The Best Places to Go Surfing in Vietnam

The best surf in Vietnam is found on the South Central Coast
The best surf in Vietnam is found on the South Central Coast | © Kyrylo Shevtsov / Alamy Stock Photo
Piumi Rajapaksha

If you’ve seen Apocalypse Now (1979), you’ll know that you can surf in Vietnam – and how! The country has 3,000km (1,800mi) of beautiful coastline, and terrific waves, the best of which are found as you head down the South Central Coast. Ready to board? Here are the best places to go surfing in Vietnam.

Fancy an adventure in Vietnam? Our 12-day Vietnam trip visits the top highlights of the country, including Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and more – with the help of our Local Insider.

1. Da Nang, for the all-around best surfing

Architectural Landmark

A person standing on My Khe beach with traditional Vietnamese coracles (round wicker boats) lying on the sand and palm trees
© David Bokuchava / Alamy Stock Photo
Da Nang is the top surfing location in Vietnam – it has a warm climate, with long stretches of beach and great waves that break all year round. Surf season here is around September to March, when temperatures average 27C (80F). My Khe Beach, also known as China Beach, has a long sandy coast that runs for 30km (18mi) south from Da Nang centre. Popular with visitors, it is also growing in popularity among Vietnamese locals. The conditions are perfect for beginners, and there are occasional (dangerous) rips for thrill-seekers. Nam O Point and Non Nuoc Beach are also popular, with first-class waves. Surf shops all along the beach rent out boards, while learners should try Danang SurfSchool for surfing classes and stand-up paddleboarding lessons.

2. Nha Trang, for swells for all levels

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark

Stretches of sand along Bai Dai beach (also known as Long Beach) in Khanh Hoa, Vietnam
© Phong Tran / Alamy Stock Photo
The next popular surf stop as you move south from Da Nang is Nha Trang, a coastal city of luxury getaways, high-rise beach resorts and expensive seafood, which also holds the title of the diving capital of the country. Paddleboarding is also on offer here. It’s best for surfing during Southeast Asian typhoon season (November to March), when almighty blasts from the Philippines provoke storms along the Nha Trang coast, and nice swells prove ideal for all levels. Make for Bai Dai Beach, which is great for beginners (albeit with strong rip currents). The Shack Surf School, also a restaurant and bar, teaches all levels, with more than 18 boards from which to choose. Don’t fret about embarrassing yourself as you grapple – Bai Dai is the longest beach in Vietnam, with plenty of secluded stretches. Other surf spots include City Reef and Dark Reef, catering to a more experienced crowd.

3. Mui Ne, for kitesurfing

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark

People kitesurfing on Mui Ne Beach at sunset in Vietnam
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Mui Ne is one of the best places to kitesurf in Southeast Asia. The waves here are generally wind swell, unless there is a monster storm somewhere close by, which there could well be. Hon Rom Beach is the most popular in the city, with the best waves between October and May. The strip is large so you will easily find a surf spot of your own. The best spot is Suoi Nuoc Beach, on the way to the white-sand dunes, where waves reach their finest from July to October, aided by fantastic winds. Annual surfing and stand-up paddleboarding competitions have been held here, by Jibes Beach Club (also a restaurant and bar). The club can sort lessons and rentals for surfers and novices; the pros here will have you catching your own waves in no time.

4. Vung Tau, for easy access from Ho Chi Minh City

Architectural Landmark, Natural Feature

Vung Tau is a serious surf destination 90km (55mi) southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, hence its popularity as a weekend getaway. The sandy stretch is surfable for its entire 3km (2mi) length, with numerous unnamed and unsurfed breaks, but skip the mediocre swells at the front beach and head to the one at the back: you will find it beyond the Jesus statue, to the right of Pagode Island. This is one of the best surf spots in the country, with powerful beach-break waves best tackled during the winter months. Mornings are perfect, with the tide low and the wind not so strong. (When the gusts are high, try kitesurfing instead). Vung Tau Beach Club is dedicated to surfing – and great parties – and is the only modern watersports school in the city, offering professional surfing, kitesurfing and stand-up paddleboarding classes. It’s right in the midst of the back beach, so you can’t miss it.

5. Bình An, Hue, for beginner surfers

Natural Feature

Built around the crumbling Forbidden Purple City of the ancient Nguyen dynasty, and set on the banks of the Perfume River, Hue is a Vietnam must-see. The surrounding countryside is dotted with ancient temples and tombs, many of them set in scented, bird-filled gardens. Golden beaches run south from here, many of them known to few tourists. The fishing village of Bình An stands on a long, curving bay of sand between a forest-covered cape and the mouth of the vast Dam Cau Hai lagoon. With gentle waves suitable for surfers still struggling to stand, it’s a beginner’s beach to practise on before heading over the mountains, to the bigger breaks around Danang, some 40 minutes away. The water is warm enough to enter without a wetsuit outside the peak domestic tourism season (late July to late August), and the beach is usually empty. It rains heavily here between September and December.

6. Cửa Đại, Hoi An, for its location near the city

Architectural Landmark

Hoi An town is enchanting: a place full of mindful moments in temples covered with pink and blue tiles and crowned with sinuous dragon-serpents. Wandering the narrow streets, you’ll spy terracotta-topped cottages painted in ochres and warm yellows. The slow river, lit with lanterns, makes for dreamy gondola rides past covered bridges and quayside restaurants. It’s one of the best places in Southeast Asia for souvenir shopping – with markets packed with leather and ceramics, and dozens of shops selling made-to-measure suits and shoes. And it’s by the beach. To surf, head for Cửa Đại, an exposed beach break with left- and right-handers, barely 10 minutes from the town centre. Shacks sell snacks and the sand is palm-shaded, but on warm, calm days it can get crowded. The best surf is in the low season between December and March (which can be wet). Just be sure to avoid the busy Tet (Chinese New Year) long weekend.

7. Lăng Cô, Danang, for a quiet surfing getaway

Architectural Landmark

A long stretch of white sandy at Lang Co Beach, with hills in the background
© Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

When the Americans landed at China Beach at the beginning of the Vietnam War, there was nothing here. Now there’s a city: Danang. Cable cars ferry thousands of tourists daily into the formerly wild, forested mountains, now home to a Disney-style resort devoted to Vietnamese culture – you may have seen its famous Golden Bridge held between giant outstretched hands. Corporate towers cluster the city centre and legions of resort hotels line the sand. Lăng Cô is a few kilometres north, but it’s separated from the hurly-burly by a mountain ridge. For the moment it’s relatively free of big development. And the beach is gorgeous, as wide as a football field, and stretching for some 10km (6mi) between a sheltered lagoon and the open sea. The sand is silk-soft and cotton-white. Waves vary depending on the swell, but can be massive in the late summer and winter when storms hit the South China Sea.

Alex Robinson contributed additional reporting to this article.

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