A picture-perfect port city on Vietnam’s South Coast, Vūng Tàu has become the go-to beach destination for those looking to escape the commotion of Ho Chi Minh. With a sprawling coastline, Vūng Tàu is host to a variety of luxury resorts, boutique hotels, quality restaurants, and fun activities.
Widely known amongst locals as being a top vacation spot, Vūng Tàu’s breathtaking beaches are beginning to draw international acclaim. Just two hours from Ho Chi Minh City, Vūng Tàu is ideal for daytrips or weekend getaways. So, pack a bag and get ready to soak up the sun in Vūng Tàu.
Coastal City in Bà Ria-Vūng Tàu Province
Surrounded by the South China Sea on three sides, Vūng Tàu sits on a peninsula on Vietnam’s Southeastern Coast. In size, the city measures 54 square miles, and it consists of 13 wards and one commune. An economic stronghold for Vietnam and the Bà Ria- Vūng Tàu Province, the city is the country’s center for crude oil. With a healthy trade and flowing tourism, Vūng Tàu is flourishing in the spotlight.
Travelers from Ho Chi Minh City can journey to Vūng Tàu by boat, ferry, hydrofoil, or road. Traveling by a private boat will take about 1 and ½ hours. Ferries and hydrofoils can make the journey in 2.5-3 hours. The trip by car can be completed in about 3 hours. There are no railroads or direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Vūng Tàu. Travelers who need assistance making the trip from Ho Chi Minh should consider hiring a private driver.
For centuries, Vūng Tàu has been a prominent port city for international trading. European ships relied heavily on Vūng Tàu during the 14th and 15th centuries to trade and transport goods. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Malay pirates used the city as a base before being defeated by the King of Gia Long. When the French came to the area in the mid 1800s, Vūng Tàu became a point of tension as natives clashed with the foreign invaders.
The French called Vūng Tàu, Cap Saint-Jacques and the city’s beauty caught the colonizer’s eye. Soon, mansions and villas were constructed which began the process of turning Vūng Tàu into a resort destination. The influence of the French has been preserved and to this day, colonial architecture is featured heavily throughout the city.
As the saying goes, “beauty never dies” and for Vūng Tàu this has been true. After the French, American military personnel fighting during the Vietnam War were drawn to the area and they favored Vūng Tàu as a place where troops could get a little bit of rest and relaxation. Australians and New Zealanders joined the American and Vūng Tàu became a military stronghold during the war. For the Vietnamese, Vūng Tàu’s coastal location allowed some of them to flee Communism by boat.
After the war, Vūng Tàu became the capital of the province and it was declared to be a city. No longer the province capital, Vūng Tàu is now a prominent place for commercial, industrial, and tourist industries. Many sites and buildings have been preserved in Vūng Tàu and historical tours are a popular way to learn more about the city’s past.
- Vūng Tàu is a sister city to Newport Beach, California
- When translated, Vūng Tàu means “anchorage”
- Vūng Tàu was originally called Tam Thang during Vietnam’s Nguyen Dynasty
Vūng Tàu’s beaches have become the stars of the city but relaxing in the sand isn’t the only way to experience life on the Vietnam’s South Coast. Activities in Vūng Tàu are nearly endless and tourists can spend their time learning about the history, enjoying the art, exploring nature, or hopping between bars. Whether it is early in the morning or late at night, there is always something to do in Vūng Tàu.
Hit the Beaches
The four main beaches in Vūng Tàu are called Bai Truoc (Front), Bai Sau (Back), Pineapple, and Paradise. Bai Truoc or Front Beach is the most visited sandy spot in Vūng Tàu because of the abundance of restaurants and food stalls that line the promenade.
Bai Sau or Back Beach is less food focused and more in tune with outdoor activities. Big swells amongst gentle waves make Back Beach the best spot for surfers and kite boarders. On the street, there are a few hotels and restaurants to cater to the beach goers. However, Back Beach tends to be much less crowded than Front Beach.
For sunset walks without the crowds, visitors should head to Pineapple Beach. More laid back than Front or Back Beach, surfers can still catch a wave at Pineapple. With fewer hotels and restaurants, Pineapple tends to feel more local. Those who want to check out Paradise Beach will need to pay an entrance fee. The most exclusive of the four beaches, Paradise is known for its gourmet restaurants and resorts.
