The coastal city of Vung Tau is the ideal short break from Ho Chi Minh City. At only 96km from the city centre, Vung Tau is reachable in less than 2.5 hours, attracting thousands of visitors every year for a breath of sea air and a break from the city. Popular with both Vietnamese and foreign tourists, the city has a number of beautiful resorts, all of which are available at a very affordable price.
Many visiting Vietnam find themselves with additional days in Ho Chi Minh City, at the start, or at the end of their trip. As a result, a short break from the city will come as a welcome travel addition.
Why Visit Vung Tau?
Although Vung Tau is a somewhat ordinary city in Vietnam, it does offer a number of different things to do. With time by the coast being an added bonus. It is a great place to simply visit, kick back and relax. The fresh air alone is the number one reason for visiting the city. It is a welcome break from the polluted Ho Chi Minh City streets.
Home to just over 500,000 people, Vung Tau is a relatively small city in Vietnam. Despite this, many locals see it as an idyllic escape and it is a popular destination in the south. Vung Tau is not short of things to do. From staying in one of the cities many beautiful resorts to climbing the steps to stand at the foot of the large Christ statue. You’re sure to keep yourself busy.
In this post, we will begin by highlighting our top things to do whilst staying in Vung Tau. Secondly, we will look at our favorite places to stay, and how to make the most of your time in the city. Finally, we will explore the best options for travel, looking at cost and efficiency.
Top 6 Things to Do in Vung Tau
1. Christ of Vung Tau
Visible from miles around, the Christ of Vung Tau, stands proudly on a hillside overlooking the city. This 32 metre tall stone monument somewhat resembles the famous, Christ the Redeemer, in Rio. This Vietnamese version is not quite as impressive, but it is a great sight to behold never the less.
Visitors climb the somewhat 700 steps to the top of the hill, where they stand at the feet of the Christ of Vung Tau. If you’re not too out of breath, you can enter the statue and climb a spiral staircase to his head. From here, you can stand on his arms and look out over the city of Vung Tau and the open ocean.
We would definitely suggest making the effort to the final climb, as the views are truly the best for miles around!
We suggest making your trip to the Christ of Vung Tau in the early morning or late afternoon. During the midday hours, the sun is too intense and the statue is closed for nap time.
2. Bai Sau Beach (Back Beach)
The back beach stretches along an impressive 8km of coastline around the city of Vung Tau. This open stretch of beach is popular with locals and tourists wanting to soak up some sun and fresh air. The beach itself is wide and flat, making it the ideal place to go for a run or a long walk.
Due to the beach’s popularity, there are a number of different local vendors who have set up stalls. Here they sell coconuts, coffees and snacks for a very reasonable price. They also provide deck chairs, tables and umbrellas for a small fee. The ideal way to spend the morning or the afternoon chilling by the ocean.
There is also a relatively well-maintained promenade that stretches along the beach. If you don’t fancy getting sandy feet, this is the walk for you.
Swimming in the sea here can be challenging. The sea is very rough and the coastline isn’t monitored by lifeguards. Be sure to take care and only paddle if you’re not a strong swimmer.
3. Bai Trouc Beach (Front Beach)
The front beach sits slightly north of the back beach and is a much smaller section of the beach. Due to its size, this section of the beach has less to offer in terms of where to get food and a drink. However, it is still a nice beach to relax on and is away from the crowds.
This beach is where a number of fisherman dock their boats. Which makes it a great place to chill and watch the fishermen at work.
If you’re looking for a more chilled and less crowded place to relax, then Front Beach is a great option.
4. Woman’s Island (Hon Ba)
Visible from the trek up to the Christ of Vung Tau, Woman’s Island sits just off the coast. It is said that in 1781, a woman built a temple on this island in order to to worship the Sea Goddess. Here women would come to pray for the fishermen out at sea and for their safe return to land.
Due to the location of the island, visitors much check tide times in advance. By doing so, they can ensure their safe crossing out to the island. When the tide is low, a somewhat rocky and jagged footpath to the island is revealed. During this time, it is safe to cross and visit the temple.
Please remember to keep an eye on the tide. If you don’t, you may end up getting stuck on the island!
Unlike the other attractions on Vung Tau, Woman’s island is less attended. Making it a great option for those who are trying to escape the tourist crowds.
5. White Palace
In 1916, the White Palace of Vung Tau was commissioned by the French Governor, Paul Doumer. The White Palace itself is built in a French colonial fashion and was in fact used by Emperor Bao Dai as a holiday home. During this time, Vietnamese heads of state also used the White Palace as place for vacation.
