The highway into Ha Tien is as pretty as any in Vietnam.
When the red dirt road was smooth and flat, it was heavenly motorcycling: endless rice paddies, thatched village huts, the Gulf of Thailand, small groves of forest, and bursts of limestone hills. War with Cambodia was a recent thing, and the border had not yet opened. Likewise, travel to offshore Phu Quoc was not permitted. Those two changes should have brought larger numbers of visitors to the town, but I expect it remains off the radar of most visitors.
Vietnam's southern coast road from Rach Gia to Ha Tien and the Cambodian border is possibly the most scenic in the south.
Ha Tien was the end point for me and my trusty Russian motorcycle on a month trip through the delta. No, that is a Honda.
Development was, and probably still is a long way from arriving.
The area is rich with rural cliches.
Friendly village kids stare.
Traders hawk fresh produce from rickety wagons.
Buffalo wade through seasonal floodwaters.
Farmers harvest abundant crops from the verdant rice fields.
The next crop is planted.
The fields butt up against patches of forest.....
....or collide with dramatic limestine karsts.
The road varied from bone shaker to pancake flat.
Construction (or repair) was ongoing, although it didn't look like being a blacktop.
This is actually the main highway, not some minor side road. Most parts of the dirt road were actually great for riding.
The people were equally photogenic. And a friendly bunch, too.
Have you ever seen a better dressed rice farmer? Note the pen in pocket.
Paddies, forests, hills, floods and farmers, all right on the Gulf Of Thailand.
Ha Tien of course is a fishing port, but since my visit, has been a jumping off point to nearby Phu Quoc island.
The town itself was, naturally, run down, but busy with bicycles and Hondas.
Attacked by Khmer Rogues forces in the late 1970s, Ha Tien was behind even the rest of Vietnam in development.
After a long time in the saddle, I just spent a few days looking around, observing daily life.
Agriculture dominates the economy, along with fishing and probably smuggling.
I believe that (pre-covid) onward travel to Cambodia was made possible in the 2000s. This would be a great route.
The location and scenery of Ha Tien made it ripe for a tourist influx: the bay, the farms, the waterfront action.
Hopefully, development has not come at the price of the charm and character of this great little backwater.