Christ of Vūng Tàu
Erected into the side of Vūng Tàu’s Small Mountain, the Christ of Vūng Tàu is a statue that famously mirrors Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. Standing at 105 feet tall, the statue has become one of the city’s most recognized landmarks. Visitors can hike up to the Christ of Vūng Tàu and sit on the statue’s shoulders to get an exceptional view of the surrounding area.
Visit the Vūng Tàu Lighthouse
The oldest lighthouse in Vietnam, the whitewashed tower in Vūng Tàu was built in 1862 by French colonizers. Sitting atop a windy road on Small Mountain visitors can access the lighthouse by taking a short hike. Once on top of the structure, the lighthouse provides guests with a 360-degree view of the city.
Spend a Day at the Amusement Park
Families with children will love visiting the Ho May Culture and Ecotourism Park. Sitting atop a hill, the park is accessed by the Dobbel Mayer Cable Car, which is an attraction in its own right. The park is suitable for all ages, though it is mostly popular for tourists who have young children. Interactive exploration is encouraged in the park and many stations in the park include fun games.
Enjoy the Architecture
Numerous mansions and villas from the days of French Colonization have been preserved in Vūng Tàu, but the city’s most famous is the White Palace. Built in 1898 as a summer retreat for the French Governor, General Paul Doumer, the palace boasts two stories and endless views of the coast. Signage can be confusing in the palace and it is best to hire a local guide if you’d like to learn more about the history.
Vūng Tàu Oddities
Perhaps some of the strangest spots in the city, the Upside Down House and Selfie House have become the places where tourists go to take memorable photos of their time in Vūng Tàu. Just like the name, the Upside Down House has been made to appear upside down. To achieve this look, ceilings are painted like floors and the furniture is fixed to the ceiling. In the Selfie House, different themed rooms make for fun photo backdrops.
Read about the best things to do in Vung Tau.
Festivals are a big deal in Vietnam as they bring people together to celebrate and embrace the country’s traditions. In Vūng Tàu, there are a few annual festivals that visitors and locals can enjoy.
Tran Hung Dao Festival
Every year on August 20th, Vūng Tàu commemorates General Tran Hung Dao who fought to preserve Vietnam’s freedom. The festival is a major celebration in the city and visitors can immerse themselves in the celebrations by partaking in activities like dances and parades.
Dinh Co Festival
Celebrating religion, the Dinh Co Festival is held every year at the Dinh Co Temple. The festival is a special time of year when visitors can view the temple not in its daily practices, but in a time of great celebration.
Nghinh Onh Festival
The most popular festival in Vūng Tàu, the Nghinh Onh Festival is held annually in August, just before the Tran Hung Dao Festival. Nghinh Onh celebrates the local fishermen and it is held to usher in a year of good fishing.
Vūng Tàu is often described as an upscale destination, though in reality, the city caters to all of its guests. From luxury resorts to boutique hotels and chic hostels, there is a broad range of accommodation options in the city to ensure that tourists are always comfortable. Prices range greatly depending on your accommodation. With such a picturesque setting, it’s hard to find a bad place to stay.
Stay in the Heart of Vūng Tàu
The Imperial Hotel is Vūng Tàu’s top resort. Old fashioned in design, the hotel is a swanky resort with beautiful rooms, impressive views, and a stunning garden bar. High tea is served in the garden daily or visitors can spend the night sipping drinks at the bar top. Guests who would like to stay the night are encouraged to secure reservations prior to their arrival to Vūng Tàu. During the tourist seasons, it is unlikely that a room would be available without a reservation.
Located in one of the city’s sleekest skyrises, the Malibu Hotel provides chic accommodation to all its guests. Highlights in this hotel are the views from the rooms, rooftop pool, and bar. An all-day buffest showcases the best of Vūng Tàu’s cuisine. In addition, the hotel boasts a spa, on-site shops, and meeting areas for guests’ enjoyment.
Affordable and Comfortable
The SeaSala Vūng Tàu Hotel isn’t located directly on the beach like many of the city’s mega resorts, but that gives travelers an edge as they can save on the cost of their accommodation. As an affordable place to stay, this hotel is a popular choice for tourists on a budget. Located within the city, the hotel is still within walking distance from popular sites like Back Beach and the Christ of Vūng Tàu.
