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Rediscovering Vung Tau

Vung Tau is a resort destination in Vietnam. Situated around 125km southeast of HCMC, this is a heaven for sun-seekers.  To get to this this sunny beach strip is to endure a 3 hour journey by road. By the time you get there, you will surely want to find some relief for your aching muscles.  Well, this is simply due to the many heavy traffics and bypassing by many smaller towns along the highway route. 

French colonial buildings at the sunny side of Vung Tau

Having been to Vung Tau once by road sometime back, this time around we have decided to board the hydrofoil ferry from HCMC that will cut half the travelling time to rediscover this idyllic sanctuary again.  This travel story will hopefully bring out the tropical charm from within this beach paradise.

HCMC Ferry Terminal
The journey starts at HCMC's hydrofoil ferry terminal by local cab. Situated just opposite the Renaissance Riverside Hotel it is easy to find this ferry terminal.

After purchasing the ticket at counter you may head toward the departure gate to wait for the hydrofoil ferry. It's hot and humid atmosphere because of the tropical climate all year round. The cost for a one- way ticket is VND250,000 roughly around RM40.  For this price, it is the quickest way to get over to Vung Tau apart from experiencing Saigon's awesome landscape from the river.

Despite having been on many ferry trips and journeys e.g. Koyo Island in Southern Thailand, it's overwhelming to see the daily life of people right here in HCMC as they make their way to the sunny side of Vung Tau. For tourists and visitors like us, we will definitely learn a thing or two by simply observing the vitality of life here.    

After a short while enduring the heat we finally got on board the air-con ferry. Finding some relief inside the cabin is a pleasure before reaching our destination.

Light refreshment is served on board the hydrofoil. A bottle of mineral water is complimentary for each passenger. Tidbits and snacks to chew can be purchased from the ferry attendant. The journey is approximately 1.5 hour from HCMC depending on sea condition.

Cruising Through Saigon River

As we swift pass Saigon river, we had witnessed the city's bustling commercial activities. From shipyards, dock cranes, warehouses, and logistic trucks this is where Vietnam's economy is critically depended on this river transportation system.  Just as important, the Mekong river also serve as the economic heartbeat in providing lifeline support to the entire country.

Our Journey To Vung Tau

Getting to learn so much about Vietnam in so little time on board this hydrofoil journey is a blessing. Imagining the golden sandy beaches and transparent warm blue water is what kept our aspiration high to revisit this tropical paradise again.

The churning noise from the engine room on a hot afternoon like this could make you feel sleepy and tired. A cat nap is worthwhile to reserve some energy before arrival.

The cool breezy wind is very soothing as we stand on the outer deck to capture some landscape pictures as we are almost approaching Vung Tau.

A very enjoyable ferry ride and we finally reached our destination. Passengers eagerly waiting for the crews to dock the ferry before we could alight and head to the beach. Overall this is a great journey without any traffic jams and noisy horns that we will surely get if travel by car.

Vung Tau’s beaches have been a favourite of the Saigonese since French colonists first began coming here around 1890.  In the mid-60’s during the Vietnam war the beaches here became the R&R for American servicemen.  From the story being told, the good infrastructures e.g. roads, streets, amenities and buildings that are very well planned was influenced by the Americans. Vung Tau doesn't look like a typical small narrow town or city in comparison with other parts of Vietnam.

The roads here are wide and in orderly fashion. It is no surprise to see this beautiful city pretty much intact from its past glory. With a breath of fresh air along the way from inside a local taxi there's so much we could see along the way toward our hotel stay in Vung Tau.

There are plenty of hotels, restaurants, and bars alongside the busy stretch of beach road. Ranging from budget guest house to luxury hotel resorts, you can be rest assured that you won't give it a miss to stay a night or two here.

From a historical standpoint, Vung Tau was seen as a possible evacuation route for the Americans should that become a necessity. After the war, Vung Tau served as an evacuation point for tens of thousands of boat people fleeing Communist rule. Fishing trawlers bulging with refugees set sail, never to return. Some of the passengers made it to safety, while others perished. Many boats were forced back to land, and their occupants were arrested and served prison terms. Thousands of South Vietnamese continued to attempt escape via Vung Tau through the mid-1980s.

