A Picnic By The Ke Ga Lighthouse

Just an hour’s drive south of Phan Thiet lies the lighthouse of Ke Ga.

Set on a rugged, wild beach that’s truly off the beaten path, this 35m structure is Southeast Asia’s tallest and oldest.

Built by the French in the late 1800’s on a rocky promontory, the light from the lighthouse can be seen for 22 nautical miles, warning sailors of the reefs in the area.

In low tide, it’s said that you can wade from the beach to the lighthouse. Otherwise, small boats are often on hand to make the short trip. Once at the lighthouse, nearly 200 steps up a spiral staircase leads to the top opening up to beautiful views of the East Sea.

Victoria Phan Thiet - Ke Ga Lighthouse - James Pham-17

It’s this wonderful mix of history, architecture and underdeveloped coastline that brings visitors in the know to Ke Ga. In Vietnamese, gà means “chicken”, so named after the promontory that vaguely resembles a chicken’s head.

We set out for the 30km trip to Ke Ga early one morning from Phan Thiet. The scenic drives hugs the coastline all the way down, making for a pleasant journey. Once there, we notice that there are very few signs of development other than a couple of cafes at the entrance to the beach road.

Victoria Phan Thiet - Ke Ga Lighthouse - James Pham-24

In the early light of dawn, we make out the lighthouse, completed in 1899 using construction materials brought all the way from France. The beach is clean yet deserted, with only a few women waiting with scales at the ready to buy whatever the fishermen bring in from the night’s outing.

Victoria Phan Thiet - Ke Ga Lighthouse - James Pham-22

In the calm waters between the beach and the lighthouse, a few fishing boats are already moored. But it’s the strangely multi-colored boulders haphazardly strewn by the beach that we find most interesting.

Victoria Phan Thiet - Ke Ga Lighthouse - James Pham-16

The way they’re placed, it’s almost like a rock garden that invites climbing and the obligatory beach selfie!

Victoria Phan Thiet - Ke Ga Lighthouse - James Pham-18

Soon, the sun comes up and we’re swimming in the cool, clean waters. A picnic lunch awaits with gourmet sandwiches and salads and of course, a lovely bottle of wine!

Victoria Phan Thiet - Ke Ga Lighthouse - James Pham-40

If you’re visiting Phan Thiet / Mui Ne on Vietnam’s southern coastline, don’t forget to spare a half day to visit the wildly beautiful beach of Ke Ga and its historic lighthouse!

Victoria Phan Thiet - Ke Ga Lighthouse - James Pham-20

Photography tip: To add a dreamy quality to your water photos, try experimenting with a longer exposure. This opens up the shutter for longer, allowing more light to enter. It also blurs moving objects (in this case, the waves) while keeping fixed objects still (the lighthouse). With long exposures, you’ll need a tripod to keep the camera steady. On the Ke Ga beach, there’s a seawall that can be used in lieu of a tripod. Bring a towel or even a bag of rice or beans to balance your camera on and have fun!

Victoria Phan Thiet - Ke Ga Lighthouse - James Pham-3
With longer exposure
Victoria Phan Thiet - Ke Ga Lighthouse - James Pham-1
Taken at a faster shutter speed
Trips to the Ke Ga Lighthouse along with a picnic lunch on the beach can be organized by the Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort & Spa.

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