Charming An Bang Village and Beach
An Bang beach benefits from its proximity to the ancient town of Hoi An and yet has still been able to retain most of the charm without being destroyed by hotel chains and resorts like close by Da Nang. Small guesthouses and family friendly hotels line the street parallel to the sandy seashore, which still retains a covering of scrubby shrubs and pines hiding them from the beach. Those who are in need of luxury should consider a stay at the small resort where we stayed, the Allamanda Estate, it is just a few kilometers away from An Bang itself but easily reachable by bike or taxi. We had made good use of the complimentary bike hire at the hotel and explored the area surrounding on the days before, plus the bikes helped us reach our favourite dining spot, the Baby Mustard Restaurant.
Cycling Past Rice Paddies and Shrimp Farms
Despite our stay in Hoi An for nearly a week we had yet to visit An Bang beach. We had managed a swim the previous day on the deserted beach at the Tam Thanh Mural Village and wanted to spend our last full day by the sea resting after days of exploring and cycling. After having packed our beach essentials we took the hotel’s bicycles and pedalled the short way towards An Bang Beach. The initial part of our route led us on a quiet side street past rice paddies and shrimp farms. We witnessed the odd local working in the fields and a group of men having lunch on a bridge, with their t-shirts rolled up, exposing their stomachs. This was a custom that we witnessed by a large number of men in Vietnam, quite a contrast to the female “ninjas”, trying to keep every inch of skin out of the sun. We passed behind Baby Mustard on the back roads parallel to one of the many river flows heading towards the sea.
Tra Que Farmers Village
Nearby Tra Que Village, a small farmers community has recently opened its fields to visitors, tourists and locals alike, offering a selection of experiences including cooking classes and fishing tours. On our ride through the village we saw some foreigners riding on the back of water buffalos through the muddy fields. Shortly after the Tra Que Village we joined the main road guiding us to An Bang Beach. The road was fairly busy but wide with a lane for slower two-wheeled traffic.
Arriving at An Bang Beach
Once we had crossed the main junction to the coast road, souvenir shops and eateries lined the road and we knew we must be close to An Bang Beach. Instead of heading straight on towards the main entrance we turned right, cycling parallel to the shoreline and away from the busy sections of the beach. Just after an empty field we pushed our bikes up a sandy path to a small cabin hidden among the pine trees. At the top we could see the small wooden hut serving as a restaurant with tables overlooking the beach. Down below on the sandy shores we could see sun loungers and parasols but barely anyone around. We had barely put down our belongings and Jerome was off for a swim and to throw balls with his dad. A man handed me the drinks menus and to my surprise did not want to charge us for the loungers, just drinks! I ordered some virgin cocktails and water, and watched the boys while they were delivered.
On the Beach
Sadly the weather was rather overcast but this did not spoil our mood. In the distance we glimpsed the outlines of the Cham Islands and some fishing boats gently bobbed on the calm sea. The high rises of Da Nang and the vast hotel complexes were just visible in the haze. Northwards the beach was also a lot more crowded towards the centre of An Bang, there a roped off swimming area with lifeguard was heaving was people and a paraglider being pulled by a boat was a colourful sight against the grey clouds.
Sipping a Cocktail
After sipping my cool cocktail I walked over to the traditional round fishing boats to inspect them. They are a common sight on Vietnamese beaches and the ones on our beach were clearly used for fishing squid in the dark with their funny battery powered spotlights attached to the rim.
Treasure Trove for Beach Combers
The seawater felt warm washing across my feet and the beach was an absolute treasure trove for beachcombers like me. Small shells of all shapes and sizes, plus my favourite – sand dollars – were washed ashore in abundance. I collected as many as I possibly could and arranged them on the table next to the sun lounger, Jerome and I would choose a few to take home with us (not that we really should!).
A Quiet Part of An Bang Beach
This area of An Bang Beach remained quiet away from the crowds although two other families joined us later, Jerome latched onto the girls to play with them in the sea, while we got a rare moment to relax and read our books.
Jerome Loves Flying His Kite
Lunch was the basic Vietnamese fare of pho and fried rice at a very reasonably price and surprisingly tasty. Afterwards Jerome flew his kite that we had bought in Hue, on the beach. The wind had picked up, perfect for kite flying and luckily chased away some of the clouds to let the sun come through. It amazes me that Jerome has fallen in love with kite flying over the holiday, it always brings back childhood memories of my brother and I letting our kites soar into the sky. At some point during the flight, Jerome stood on the line instead of holding onto it and suddenly in a gust the kite pulled out from underneath his feet and rapidly ascended into the sky. Jerome gasped and shouted and the boys ran quickly after it. The wind had blown it into the pine trees and it got stuck high up in one of the trees crowns. They tried to rescue it but the tree was too thin to be climbed and the string to high to reach with another branch or stick. I guess Jerome had learned a lesson and thankfully we had bought three kites as they were so cheap.
Cycling Back to the Hotel
After the little mishap the mood was a bit down and we decided to cycle back to our hotel for a swim in the pool and a few games of a different kind of pool that you play on a table, hoping Jerome would cheer up again. Thick thunderclouds had formed over the mountains inland and we rode home with the grumbling thunder in the distance. Thankfully the storm never made it to the coast and we enjoyed the early evening by the pool, followed with dinner at Baby Mustard.
Sadly It Was Our Last Day in Hoi An
Sadly our stay in Hoi An was nearly over and for our last morning we had booked a complimentary cooking class in the hotel. Read about how our three course Vietnamese lunch turned out in our next post.
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