With an average temperature of 28 degrees Celcius and 20 km of beautiful coastline, it's no wonder that Vung Tau is a popular spot.  The beaches here aren’t Vietnam’s best, but Vung Tau is a convenient beach retreat and fast getaway from HCMC via the memorable hydrofoil ride. 

Seafood Dining in Vung Tau
Vung Tau has plenty of great seafood restaurants to offer. You will find your way to some of the best seafood dining here. Everything from the menu is fresh here from big chilly crabs, sashimi fish, steamboat, vegetables, etc. served with raw spices to give that alluring taste of freshness.    

It is no wonder very difficult not to put on some extra weights with such tempting recipes from the kitchen chef specialized in serving only the best catch of the day. Our hearty dinner had been most enjoyable with the beautiful setting for the rest of night.

Getting Around Vung Tau
Exploring our way around this beach town is very pleasurable. Let's take a short tour to get a glimpse of the scenic views as we explore the area.  

Hot, sunny and humid. Perhaps a sip of milk coffee and ice will withdraw the sleepiness in my senses for a while as we continue to snap more picturesque photos of Vung Tau at later part of the day.

Front Beach
Vung Tau has five beaches scattered over the peninsula.  For simplicity sake, we can classify those beaches into two major ones; the Front and Rear Beach.  Vung Tau also allows access to less frequented beaches like Long Hai, Ho Tram and Ho Coc.

Bai Truoc or Front Beach is also known as Bai Tam Duong. Tam Duong means "searching for the sun". The beach is located between Nui Lon mountain and Nui Nho mountain. This is where we arrived with the hydrofoil service. Oil is big business here, so the horizon is regularly dotted with oil tankers.

From afar, the beach is shaped like a crescent moon, and along the beach, there are many coconut trees. Not a clean beach for swimming, it has many kiosks, open-air seafood restaurants and bars. This is the beach closest to urban Vung Tau.

Rear Beach
Bai Sau or Rear Beach is also known as Bai Thuy Van. This stretch of beach is located in the southeast side of town and is about 10 km in length from the base of Nui Nho. The most popular beach in Vung Tau, it is packed with Saigonese every weekend during the summer months. This is where we headed for our stay. Teenagers arrive on motorbikes, locals by mini-vans or buses and affluent tourists by hydrofoil ferries. 

The sea is calm during the rainy season but there are frequent periods of high winds and big waves during the dry season. Strong undertow currents make swimming dangerous in some spots but great for surfing.

A long stretch of beach filled with golden sands overlooking the blue South China Sea in the horizon. By far this is the most popular beach frequented by the locals. Not a bad choice if you're in HCMC during your next visit to this quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Located at the southern tip of Vietnam facing South China Sea, Vung Tau is a strategic port that can be accessible by various types of shipping vessels at its front beach. Hanoi capital city is located at the far north.

Vung Tau beach may not be the best yet Vietnam could offer. But it will certainly provide the much needed sense relief for any city folks to find this quick getaway for family relaxation and rejuvenating the mind and body.

As mentioned earlier Vung Tau has plenty of accommodations to offer tourists. During off-peak season there are plenty of choices to suit your budget. To make it more interesting for the adventurous traveler, you can choose to stay at the front beach and rent a motorcycle to explore all the beaches surrounding Vung Tau.

Sunny Relaxation and Fun

Seeing beach-goers with family and adorable children playing sands and collecting sea shells makes me wonder if the tide could turn back the clock. This reminded me during my childhood days where my dad used to bring all of us to Teluk Batik during the school holidays back then. Each and everyone of us at some point will surely have our own childhood memories similar to what we seen here. 

Vung Tau shall always remain deep in our heart despite the many challenges and burden we still have in life. One of my sweetest memory is being able to travel here once again with someone truly special. The marvelous journey to rediscover and share this untold travel story of ours is perhaps the greatest thing we could have done. May we always be happy together and achieve our dream someday.     

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