Vung Tau is such a beautiful place in Vietnam. This wonderful fishermen village is one of the highlights in this country for travelers and tourists in general. Not just because of the unique style, but also for its relaxing flair. It has a very charming vibe and some cool things to do. Does not mater what you are into, there is something for everyone.
I visited Vung Tau on my motorbike tour from the south to the north. I started in Saigon and ended in Hanoi. Vung Tau was my first stop on the list and I really liked it straight from the start. I don’t really know why. Maybe, because I just like to be by the coast or, because this place has a very pleasent flair. Could be both.
It actually got recommended to me by an English vendor in Saigon, who told me, which route I should take, if I wanted to explore the whole country with my motorbike. It was an amazing journey and Vung Tau was the perfect spot to start with. I have to admit, that the Vietnamese coastline is a bit different to the Cambodia or Thai one, because the water is not as colourful as in the other two countries. Furthermore it’s quite a windy coastline, which makes it a little rough and not that good to relax or hanging out by the beaches. But still, the coast is very, very beautiful and I have the feeling, you would like it too..
Vung Tau – General information
Vung Tau is a small town by the ocean. This peninsula only has a size of about 140 m² and about 450.000 inhabitants. It’s one of the main vacation spots for business people from Saigon. They just like it, because it is close (60 km) and it has a good standard. Over the last couple of years Vung Tau also got more and more popular for tourists from all over the world, which is very good for the locals. They make more money and the city is consistently growing.
You will find a lot of good accommodation and restaurants there (read below). Vung Tau is also quite known in Vietnam for a couple other things like good kitesurfing conditions and to be a good holiday spot in general.
Vung Tau has quite a long and interesting history for such a small city. During the Vietnam war it was a strategically important point for the US and the Australian army. Back in the days, it has been a small fishermen town. It was also the main spot for trading purposes. Today it is mainly used for the oil and offshore industry. The harbour is very important economically and it is the foundation for the whole province. Most people either make their living from tourism or the oil/ gas industry.
How to get there
You can reach Vung Tau in many ways. I went there by motorbike. Many Vietnamese come there by car or train. Some even take a taxi. You can also take the ship, if you come from another country. To come by ship is very uncommon to be honest and inconvenient, which is why I would not recommend it.
You will only reach it from the northeast. The fastest way is the highway (A1) and then following the QL51 down south. It will take you about 2 hours to get there from Ho Chi Minh City.
The weather is very similar to the weather in other Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia for example. Because Vung Tau belongs to the subtropical area of our planet, it has a wet and a dry season. The wet season is runs from May until November. January, February and March are dry months. Temperature always sets between 20°C – 35°C. If you are not sure what to pack for that kind of weather, here is my ultimate packing list.
Food in Vung Tau is absolutely delicious. Of course you can get typical Vietnamese meals like noodle soups, street sandwiches and rice with veggies at every corner. But the really good stuff can mainly be found by the beaches around the harbour. You’ll find all kind of beach vendors. Besides souveniers and clothes you can get amazing seafood. It’s all fresh and the sellers prepare it right in front of you. So good!
Many Vietnamese just like to sit by the beach on typical small red plastic chairs with small plastic tables next to them. It’s a perfect possibility to get in contact with them while eating crabs, fish, squid and all kind of other delicacies for only a couple dollars.
Vung Tau has all sorts of accommodation. Because of the fact, that it is a tourist spot for Vietnamese, the different hotels and hostels are very good in comparison to other spots in Vietnam. You can even find a couple homestays. Most of the accommodation can be found in the city centre and close to the beaches.
All standards are available. From a very high standard to low standard. The hotel/ hostel owners speak good English, because they are used to it.
To name a couple hotels with different standards:
As you can see, the costs vary. Generally the costs for everything you can think of are very low in Vietnam compared to western countries like Germany or Sweden. For food I lived with 3-10$ per day while I was in Vung Tau. Accommodation is about 8$ – 15 $ per night, if you stay in a hostel. If you like it more classy, then you obviously pay more. But that’s up to you.
