Doc Let: Vietnam’s Secret Beach Paradise
For those of you looking for an alternative to a tourist-filled visit to Nha Trang, I’ve got your back. The party haven of Nha Trang is typically pretty high on a tourist’s hit list for one of two reasons: the icing sugar beaches, or the insane nightlife scene. My memories of my brief time in Nha Trang mainly involve the sound of trap music and the smell of rum that fills the air as soon as you near the beach. The beaches of Nha Trang are undoubtedly stunning and attract crowds for a reason, but the city seemed to have more of a Disneyland for adults vibe than the Vietnamese culture I’d grown obsessed with. If this is what you’re looking for at this point in your Vietnamese journey, Nha Trang is perfect! But if you’re like me and are looking to completely unwind after a hectic couple of weeks in the cities, I have found your solution.
Doc Let is a serious paradise located about an hour out of Nha Trang. I’ve been to countless beaches throughout Southeast Asia and Doc Let is still pretty unbeatable in my mind. When I get so stressed that I consider filing a restraining order against reality, this is where I go to in my mind! The white sand and turquoise water rivals the Caribbean and with a tiny fishing community nearby, you can spend the day watching fisherman sail out to sea on their coconut rafts. The atmosphere of Vietnamese culture and the ideal beach-bum lifestyle mesh perfectly here, making it one of my favourite spots on this gorgeous planet of ours.
Let’s talk logistics. A local travel agent can arrange for your bus driver to drop you off near Doc Let as part of a larger route, but after being dumped at a random gas station during a night bus trip from Hoi An, I would recommend going all the way to Nha Trang and back-peddling from there. As the accommodations are pretty spread out, I would book your hotel first and then ask the owner of the best way to get there. Doc Let is so untouched that there are only a handful of places to stay on or around the beach. There are a couple of more upscale and secluded resorts, and the rustic, family-run Paradise Resort. I vouched for Paradise, and it definitely lived up to it’s name! Honestly, if you’re looking for luxury, Paradise is not for you. The resort consists of a bunch of back-to-basics bungalows and electricity is not exactly in abundance. But when you’re two steps off of one of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam and can wake up to the sound of the waves, basics are all you need.
When I visited, I was hosted by Vladimir, who was one of the biggest (and most lovable) characters I had ever met! The resort has since been passed on to his family, who will also show you a pretty amazing time- and keep you well-supplied with vodka! The resort is big on community, so all meals are eaten together at one long table and are provided as a part of the (already extremely reasonable) price. It’s an amazing way to meet travel buddies, and I ended up traveling onwards with quite a few of the people I met here! Paradise has the privacy of a resort, but the social vibe of a hostel.
If activities are your jam, you should be set for a few perfect days. Paradise has a couple of kayaks that they are more than willing to share and if you ask really nicely, they may organize a fishing trip for you! If you’re like me and just want to turn into human Jell-O for a few days, I can’t think of a more perfect place. The water is the ideal temperature to just float for hours and there’s a stretch of covered loungers for when you start to turn into a raisin. My bet is that you will be so busy taking in the views that your time here will fly by on it’s own!
Overall, Doc Let is quite simply the kind of place that will remind you why you love travelling. Discovering a private piece of heaven on earth and sharing it with a few likeminded travellers was one of the highlights of my entire visit to Southeast Asia. I was hesitant to even write this post because I selfishly wanted to keep this gem to myself from the other side of the world. Whether you choose to “rough it” or ball-out for a little more luxury, you really cannot go wrong with a visit to Doc Let. Just be careful- when it comes time to leave, you may find yourself looking into a new fishing career next door!