Made popular by the TV series of the same name, China Beach is located in the province of Quang Nam, Vietnam, near the cities of Hoi An and Da Nang. It was the leading R&R for American troops during the Vietnam-American War. After the war ended, the beach became practically deserted for decades until it opened once again since Vietnam recently opened its doors to international tourism. Today, Americans come to China Beach to enjoy sand, sun and water yet again: this time they are not soldiers, though, but tourists longing for the best vacation in this part of the world.
Twelve kilometers away is the charming city of Hoi An, home of the ancient ruins of My Son Hindu Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amazingly, the small city of Hoi An was left untouched by the past wars. It’s an ancient city that used to be a flourishing international port. As other nearby ports such as Da Nang became popular as well, Hoi An halted its operations and remain stagnant for centuries. Hoi An’s old town, which is also a World Heritage Site, stands as it is since the 17th Century. The old dusty roads of the city lead to two nearby beaches, An Bang and Cua Dai. Yet, China Beach remains to be the most popular beach in this region.
Its real name is My Khe Beach. For unknown reasons, visitors began calling it China Beach and the name has stuck since then. It is popular not just for its glassy white sands, but also for its location. It is only 30 minutes away from the Cham and Ho Chi Minh Museums in Da Nang City and the picturesque Marble Mountains, a string of 5 mountains formed from marble and limestone. The city of Hue is about two hours away by bus. Just within the surroundings of China Beach are restaurants selling cheap authentic Vietnamese seafood dishes. About a block away is My Khe Beach II. It is a new beach, but not as beautiful as the original My Khe.
Peak season at My Khe (I) is from April to September. Expect the hotels and resorts to be almost full and the mile-long beach swarming with people walking aimlessly back and forth, sprawled on the soft sand or swimming in the blue waters of South China Sea, especially in the early mornings and late afternoons. The beach is also very popular among the locals, who regularly come here for a cool swim on weekends. There are now many hotels and resorts with very affordable rates, but for a reason. Expect each room to have some kind of a defect or two, say, a broken mirror, jammed door locks, or soiled mats and mattresses. In other months of the year, the beach is almost deserted on some days and hotels can get eerily quiet and spooky. One of the most popular hotels, especially among backpackers, is Hoa’s Place.
The TV series China Beach received much acclaim for its depiction of the war, but it didn’t really catch on. It aired from 1988 to 1991 and is barely remembered by the regular American TV viewer. Fortunately, the popularity of My Khe, the real China Beach in Hoi An did not die, and in fact is now becoming popularized the world over yet again.