Vung Tau is a popular weekend escape from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) making it quite crowded at the weekends when lots of beach-starving locals are heading down. That said, I found it very pleasant during the week when the beach was way less crowded.
The easiest way to get to Vung Tau from HCMC is by ferry. Just take a taxi to the ferry terminal in HCMC and then take the Vina Express ferry to Vung Tau. The ride from HCMC to Vung Tau takes circa 1.5h and the ticket is between 200,000 and 250,000 VND which includes a little bottle of water that you get on board. The crew is professional, the seats are clean and the journey is really comfy. The Vina Express ferry might even be fine for travellers that get sea sick easily – you barely notice you are on water at all.
We took a taxi from the harbour in Vung Tau to get to our hotel on the Back Beach. Vung Tau has two beaches, the Front Beach and the Back Beach. Whilst both areas have cafes, restaurants and are ‘lively’, it is the Back Beach where you want to head for swimming in the ocean. Though, during the three days we spent in Vung Tau, there were black flags on the beach because of dangerous currents. Depending on the situation, you could still go in until the water is around hip-high and enjoy the dozens of little waves that are constanly coming in – just make sure you are not heading out more. There are also ‘beach clubs’ where you can hang out on the pool. But don’t expect anything fancy. It seems that Vung Tau is trying to get the beach area a bit more developed but hasn’t quite arrived there yet. Also, you barely see any surfers or surf shops. So if you are planning to go there for surfing (apparently sometimes it’s supposed to be quite good there), do your research beforehand or bring your own stuff.
When it comes to things to do apart from hanging out on the beach, there are SPAs, a cinema, lots of restaurants and bars, Karaoke, and a few ‘clubs’. Just rent a scooter (around USD 7 -10 per day) and start exploring! No worries, the traffic is not even half as bad as in HCMC!
Bottom line: Whilst it is not the nicest beach in Vietnam, if you are in Saigon and up for a quick 1-3 days break on the beach, Vung Tau is a good option. Head down there at the weekend if want to join the nightlife and come during the week only if you’d rather have the beach for yourself.
Front Beach, Vung Tau
Dolphin Beach Club on Back Beach
As I said, don’t expect anything super fancy. Most of the ‘beach clubs’ don’t look that nice and this one looked like one of the prettiest. We had lunch there which was good, also my Vietnamese coffee was yummy :)
Cruising around in Vung Tau