Today, this beautiful and historic building has opened its doors to the public. It is now home to a range of different artifacts and interesting cultural items. Whilst wandering around this beautiful, colonial building, visitors will question whether they are in France or Vietnam.
The White Palace can be visited in less than one hour. However, it is an interesting building to see in Vietnam.
6. Visit a Resort
Due to the fact that Vung Tau is a popular getaway for many tourists and locals in Vietnam, there are a number of beautiful and affordable resorts. As the city itself does not have much to offer in the way of restaurants or bars. One of our favorite things to do, simply stay in a resort!
By doing so, you are able to get some much needed time away from the chaotic streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Take the time to kick back, relax, breathe in the fresh air and simply do nothing.
Most of the resorts in Vung Tau have their own restaurants, selling delicious seafood and western dishes. Along with high-end accommodation, spas, gyms, and stunning swimming pools!
If staying in one of the resorts for an evening is too expensive, visitors can simply visit to spend time in the spa, by the pool or in the restaurant. Try contacting a resort first to ensure they offer these services for non-guests.
Where to Stay in Vung Tau
As previously mentioned, Vung Tau is home to a range of different stunning resorts and hotels. Below is just a couple of our favorites!
1. Marina Bay Resort and Spa $$$
Located 12km south of the centre of Vung Tau, Marina Bay Resort and Spa, is a newly built and well-kept resort. Overlooking a busy bay and boating lane, this resort is truly stunning and reasonably priced. Despite its slightly remote location, it is still the ideal place for tourists to stay when visiting Vung Tau.
Each room in the resort looks out over the bay and offers beautiful ocean views. The infinity pool alone is an ideal place to spend an entire afternoon, swimming and soaking up the fresh sea air. The spa has a wide variety of treatments, all of which are reasonably priced. Additionally, the resort also has a stunning fish restaurant that opens out over the water.
Although this stunning resort is pricey, it is excellent value for money and provides a high standard of service. You’re sure to have the most relaxing experience!
3. Léman Cap Resort & Spa $$
Léman Cap Resort & Spa is a more affordable option for visitors. However, despite it’s the lower price, this resort is also excellent value for money. With an on-site restaurant, spa and pool, this resort is an ideal place for an affordable getaway.
Although the resort is a little dated, guests have access to a well-maintained pool and affordable spa treatments. Rooms at the resort are to a reasonable standard, and upgrading your room is reasonable. A continental breakfast is also included in the room price, and it is a great place to spend the morning sipping coffee and reading a book.
Léman Cap Resort & Spa is located close to Back Beach and other restaurants. It is a fantastic affordable retreat from HO Chi Minh City!
How to Travel From HCMC to Vung Tau
There are various different travel options for arriving in Vung Tau from Ho Chi Minh City. The most interesting and efficient is by ferry! Because of the cities popularity, the route between the two cities is well connected. Below is a break down of some of the best and most efficient ways to travel to Vung Tau.
One of the easiest ways to travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau is by taxi. The drive takes just over two hours, and most companies offer the route at a reasonable price. When traveling as part of a small group, a taxi may just be your most affordable option.
A return taxi to Vung tau from Ho Chi Minh City Centre, costs approximately 2-3 million VND ($60-100). Which when shared, is a fair price.
Arriving in Vung Tau by motorbike is a relatively easy task. As previously mentioned, the route between the two cities is well-traveled. Offering plenty of places to stop and take a break. A motorbike also gives you the freedom to travel as you please, which is always appealing. The motorbike drive takes between 2-3 hours.
However, this particular route is relatively uninteresting in terms of things to see. Sadly, there is no dramatic or green scenery, just the main roads. This is due to the fact that the two cities are almost joined in location, so it can feel like you haven’t left the city at all.
That being said, motorbike travel is extremely affordable, which makes the drive more appealing. And you always have the added bonus of working on your on watch and no one else’s.
3. Greenlines-DP Fast Ferry
The most unique way of traveling to Vung Tau from Ho Chi Minh City is by the Greenlines-DP Fast Ferry. The ferry docks in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City and travels at 3 different times throughout the day to Vung Tau. The scenic route the river takes out to the ocean and visitors will be pleasantly surprised.
For as little as 500,000VND ($20), a return ticket can be purchased.
Despite the low cost, the journey is remarkably comfortable and very interesting. As the ferry pulls out from Ho Chi Minh City, it starts to follow the river out to sea. The ferry weaves along the wide-open river, past local fishermen, and through the surrounding mangroves.
This two-hour journey is truly wonderful. Not only does it offer tourists a comfortable and efficient journey to Vung Tau, but it also serves as a scenic boat tour! A wonderful way to see the rivers outside of the city.