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Vung Tau

A Travel Guide to Vung Tau

Home to the nearest beaches to Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau has become a popular weekend getaway for locals and expats alike. It’s the perfect place to reset from city life, with a calmer pace of life and lots of outdoors things to do, from hiking and surfing to enjoying viewpoints and sunbathing, there is something to suit all here. This travel guide to Vung Tau will help you plan your own beach escape.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, all marked with * Booking through these links generates a small commission for me at no extra cost to you.

Vung Tau at a glance

Vung Tau is the capital city of Ba Ria Provence, only 95km south-east of Saigon which makes it a great side trip to take after spending a few days in the big city. During the colonial era, the city offered a seaside oasis for wealthy French and Vietnamese diplomats, and as such it still retains some colonial mansions and European influences. Nowadays it is a working beach city with business in fishing and oil and of course tourism thanks to the beaches that flank both sides of the peninsula.

How long to stay – 1-2 days is the perfect length of time to stay, as the sites can be squeezed into one day, leaving another day to relax by the beach.

Best time of year – Dec to May has the most reliable weather, with blue skies and high temps (~35°C). The summer months are the wettest time of year with the potential for storms.

Things to see in Vung Tau

Most people come to Vung Tau to be near the ocean and spend time on the beaches. There are two main beaches, one on each side of the peninsula. Front beach is the best for sunbathing and swimming (you can rent deck chairs or loungers for ~50k a day), and the back beach is perfect for watching the sunset. Here are some other things to see and do during your trip.

Hike the Christ of Vung Tau

Situated atop Small Mountain (Nui Nho), the Christ of Vung Tau is the largest Christ statue in Vietnam sitting 36 meters high. It’s a stair climb (~800 steps) to the top, and you are rewarded with a great view over the city. You can climb up to the top of the statue via a 133-step staircase inside for a small fee.

📍 Thuy Van, Phuong 2, Thanh pho, Vung Tau

Views from the Lighthouse

The Lighthouse is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built during the French colonial period in 1862. 156 years later and it’s still operational. Though you can’t go inside, you get stunning 360° views of the city from the small hill it’s situated atop.

📍 Ngọn hải đăng Vũng Tàu

travel guide Vung Tau Vietnam

Surf at Back Beach

Though not as popular as Mui Ne for surfers, Vung Tau does have some good winter swells. The waves at back beach aren’t huge, making it a great place for beginners to learn and practice surfing. Check out the surf report here, and you can rent boards and book lessons at Beach Club Surf Station.

Beach Club Surf Station📍 8 Thùy Vân, Phường Thắng Tam

Hike Nui Dinh Mountain

While the south of Vietnam certainly isn’t known for its mountains, Ba Ria province does boast one peak called Nui Dinh which has many trails and a couple of small waterfalls to explore. Nui Dinh is a popular place for trail runners, with monthly trips for runners from Saigon (La Holista sometimes run trips, as do Run Club Vietnam), but it’s also easy to go by yourself.

✍️  Check out this guide by Vietnam Coracle for more information about Nui Dinh Mountains and Springs

How to get to Vung Tau

The most efficient way to travel from Saigon to Vung Tau is by ferry however, the bus is marginally cheaper. I’ve always opted to drive myself as it’s only a few hours from the city.

The fastest way to get to Vung Tau is the express speed boat which takes 1.5hr. The boats are modern and well equipped, with AC toilets and even wifi/entertainment. The ferry is operated by Greenlines through which you can book directly.

⏰ 2 hours
💰 200-250k

Vung Tau is well serviced with buses to and from Saigon. I’ve found the easiest way to book transport in advance is through Baolau*, a search engine that compares all travel options to find the best one for you. The Futa bus is another popular option and you can book directly through their website.

⏰ 2-3 hours
💰 ~150k

There doesn’t seem to be any way to book direct buses to Vung Tau from Mui Ne or Dalat online, but you can book these routes in person through local travel agents.

Public Bus from Saigon

The public bus is the cheapest way to travel between Saigon and Vung Tau. To get the public bus head to the Mien Dong bus station in Binh Tan district of Ho Chi Minh City. The bus terminates at the Vung Tau bus station on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia street.

⏰ every 20 mins between 6am-8pm
💰 80k

A route for driving to Vung Tau

There are two different routes you can take when motorbiking to Vung Tau. Originally, you could only take the highway, but now there is a marginally faster route that takes you on smaller roads through Dong Nai Province. I drove this new route last time I went to Vung Tau and found it faster and less exhausting than the highway route. It includes the Cat Lai ferry which cuts down the time substantially.

When putting the route into google maps you should select the motorbike option, or click “avoid highways and tolls” as motorbikes cannot drive all routes.

⏰ ~3 hours

✍️ For more information on motorbiking in Vietnam, check out my Complete Guide to Motorbiking in Vietnam.

Getting around Vung Tau

Vung Tau is a medium-sized city, so you will likely need to use taxis, like Vinasun, or Grab to explore fully. If you can drive then you could rent a motorbike with assistance from your accommodation*

What to eat in Vung Tau

As a beach and fishing town, most restaurants sell fresh seafood which I highly recommend trying while you’re here. I also recommend trying one of the regional dishes, banh khot.

Eat banh khot

Banh khot are mini fried pancakes, similar to banh xeo, made with pork, shrimp or squid. To eat you wrap the mini pancakes in salad leaves and dip into nuoc mam (fish sauce with chilli and garlic). Apparently, the best place to try authentic banh khot is at Co Ba Vung Tau, though I tried many restaurants and they were all really good.

Co Ba Vung Tau📍1 Hoang Hoa Tham

travel guide to vung tau vietnam food

Where to stay in Vung Tau

The best area to stay is on the peninsula, somewhere between the front and back beach. Staying here will give you easy access to the main attractions and put you within walking distance to many restaurants, bars and beaches. Browse all the accommodation options here* or check out my top picks.

📍 Secret Garden Coffee and Homestay*
📍 The Wind Mountain Side Hotel*

travel guide to vung tau beaches vietnam

Daily budget

Vung Tau is a very budget-friendly destination, especially as most of the things to do here are cheap or free.

🛏 ~$5

Accommodation is very budget-friendly. Hostel dorm beds from ~120k, and private rooms from ~250k. Browse all accommodation options here*.

🍜 ~$11

There are many budget-friendly restaurants and street vendors, making eating out cheap. I estimate around 250k a day for food, more if you plan on drinking.

🚗 ~$8.50

The cheapest way to get to Vung Tau from Saigon is by bus, though the boat will get you there faster. Book the ferry here, or the bus here*.

📸 ~ $5

Everything to do in Vung Tau is either free or extremely cheap. The largest expense will be renting a motorbike if you decide to rent one.

Daily budget: ~$30

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Meet Frances; Scottish lass turned Vietnam expat, and creator of this space. She can be found sippin’ ice tea’s and writing about her adventures from her sunny base of Saigon, Vietnam’s southern metropolis. All with a healthy side of researching her next road trip. With 5 years of living, travelling and scooting around Asia under her belt – let Frances be your guide to travelling the region.

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