Not everyone enjoys the feeling of a resort and some guests prefer to rent a villa. Villas are popular in Vūng Tàu for guests who are part of a large party. There are numerous seaside villas in the city, and most can accommodate 10-25 people. One highly rated villa is called the Nancy Sea Light and it is within walking distance to Back Beach.
All the top resorts in Vūng Tàu have established their own restaurants, so a good meal is never far away. Though, not everyone wants to always go to the resorts for a bite to eat. Other dining options include exclusive clubs, hipster cafes, and posh restaurants.
Seafood is often the dish of choice in Vūng Tàu, where daily catches are brought in by the local fishermen and sold to the local restaurants or in the seaside markets. The influence of international tourism has also brought Western style cuisine to the city, so tourists can easily find more than fish on the menu.
Catch of the Day
The Seafood Market in Vūng Tàu is located behind the Imperial Hotel on Bai Sau (Back) Beach. While it is one of a few markets in town, the one on Back Beach has become famous for their chefs. Visitors can peruse the catch of the day and then have it prepared in front of them by a local chef. Commonly caught seafood includes various types of fish, shellfish, and crab.
Sunset Views at the Marina Club Vūng Tàu
Overlooking Pineapple beach, the Marina Club Vūng Tàu is an exclusive establishment where tourists flock to enjoy an end of the day drink or meal. A large outside terrace provides plenty of seating for guests to enjoy the view and their meal. Known for their cocktails, the Marina Club Vūng Tàu includes a fresh menu of various local delicacies to top off their menu.
Refresh and Re-energize at Café Art Mio
Hipster with a little funk thrown in, Café Art Mio is one of the premiere coffee shops in Vūng Tàu. Visitors rave over the café’s music-themed décor and with live bands on the weekend, Café Art Mio has become a great place to relax with friends. The café is open all day and they offer an array of refreshing beverages. A limited menu is included for guests who would like a bite to eat.
Taking a break from the seafood delicacies, tourists can also find French, Italian, American, and Japanese restaurants in Vūng Tàu. Bistrot 9 is a casual French bistro that has become well-known for its more traditional breakfast menu, which includes Western staples like pancakes or eggs benedict. The David Italian Restaurant serves the best pizza and pasta in Vūng Tàu.
Putting seafood into seaweed, Sushi Toyko has an expansive menu with Japanese favorites like maki rolls, tempura, and ramen. Finally, Tommy’s 3 is a staple in the community where their steaks and burgers provide guests with a little bit of comfort from home.
Getting around Vūng Tàu is easy and there are several ways that visitors can explore the city. Common ways to get around include walking, biking, renting motorbikes, or hiring a taxi. Walking is an excellent way to see more of the city, but visitors should be cautious in Vietnam’s high heat. While beachside strolls are always pleasant, those who are trying to cross the city might want to consider hopping on a pair or set of wheels.
Bicycle rentals are commonly used as an affordable way to get around Vūng Tàu. Various hotels and villas often have bicycle rentals available and some restaurants will even provide the service. A faster way to get around is by renting a motorbike, which is also affordable. Though, visitors will need a valid driver’s license for this option. Finally, metered taxis provide service throughout the city. Riders should always ask for the price before getting into the taxi.
Weather in Vūng Tàu falls into two categories – wet and dry. The wet season is the tourist off season and the time of year when most people avoid traveling to the city. Heat and humidity are high during the wet season, which starts in May and ends in October. Dry season is peak time for tourism in Vūng Tàu because the weather is cooler and there is less rain. Officially, the dry season starts in November and lasts until April. The busiest times for tourists to visit Vūng Tàu is December to March.
With scenic beaches, luxury accommodations, fresh food and plenty of entertainment, it isn’t hard to guess why Vūng Tàu has become Ho Chi Minh City’s preferred spot for a weekend getaway. International tourists are quickly catching onto local interests and Vūng Tàu is becoming one of South Vietnam’s most spectacular destinations. Memories are for a lifetime and your dream vacation awaits in Vūng Tàu.
Activities near Vung Tau