South-Central Vietnam is a stunning sweep of coastal beaches -- some of Vietnam's most popular places to put your toes in the sand and have a big, embarrassing drink with an umbrella poking out the top. The area is flanked on the west by the Trong Son Mountains of the Central Highlands. Traveling south from Danang and Hoi An, you'll first reach the town of Quy Nhon, a little deepwater port famed for its fine shipbuilding trade. Just outside of town are a number of cool beach areas. You'll find just one luxury resort -- the Life Resort Quy Nhon -- and a few fun budget stops in town.
Heading farther south, you'll pass mile after mile of fishing villages and open beach areas before arriving in thriving Nha Trang. Once geared only to Vietnamese tourists on beach holiday in the summer months, some of the finest resorts in all of Vietnam have found a home in Nha Trang. And now the area draws many international tourists who can easily connect from any major city (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, or Danang) by daily flights on Vietnam Airlines. With good day-trip options, booze cruises, snorkeling, diving, or sailing, Nha Trang has something for everyone. The town also hops late into the night with a fun, friendly bar scene -- mostly young backpackers. More far-flung resorts on outlying islands and peninsulas mean more and better options for escaping the busy, central backpacker party area of Nha Trang -- but that's what lots of folks come for.
Between Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the far south, you'll pass the small town of Phan Rang (or Thap Cham), with its high Cham Towers -- really just a crossroads for trips up into Dalat -- before arriving in Phan Thiet and the nearby beaches of Mui Ne. Just a 3-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, the beaches at Mui Ne have become a popular escape for the city's expats, with a growing set of kite-surfing devotees, as well as golf enthusiasts for Nick Faldo's famed course. From here, day trips are easy to giant sand dunes and a remote lake. Before hitting Saigon (farther south), one of these sights is a good spot for some rest and relaxation.