Vung Tau is the closest beach destination to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, easily accessible via a two-hour, air-conditioned bus ride – making it a perfect escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Check out our top picks on how to best enjoy this southern coastal town. Beach time at Front Beach or Back Beach, kitesurfing, hiking and plates full of fresh seafood mean you can expect Vung Tau to check all the boxes for a wonderful getaway.
For a better beach experience, head to any of the other three beaches. Back Beach (Bãi Sau) is much less dirty, and perfect for surfing. As the beach gets some wonderful wind swells, kitesurfing shops have appeared over the years, offering rentals and classes for all levels.
Pineapple Beach has calm waters and fantastic sunset views, while Paradise Beach belongs to a resort park – with a rather exclusive crowd. You’ll have to pay an entrance fee, which grants access to luxuries such as showers, and a fancy strip with high-end dining options.
One of the biggest reasons people visit Vung Tau is to indulge in the town’s delicious seafood. Bánh khọt, a little round seafood pancake and one of Vung Tau’s specialities, is known to cause mass pilgrimages here from Ho Chi Minh City. It can be found in various markets throughout the city, but for those looking for a little more ambience head over to Bánh Khọt Gốc Vú Sữa, known to serve the best version of these little treats.
Vung Tau has many markets to explore, offering a wide range of local delicacies and handicrafts. Chợ Hải Sản is the biggest one, closest to the city centre. Here you can find endless varieties of seafood freshly caught that day and cooked up on the spot.Trần Phú fish market is a particularly fantastic experience – and a little out of the city, making it more local. The other option is Xóm Lưới market. If it’s hard for you to tolerate the overwhelming smell of seafood, it’s best to wear a mask as you wander through the maze of stalls.
Alex Robinson contributed additional reporting to this article.