Eternally popular with Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) locals, Vung Tau is one of Vietnam’s most picturesque beach resorts. A stunning location on a peninsula sees it surrounded by ocean on three sides, which makes it a mecca for those wanting to escape the sultry climate and polluted air of the city. During the week Vung Tau is relatively quiet, though on weekends it comes to life with locals, expats and holidaymakers craving sun, sand and seascapes.
The city streets are surprisingly well-manicured, with colonial-era buildings and spacious boulevards housing cafes, restaurants and bars. While it’s not firmly on Vietnam’s tourist trail, Vung Tau is a fantastic place to spend a weekend. It’s also a convenient jumping point to the Mui Ne coastline.
Just 125-kilometres from HCMC, Vung Tau is an easy weekend trip. It’s well connected by roads, with the drive taking around 2 and 1/2 hours. Buses and minivans also make the trip from HCMC. The town itself is relatively small, and it’s easy to walk to hubs like Bacu Street, the Đồ Chiểu Street food centre and the oceanfront.
While today Vung Tau is a seaside retreat, it wasn’t always such a leisure destination. In the 14th century, it was a hub for European trading ships, which inspired the name Vung Tau. In Vietnamese, the name means “ship’s bay” which was a reference to the trade ships that were constantly anchored in its port.