In a nutshell
Vung Tau the city of Ba Ria Vung Tau province, which is famous for the marine oil platforms and tourist destination. The city has a modern look with broad boulevards, but the distinctive beauty of colonial-era buildings still stays on. It is a favorite destination to get away from the hurly-burly of a mega city such as Ho Chi Minh.
Why go to Vung Tau
Just about 100 km from Ho Chi Minh, Vung Tau is a convenient destination to see beaches and get a cool breeze. With local people, top of the list when mentioning about Vung Tau probably is food. Seafood restaurants are very popular in town and there are plenty of street food vendors serving inexpensive delicious specialties. Instead of fast development, Vung Tau still retains its unique beauty. Spacious seaside with beautiful mountain background brings peaceful moments for explorers. Religious complex of Catholics and Buddhism such as statues of Jesus, St. Maria and Buddha attract millions of pilgrims travel to Vung Tau every year. Essentially, near attractive places, there is no lack of hotels suiting different budgets and demands.
Historical sites and history museums never fail to impress visitors with both appearance of the places and interesting historical information as well. Nightlife is very lively with many restaurants, coffee shops and bars near the beach, especially during the weekend. Outdoor activities such as trek, walk, motorbike ride or boat ride give you a chance to explore the place in deep and understand better the lives of local people.
When to go to Vung Tau
Vung Tau is a good place that you can visit all seasons. Each season has its own advantages. Spring and winter are the busiest time of the year with a variety of fun activities. On the other hand, summer and fall are generally more affordable to travel. The dry season is between November-March, which is the best time to visit.
Where to stay in Vung Tau
As a popular tourist destination, Vung Tau accommodation includes everything that meets the demands of all budgets. Sometimes, it can be difficult to decide where to stay in Vung Tau. It is packed with hotels and places to stay from bunking dorm bed, middle-range, to top-end resorts; all are available. There is no “number one perfect hotel or street” to stay in. There are better streets than others depending on your own preferences and budget. Distance to the beach tends to be a bit further for budget hotels. Luckily that Vung Tau is not too big, walking is doable; riding bicycle or motorbike are also great alternatives. You can expect to have free wifi in all mid-range and top-end hotels. Breakfast is generally only included in a big resort with buffet style. Meanwhile, cheaper accommodation typically provides good quality breakfast with reasonable price from VND50,000-100,000.
Where and what to eat in Vung Tau
Streets of Vung Tau are packed with restaurants and food stalls. You should not leave Vung Tau without trying seafood or one of the most favorite specialties, Banh Khot. Never will you have a trouble with finding street food, which is the good way to taste local food at cheap cost. International visitors do not have limited choices to access international food and beverage either. There are many restaurants and coffee shops where you can enjoy coffee or homemade chocolates. Many restaurants are located in a perfect location for a sea view, although the price can be more expensive. Interestingly, if you love cooking, you can have your fresh seafood prepared by yourself at the local market.
How to get around Vung Tau
Vung Tau is quite small. It is about 140 km2 and easy to get around, so don’t hesitate to take a walk. Many inexpensive hotels are directly opposite to the beach or take less than 15-minute walk. Most of the hotels have vehicle rental services such as a bicycle (VND40,000/day) or motorbike (VND150,000 – 200,000/day). Xe Om, motorbike taxi is also an affordable option if you are comfortable with bargaining. Metered taxi is quite expensive in Vung Tau. It is generally about 20-30% more expensive compared to Ho Chi Minh. If you have to travel a long distance, you should choose reliable operators such as Mai Linh or Vina Sun.
How to get to and from Vung Tau
Travelers making a trip from Ho Chi Minh to Vung Tau can take bus/minivan, ferry or motorbike.
Most of the people prefer bus and vans to the other types of transport because there are many trips throughout the day and every day. Travel duration between these two cities is about 2.5-3 hours depending on the traffic. The prices are about VND180,000/person/way.
There are popular air-conditioned bus/van to go back and forth between Sai Gon and Vung Tau. Kumho Samco bus is best known for an affordable price and flexible departure time (every 15 minute/trip from 4:30am – 7pm). Kumho Samco buses depart from Mien Dong Bus Station. Tiim Charter van is farmed for a fast drive, on time and friendly staff.
A taxi from Ho Chi Minh to Vung Tau is pricey but yes, comfy. Expect to pay about VND2.5 million. It's worth checking the price both for an prdinary car and a van as the difference is normally not that great.
Ferry from Ho Chi Minh to Vung Tau though more expensive than bus is still a popular choice due to the scenic journey travelling first along the Saigon River and that to the open sea. It’s also a more comfortable way to get to Vung Tau compared to taking the bus. Greenlines speed ferry is currently the only company offering the service and is bookable here. They run brand new boats which are clean and have free wifi. Tickets normally cost about VND260,000.
The distance from Ho Chi Minh to Vung Tau is about 100 km. Therefore, ridding motorbike to Vung Tau is possible and thrilling. But we do not recommend you to take the risk unless you are a very good driver. Ho Chi Minh is a biggest and busiest city with many motorbike users, possibly causing a lot of problems for you before you can get out of this city. There are many places in Vung Tau that you can rent a motorbike to get around if you need.
Is it safe?
Vung Tau is an exciting and exhilarating place to visit. It is safe but taking extra cautious if you ride a motorbike: always wear a helmet and no > 60km/hr for the speed limit. Xe Om is not safe to get home from bar/club, especially when you get drunk. Nightlife is always a fun time to see the city. Stay away from hookers who are typically standing alone and have heavy make-up.