To Vinh Hy and beyond on the smoothest road in southern Vietnam

By Sean Campbell   November 20, 2016 | 01:30 pm GMT+7

A military road offers a beautiful drive along a national park and a stunning coast.

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TL 702 is a beautiful road just north of Phan Rang.

Far off the beaten bikepacker path lies the exquisite, if humbly named, TL 702. Wedged between Nui Chua National Park and the vast ocean on Vietnam’s South Central Coast -- this relatively new district road promises 60 kilometers of sheer brilliance.

The route begins just north of Phan Rang and eventually pops out onto National Highway 1A a few clicks south of Cam Ranh Airport.

At its southern head, you'll wave goodbye to the turquoise ocean and disappear into salt flats, grapevines and prickles of cacti not foretold in any guidebook. Welcome to the Vietnamese desert!

Head further into the shadows of Nui Chua and things gradually change. As you climb high above the ocean, the park looms lush and large. From these peaks, abandoned turquoise beaches beckon you for a swim.

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One of a number of small, pristine beaches along the way.

Only completed at the back end of 2014, the road was built with the intention of enhancing the infrastructure needed for a tourism boost, and also to act as a second route up the coast for the military -- an alternative to nearby Highway 1. Being almost brand new, the asphalt is as smooth as it comes in Vietnam and almost devoid of car and truck traffic. You’ll be tempted to open the throttle out, but beware of roving trips of goats -- they have a tendency to appear on 180 degree switchbacks and steep slopes.

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Beware of the goats!

At the road’s midway point, you’ll pass the stunning and serene Vinh Hy Bay, a small inlet dotted with fishing vessels and woven coracles. At the moment, the inlet is home to just two resorts. The eponymous Vinh Hy Resort offers spacious, private bungalows for around $20 per night, and comes complete with a pool with its own intimate view of the bay. If money's no object, head up the road, to the exclusive Amanoi resort where private bungalows (and a private beach) go for about $1,000 a night.

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Vinh Hy Bay

The brand seeks out secluded, peaceful areas to set up shop according to Australian Sean Slakelar who has overseen Amanoi’s Vinh Hy location since 2014.

Slakelar says he’s happy with the steady supply of guests from all over the world -- including Vietnam -- but expects things to improve shortly

“Once the international terminal at Cam Ranh airport is completed, the whole area will see a significant boost.” Construction on the terminal only began in September, so you can expect the bay to remain relatively untouched - for now.

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One of a number of stunning vistas you’ll find on TL 702.

Weekend getaway

By plane or by train, this sanctuary is completely accessible.

You can rent a bike for just a few dollars a day in Cam Ranh, Phan Rang or Nha Trang and find yourself on the road in no time. If biking isn’t your thing and you’re just after a low-key weekend in the bay, around VND500,000 ($22.3) will take you from the airport to Vinh Hy by taxi.

Alternatively, you could buy a ticket on the Reunification Express, which brings bikes and their riders up from Saigon for less than VND1,000,000.

Whatever your choice of transport, road 702 and Vinh Hy Bay should top your list of things to see in Vietnam before they’re gone.

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The road is smooth, but contains a number of swooping switchbacks.

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