As the Saigon River’s tributaries snake their way through mangrove and lowland jungle toward the East Sea, Ho Chi Minh’s nearest beach town peaks through the ocean mist. Vung Tau lies an hour and a half southeast of Vietnam’s largest city and is more commonly visited by domestic tourists than international travelers.
Arrive by Hydrofoil
There are a few different ways to reach Vung Tau from Saigon. Most travelers opt for a bus or van and this trip should take around an hour and a half. It’s a relatively smooth and easy affair as the two cities are connected by a major highway. However, for the more adventurous travelers, there is an even better option.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
From District 1 in downtown Saigon, a number of different hydrofoils ferry passengers to and from the beach. These high-speed boats should generally complete the journey about a half hour faster than a bus. For many, twisting through mangrove jungle is a far more pleasant experience than roaring down the highway. However, be warned that it’s not entirely uncommon for these boats to break down and travel times to double; so again this is the more adventurous route. Tickets can be bought in Saigon at Bach Dang Pier and shouldn’t be more than 10 USD each way.
Climb Small Mountain
As the hydrofoil whips into the East Sea toward Vung Tau, one of the first signs of the city you’ll see will be a large, white statue of Jesus jutting from a coastal jungle mount. After arriving at port, walk toward Phan Chu Trinh street until you reach the stairs at the base of Small Mountain. This lush outcropping is only 200 meters tall, yet offers fantastic views of the city, beaches and sea. Once reaching the summit, pay the nominal fee and climb to the top of the lighthouse.
Soak up the sun on Back Beach
For some, Vung Tau’s beaches may be a bit of a letdown. They’re not always the cleanest and certainly not to be compared to the beautiful beaches that dot southeast Asia. However, they are the close to Saigon and certainly a refreshing alternative to the concrete chaos. After working up a sweat on Small Mountain, walk away from the port and toward the sea. Back Beach runs for three kilometers on the eastern-facing edge of the city. Umbrellas and beach chairs can be rented for a dollar each and a number of different seaside businesses rent surf and kite boards.
Take the cable car up Big Mountain
In the afternoon, make your way back towards the port and purchase a ticket on the Doppel Mayer Cable Car for 15USD. After a short ride you’ll be met by some of the nicest views the city has to offer. Look out toward the sea and the statue atop Small Mountain. Have a snack at one of the food stalls and relax with the refreshingly calm and cool sea breeze.
Have seafood dinner on the coast
Back down at sea level, it’s time to eat and seafood’s on the menu. Walk or take a cab along the rocky coast until you arrive at Ganh Hoa. This sprawling restaurant hanging over the East Sea may be home to the province’s best seafood. Fill up on oysters and fried squid as the sun sets and the lights of ships waiting to land in Saigon begin to illuminate the horizon.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.