Attractions and all things you can do in Vung Tau like surfing, visiting a museum or having a look at the lighthouse are mainly free or don’t cost that much.
Vung Tau – Highlights & what to do
Because Vung Tau is quite small, it does not have as much highlights as some other cool places like Bali for example. Vung Tau as more of a relaxing spot for tourists and business people. Most of them don’t want to anything else but relaxing. So, you won’t find that many adrenalin/ unique activities. Nevertheless Vung Tau definitely has some nice things to check out.
Vung Tau has a couple good beaches. As mentioned, the beaches in Vietnam are slightly different to the paradisaic beaches in the Philippines for example. The water colour is just not as beautiful. But they are still very pretty. The sand is fine, the beaches are clean and the water temperature is very pleasent (minimum: 24°C).
These are the main beaches to go to:
- Bai Dura
- Bai Sau Vung Tau
- Vung Tao Beach
- Valley Beach
- Bai Dau Beach
They are all pretty much the same, but they have different sizes. I would rather prefer the smaller ones (Bai Dau & Bai Dura), because you will have less people around you.
Tuong Dai Chua Kito Vua
This is a christian statue you need to go to in Vung Tau. It has a size of about 32m and the outstreched arms spanning almost 19m. You’ll have to go up about 811 stairs to reach the top. It is quite tough, but it will no take that long. Once you have reached the top, you will get rewarded with a wonderful view over the whole city.
Short tip: Try to go up during sunset. It’s very, very pretty.
Upside Down House
The Upside Down House is quite an interesting spot of Vung Tau. It’s a building where the furnishing in some rooms is completely updside down. On pictures it looks like your are flying in a way.
It’s also possible get some food and drinks there. You can at least spend a couple hours there. Especially for kids it is a cool thing to do. Make sure to check it out 🙂
Kitesurfing & Lighthouse
I just put these two things together, because both have something to do with the ocean in Vung Tau. The first one is kitesurfing. Because of the South Chinese Ocean you get pretty decent wind conditions. Especially in the wet season Vung Tau is a very sought after area for kitesurfing, because the wind is even stronger during that time.
The 2nd thing is the lighthouse. It is quite big and painted in white. It’s pretty in the way it’s built. Definitely a spot to check out as well.
Vung Tau – What I have learned
Vung Tau or more specifically the journey to this city taught me something new about travelling. I have learned a lot from traveling already, but there is always something new. During my time in Southeast Asia I travelled on my own completely. Most of the time, I have been surrounded by other backpackers, so I did not really realize how it is to be completely on your own for a longer time. Even though Vung Tau was just the first spot on my long list of destinations I wanted to cover in Vietnam, I still already recognized the difference.
During my motorbike ride from Saigon to Vung Tau I had absolutely noone to talk to. And that situation intensified a lot over the next 3,5 weeks. I saw, that it is completely different to travel on your own, without any other people you can talk to. You will have to deal way more with yourself, which can be a good and a bad thing.
You can either use it and learn from it by really getting contact with your soul. You can learn how to deal with yourself. Not a lot of people can do that. They always need someone around them. You will have a lot of time to think about your wishes, hopes and dreams. What is it, that you really want? What are your desires? Is there something bigger that drives you in life?
You get the point – you basically have a lot of time to think…
Or you don’t use it and won’t learn from it. That’s what most backpackers do. They just see it as an adventure, which is fair enough. But there is way more to discover. Especially regarding your own personality.
A simple lesson
I have learned pretty quick on my way to Vung Tau for example, that
it’s not about the destination, it’s about the people, who surround you
I said this in another post before, but it is really important, so I repeat it:
You can be at the most beautiful spots on earth, but, who do you share your experiences with, if you are alone? Who can you talk to about it, if you have only seen it by yourself? You can only really understand it for yourself. Other people can’t. They can only say “Oh, that’s so cool” or “Man, that sounds awesome!”. But they will never understand 100%.
That’s why I think: travelling on your own is great! You’ll learn a lot. Especially about yourself. But sometimes you need to partner up and share experiences, because it just makes them even better…
Want to know more about Vietnam? Read here
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