close to the water. As the beaches are surrounded by cliffs they are cooled by a pleasant sea breeze. Small fish sometimes jump out of water, creating a splash.
After going around and admiring the natural beauty, we chose to have lunch at Thanh Tra Eatery in the fishing village. Thanh Tra serves fresh seafood at very reasonable prices, and unlike many other places, the seafood at Binh Lap is cooked in a simple way to retain the natural flavour.
We also chose a dish known as ‘pointed chicken’. Chickens are raised in a large field nearby and visitors can point to the one they would like and the restaurant catches it and prepares it in the way customers prefer. Visitors can also enjoy a meal at an open-air restaurant in Binh Lap, where they are warmly welcomed by hospitable waiters and waitresses.
We then returned to Sao Bien (Starfish) Resort, where the staff took us to the wooden bungalow we had reserved. The bungalows are by the seashore and surrounded by big trees, making the air cool even on hot sunny days. In the late afternoon, we went swimming and diving in clear water and watched the sun go down behind the mountains and walked around catching small crabs and starfish.
At night, we went to a BBQ party by the light of a campfire. Afterwards, our busy day made us fall fast asleep. Early next morning we went to watch fishing boats return from a night at sea.
If you’re interested in experiencing the life of a fisherman you can rent a boat and go looking for fish or squid. A night with lots of interesting stories under the stars will leave a lasting impression on any visitor to the fishing village.
There is not as wide a variety of tourist services in Binh Lap as elsewhere. There are only a few nature-focused resorts, like Ngoc Suong Resort, where visitors can rent a bungalow for about VND2 million per night. Villa Dao Hoa Vang offers bedrooms for VND120,000-150,000 per person per night or the more intrepid can stay the night in a two-man tent on the beach for VND400,000 per night.
These resorts boast beautiful natural areas and many things to do, like lazing in a hammock by the sea, water slides, kayaking, diving to see coral, fishing, mud bathing, and fusball.
Binh Lap is about 50 km south of Cam Ranh Airport and about 90 km south of Nha Trang. If you take the train you can get off at Nha Trang or Thap Cham Station, then catch a taxi or rent a motorbike and head out on the road.
If you fly to Cam Ranh Airport you can take a taxi to Binh Lap. Head south along National Highway No 1A then turn left on to National Road No 702 to My Thanh Market. Go past the market and past My Thanh Bridge, then turn left into Cam Lap commune. Go for another 6 km and turn right into Binh Lap village. There, you can rent a motorbike for about VND100,000 a day, a seven-seat car for VND300,000 a day, or a 16-seat van for VND700,000 a day.
If you catch a bus, get off in Cam Ranh and then take the abovementioned route. If you’re interested in the sea and want to watch fishermen catch fish or look at floating houses on the sea, you can take a canoe from Ba Ngoi Port (about 15 km southwest of Cam Ranh Airport).