This really is a tale of two cities: Phan Rang hugging the shoulders of Hwy 1 and Thap Cham straddling Hwy 20 as it starts its long climb to Dalat. Anyone travelling Vietnam from north to south will notice a big change in the vegetation when approaching the joint capitals of Ninh Thuan province. The familiar lush green rice paddies are replaced with sandy soil supporting only scrubby plants. Local flora includes poinciana trees and prickly-pear cacti with vicious needles.
With two major highways (1A and 20) intersecting in the town, this area makes a possible pit stop on the coastal run. As the twin towns of Phan Rang and Thap Cham are both industrial and not particularly attractive, consider basing yourself at nearby Ninh Chu Beach, 6km to the east.