Just 100 kilometers away from Vietnam’s southern metropolis, this coastal city is a popular getaway destination for Ho Chi Minh City dwellers. Its long beaches, delicious seafood, fresh air, and plenty of sights to visit offer the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Its combination of nature, history, and entertainment also makes it a fantastic vacation destination.
At the bottom of the two peaks that flank this postcard city, a long, breezy seafront road runs along the entire peninsula. Take a relaxing walk on its wide pavements to enjoy beautiful views of the East Sea, the mangroves, and the myriad ships, small boats and oil tankers that dot the shore.
If you enjoy basking in the sun with all amenities at hand, Back Beach (Bai Sau) is a mandatory stop on this road. This popular beach with crystal-clear waters is the longest in Vung Tau, and a wonderful place to relax with a book, eat a bite or try out water sports like surf, stand-up paddling, and kite surfing. Right on the opposite side of the peninsula is Bai Truoc or Front Beach, where in addition to all the daytime activities you can also sip a cocktail in the evening, as this area is well-known for its vibrant nightlife.
On the southernmost tip of the city, where Back Beach meets Pineapple Beach (Bai Dua), you will find one of Vung Tau’s most visited attractions: the Giant Jesus statue - Christ the King. Sitting atop one of the peaks and rising 32 meters, this statue has nothing to envy from its sister effigy in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. The odd 800 steps from sea level to the statue provide an excellent workout, but if you are not one to exercise, do not fret, as it is also possible to reach it on the back of a motorbike taxi. Ascend to its arms for a mesmerizing panoramic view.
Throughout Vung Tau’s history, the city has not only earned praise for the beauty of its views but also for their strategic value. The peninsula’s prime geography made Vung Tau an instrumental location during the French-colonial period, as it guarded access to Ho Chi Minh City. Some interesting remnants from this time allow visitors to delve right into this period of history.
Not far from the Christ the King statue, is the early-twentieth-century lighthouse with the oldest architecture in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. This viewpoint makes a great location to enjoy the breeze while watching the sunset over the East Sea.
Continuing along the seafront road, the shining white walls of Bach Dinh (White Palace) strike a contrast with the surrounding green vegetation. This colonial-era villa was once the mansion of the French governor. Today, it is a museum where you can see relics and antiques, while its vast gardens filled with trees and verandas to rest up in the shade are an excellent choice for an afternoon walk with the ocean as the backdrop.
Vung Tau also has plenty to offer for those with an interest in military history. Atop of Nui Lon, or the Big Peak, is the ancient artillery field, built by the French in the late 19th century. Six four-meter-long canons that weigh over 15 tons each still rest there.
For a deep dive into military history from Vietnam and beyond, head over to the Worldwide Arms museum. There you can admire a large private collection of over 2,500 weapons and soldier uniforms from across the globe.
The amusement park on Nui Lon is guaranteed to be a fun time for those after a more active day. Even if rollercoasters are not your cup of tea, the scenic commute to reach it makes this park worth a visit. You will get there in a cable car that hovers over the breathtaking panoramic view of the sea and the hills surrounding Vung Tau.
Along with its natural beauty and historical sights, Vung Tau boasts a captivating gastronomic scene. After a long day sight-seeing, sunbathing or swimming, treat yourself to some of the local specialties. Banh Khot, a tasty savory pancake topped with shrimp is a favorite local snack. Vung Tau’s many snail dishes, grilled oysters with cheese and squid noodle soup are other must-tries.
Being by the ocean, the city also offers options to try the local seafood for all palates and pockets. If you are in the mood for fine dining, you will be spoilt for choice in the many restaurants along the main beaches. For a unique seafood feast, the night seafood market on Back Beach will surely be a memorable experience. Select your fish, crab, or shellfish, pick your preferred cooking method, and watch in delight as the skillful cooks prepare it for you.
From its pristine beaches and delicious seafood to its rich history and entertainment scene, Vung Tau is a hidden gem in Vietnam’s southern coast that offers something for everyone. Whether you are looking to relax on the sand, explore historical landmarks or indulge in local cuisine, this city is definitely worth a visit.